Every child deserves a great smile. And keeping little smiles healthy and happy means regular dental visits. But what do you do when your child clings to the leg of the dining room table he or she is hiding under, screaming like a wild banshee, because it’s time to go to the dentist? How can you help your kiddo to not be so afraid?
We have nine tips that can help make your child’s next visit a happier one:
1. Find a dentist who is good with kids. Look for someone with a heaping dose of positivity as well as a superabundance of fun, yet gentle, ideas for making children feel more comfortable in the dentist’s chair. Our own Dr. Matthew McCleery specializes in pediatric dentistry and has a friendly, easy personality that children (and their parents) find reassuring.
2. Talk about teeth. Having regular chats with your child about brushing and flossing reinforces that oral health is a normal part of everyday life. When it comes time for your child’s appointment, the topic of teeth (and checking to make sure they are still healthy) won’t seem weird or scary.
3. Schedule a Happy Visit with our office. This is our opportunity to meet your child and become good friends. Your son or daughter will be led on a personal tour of the office, have the chance to meet the dentist and give the cool dental chairs a “test sit.”
4. Make going to the dentist a twice-a-year event. When you put off dental visits, the extended time between appointments can cause children to forget just how easy and fun going to the dentist can be. Bring your child in every six months for best dental health.
5. Talk about expectations. Using “kid words,” discuss with your child what to expect during a visit to the dentist. Most fears in life stem from the unknown, so make sure your kiddo understands that dentists are simply helpful adults who know a lot about teeth and how to keep them healthy.
6. Role play. Time for a bit of make-believe. Pretend like you are the dentist and have your child sit in the “dentist’s chair.” Have him open his mouth wide and then use a toothbrush to count each one of his teeth. Switch places and have him do the same to you.
7. Don’t share prior terrible dental experiences with your children. Children often acquire their fears via the stories they hear from others. Instead, be a force of dentist positivity.
8. Avoid using scary words when talking about the dentist. Words such as “hurt,” “freezing,” “shot,” or “drill” can strike fear in the hearts of little ones. Instead, use long yet simple descriptions to talk about what might happen when your child visits the dentist. Keep words upbeat.
9. Bring a familiar comfort item from home, such as a blanket or a special toy. If your child has a favorite song, let her listen to it during the exam.
You are doing your children a huge favor when you invest in their oral care. Bravo, parents! Visiting the dentist every six months creates a lifelong habit of taking care of one of the most important things in life… a happy, healthy smile.
Ready to schedule a Happy Visit for your child? Click here to get started!