In addition to Valentine’s Day, February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. The focus is to “promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others”. The thought of taking your child to the dentist might make you worry and try to put it off. I’m sharing a few things that have worked for us to ease the anxiety that might arise.
1-Get in early. We took our kids to the dentist as soon as they got their first tooth. This was a great time for us to check out the office, staff, cleanliness and of course beforehand we read dozens of reviews before we found the right one.
2-Social Stories. We printed out social stories, here’s an example. These are detailed step-by-step mini books that explain what will happen at the office. You can even find some editable ones where you plug in your child’s name.
3-Get hands-on. We ordered this Play-Doh toy. This is a great hands-on tool for your children to see what is happening in their mouth during the visit. If you want to skip the toy, there are loads of ideas on Pinterest for teeth, many of which have your child practice flossing.
4-Books! Books are such an easy way to open discussion. Amazon has loads of books to prepare your child for the dentist.
5-Put aside your fears. This is a hard one, since many adults struggle with a major fear of the dentist. We can easily pass those fears on to our children if we don’t watch what we say or how we approach dental care. It also helps to avoid all the dental horror stories online. If you look up a dental procedure there is bound to be a terrible story out there. Instead, focus on how to avoid major procedures down the road.
Prevention is key and brushing twice a day plus a daily floss can do so much. The first step to good dental health (in my opinion) is to make it a part of their daily routine at an early age. You might think it’s silly that your child is just chewing on their toothbrush, but it’s a start. You know your child best and they might just be more prone to sensitivity. Maybe they are shy or just don’t like someone’s hands in their mouth. Talk to the dentist about your child’s personality, your fears and what you can do to ease any worries.
If you haven’t been to a pediatric dentist since the 90’s, things have changed! You’ll find them much more child-friendly. At ours, the kids wear headphones and watch cartoons on a ceiling tv while they are having work done. Also, most of the equipment and products used have fun little nicknames and they get a prize after for stopping in.
Head to the ADA website for printable downloads and other resources on dental health.