If you have a little one, these 6 ways to help kids love the dentist can make the difference between a productive visit and a complete meltdown. I’ve experienced both and these steps have been a lifesaver.
The screams could be heard across the entire office.
Despite me sitting right beside my little girl, it was as if I was a million miles away. No amount of coaxing, or leg rubbing or “hush,hush-ing” could calm her.
And in many ways, I felt I was partially to blame.
Hannah was 1 and she was sitting in the dentist chair for the very first time. And it was not going well, to say the least.
We did make it through the visit…I don’t think much was accomplished in terms of the dentist actually looking in Hannah’s mouth. But no blood was shed so we gathered our stuff and bolted out of there!
On the way home and the rest of the day, I was beating myself up, wondering what I could have done different, done better that could have prevented the epic meltdown from earlier in the day.
It took me a while…took some practice…and took a plan.
But over the years I have learned several tips that take the fear out of dentist appointments for little ones.
And they are simple…yay!
Easy to implement…yay!
And free or cheap…yay!!
1. Start Brushing Their Teeth Right Away – Like seriously, you cannot start too young. When they are adorable little pudgy bodies with toothless grins, you can use a washcloth or a finger brush and gently wipe their gums.
Once their first tooth comes in, use a small amount of training toothpaste on a soft bristled brush and brush their teeth and gums.
Just getting kids USED to a toothbrush and that feeling is invaluable.
2. Brush Their Teeth The Way A Dentist Will – And by that I mean, have them lay down on the ground and get behind their head. Not only does this give you the best angle to clean their teeth but this is how it will feel to them when the dentist is at their head looking in. Just getting used to that feeling will prepare them for that visit.
3. Buy Dental Insurance And NEVER Miss Those Bi-Annual Check-Ups – When I was young, not as much was known about the importance of taking care of baby teeth. Most parents figured these teeth would fall out so brushing and flossing wasn’t really that important.
Wrong! Now it is widely known that the preventive care given to even baby teeth sets your child up for a much healthier outlook once their permanent teeth come.
So I am very thankful that my parents always kept us under their dental insurance plans.
We dutifully went on twice-yearly check ups (which were FREE!), had our X-Rays, and received the preventive care (like sealants) that stopped so many future problems.
I have made sure my own family never goes without dental insurance, like the cost-saving plans from Guardian Dental. There are a variety of dental plans to choose from and the great news is that you can purchase a plan at ANY point during the year!
In addition to having an easy-to-navigate site that lets you find the insurance plan that’s right for you, their website is chock full of great tips for keeping teeth healthy and preventing problems.
4. Provide An Assortment And Variety Of Dental Tools – In our house, the girls have a greater chance of buy in if A) They Get To Help Pick The Stuff and B) The Stuff We Have Is Cute And Fun.
So when it comes to taking care of their teeth, we try to meet both.
I bought fun spinning-type brushes that let them decorate the handles.
We have pink AND blue fluoride mouthwash. We have regular dental floss (for my oldest who has really tight teeth) and individual flossers for my younger daughter.
We also keep regular manual toothbrushes because those are easier for the kids to use in the morning by themselves.
5. Practice “Taking X-Rays” – At one of our most recent dentist appointment, our dentist shared this super simple way to help your child get accustomed to those awkward “bite-wing” X-rays…you know, the ones that feel like something is about to push your cheek out!
She gave us some tongue-depressors and told us to have our daughter use her back molars to bite down gently. It’s just awkward enough to get her used to that X-Ray!
6. Don’t Make Cavities Be The Big Bad Monster – Do cavities suck? Yes! Do fillings cost a lot of money? Yes! Are they slightly painful? Yes!
But a large percentage of children will develop at least one cavity…so if you have made it out to be this terrible, awful thing, they will be terrified if that day comes.
I tell my girls, “Let’s brush our teeth to keep them clean, white and healthy. We want to avoid cavities BUT should you get one, we will deal with that. I’ve had them and kids get them and they have all been okay!”
Helping your child not be afraid of the dentist at a young age will help set them up for a lifetime!
Be sure and check out Guardian Dental for an insurance plan that is perfect for you and your family!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.