Big B turned 3 a few months ago and I have been meaning to take him to his first dental cleaning. He has been to the dentist for a check up before, but at that appointment they simply looked at his teeth. Big B is generally well behaved at doctors appointments. He does what his doctor asks, has no trouble answering her questions, and never puts up a fight when it comes time for shots. The difference is that he is very familiar with his doctor and nurse. He has never been to this dentist, and has never had a teeth cleaning, so in order to help this appointment go smoothly I devoted some time to explain what was going to happen and to teach him about dental health.
The week leading up to his appointment Big B and I talked a great deal about dental health. I allowed him to brush my teeth and well as his sister’s, so he could get a better look at what he was doing. I even finally got around to doing a great dental health activity from Sense of Wonder that I ran across a while ago and have been meaning to do (there are other dental health activities on her post that I didn’t do, so you should check it out).
For this activity I created a mouth using a piece of cardboard and an egg carton. I took the bottoms off the egg holders and glued them in the shape of a mouth on the cardboard. I painted the teeth white and the tongue area pink. I then stuffed the spaces between the teeth with green tissue paper.
I talked to Big B about how the green tissue paper represented the nasty germs that get stuck between your teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach, and that you need to use floss to get rid of them. It was also good that the egg carton I used had crevices throughout them so I could explain how our teeth have lots of peaks and valleys and that you have to be very careful when you brush to make sure that you got them all. You could use the same mouth, dirty the teeth and teach your child how to clean them properly and throughly.
A day after I introduced this activity to Big B I found him in the dinning room/classroom doing it on his own. I asked him what he was doing and he said “getting the germs out of my teeth”
Big B did a great job at his appointment yesterday. I held his hand while the dental hygienist cleaned his teeth. I was so proud of him. I think the time we spent going over the the procedures helped him the most. He was confident going in, and there weren’t any surprises.
If you are interested in reading more about first dental appointments and how the parents prepared their children check out these links: