CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 19 . . . . May 24, 2002
If your child has never been to the dentist, is nervous about the visit, or is going to need more than just a routine cleaning and checkup, The Dentist & You is an excellent book to prepare the way. It gives explicit information on exactly what the child can expect, what the dentist and hygienist will do, what equipment will be used, and how the child might feel. No ground is left uncovered, and the child who has read or been read this book will not experience any surprises at the dentist's office.
The book is divided into 14 chronological chapters, each shown on a colorful 2-page spread. Each chapter describes some aspect of the dentist's office, equipment or work, and includes, besides the text, a color photograph, a question and its answer, a section called "your job," and, in some chapters, a diagram demonstrating some specific aspect of the text. The text, itself, is written in a matter-of-fact manner and does not condescend to the child or sugar-coat what will be happening.
Or they use a handy tool called a saliva ejector. It works like a mini vacuum cleaner, gently sucking up water and any extra saliva - spit. It also helps remove bits of leftover toothpaste.
Diane Swanson has done an excellent job of describing each process, the equipment used and answering questions that might come up within the text of each chapter.
The question and answer, found in the left-hand margin of each page, poses a specific question that a child might ask. In the "Water Control" chapter (from which the excerpt above is taken) the question is, "Does the saliva ejector bother you?" and the answer is, "No. It just makes gurgling sounds." I found the questions very like what a child might ask and the answers truthful and reassuring.
At the top of the right-hand page for each chapter there is a section, "Your job," which gives the child information about what is expected of him (or her) during the procedure described. For the "Water Control" chapter, Swanson describes how the hygienist may ask the child to hold the saliva ejector in his or her mouth, and how to use the saliva injector. Again, this approach reassures the child because s/he will know what s/he is supposed to do and can be prepared. The "unknown" aspect is taken away, and, with it, most of the child's fears.
Finally, each chapter contains a color photograph of a child and a dentist or hygienist actually engaged in the process of what is being described in the chapter. These photos are excellent: they show exactly what is being described, allow the child to see what will happen and the equipment that is being used and are very accurate. In cases where there is an extra diagram, such as the ones showing how teeth come in or where they need to be cleaned, it is always very clear and well-labeled.
The book also includes a "Points for Parents" chapter, which gives information for parents before and after the visit to the dentist, plus an index.
The Dentist & You covers the topic extensively and prepares and reassures the child in a matter-of-fact, truthful way. Swanson has done an excellent job.
O'Hara is a librarian and mother of three in Winnipeg, MB.
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