How to Make Dental Care Fun for Kids
Believe it or not, we’re born with all of our teeth hidden already away in our gums.
Even before that first tooth emerges, it’s important to remember that healthy teeth come from healthy gums.
Your baby’s first visit should happen by one year of age or when the first tooth emerges, whichever comes first.
These first visits are no pressure: a ride in the chair, a visual check, just as much as the child will comfortably allow.
We know from experience that if the first visit or two is fun and easy, children grow up to be excellent dental patients.
A general dental practice should consider these visits an investment in their financial future rather than an immediate production gain. Initially, it’s all about forming a good relationship and trust with the child and the parent.
Keep reading to learn how to make dental care fun for your kids!
It starts with the parents
Most parents will do anything for their children.
The child’s health and happiness are paramount, especially at a young age.
Often, we see parents who may have phobic tendencies learn there’s nothing to fear by watching their child’s experiences in the dental chair.
Likewise, if caregivers are easygoing about the visits, usually, the children are too.
Parents and family members who are positive about their dental care tend to pass a good attitude on to the younger ones.
Breaking the cycle
Occasionally, a “helicopter” parent makes an appearance.
After years of trying to coach these personalities about how they’re frightening their children with their own over attentiveness or preconceived fears about dentistry, we have found that gentle coaching works best.
Allowing the adult to sit on the sidelines quietly (if they wish to be in the room) often works in our favor because after a time or two of spectating, they know their child is in good hands.
The child and parent have learned to trust us – from the dentist to the dental team, including the dental office managers!
Pedodontic practices are the saints of dentistry and take care of our more challenging clients.
For years, they have known that you have to give children something to look forward to at their dental visits.
Prizes or similar enticements have a surprising effect on most children’s behavior and enthusiasm about their visit. We have followed their lead and created the best prize cabinet in town.
There is the fanfare that goes with choosing a reward.
The cabinet door opens, automatic lights go on, and the selection is extensive and age-appropriate. Near the floor level are items best suited for small children, and as you move up the cabinet shelves to adult height are items a teenager might enjoy.
What’re popular changes with the years; while Pokémon cards and fidget spinners were the rage two years ago, today Squeezamals and two-dollar bills are the winners.
The big picture
Dentistry has changed extensively over the past 50 years.
Restorative dentistry can be virtually pain-free, thanks to newer anesthetics and techniques.
Advancements in preventative care and understanding the effects of bacteria and diet have the potential to make tooth decay a thing of the past.
The biggest hurdle we have, as dental clinicians, is teaching our patients to develop good routines, schedule regular checkups, and understand that their mouths are the gateway to good health.
Starting early is the most effective technique.
With a fantastic selection of children’s prizes, even the adults will be jealous!
Meet the Author
Catherine Maurer, MAADOM has been an AADOM member since 2013. In 2019 she received her AADOM Fellowship, (FAADOM) designation and in 2021 she earned her AADOM Mastership, (MAADOM).
Cathy started working in her father’s dental practice over 50 years ago. After all this time, she still loves dentistry, the patients, and working with her team; some of which have been by her side for more than 20-30 years.
She enjoys the incorporation of new technology and learning about the science behind the oral-systemic health connection.