Visiting the dentist can be intimidating, even for adults! But children often struggle even more than adults with new experiences. Did you know that reading books helps your child process their emotions? Characters in books can help to name emotions they don’t understand, model appropriate behavior, and normalize your child’s experience. They can also help take the mystery out of a new experience to help your child prepare themselves for unexpected situations. We’ve found 7 books that will help you start conversations with your child about experiences they might have at their next dental appointment, and how to handle them.
Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer
This book does a great job of modeling the behavior you want to see in your child. Little Critter has a regular dental check-up, which includes X-rays and shows what kids can expect at their visit. Little Critter also ends up getting a cavity filled and handles the situation with bravery and some humor. The illustrations are simple but effective and Little Critter is relatable as always.
Curious George Visits the Dentist by H. A. Rey
Mix-ups and slapstick humor get kids laughing in this classic story. Up to his usual mischief, George brings levity even in his fear of the dentist. He ends up overcoming his fear and learning lots of important oral hygiene lessons. This book is great for showing what experiences to expect at the dentist, and that there is nothing to fear.
Visiting the Dentist by Charlotte Guillain
Taking an informative approach, this non-fiction book is full of real photographs of diverse children. In proper non-fiction style, it offers a table of contents, chapters by topic, and a glossary to introduce new words. It covers all aspects of a dental visit, including getting a cavity filled and mentions a prick before the filling. This book doesn’t address emotions as some of the others on our list, but is a great informative book.
Vera Goes to the Dentist by Vera Rosenberry
In this book, Vera struggles with anxiety on her first visit to the dentist. She has older sisters who model how normal visiting the dentist can be, and how it’s not scary. However, she still has to learn how to manage her fear in her own way. She ends up leading the dentist on a run around the block. When the dentist catches up to her, she realizes he’s not as scary as she thought as they have a reassuring chat. She eventually agrees to let him examine her, and by the end of the book Vera has conquered her fear. With humor, the author shows that your dentist has your best interest at heart and isn’t someone to fear.
Book Reading Tips:
- Don’t just read the book, talk about it! Asking engaging questions can help your child to consider how they might react, or solutions to scary situations.
- When possible, read with all your children at once, or with friends. Watching and hearing other children process can help your own child consider new ideas or perspectives.
- After the story, re-enact the story with your child. Let them role-play as the patient, the dentist, the assistant, or the front office staff. Acting out how they will act lets them rehearse and get out anxiety.
- Put on a puppet show with stuffed animals or puppets. It’s ok for the puppets to act in ways you may not want to be imitated, as long as it’s a natural reaction and you discuss what happened with your kids. In fact, put your child in the role of correcting or advising the puppet on how they should act. When children come up with ideas on their own it’s a deeper and more effective lesson.