Preparing Your Adolescents for the Dentist Visit: 5 Great Tips
Truth be told, some kids won’t crack a grin because they’re embarrassed about their teeth
Why? Many parents may not be able to afford to take their children to the Dentist, where they learn proper dental hygiene care.
Thankfully, it’s National Give Kids a Smile Month this February, and we’re ‘flossin’ about it with information on how to give kiddos a big smile (at an affordable rate). Read this blog for ADA’s history, what happens during the visit, and tips on getting anxious kiddo that bright smile.
Brush up on the American Dental Association (ADA), who started it all.
Thankfully, the American Dental Association (ADA) reminds us that February 7th is National Give Kids A Smile Day each year. Events are launched across the country to target children who cannot receive appropriate dental care, no matter what the reason.
These magnificent events have served more than 5.5 million underserved children who have received free oral health services from approximately 7,000 volunteer dentists and 30,000 dental team members. Learn more about the History of Giving Kids A Smile.
Why is it essential to go to the Dentist?
Regular dental appointments are essential to keep teeth and gums happy and healthy. Every six months, you should be visiting your Dentist to avoid mouth issues like gingivitis and cavities.
What happens during a dental visit?
Expect two parts to occur during your visit – the cleaning and examination. First, kiss plaque and tartar build-up good-bye as the teeth receive polish and shine. After the patient is clean, the Dentist proceeds to check all areas (including those in question) in the mouth. An x-ray may occur to get a closer look.
A quick lesson on proper care of the mouth and gums and the patient is out the door! Easy-peasy! Also, did we mention the new toothbrush and paste? Honestly, my favorite part! So fresh, so clean.
Anxious kiddo? Here are a few tips to help!
Do you have a child that is kicking and screaming, hiding, and colliding their way out of visiting the Dentist’s chair today? Don’t fret! Here are 10 do’s and don’ts to help you out:
The Dos of Dentistry:
#1 Do Start them young. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests taking your child to the Dentist as soon as their first tooth appears and no later than their first birthday. Taking them early will not only be good for their dental health, but it will familiarize them with the new atmosphere for many visits to come.
#2 Do read dental-themed storybooks. Check out these themed books to toss unnecessary fear out. Your child will be so excited to see the illustrations, hear (or read) the words to get a better idea of what Dr. Toothbrush is all about!
#3 Do communicate efficiently. Give your child some time before their dentist appointment to prepare mentally. Talk about the details of the meeting and answer any questions that they may have. Avoid any negative words like “hurt” or “shot.” The staff will know words to use to explain any upcoming dental procedures. It’s essential for parents to positively prepare their child before the Dentist for a smooth visit.
#4 Do dress-up time for active role-play. Use a kitchen chair to mock a dentists’ chair and a towel to cover the child like a hygienist’s drape. Perhaps tie some yarn to a plastic spoon to imitate the cleaning tools. Get a bowl for the ‘rinse and spit.’ Your child will feel confident after playing pretend Dentists. Let your imagination soar!
#5 Do make the Dentist proud. It’s essential to teach your child the importance of oral care — set expectations for what healthy and happy teeth look like. You may even consider having your child practice brushing their teeth to make the Dentist proud. A beautiful smile will be rewarded with praise and maybe even a sticker!
Top 5 Dental Don’ts:
# 1 Don’t fast before the appointment. Food immediately before visiting the Dentist can be chewy, sticky, and intense. However, you do not want your child to be scared, anxious, and hungry at their appointment. Consider eating a protein-filled meal about or at least an hour before hitting the road for their meeting.
#2 Don’t go if your child is sick. Whether it’s a simple cold or you have a clue about Covid-19, you should cancel your appointment. Not only will the dental appointment be uncomfortable and unpleasant, but spreading sickness (especially in pandemic times) is not cool and puts the Dentist and staff at risk. Reschedule your appointment if your immune system is running low.
#3: Don’t whiten your child’s teeth. You haven’t “seen it all” until you’ve “seen it all.” It might sound silly to make such a recommendation, but do not whiten your child’s teeth before their appointment. Not only do at-home whitening process kits fail to work as intended, but they make your teeth more sensitive – which means you might be very uncomfortable during the meeting. If you would like to brighten your child’s smile, ask your Dentist about the treatments they might recommend during their appointment.
#4: Don’t lie about your child’s oral hygiene. It can be embarrassing to admit to slacking on the upkeep of your child’s oral hygiene, but a big white lie will not help anyone – especially the child. It would help if you did not let that get in the way of being honest with your Dentist. They need to know that critical information to perform the best cleaning possible and make additional recommendations. Be honest about what actions you are (and are not) taking, issues you’re facing, or any pain.
#5 Don’t panic! Remember, the Dentist is there to help you, not judge you (or hurt you). If anything makes you feel uncomfortable, you can let them know and try their best to understand and advise. No one is perfect! So do not feel ashamed about issues you might be facing. Your Dentist is there to listen and help guide you in the best direction for your overall dental health. If you do have a negative experience with a dentist, you can always try another facility.
Helpful links to prepare you for your visit:
- How to Prepare, What to Expect, and Tips for a Great Visit
- MouthHealthy – Gold mine for tips and tricks for their littles mouth health.
- How to help – Get involved within the movement
- Follow on Social Media
- Oral Health Valentines
If your child still is not reacting to the tips above, you may want to consider alternatives like sedation or therapy. Each party will need to prepare for the appointment, inform the Dentist about the specific concerns for smooth sailing.
No one likes to go to the Dentist, but everyone loves a beautiful, healthy smile.