To familiarize children with the dental office setting and the procedures followed during a dental visit.

Materials Needed:
White shirt
Non-breakable mirror
Model of teeth (optional)
Large toothbrush (optional)
Activity Pages, "Community Helper Flannel Board Pictures"
Activity Pages, "A Visit to the Dentist"
Parent Letter, "Visiting the Dentist"
Attachment to Parent Letter, "Your Child's First Visit to the Dentist"

Background Information for the Teacher:
For good dental health, everyone should see a dentist regularly. During these check-ups, the mouth will be examined, the teeth cleaned, and any dental disease treated.

Dentists have many years of special training in the prevention and treatment of dental disease. A dental hygienist may work with the dentist. The hygienist may clean teeth, show people how to brush and floss, apply fluoride to teeth, and take X-rays. Another member of the dental staff is the dental assistant, who aids the dentist in many ways and who helps keep office records.

Among the equipment and instruments used by a dentist are:

* the dental chair, which can be raised and tilted so that the dentist can work easily and the patient can rest comfortably;

* the dental light, which can be focused to show all parts of the mouth;

* the X-ray machine, which takes pictures of the teeth and bones;

* the dental mirror, which is used to see the teeth in the back of the mouth;

* and the explorer, which helps the dentist find decay.

Many of your students will be visiting the dentist at some time during the school year. A visit to the dental office can be a pleasant experience. Discuss the appointment with the children. Talk about it in a positive way and in a matter-of-fact manner. Children usually accept the new adventure if they know what to expect and understand the reason for it.

Starting the Lesson:
To prepare for this lesson, make flannel board or velcro board pictures using Activity Pages, "Community Helper Flannel Pictures." You may color each picture and put pieces of velcro or felt on the back of it so it will adhere to your velcro or felt board. To make a sturdier picture, you may want to glue the picture to heavier board such as tag board or poster board.

To begin the lesson, explain to children that there are many people who help us with many things. Display the picture of the bus and bus driver. Tell children that the bus driver helps by taking children to school. Next, display the picture of a letter carrier. Ask children to describe how the letter carrier helps us. (He or she brings letters and packages.) Display the picture of the truck driver and ask children to describe ways truck drivers are helpful.

Ask the children to name other people who are "helpers."

After the children have had a chance to name several other helpers, ask them if anyone knows who it is that helps them take care of their teeth. After they have identified the dentist or going to the dentist's office, tell them that you have a story to share with them about what happens when visiting the dentist. At this time read the story "A Visit to the Dentist" that goes along with the story pictures found on Activity Pages, "A Visit to the Dentist."

Before reading the story to your class, make copies of each activity page to hand out to each student. Staple the pages together in the correct order. Have students follow along by looking at their copy of the appropriate picture as you read the story. After you have finished the story, go back and ask questions about the pictures. For example:

Page 1. "Can you point to the bus?"

Page 2. "How many children are on the bus?"

Page 3. "Where are the books and magazines?"

Page 4. "Can you point to the dental hygienist?"

Page 5. "Where is the dentist?" "What is the dentist's name?"

Other questions you may want to ask after you read the story are:

"What part of the story did you like best?"

"What do you think you would like to do most when you go to see your dentist?"

"Which piece of equipment did you like most?"

"Have you ever seen any of the equipment that is shown in this picture?"

You may want to give the children an opportunity to color these pages and/or to create a cover for their book.

Note: If resources are not available to make enough copies for each student, you may want to color, each page and display it while you are reading the story to the class as a group.

Head Start Program Story-"A Visit to the Dentist"

Mrs. Jackson
Dr. Lee
Miss Phillips

All the children were excited. Today they were going to meet a new friend. At exactly nine
o'clock, a big yellow bus parked outside the classroom.

Bobby was the first to climb in. "Oh, boy," said Bobby, "this bus is as big as the one my dad drives"

Sure enough, the bus could fit all the children in the class. And it even had room for more.

"Will the dentist's office be this big?" asked Althea.

"Almost as big," answered Mrs. Jackson. "But it's filled with many interesting things, things you can't find on a bus."

The children's eyes sparkled. They could hardly wait to see all the new things the dentist would show them.

Soon they were at the dentist's office. Mrs. Jackson opened the door, and the children followed her inside. They entered a small room. It was quiet and filled with all sorts of things. There were plants and pictures, big stuffed chairs, and even some books and magazines.

"Look here," squealed Dawn. She pointed at a nearby table. "There are plenty of storybooks I can look at."

Miguel, also delighted, found a children's magazine. He picked it up eagerly and showed it to every-one. "My favorite magazine," Miguel exclaimed.

At that moment, a friendly looking woman stepped into the room. "There's Miss Phillips," said Mrs. Jackson. "She's the dental hygienist. She helps the dentist keep your teeth clean and healthy."

"Hello, everyone," Miss Phillips said with a smile. "I'm very happy to meet you.

"Is this where the dentist works?" asked Bobby.

"Well, he doesn't work right in this room," she answered. "This is called the waiting room. You can wait here until it's your turn to see the dentist."

The children were so busy listening to Miss Phillips that they didn't see Dr. Lee come into the room. "Hi, boys and girls," he said with a grin.

"Oh," they murmured in surprise.

"You must be Dr. Lee," shouted Althea. "You're dressed just like the dentist in my picture books "

Dr. Lee was pleased that the children recognized him. "Let me show you some other things you may have seen in pictures," he said.

In the next room were many things. Some were small and shiny. Others were very big and were stuck to the floor or wall. Some even made noises or could be moved.

There was a sink for the dentist to wash his hands. A mirror hung on the wall over the sink. And there were lots of drawers to hold Dr. Lee's tools.

"What's that chair doing in the middle of the room?" asked Dawn.

Miss Phillips replied, "You lie back in the chair while the dentist looks inside your mouth. It can tilt backward. It also goes up and down."

"Can I try it?" Luyen asked excitedly.

"Sure you can," said Miss Phillips. "You can each try it, one at a time, when Dr. Lee looks at your teeth."

"Why is that big light hanging over the chair?" asked Althea.

"It shines into your mouth so I can see all your teeth," answered Dr. Lee. Then he picked up a gleaming mirror to show the children. "I can also use this tiny round mirror to see the backs of your teeth." It sure was tiny, but it had a long, shiny handle.

Next to the chair was a silver tray. It had all sorts of tools on it. There was an explorer, a pointy silver stick to help the dentist check each tooth. There was a jar of a special gel with fluoride in it. Fluoride helps make teeth strong. And there was a special minty toothpaste in a small bowl.

"Whrrr, whrrr, whrrr..."

"What's that sound?" asked Miguel, startled.

"Oh, it's just my special toothbrush," Dr. Lee replied. "It has a little rubber cleaner that spins round and round to clean and polish your teeth. Do you hear any other sounds in the office?"

The children listened very carefully. They heard something that Miss Phillips was holding make a slurping, sucking sound.
"That sounds like someone drinking out of a straw," said Bobby.

"You're right, Bobby," Miss Phillips answered. "But this is called a suction. It sucks up some of the wetness in your mouth so the dentist can get a good look at your teeth."

Luyen pointed to a long machine on the wall. "That machine must make lots of noise. It's awfully big."

"It is big," said Miss Phillips, "but it makes only a soft, short buzz. It's called an X-ray machine. It takes pictures of the inside of your teeth so we can be sure they're strong and healthy."

"Why are water and hoses over there?" asked Dawn, pointing. "Are they for watering the plants in the other room?"

"No, no," chuckled Dr. Lee. "The hose lets me squirt water on your teeth, to clean them. It also sprays air to dry your teeth." And saying this, Dr. Lee sprayed a little bit of air on Dawn's hand. It was warm and gentle, like air let out of a balloon.

Soon all the children wanted Dr. Lee to squirt their mouths with water and clean their teeth with his special toothbrush. They were happy to have this nice, caring man as their friend.

Dr. Lee took some toothbrushes out of a drawer. There was a red brush, a blue one, and a green brush. There was a white brush and a yellow one. So many colors to see And Dr. Lee gave one toothbrush to each child. Do you know what color Miguel, Luyen, Dawn, Bobby, and Althea chose?

The children thanked Dr. Lee. They thanked Miss Phillips, too, for showing them so many new things. Now the children could hardly wait to go home to try out their colorful new toothbrushes. They had lots to tell their family about what they had seen.

Classroom Activities:
1. Classroom Visitor - Make arrangements for a dentist or a dental hygienist to visit your class. Ask them to bring examples of things that are used in the dentist's office or, if possible, pictures or charts. Have them explain what happens during a visit to the dentist.

2. Field Trip - Arrange to take the class to visit a dentist's office or dental clinic in your community. This will help reinforce the concept of community helpers.

3. Language Arts Activity - Have the children assist you in composing a thank you note to the dentist whose office you visited or to the professional who visited your class.

4. Art Activity - Ask the children to draw a picture of something that they enjoyed during the trip to the dentist's office. Their pictures may be included with the letter to be sent to the dentist or dental professional.

5. Role playing - Set up a dentist's office. This role playing area should have a white shirt, a chair, a flashlight, a napkin that can be hung around a child's neck, a non-breakable mirror and, if available, a large model of teeth and a toothbrush. (Be sure to instruct children that they should not put their hands in one anothers' mouths. They may practice brushing the model of teeth, or they may show one another how
to brush, using the model.)

6. Counting - Children should be encouraged to count the teeth of
the model. (You may be able to obtain an old study cast of teeth from a dentist in your area if you do not have a model of teeth).

Hello, boys and girls Well, I'm back again, just as I promised. Today we're talking about some of the people who help us with many things. Can you tell me how the bus driver helps us? Another "helper" is the letter carrier. How does the letter carrier help us? And let's not forget the truck driver. Can you name some of the good things truck drivers bring us? Can anyone think of other people who are helpers? Very good.

Did you know that there also are people who help us take care of our teeth? They are dental helpers. These are the people who help keep our teeth clean and strong. Can you name the dental helpers? Good. They can also fix our teeth good as new when they need fixing.

Do you remember all the neat looking things in the dental office? Things like a chair for you to sit in that goes up and down? Or the little thing the dental helper uses to shine up your teeth that goes whrrr whrrr? What things do you like best in the dental office? That's terrific All these neat things are used by those nice dental helpers to keep our teeth clean and strong and looking great. Well, I think you really learned a lot about the many kinds of helpers and all the things they can do to help us. have to go now, but I'll be back soon and we'll talk some more about our teeth. Bye, boys and girls.

Parent Letter: "Visting the Dentist"

Dear Head Start Parent:

Now that your child is Head Start age, he or she will be seeing a dentist. Dental examinations are an important part of the Head Start Program. To help prepare your child for this dental visit, your child is learning that the dentist and other members of the dental team are friendly people who take care of our teeth and keep them healthy.

During your child's first dental visit, the dentist will examine your child's teeth for tooth decay or other problems. The dentist may also show you how to care for your child's teeth. A trip to the dentist can be a pleasant adventure, and you can help make it so with a positive attitude. Attached is a page that will help you handle your child's first visit to the dentist and help you answer questions your child may have.

A dental examination should take place as soon as possible. Regular dental visits are important and can help save your child's teeth by preventing dental problems. Your dentist will tell you how often your child needs a dental visit. With your help, dental visits will always be a pleasant experience for your child.


(Suggestions for answering children's questions)

A visit to the dental office can be a pleasant experience. If your child wants to discuss the appointment, talk about it in a positive and matter-of-fact manner. Children usually accept a new adventure if they know what to expect and understand the reason for it. The following are some questions children commonly ask. The answers provided will help prepare you for these questions:


"Why do I have to go to the dentist?"


"The dentist helps you take care of your teeth. He/she will show you how to brush your teeth, and he/she knows how to find the teeth that need his/her help."


"What is the dentist going to do?"


"The dentist will look in your mouth, count how many teeth you have, and see if any of your teeth need special care. The dentist may clean your teeth with a little soft sponge that goes round and round. He may put a special gel on your teeth to make them stronger. The dentist may also put a special plastic on the top of your back teeth to help keep out the germs.


"Is it going to hurt?"


"No, visiting the dentist usually doesn't hurt. The dentist does everything possible to make your teeth feel good. If you feel pain or it hurts, tell the dentist and he or she will try to make it feel better."


1. Be honest with your child about what will happen. Trust is an important feeling between any two people and especially between children, their parents, and their teachers. By answering your child's questions truthfully, you will establish a feeling of trust. If you don't know the answer to your child's question, tell your child that you do not know the answer but that the dentist will be happy to answer any question during the first dental visit.

2. Use a visit to the dentist as an adventure not as a threat.

3. Encourage friends and family to be positive about dental visits in front of your child and not to discuss unpleasant dental experiences.

Link to pertinent resource materials

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