Bottom line: While I applaud the sentiment behind At the Dentist, I found the gameplay itself to be awkward and unoriginal with very little actual content that could be considered as something that might actually help prepare children that are apprehensive about visiting the dentist.
No ads, no in-app purchases, no external links
We start off in At the Dentist at the reception desk in the dentist’s office. Upon dinging the bell, we meet the receptionist and are asked to fill out a registration card consisting of name, age, and a picture. You cannot advance in the app without filling this out, even though some parents would resist adding a picture of their child (despite assurances from developer that information is not collected.) I never encountered anywhere else in the app that these items popped up. No end-of-visit report or anything.
After filling out the registration, we were sent to the waiting room. In the waiting room we encounter two things – a clock and a book. Tapping the book takes us to an open page in a book showing an empty plate and some foods. The intention here is apparently for us to choose the foods that are not bad for a child’s teeth. The plate fills up as we choose good foods, but there isn’t really any reward for completing. Tapping the clock takes us to a screen that simply shows us a timer that we are to set & wait for a countdown before we see the dentist. It appears you must go through this step each time.
In the exam room itself there are four options for interaction. A light can be turned on and off. The chair can be moved up and down. There is a set of teeth that we tap on and it is implied that we will be shown how to brush teeth better. (There is a toothbrush available, but no instructions about the proper way to brush. Users just kind of drag the brush around until the activity is over.) There is also and activity where users are introduced to each of the dental instruments. While this is a little more pertinent, there is no demonstration or explaination of how they are used and some of them look pretty intimidating on the tray. I also had a lot trouble with finding the right place to tap to hear the names of each item (pretty much each of them said “dental probe” if you touched them in the right place.)
This game offers a section that is intended to show statistics, but we could not determine in any way at all how it was tracking things. We spent relatively equal time in all sections, but only the exam room was showing any activity. Upon subsequent plays, it just seemed random where our time went.
While it’s nice that there are multiple languages available, I will echo our concerns from the “In the Outdoors” review that the omission of Spanish is a real downfall. It is a plus that both music and voice can be muted in the settings, but it would be far better if there were buttons to do it on the fly while actually playing.
As a whole, I just felt like this app had very little to do with actually assuaging children’s fears about the dentist. It is presented as a role playing app that has very little actual role playing. The gameplay itself is awkward, the artwork is elementary, and at $2.99 it is overpriced.
I will note that this developer has been very open and accepting of criticism, so I want it to be productive criticism in the hopes that it will be taken and perhaps used in future updates of the app.
A few positive notes. The developers seem quite aware of most parental concerns regarding security and have created an app with no ads, in-app purchases, or external links. The developer also asked us to note that the app contains original music and that they had composed their sound effects from scratch. I recognize the effort that goes into creating quality apps, and I hope that they can perhaps put some of that effort into rounding out their content.
Watch this app in action here:
Kelli has always been able to sleep through dental exams. Smart Apps for Kids was paid a fee to review this app in a priority manner.