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There was a time when I would have rather bathed with feral cat than take my child to the dentist. Deep grooves and bad luck resulted in cavities that needed some serious work and the stress of it all was off the charts. She was terrified, I was guilt-ridden and frustrated with her and myself.
We managed to get through those tough appointments, but getting her in the chair for regular check ups after that trauma was not easy. We read books about the dentist and were even able to pop in for quick sit in the chair without an exam just to get her more comfortable. But the thing that really helped? Playing dentist.
As a surprise to absolutely no one, fear of the dentist, whether you’re a kid or a full grown adult is not uncommon. It’s our job as parents to help our little ones navigate that fear and sometimes the best way to do it is through practice. We spent hours welcoming stuffed animals into our playroom dentist’s office, “brushing” their teeth and congratulating them on being brave when they (always) had a cavity or two. Dentist toys were my life.
As a commerce writer in the parenting space, I’m constantly discovering products I wish I had when my kids were little. Case in point? The brilliant Super Smile Dentist Kit from Melissa & Doug.
Perfect for assuaging fears of the dentist and an engaging, fun way to teach kids how to care for their teeth (especially if you have a toddler who fights toothbrushing!), this realistic toy dentist kit has it all.
They can mark the oversize teeth with the dry erase marker or dot them with “cavity” stickers before polishing it off with the vibrating tool. Worried about losing teeth? Practice extractions on the molars which wiggle and pop out. They can even master flossing with the included dental floss. (Dentists everywhere rejoice!)
If we had this in our arsenal years ago, I can say with 100% certainty my daughter would still be playing with it. (One reviewer even notes that her 3-year-old and 11-year-old both love it.) It’s that perfect sweet spot of role play and education with just enough bells and whistles to keep their attention. And while there are other sets out there, this one gets rave reviews from preschool teachers and dental professionals alike for its durability and construction.
Whether you’re working through fears, inspiring a budding dentist, or just looking for a screen-free way to entertain your kid for hours, the Super Smile Dentist Kit from Melissa & Doug could be the best $25.99 you spend all month.
A version of this story was published February 4, 2022. It has been updated.