How to Make Going to the Dentist Fun (or less scary) For Your Child

Even if you are afraid of going to the dentist or let’s say, you’d rather hear nails down a chalkboard, you can still make it fun, well, at least not so scary for your kids by following a couple of simple rules.

Take them early for their first visit. Their first tooth is just as important as their last. Be consistent; visit your dentist every 6 months so it becomes part of their life.

Set good examples at home, have your children brush 2x daily but have them use a fun toothbrush…maybe one that lights up. Buy toothpaste that appeals to them, it may not be your preferred brand, but the point is, they are using it. Take your child shopping and let them pick out their toothbrush of choice.

Do your kids sing the birthday song or ABCs when washing their hands? In a similar fashion, have them hum it out while brushing; better yet, the motorized toothbrushes beep when it’s time to switch zones and shut off when it’s time. Although they cost more initially, it may pay off in the long run.

Before their appointment, don’t make promises you can’t keep; avoid saying things like, ”it won’t hurt”…pain is subjective, you have no way of knowing where their threshold is. While you’re at it, don’t use words like pain, ouch, and hurt; instead put a positive spin on it, use words that they can relate to; make up phrases that sound fun; for example, “the Dr. is going to get the Mister Ickies off your teeth so you can have a very pretty smile!” Use flowery, silly terms. Your children will eat it up.

Describe all the “cool” tools they are going to see and hear. Get creative, compare moving up and down in the chair to riding in a spaceship or airplane. You get the idea.

During and after their appointment, praise and reward their good behavior, don’t bribe or threaten. If you must, use a reward system. Offer a non-sugary snack or small toy after their appointment. Most dentists will provide a goody bag and have small toys, so your child may be happy as a clam with that.

Consider a family dentist; that way you can model good behavior and your child can watch how much fun you’re having!

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