To some families, there's little about a dental visit that’s exciting. Getting your teeth scraped and prodded usually doesn’t make a kiddo's list of top ten favorite activities. But – these visits are key to your child’s dental and overall health! So how do we make them a little more exciting? Here are three practical tips.
First, Befriend Your Dental Team!
When your child is familiar with the team at the office, they’ll be much more at ease with the whole experience. If they remember that they get to see the “funny guy with the cool glasses” who makes silly jokes, they will have a positive association with going to the dentist.
You can also remind them they get to show off the great job they’ve done brushing their teeth. Little ones love the feeling of being praised for a good job!
Here are two other practical ways your fam can stay familiar with your dental team:
Keep Up with Routine Visits
For most kids, this is twice a year. It’s much better to keep up with regular, fun visits instead of going only when a problem arises. For example, if you only go in for only toothaches, your child might start associating the dentist office with pain.
Plan a Pop-in Visit
If you’re ever driving by your child’s dental office, stop in for a brief hello! Or if there is a team member that your child particularly enjoys, bring in a special card for them — they will love the surprise!
If this is your child’s first dental visit, call the office to ask for a tour and a brief meet-and-greet. This will help them feel prepared and familiar with this whole dentist thing.
Hype Up the Visit with Fun Videos, Books, and Toys
If your child still has a favorite cartoon, search online for an episode about visiting the dentist. (PBS’s Daniel Tiger has a great one.) Your dental office might even have their own introduction video on their website geared towards children.
A local library is another great resource. Search there for children’s books that talk about visiting the dentist and brushing your teeth.
As for toys, you've got a ton of options, and they're something to consider: by having your little one "play" dentist, they’re more likely to feel comfortable for their actual visits!
Finally, Use the Power of Rewards!
Remind your kiddos that at the end of the tunnel, they get a special prize! Whether that’s a toy their dentist lets them pick out of a bucket or even just a shiny new toothbrush and toothpaste!
You can also offer your own reward, like a visit to your favorite local eatery or bakery after each dental visit — not just the cavity-free ones. That way, their visit will be filled with excitement for what’s to come, versus feeling nervous that they won’t make the grade if they do have a cavity.
If your child’s dental office has fun toys or magazines in the lobby, TVs in the exam rooms, or other amenities, then that’s just icing on the cake!
Above all, show your own excitement for visiting the dentist: the more your children see your ease, the more they will have!