Wednesday, November 15th, 2006
Monkey Mouth for Playing Veterinary Dentist
Monkey Mouth by Discovery Toys looks to be a fun way to orient toddlers to the idea of dental visits. You get a plastic bust of a smiling blue and yellow gorilla. His mouth opens to reveal no teeth. Using molds, your child creates molars and incisors from modeling compound (think Play-Doh) for insertion into the mouth. Then your child plays dentist, using four plastic tools to inspect the mouth. The toy comes with two containers of white molding compound, but improvising with colored Play-Doh would add some spice.
I have teeth on my mind because my 29-month-old Little Miss has her second dental appointment next week. During her first visit she had a cursory mouth inspection, but the appointment was really about educating mom and dad. The second visit will be more involved, with potential for lots of kicking and screaming.
As luck would have it, mom and dad had their teeth cleaned in the past two weeks. That translated into two family visits to the dentist, with one parent sitting with Little Miss watching the other parent have teeth inspected with a "mirror on a stick."
We also brought two children’s books about first dental visits and read them during the cleaning. It was very useful to point at objects depicted in the book, such as the dental chair, dental instruments and mouth spotlight, and then point to their real-life versions and talk about their functions.
For the first time, I was self conscious about twisting the truth for my daughter. I feigned excitement days before my own teeth cleaning, saying it would be "fun" and "I can’t wait." Afterward, I got out of the chair and talked up how nice an experience it was. I didn’t say it was "fun," but did use the word "easy," which is technically true. The thing is, I hate dental visits. Maybe I’d feel differently if, at the conclusion of my visit, I got to take home a free iPod from the dentist’s toy box.
I sometimes wonder what inspires people to pursue a career in which half your customers dislike meeting you and another 40 percent dread it. Check out this video of a dentist tilting toy.
A helpless wooden figure flails his arms in the dentist’s chair while
the dentist leans over him wildly swinging two meat hooks.
See previous: Plak-Posse Pals: Plush Animals Teach Dental Health