The covers of Latia Smith's three children's books.

Children's book author makes dental visits fun

Dec. 19, 2023
Her career in pediatric dentistry led this hygienist to make children's visits to the dentist easier through her children's books.

Pediatric dentistry adapts to the care and needs of children. Working in a pediatric setting, I experienced an environment created just for kids. The dental staff turns dental visits into an  adventure that children look forward to. Children are rewarded with the proper tools they need for home care, they get fun prizes, and they strive to become part of a cavity-free community. The reward for the staff is maintaining children’s oral health in the fight against one of the top US diseases in children—cavities.

I created a series of children’s books to make the dentist fun and informative for little readers. Peter’s Trip to the Dentist depicts what to expect at a routine dental visit. Readers join six-year-old Peter as he journeys with his family to the dentist. This book discusses dental cleanings, taking radiographs, and getting a check-up. Home care instructions are given to maintain good oral health. This pleasant experience helps children look forward to their next visit.

In Charlotte Gets Braces, when Charlotte loses the last of her primary teeth, she’s excited to finally visit an orthodontist to see if she’s a good candidate for braces. As summer draws to a close, she wonders if she’ll get her wish of going to school with braces. In this book, young readers learn that getting braces can be exciting, what getting braces involves, and that the result is a beautiful and healthy smile.

No one looks forward to getting a cavity filled, especially for the first time. In Mimi Gets a Tooth Filling, Mimi bites into something hard and feels pain in one of her teeth. The discomfort when she chews results in a trip to the dentist. Dr. Jason, the town’s pediatric dentist, discovers a cavity in one of Mimi’s back teeth. He removes the decay and places a filling with ease and comfort. Young readers learn all about fillings.

Oral health is important for people of all ages. Establish a good foundation at an early age that will foster a positive relationship between a child and dentist. My children’s books tell readers that pediatric dentists guide parents and children to develop early healthy habits for teeth that will lead to healthy permanent teeth. I hope my books help children find comfort and excitement in dental hygiene, dentistry, and good nutrition.

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My creative process

I envisioned the many children who have visited pediatric practices. I thought about my time in a pediatric dental office, and what dental professionals do throughout our days. I remembered why I became a dental hygienist! Peter was a creation of my imagination. I could picture him standing in front of his bathroom mirror getting ready for his dental visit. From there I pieced together the words, and the words became a story. When I was done, I had written my first children’s dental book.

My education, training, and clinical practice skills molded me as a dental hygienist. My continuing education keeps me up to date with the evolving profession. My knowledge enables me to write my books. Now I can reach out to a large population of families, schools, and pediatric dental offices. During Children’s Dental Health Month in February, I tour schools to educate children about their oral health and I have a read aloud session with them. I have officially branded myself!

Latia Smith, RDH, is a UNC Chapel Hill dental hygiene graduate who developed a passion for writing children’s dental books to share common scenarios that occur at the dentist. Her books create a fun-filled atmosphere where the dentist and staff provide comfort and meet children’s needs. Her books educate readers and build confidence in children to receive dental treatment. Latia advocates for oral health by educating her community with oral hygiene instructions, nutritional counseling, and ways to prevent oral disease.