The first trip to the dentist can be a daunting experience – for kids and parents. Between the bright lights, loud tools, and unfamiliar doctor, there's a lot for a young child to handle. Meanwhile, you're simultaneously assuaging fears while bracing for the screaming fit to end all screaming fits. That is, unless you can somehow change how your kiddo views the experience. With these children's books to prep your child for the dentist, you can help transform this milestone from horror show to brilliant adventure — hopefully.
While it's not always easy to empathize with a child's fears — especially when they're expressed through shrieks and accidental whacks to the face — it's unsurprising that they're so freaked out about their dental check-up. After all, the unknown is scary at any age. With these stories, your little one has a chance to learn what their first appointment will be like from start to finish. Not only does each book demystify the entire experience, they're perfect for distracting your child once they're in the chair. "Remember when Brother Bear got his teeth cleaned? He was nervous too, but you're being brave just like he was." Your child may never love going to the dentist... but if you can both survive the appointment without too many tears, that's a major win.
1. The Crocodile and the Dentist
A lot of people are scared of the dentist, but what happens when the dentist is afraid of their patient? In Taro Gomi's book, the crocodile has to conquer his fear of the dentist while the dentist has to conquer his fear of the croc! Your child will love hearing both sides of the story, and it's a perfect reminder that dentists are normal people, with fears and all.
2. Just Going to the Dentist
Kids will love this story of Little Critter's first trip to the dentist, while parents can enjoy the nostalgia from this classic cast of characters. This book covers everything from teeth cleaning to X-rays to filling a cavity. Head's up: this is a great option for any child that needs a cavity filled, but parents may want to skip that scene altogether if your child is only getting a cleaning and check-up!
3. Doctor De Soto
Doctor De Soto is a mouse dentist who treats his animal patients with the help of his wife. This book stresses that Doctor De Soto's patients never feel any pain, thanks to his incredible talent. What happens when a fox, Doctor De Soto's own predator, turns up with a terrible toothache? Doctor De Soto is a generous, lovable character that will help your child see dentists in a positive light from the very beginning.
4. The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums
While this picture book lays out what your child can expect when they go to the dentist, it covers much more than that. Miller offers pointers for taking care of their teeth, along with facts, history, and interesting anecdotes about them. After a read, your child will be invested in taking care of their chompers, and that includes braving the dentist.
5. The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist
Another classic choice, this book tells the story of the Berenstain family's trip to the dentist. It details a teeth cleaning and cavity check, and your child will love the story long after their dental fears have been squashed. As a bonus, this copy from Amazon comes with over 50 stickers.
6. Daniel Goes to the Dentist
As it turns out, tigers are scared of the dentist, too! In this book based on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Daniel's kind and patient dentist details every step of the appointment as it happens, removing the mystery of each aspect. After reading this one a few times, your child will know exactly what to expect once they sit in their dentist's chair.
7. ABC Dentist
A is for appointments, B is for bibs, and C is for cavities in this alphabet book by Harriet Ziefert. As your child goes through the alphabet, they'll learn everything they may want to know about the dentist and their first appointment (and it has some pretty fantastic artwork, too). It also includes a dentist appointment FAQ to help you answer any of your child's lingering questions.
8. Celebrate! Going to the Dentist
Your child may never actually celebrate going to their dentist, but Day's book will do a lovely job of easing their fears. It lays out what a child will see and experience at their first appointment, and makes each aspect of the experience not only less scary, but downright fun.
9. Tears In My Ears: A Visit to the Dentist
While this story covers main character Penny's first dental appointment, it also touches on the anxiety and anticipation leading up to it. Your child will relate to Penny's nervousness, and empowered by how she faces her fears.
10. Curious George Visits the Dentist
When Curious George discovers his first loose tooth, it's off to the dentist he goes — with the man in the yellow hat, of course. George quickly learns that there's nothing to be scared of and winds up having a good (and mischievous!) time at his first appointment. Included with the book is a sheet of stickers that can be used as rewards for dentist appointments or regular brushing.
11. The Tooth Book
While this book doesn't detail a full dental appointment like the others, it's a great resource for teaching your child the importance of strong, healthy teeth. It reinforces the fact that regular dentist appointments are necessary for eating, smiling, and many of their other day-to-day activities.
12. Dentist Trip (Peppa Pig)
Who doesn't love Peppa Pig? In this story, Peppa helps her little brother George handle his first trip to the dentist, nerves and all. Peppa is able to calm George down with some words of wisdom, and she'll do the same for your child.
13. My Dentist, My Friend
As the title suggests, P.K. Hallinan's lighthearted book helps children view their own "scary" dentists as friends. It will walk your child through everything they can expect from a dentist appointment, and will reassure them that there is truly nothing to fear.
14. Dentist (First Time Series)
Jess Stockham's book was designed to encourage parents and child talk about an upcoming dental visit. It creates the perfect opportunity to calm your child's nerves and answer any questions they might have. This is a wonderful story to read (and re-read) before their first appointment, as it can help them voice their specific concerns.
15. I Can't Wait to Go to the Dentist!
Written with the goal of getting your child to actually say, "I can't wait to go to the dentist!" this story teaches them everything that will happen at their appointment. Author Jeanie U. Allen is a registered dental hygienist, and her book accurately depicts an appointment and addresses the specific fears she's seen in children firsthand.
16. Dora Goes To The Dentist
In this book, Dora the Explorer is exploring a dentist's office. She will teach your child all about the common procedures, as well as introduce them to the various tools their dentist and dental hygienist will use. Note that this book comes with Dora Goes To The Doctor, so you'll be able to cover all those intimidating medical appointments in one!
17. Do Dinosaurs Have Dentists?
In this colorful storybook by Patrick O'Donnell, the main character wonders some of life's most pressing questions related to dinosaurs and their dental hygiene habits. It includes a variety of common terms related to teeth and the dentist, and a host of interesting facts about the dinosaurs mentioned. It will help calm any fears your child might have about the dentist (and will be a particular hit with dinosaur lovers).