Frightened of the dentist? Here are three ways to calm your child
Here’s a magic trick for you. How do you make a ton of candy disappear in a second? Bring it to our house in the holiday season. Yep, my kids managed to chomp their way through a pile of sugary stuff that would feed a large village for a year but, hey, it was the holidays – and we’re pretty good the rest of the year. My kids brush their teeth pretty well and it’s even better now that our Brushies have come to live with us – more about that later. But soon it’ll be time for our routine trip to the dentist and for many young kids, they’d rather get kissed a gazillion times by Great Aunt Sadie with the big moustache than go see Doc Dentist.
Being a little scared of the dentist is perfectly normal, and, if we’re honest, a trip to the dentist can be a little nerve-wracking even for us grown-ups, too. You can’t let your child skip visits, so try out some of these strategies to reduce their fears and make their experience as nice as possible.
Practise at home: Yep, you get to play dentist and patient with your child! Make it fun – and of course painless. No home extractions, please! But use pretend instruments and a pretend dentist’s chair. You take first turn at being dentist; be gentle and fun. “Right, what I’m going to do is check your smile and count your teeth,” you might say. Count your child’s teeth in a fun way, and even use a mirror so they can look into their own mouths. Then let your child be dentist. Making a game of it will reduce your child’s anxiety.
Use positive words: Tell your child how your dentist helps us all get strong, healthy, teeth; beautiful smiles and clean mouths. Using positive, happy words helps to create a belief in the dental treatment as a good thing rather than something to be dreaded and endured.
Reward: Most pediatric dentists already incorporate rewards into their routines, but if they don’t, it can be very helpful to have rewards handy to give your child after their visit. I’m not talking about candy – that’s a little self-defeating! Perhaps a trip out to their favorite park or toy store – whatever they enjoy. And of course, minimizing the impact of the dentist on the day by including it as a “minor” item in the day’s adventures may play a part in minimizing the fear. I’ll say something like “Ok, we’ll go to the park for half an hour, and then after we’ve been to the dentist we’ll catch an hour at the mall.”
Talking of rewards, I gave my kid a pre-dentist reward by letting them choose a Brushie. Brushies is a game that makes brushing fun. Our Brushie, Pearly (a blue penguin – or you can have pink!) sits on my kid’s toothbrush and the clever science stuff inside measures and records the brushstrokes to help my kid brush properly for the right length of time – and I don’t even have to be in the bathroom with him!
The geeky science guys and gals on the Brushies Team are offering 247Mom readers a $10 discount off the price of Pearly, the first Brushie to hit the market. Go, fetch one!
Click here to visit Brushies website and to get the 24/7 MOMS reader discount.
Disclaimer: I have teamed up with Brushies in support of this campaign. We received compensation for participation in this campaign. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.