Below you will find a social story about going to the dentist, to help children prepare for check-ups/appointments. Social stories are a research-based tool used to help children prepare for real-life events. They can help ease anxiety or set expectations for behavior in certain situations. Social stories are often used for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), anxiety disorders, or for any child that may be apprehensive about an upcoming, uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation.
Feel free to Print out a PDF of this story and read it several times with your child/client (without pressure), especially during the weeks and days leading up to an appointment.
I understand that not every situation is the same. Gender and ethnicity can vary with practitioners (and patients) as well as the order of events and the procedures during an appointment. Feel free to discuss this with your child/client while reading the story if you think it will help with the visit. Limited access to images made it a bit difficult to capture all this diversity within the story. You can make your own story, using real pictures from your child’s or another child’s appointment or pictures from Google Images.
For a fun activity, your child can draw pictures of what may happen on their own appointment that is different from this story.
Print a PDF
What Does a Dentist Do?
A denntist is a doctor who cares for teeth. When you visit your dentist for a check-up, he or she will look at your teeth and gums to check for any problems. The dentist also wants to make sure your teeth are developing properly as you grow.
To ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy, it is important to visit the dentist every six months.
What Happens at the Dentist’s Office?
First you will check in at the front desk to let them know you are there.
Then you will wait in the waiting room until the dental hygienist calls you in to the exam room.
Usually when you arrive at the dentist’s office, you will meet with the dental hygienist before you meet with the dentist. A dental hygienist knows all about keeping gums clean and healthy.
When you get to the exam room you will sit down in a big, comfortable chair that reclines back. There is a place to rest your head and a lot of room to stretch out your legs.
Next to your chair will probably be a little sink with a cup that you can use to rinse your mouth as the dental hygienist cleans your teeth.
A bright light will shine down into your mouth so the dental hygienist can get a good look while she cleans your teeth. You can wear sunglasses if the light bothers you.
The dental hygienist will clean your teeth with her dental tools.
Then the dental hygienist will floss your teeth and show you the correct way to brush and floss your teeth at home.
During some visits, the dental hygienist will take X-rays, or pictures, of your teeth to check for cavities. It does not hurt to get an X-ray and it takes only a few seconds.
The dental hygienist will place a blanket on you and put a piece of plastic, which holds the X-ray film into your mouth. This takes a few seconds.
After your X-rays it is time for fluoride treatment. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps your teeth stay strong and helps prevent cavities.
The dental hygienist will put a fluoride gel or foam on your teeth. Most dental offices offer flavored fluoride like bubble gum or grape.
Next you will meet the dentist. The dentist will check your teeth and gums to make sure they are strong and healthy. The dentist will also probably check the way your top and bottom teeth work together. This is called your bite.
The dentist will study your X-rays to see if you have any cavities.
The dentist will also ask you if you have any questions or problems with your teeth.
Check out at the desk before you leave and set your next appointment. Make sure you have another check-up scheduled in 6 months.
If you have a cavity you will schedule an appointment to come back soon and get it taken care of.
When you come back to get your filling, the dentist will give you a shot to numb your mouth so getting the filling won’t hurt. The shot will pinch for a second but will be over quick.
Next, the dentist will repair you cavity with dental tools, like a dental drill, and fill in the area with special materials, called fillings, to keep your tooth strong and healthy.
When you leave the dentist’s office your mouth will feel numb for a little while but the feeling will wear off soon.
Always go to your dentist appointments to keep your mouth healthy and clean!
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Check out this kid-friendly video about going to the dentist
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Please share this social story with others who you think may benefit.
More Social Stories:
A Social Story to Prepare Children for Doctor’s Appointments
All About Going to School (helps prepare children for the school day and the expectations in school)
I Hate the Word No (great for kids who do not respond well to the word “no”)
I am Going to a Restaurant (helps kids learn how to behave in a restaurant) Please bear with us. This story is currently in PDF view and is in the process of conversion to mobile friendly view.
Rachel Wise is the author and founder of Education and Behavior. Rachel created Education and Behavior in 2014 for adults to have an easy way to access research-based information to support children in the areas of learning, behavior, and social-emotional development. As a survivor of abuse, neglect, and bullying, Rachel slipped through the cracks of her school and community. Education and Behavior hopes to play a role in preventing that from happening to other children. Rachel is also the author of Building Confidence and Improving Behavior in Children: A Guide for Parents and Teachers.
“Children do best when there is consistency within and across settings (i.e., home, school, community). Education and Behavior allows us to maintain that consistency.”