Getting your little one(s) excited to go to the dentist may sound like pulling teeth (pun intended), but with a bit of creativity, they might look forward to every visit. The first trip is always a little fearful, but the sooner you start cleaning, the easier things will go. You can also try a few tricks to get them excited and give them something to look forward to instead of pitching a fit.
You like knowing what to expect when you visit a new doctor, and usually, the more information gained, the more comfortable you feel. The same concept applies to kids – tell them what will happen and why. The “why” is so important, and if you walk them through their visit, they might think it’s not so bad. We prepped our kids with a few books and a song or two. Raffi has a cute jingle called “Brush Your Teeth” that may get your child more interested in going to the dentist, but before you listen to that song with them, know that you will have it in your head ALL DAY.
Lead by Example
In our house, we have a nightly ritual that involves me brushing along with our two youngest for a solid two minutes. I have a little trick, though; whoever can go the full two minutes brushing with mom gets a prize. In our case, it’s a sticker on a chart, ten of which will earn them any item they want from the dollar store. Sure, it’s bribery, but it works. You can do the same thing for the dentist. A promise of a small toy after the visit will give them something to work toward.
Take your kids to the dentist with you for your cleaning so they see it’s not as bad as it sounds. I took our two oldest to the dentist (not necessarily by choice) for my cleanings. I always explain that some sugar bugs hide in your mouth so well that no matter how much you brush or floss it takes a special person to scare them away. If mom can do it, they can do it, and they will be eager to get up in the chair squealing, “My turn! My turn!”
The Cool Gear
Today’s toothpaste flavors and choices are endless. Let your child pick out their favorite along with a toothbrush that sings or lights up. The toothbrushes are the coolest because some of them sing long enough for them to brush each tooth. The new little flossers are just as fun, but supervise while they practice gentle flossing to avoid any gum sensitivity. Feel free to improvise, but I start with their favorite character singing toothbrush, their toothpaste, and fancy flossers in their favorite colors.
Enjoy your dentist and their staff! Make sure to get a dentist who specializes in children’s dentistry. Get to know everyone in the office and make sure you portray fun, excitement, and bravery while talking to everyone. Kids constantly watch you and if you are smiling, chances are they will too.
No matter how you go about your dentist excursions, reassurance, and a great attitude proves to your kids that visiting the dentist is not so scary. The hardest part you may have is getting them to stop asking when their next visit is.