How to get kids excited about the dentist?
Getting kids to the dentist can be like, well, pulling teeth. Kids often associate the dentist as a scary event; they have to lie still in a chair while a stranger pokes and prods sharp metal tools around in their mouth. Plus, if your child has had a painful experience, such as having to fill in a cavity, it may be difficult to convince them to go back. Yet, going to the dentist is not only a necessary part of life, but an important healthful step to having good hygiene as an adult.
Here are a few things that you can do to try and get your kids excited about the dentist:
Use Positive Phrases
Don’t tell your kids what the dentist is actually doing. Words like “doctor,” “cleaning,” or “hurt” may discourage children. Instead, before the appointment, tell your child that they are going to have their teeth counted and their smile checked. If your child is still unsure, try telling them that the dentist has to check their “sugar bugs” or “mouth monsters” to make sure that there isn’t anything hiding in there.
Try A Reward System
Kids are always excited about things that bring rewards and are often much more likely to do something if they know that there is external motivation involved. For example, a child might make their bed because they know they get a dollar every week for doing so. While sugary rewards aren’t a great idea for after the dentist, you can get your child excited to go to the dentist by having a reward that involves spending time together. For example, reward your child by taking the mini-golfing or to the playground. Perhaps, even try giving them coupons for later activities like going out to lunch or having a sleepover with friends on the weekends.
Read Dentist-themed books
Read-A-Loud’s are often a great way for parents to connect with their children. Finding a book that you can read with your child is both a learning opportunity and a way to excite them to go to the dentist. Pick a book that encourages good behavior, such as “Maisy, Charley and the Wobbly Tooth: A Maisy first Experience book” by Lucy Cousins. This book is about Maisy’s friend who has to go to the dentist because of a wobbly tooth. He’s scared, but his friends are there to help him along the way. Choosing a book like this one will help your child to understand that the dentist isn’t a scary person, they are extremely helpful to everyday life.
While dental health might be a little bit of a daunting subject to approach with young ones, it doesn’t have to be a scary experience for them. In fact, going to the dentist should be a rewarding and exciting experience for children to get excited about. By avoiding scary words and providing rewards after the appointment, your child will be encouraged, rather than scared away. Happy brushing!
Brian Rees is a media relations representative for Commonwealth-Dentistry. In his spare time, he enjoys writing, music, and spending time outside.