5 Tips on Getting Your Toddler to Not Fear the Dentist
Once baby reaches his or her first birthday or get’s their first tooth, it is time to visit the dentist. Parents can make a trip to the dental office more familiar and comfortable for their child if they have a positive and healthy approach to oral hygiene and daily dental care. Even before teeth arrive, washing the child’s gums after eating with a soft washcloth is a good start and below are some other tips to make brushing and visiting the dentist a fun experience for toddlers.
1) Sing a Familiar Song when it is time to brush to develop a routine. Then sing the song when it is time to go to the dentist. This relaxes the child and helps them associate the dentist with fun and healthy routines. A great choice is Raffi's Brush Your Teeth Song, which you can play at home and in the car.
2) Practice brushing on a puppet, teddy bear or doll with a toy toothbrush. Parents can demonstrate the proper technique of brushing away from the gums and flossing between teeth and then kids can take a turn and play dentist on the puppet before brushing their own teeth.
3) Get them their own toddler size toothbrush with a favorite character from books, Television programs or movies. It should have a small, soft bristle head and a handle that is easy to grip. If the child is ready or needs extra motivation, you can also get them a battery powered brush and toddler paste.
4) Start a sticker or star reward chart for good dental hygiene right before the 1st birthday and a visit to the kid friendly dental office can be part of the reward. When they brush after meals and before bed, have them put them select a sticker and add it to the chart. Look for dental theme stickers, stars or motivational stickers like “Great Job!” and “Well Done!” When you finally head to the dentist office, be sure to arrive early so they can play with the toys and have a tour of the colorful rooms and see the equipment. Do not over explain what will happen before you arrive or promise that all will be fine in case they need treatment and experience any pain.
5) Select a pediatric dentist that has a child friendly office and caterers to children. Let the dental staff provide the vocabulary for the instruments and procedures they use so that children are not confused or frightened by unfamiliar experiences. Pediatric dental offices are used to seeing children for their first dental visit and will work hard to make your toddler comfortable and create a positive experience so the child wants to return. They will also let the child pick out a prize for being good and offer them a new toothbrush.
Early dental exams will help put your mind at ease about your child’s long-term dental health and help your toddler establish a positive relationship with their dentist during semi-annual visits for cleaning and dental care. Riverside Heights Dental Group is now offering complimentary exams for kids under the age of 3.