Parents want what is best for their children and part of this is providing them with proper dental care so that they establish good dental habits at a young age. Children, on the other hand, often have an entirely different idea of what is best for them. Any child would choose to watch TV and eat candy over going to the dentist to get their teeth cleaned. Some children even loathe dental visits, which can make things quite difficult when their dental appointment rolls around.
As a parent, you understand the importance of regular dental visits. But, how do you make your child cooperate when it comes to dental visits? Here are five ways to get your kids excited about the dentist:
Choose a Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric dentists have specialized training that is centered around children and their dental needs. Pediatric dentists are able to communicate effectively with children, employ child-friendly staff, and have the properly sized tools to make your child as comfortable as possible. All those factors will minimize negative experiences at the dentist. Additionally, pediatric dentists usually have bright, colorful offices that are designed with children in mind. Often times, they have a large selection of toys in the waiting area and some even have TVs or tablets for children to use during their appointments. Choosing a pediatric dentist for your child will help them be more excited about visiting the dentist’s office. For more information, see “The Top 5 Reasons to Take Your Child to a Pediatric Dentist”.
Kids love to play and use their imaginations. By playing dentist with them, you are communicating about dentists with them in a way they understand. It also normalizes dental visits and helps your child to associate them with positive experiences. When you play dentist with your child, it provides a comfortable environment for them where you can present educational information about dental visits and oral health. It also acts as a practice for real dental visits and can help your child be more prepared to visit the dentist because they will know what to expect. Your child may also be excited to tell the dentist all the things they know from playing dentist.
Never Use the Dentist as a Threat
Some parents try to discourage their children from eating sugary foods by saying they will get cavities and have to go to the dentist. While there is truth to this, you should never use dental visits as a threat of any kind. Visiting the dentist should not be perceived as a punishment for eating sugary foods or not brushing their teeth every day. Rather, visiting the dentist should be viewed as any other routine, like getting dressed in the morning or eating dinner in the evening. While making dental appointments routine may not exactly excite your child, it will definitely help them be more accepting of dental visits.
Use Books and Apps
Nowadays, there are tons of children’s books about dentists that can help familiarize your child with the dentist in a fun way. Furthermore, the illustrations in children’s books will portray dentists in a positive light and your children will likely identify with the main character. Reading to your child also has many other benefits. In addition to books, there are also several dental apps for children to help get your child excited about their oral health and dental visits.
While some fears are instinctual, fear of the dentist is usually learned. Young children will look to you to determine how they should react in a certain situation. If you have dental anxiety, there is a risk you may pass it on to them. Therefore, you should mentally prepare yourself for their dental appointments so that you can be calm, present, and in control of your emotions. Additionally if you act excited about the dentist, your children will pick up on this as well.
While taking your child to the dentist can sometimes be a challenge, these five strategies should be able to help make their experience easier and more exciting. Choosing the right pediatric dentist, playing dentist with your child, never using the dentist as a threat, using dental books and apps, and managing your own emotions are all essential strategies to presenting your child with a positive dental experience. The more excited your child is about visiting their dentist, the more likely they will have great dental habits for the rest of their life.
Dr. April Toyer is Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. Certification by the ABPD provides assurance to the public that a pediatric dentist has successfully completed accredited training and a voluntary examination process designed to continually validate the knowledge, skills, and experience requisite to the delivery of quality patient care.” She is proud to be a consultant for Committee of Sedation and Anesthesia for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.