We know that going to the dentist can be intimidating for adults. But how often do you think about the anxiety your child faces when coming to our office?
Although the little ones can put on a brave face, many times they forget what happens between appointments—which can only increase the fear. Even the seasoned veterans might unexpectedly develop nerves around their dental appointments.
To keep dental check-ups a positive experience, proper preparation is key—and social stories, like the one below, are great tools that can be used to ease fears and give your child an idea of what is to come.
Social stories are a social learning tool that supports the safe and meaningful exchange of information between parents, professionals, and people of all ages. There are several key characteristics of social stories including descriptive sentences where the “who, what, where, and why” details are explained.
Parents who have children with special needs have indicated that they find these particularly useful. For children with sensory sensitivities, challenges with new surroundings or changes in setting or a dislike of new people, our story below can help them learn about their visit prior to coming to the office—and ask questions about what could occur as well as verbalize any fears!
My visit to the dentist
Why do I go to the dentist?
Dr. Marchbanks is a dentist. A dentist is a doctor who specializes in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. A dentist is able to diagnose oral diseases, monitor the growth of teeth, and review x-rays. You go to the dentist every six months to ensure your teeth and gums are kept healthy. It’s also important to receive a professional cleaning to rid your mouth of bad bacteria and plaque.
What does a dentist do?
Dentists clean teeth, remove tooth decay, and repair fractured teeth. Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect the health of your mouth. They also show you how to take care of your teeth at home to protect your mouth between office visits.
It’s time for YOU to visit the dentist!
Today, you will go to the dentist’s office. You will drive in the car and park in front of the building.
You will then walk into the lobby where you’ll be greeted by our friendly office staff! You will check in at the front desk to let them know you are here for your appointment. There will be chairs where you can sit and magazines to look at while you wait. You can also bring your own book to read. In the lobby you will see other people coming and going from their appointments. Here, you will wait for your name to be called.
After your name is called, one of our hygienists will walk you to the room where you will have your teeth cleaned. If you are nervous, this is a good time to tell someone. Once you get into the room, you will climb up into the dental chair. The chair can sometimes be cold to the touch.
The dental hygienist will help you scoot all the way back in the chair and will then slowly recline it. When you look up, you will see a dental light. You can wear sunglasses to block the light from your eyes. The light will help the dentist see all the way into the back of your mouth.
Before beginning the exam, your dentist or hygienist will put on a mask, gloves and gown. This is to keep everything clean and make sure germs aren’t spread between the patient and the professionals.
A tray of tools will be placed nearby for the dentist or hygienist to use while counting and cleaning your teeth. While the tools may look new or scary, they each have a specific purpose. If you are nervous, make sure to ask the purpose of each one. We will be happy to show you on your hand what we will do prior to doing it in your mouth.
Next, the hygienist will use a special tooth polisher to make your teeth shiny and white. You will get to pick out the flavor of toothpaste you would like to use. This polisher vibrates and can feel like it is tickling your teeth. The hygienist will clean both the upper and lower teeth. Throughout the cleaning, they will use water to wash off the toothpaste and suction to remove the water. The suction is like a small vacuum cleaner for your mouth.
At some appointments, the dentist will take a picture of your teeth. This is called an x-ray. Just like when you take a regular picture, an x-ray doesn’t hurt. During the x-ray, you will wear a heavy vest to protect you from the radiation of the machine. Think of it like a big winter coat!
At the end of your visit, you can brush your teeth with fluoride. This adds another layer of protection for your teeth. The fluoride comes in many different flavors and you will get to choose your favorite! You will also get to pick out your toothbrush and take it with you at the end of your visit.
Now you’re at the end of your visit, and you’ll have the chance to ask the dentist any questions before you leave. After speaking to the dentist, you are all done! You will stop by the front desk on the way out to schedule your next appointment.
Going to the dentist can be a fun and calm experience if you go in knowing what to expect. If your child is experiencing any anxiety prior to their visit, make sure to let us know and we will make all the accommodations necessary!