Tips for Going to the Dentist with Kids
My son went to his first dental appointment this past spring and luckily it went really well. Partially because of the dental practice we went to which was very child-friendly, and because we prepped our 3.5 year old too in making it seem like a fun experience even before we got there. Since then, he likes making a routine out of brushing his teeth at night with a recent addition of flossing too.
Fear of the unknown can have a negative impact on a child’s feelings toward their dental visits, and how we react to our own dental visits. (No more grumbling in the presence of the kiddos!) Ensuring that your child is familiar with the dental practice and the people that are going to help them keep their smile healthy will ease their fears and make the dental visit go smoothly.
- Find a dental practice that is kid-friendly. Do they mention that on their website? When going for your own appointments, do you see a lot of kids? Do you see fun kid charts or stickers? All these things are clues that your dentist and the hygenists are ready to ease the fears of your kids and make it fun.
- Bring kids along to your dental appointment even before they are old enough to go themselves. This will allow them to ask questions, see how each instrument will be used, and observe your experience. The added bonus is that it potentially can help them understand the importance of practicing good oral health behaviors even before they may have teeth of their own, like with my 10 month old! Just check with your dental office prior to your appointment to make sure it is okay to bring your child with you and if so, let them know how old they are. When I brought my preschooler and infant with me to a recent dental appointment, not only did they make sure I was in a room that could accommodate all of us and a stroller, they also had fun stickers and activities to keep my kids entertained! Which is why I knew they would also be great dental practice for my kids too!
- Keep consistent dental visits. Making the cleanings happen every 6 months, as most dental carriers recommend, will enable your child to develop a sense of familiarity and comfort with the dental team, as well provide vital preventive care!
- Reinforcing concepts such as daily brushing and flossing, by posting a calendar and rewarding your child a gold star or sticker for every day of teeth brushing or flossing (or both!) Help get your child excited about their next dental visit by bringing the calendar with you to show the dentist.
- Allow your child to bring their favorite toy or blanket with them on their dental visit to give them an added sense of security and comfort. We use my son’s monkey to demonstrate flossing and other dental habits, but the dental practice we go too also has fun stuffed animals with large fake teeth and a large toothbrush to to use, which the kids get a kick out of.
- Bring their favorite book to read to them during their dental appointment. Or in my case, I bring the iPhone loaded with fun apps, storybooks and movies. Heck, whatever works, right?
- Let your child wear a costume on their dental visit or do something else, like having them make a homemade card or drawing, that they can bring to the hygienist or dentist. It takes the focus off of the dental visit and more on something fun!
For other tips on helping your kids brush their teeth, see my post here. In our family, we call the germs in our mouth, the “Mouth Monsters”, that we have to get rid of by brushing our teeth! Which is why I was excited to see the new Toothpaste and Toothbrushes from Disney’s Monsters Inc., for the new Monsters University movie coming out this summer! If you would like one of each, leave a comment below about kid tooth brushing tips, or your favorite Monsters Inc. character, and I’ll pick one person to win using “And the Winner is” WordPress plugin. For all the rules, click here! I’ll close the comments on May 30, 2013!
For other tips on dental care for kids, visit the America’s ToothFairy Kids Club at www.AmericasToothFairyKids.org. I’ve written about them previously here. Members of this club receive quarterly fun, educational activities, tips and personalized letters from the ToothFairy, which can be a great resource for parents!
I received a complimentary toothpaste and toothbrush.