If you have a baby, a toddler or a preschooler, making them go to a dental checkup probably caused you lots of headaches. From a child’s point of view, seeing the dentist can be an extremely frightening event.
It isn’t difficult to empathize with them - lying back in a chair while a complete stranger is poking and drilling in your mouth with metal instruments isn’t a fun activity. This makes your job of promoting good dental care a much harder task.
So, how to explain to your kids that regular dental visits are essential for their health? Here are 5 simple tips on what you can do to help your kids start taking care of their teeth, and make every visit to the dentist a complete success.
You’re probably wondering what’s the right time to schedule your child’s first dental visit? Some experts say that kids should be examined even before they get their first tooth. If you think this is too early, wait until their first tooth comes out, or around their first birthday.
Know that even before the first checkup, a paediatrician will have a look at your baby’s mouth as well. However, only a dentist can identify early signs of oral cavity, jaw and soft palate. Regular checkups should begin at the age of 2. If you haven’t adopted this practice yet, hurry up and take your children to the dentist as soon as you can.
The best way to prepare your children for the first dental visit is to talk to them about it, explaining what they will go through. Your first talk should introduce your children to the importance of brushing and oral health.
When kids are really small, we want to teach them about their bodies by talking about different body parts: head, eyes, hands and belly buttons. It’s a good idea to mention teeth and tongue, explaining what these body parts do and how to keep them healthy. Also, there are lots of picture books, songs and mobile apps which can help you teach the little ones about the importance of having healthy teeth.
The more they learn, the easier their first dental visit will be.
When trying to teach your kids to adopt good dental care habits, take baby steps. If they show signs of resistance, don’t push them. Threats and blackmailing will make their experience a bad one and increase their fear and resistance in the long run. During the first visit, your child might be reluctant to follow dentist’s instructions.
Sometimes it takes two or three visits before the child “opens up” and lets the dentist have a look. It’s crucial to make the first checkup as comfortable as possible. This should prevent negative consequences and help your children adopt the good habit of seeing the dentist on a regular basis.
You might not be aware, but your attitude towards various things is something that your kids easily pick up on. If you think of a dental checkup as a frightening experience, your children will most likely adopt this attitude. Kids will mirror your behaviour (remember the last time you had a dental checkup).
Our moods are another thing kids notice without exception - if you’re anxious when preparing for a trip to your family dentist, this will make them nervous, too. Avoid “motivating” them by telling them stories about painful procedures and how you had your teeth extracted because of the cavity.
Be positive and explain that checkups are intended to preserve their dental health and keep their smiles lovely.
You might be happy with your dentist and this could be a good choice for you, but not necessarily for your children. A sterile and “adult” dental office might not bother you, but most children dentists design their offices to be kid-friendly. This means avoiding scary pictures of dental conditions in the waiting room.
To make children less anxious, they arrange fun activities (video games and movies) to make waiting much more pleasant. A perfect child dentist is someone who is gentle, has lots of patience with kids, fidgety and hyperactive. They will explain all the procedures carefully before performing them and build the patient-doctor trust slowly.
If you live in the Gold Coast & Brisbane vicinity, schedule an appointment at with us and see if we are a good fit for your family!