Kids don’t usually like going to the dentist. In fact, when I was younger, I hated it! The thought of someone playing about with my teeth just made me nervous. And then there’s all the pointy tools they use. No thanks.
But, it’s a vital part of any healthy lifestyle. For our children, it’s especially important. Youngsters have to look after their teeth from a young age, or face serious problems further down the line. As a parent, it’s your job to get them to the dentist for their regular checkup. But if they don’t like it, what can you do?
If they’re putting up a fight so much that they actually refuse to go, then you have a problem. As I just mentioned, it’s vital for their health - so you have to get them there.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can make this most dreaded of family trips more enjoyable. If you do so, it’ll be smiles all around! Quite literally. Read on for some expert tips on making the dentist more enjoyable!
Do something enjoyable before you go
You have to soften the impact of the dentist, so by doing something fun before you leave the house, you start off on the right foot. Contrasting something fun with something less fun balances the day out. This also gives you an opportunity to spend more one on one time with your kids, as an added bonus.
You could let your kids relax with their favorite TV show, film or video game. You could take them for ice cream, or to a nice restaurant. Let them relax and have fun before they go, and they’ll be less likely to get worried about the whole thing.
Take the whole family with you!
We tend to be more comfortable when surrounded by our families, and the same is true of your children too. By booking a family dentist appointment instead of a single child one, you can put everyone at ease.
This is because if your children see you in the chair before them, they’ll see it doesn’t look all that bad. By going with their brothers and sisters, they have a friend to talk to and have fun with while they wait for their turn. Your kids are relying on yourself and their family for support, so be there for them!
Arrive to your appointment as early as possible
As the saying goes; better late than never! But is being late helpful in any way? No, not really. By making your child late for their appointment, you’ll be rushing, you’ll be flustered and you won’t have time to calm them before the chair.
Arriving early has several benefits. One, you can sit down in the waiting area beforehand and have a chat with each other. This helps to take their mind off things, and gives you the opportunity to make them feel better about the situation.
Secondly, rushing around only increases levels of stress, and this is not a time when you want anyone to be stressed! You want to arrive in plenty of time so everyone remains as calm and collected as possible.
Lastly, by showing up promptly you have plenty of time to fill in all the relevant paperwork. This won’t really help your child directly, but if you’re more organized you can put more attention on them.
Bring toys and items that they like
If there’s a particular toy, magazine or games console that makes them feel more comfortable, then don’t forget to pack it! Or, maybe your children like to carry a blanket or pillow. Having these home comforts with us goes a long way in reducing dental anxiety.
Enforce strict brushing and flossing rules
The more healthy your kids teeth are, the less pain they’ll have to endure at the dentist. Depending on their age, it will be up to you to make sure they brush, floss and clean properly. The cleaner their teeth are, the easier their trip to the dentist will become.
It’s recommended that people brush twice a day for at least two minutes. You should also teach your children how to floss correctly, and ask them to do it as often as possible. Don’t forget that mouthwash either; use it straight after brushing for the best results.
To make this strict dental hygiene a bit more kid-friendly, consider buying some items aimed at kids. You can buy toothbrushes and flossers that are branded with superheroes and Star Wars. You can even get toothbrushes that light up! If you make dental hygiene feel more like a game, they’ll get more out of it.
Switch to a different dentist
Perhaps you and your kids just can’t jive with your current dentist. If this is the case, I’d recommend applying for a switch. Maybe the only reason your kids hate the chair is because they don’t like the dentist themselves.
There really isn’t anything you can do here other than switch practices. We all know how stubborn kids can be at times, and if they don’t like an adult then that will stick! Changing to a new dentist isn’t too difficult; enquire locally and find one that’s suitable for you.
Reward them each time they go
I’m not saying to buy them some sweets right after each appointment - that’s counter-productive. But if you take them swimming or to the movies after the appointment, the time will fly by.
If they have a reward in store, your children will be more willing to cooperate. Of course, it doesn’t always have to be something as big as a cinema trip. Even the small things count! Cook them their favorite meal at home or let them off their chores for a day.
And there’s our guide! I don’t know many people who are particularly fond of the dentist, but we just have to grit our teeth and do it. Literally.
If your children are struggling with dental anxiety, then try out some of these tips and see what works. Best of luck on your next trip!