According to WebMD, anywhere from nine to 20 percent of adults in the U.S. avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. Much of that stems from childhood experiences, which means as a parent, you can help set the stage for a lifetime of better oral health by getting your kids to love going to the dentist.
Start Taking Them While They’re Young
If it’s not too late, start taking them to the dentist while they’re still young, ideally around their first birthday. The earlier they start going, the more comfortable they’ll be with it later on.
Be a Good Role Model
Be a good role model by making sure that your kids see you brushing and flossing. Instead of sending them into the bathroom on their own, make it a part of your daily routine to brush and floss with them.
Educate at Home
Educate your kids as early as possible at home. There are lots of children’s books about going to the dentist that can spark conversation while emphasizing the importance of taking care of their teeth. You might even have them brush the “teeth” of their stuffed animals. There are some fun and useful toys you can use too, like vampire teeth that glow in the dark. Educational apps can also help, such as “My Healthy Smile” that teaches kids about dental cleanings, x-rays, losing their baby teeth and the importance of eating a nutritious diet.
Choose a Children’s Dentist
Choose a children’s dentist in Wilkes-Barre, PA or whatever city that’s most convenient to you as pediatric offices can be found across the country. They specialize in kids, which means they have the technology to make cleanings and treatments a more positive experience such as painless injections and laser dentistry. The offices are usually bright and colorful, with waiting rooms filled with fun toys, and they may even have televisions in the ceiling above the dental chairs to help distract from what’s going on. Pediatric dentists understand the importance of using non-threatening, positive language to make the experience a better one as well.
Do a Practice Run
Before your child’s appoint, do some role playing to get him or her comfortable with what will happen. Pretend to be the dentist, with your child as the patient. Ask them to open their mouth wide so you can count and brush their teeth, then have them look at their smile in a mirror. You may want to play in reverse too, letting your child play the role of the dentist as she or he examines your teeth.
Get Them Excited About Going
Get your child excited about going to the dentist by using more positive phrases such as “Yay, we get to go to the dentist,” rather than “We have to go to the dentist.” You might show them pictures of the dentist’s office, especially if they have a waiting room with a play area and toys, which gives them something to look forward to.