Unusual noises. Strange smells. People whose faces are hidden behind surgical masks. For a child, a trip to the dentist can cause some anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s important to make your child’s trip to the dentist as comfortable as possible to set the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy habits. If you’re looking for ways to make dental visits fun, try some of the following tips.
1. Be sure to use a pediatric dentist who is great with children.
Does your dentist specialize in treating young patients? This can make a huge difference. The dentist you go to may not be the best choice for your child. However, there are some dentists who treat both adults and children, focusing on family dentistry. Many of them have treated three generations of patients!
2. Show off a “dental report card.”
Your child may be afraid that the dentist will find cavities, which lead to fillings. This worry can make them nervous. To encourage your children to develop good oral health habits, print out this nifty calendar, perhaps using stickers to show how well they’ve brushed their teeth. When it’s time to visit the dentist, proudly show off this report card! The health care team will be thrilled that your child is doing a great job, and positive reinforcement is incredibly effective.
3. Let your child wear a special shirt or costume when going to the dentist.
Who wouldn't want to wear a Superman cape or princess gloves when going to the dentist? This may give children an extra dose of courage if they’re feeling a bit nervous. As long as the costume isn't bulky and doesn't make it difficult for the dentist to conduct an examination, it can provide a splash of fun. It’s a good chance to emphasize that dental health care professionals are part of a super team that stops the “bad guys” from harming teeth.
4. A few days before the appointment, introduce your child to Dudley the Dinosaur
Dudley is the official Jurassic ambassador of the American Dental Association (and he's a lot friendlier and cuddlier than his “cousins” from the movies). Dudley’s adventures involve his first trip to the dentist, losing teeth and why it’s important to use a mouth guard. He always brushes his teeth. After all, a T-Rex has to have healthy gums! You can follow his video adventures before seeing the dentist. There are also several tooth-related games and quizzes that make waiting rooms more entertaining.
5. Plan a fun and educational reward.
If your child has consistently brushed his or her teeth and behaves well at the dental office, why not give him or her a reward that involves the whole family. A visit to the Fleet Science Center or New Children’s Museum would be a great educational opportunity, particularly if there’s a scheduled exhibit on germs, microbes or anatomy. Those present a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of healthy habits.
Don't forget the train!
Of course, it helps a lot if your dentist has a kid-friendly office. Bright colors, cartoons, and a friendly atmosphere go a long way. At Dental Express, we’re partial to trains—and we’ve found that they’re popular with children of all ages. Most important, remember that your children take a lot of their cues from you. If you don’t demonstrate the importance of good oral health, how can you expect your children to do so? There are several ways to make a trip to the dentist more entertaining; the key is to select the one that is most effective for your child.