Who likes taking their kids to the dentist? I have to say it ranks pretty low on things that I like to do; slightly above getting their 15 month shots but significantly below going to the grocery store the weekend before a major holiday. But, as must fun as it is, it's super important to start off on the right foot and help kids know that going to the dentist can be fun.
In honor of National Dental Health Month I made my two older kids appointments to have their teeth cleaned. I have one who is more than happy to hop into the dental chair and smiles afterward admiring her new polished teeth. And then I have the polar opposite kid... the one who cries before we are even in the door, the one who screams so loud people stare (as I am quickly crawling under the exam chair to hide in embarrassment), and the one who maybe one time hopped off the chair and had to be caught running down the hall of the office. Cue more embarrassment. This time I was determined not to have a repeat of our super fun appointment six months earlier.
After spending quite a bit of time online researching I found the following tips to be helpful in overcoming dental anxiety in kids:
- Start Young- the earlier you start the more routine going to the dentist will be.
- Keep It Simple- we've all heard the the phrase KISS. Keep it simple. Don't use words like shot and hurt but rather tell your child the dentist is going to count their teeth and make sure they're healthy. Shot and hurt can trigger negative emotions and make even getting in the door of the office harder.
- Role Play- at home you can play dentist to get a child ready for their visit. Allow them to be the dentist so they feel a sense of control.
- Praise their Good Behavior- once the appointment is over find something to praise, even if it is as simple as saying, "Thank you for using nice manners when the doctor gave you a new toothbrush."
Mamas I want you to know you are not alone and yes, this too shall pass. Six months was all we needed to turn a miserable experience into a positive one. By keeping it simple we made it through without a tear this time around. He wasn't happy to be there, but it wasn't a complete fight to count his teeth either. And after it was all over he was pretty proud of his new toothbrush.
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And speaking of toothbrushes here's a few of our favorites:
Sonicare for Kids. This is the gold standard when it comes to kids electric toothbrushes. It takes the guess work out of brushing too hard or not hard enough. Once purchased, you can buy replacement heads when needed. It has a built in timer to make sure they are brushing for the full two minutes recommended and two power modes, low for children up to age 7, and high for those older.
Firefly Light Up Toothbrushes. Firefly toothbrushes light up and flash for the amount of time kids need to be brushing their teeth. This serves as a great visual for kids to keep track of time with and for parents to say you can't stop til it's done flashing. Available in many colors and with popular characters like Iron Man and Strawberry Shortcake they are a favorite at this house.
Brush Buddies. Do you have a music fan at your house? Brush Buddies have two songs, one for the morning and one for the night. My daughter is a big One Direction fan and loves listening to her favorite songs while she brushes her teeth. With several artists to choose from there's bound to be one that your kids will love.
The Shopping Mama was not compensated for this post.