Dragging your child to the dentist can be like pulling teeth—figuratively and literally. For children learning proper dental hygiene, upkeep is tedious, flossing is painful, and dentist visits often result in full-blown meltdowns. Because your little one likely has an adverse reaction to dental health, you’ll need to be ready with hands-on help and encouragement to get the ball rolling.
Allowing your child leeway on the dental front can lead to long-term health complications and painful tooth decay. With poor dental hygiene on the rise in young children, counteracting bad practices early on is critical to stir future healthy habits. To combat unhealthy behaviors, expose your child to dentists from a young age to help them overcome their fears.
Canyon Crest Dental, a Lehi UT dentist, recommends that parents schedule their little one’s first pediatric dentist visit once they reach their first-tooth milestone. Instill proper dental habits into your little one’s daily routine and look to popular tips-and-tricks to breeze past tantrums and brushing mishaps.
Lead by example
Children learn best by example. With that said, a practical, efficient way to teach healthy dental habits is showing your child first-hand how to brush and floss their teeth properly. If you consistently keep your pearly whites fresh and clean, your littles will likely follow suit. Your little ones look to you for guidance and instruction, so make sure you’re acting responsibly and caring for yourself—yours and your child’s teeth with thank you for it.
Encourage positive habits
Assure your fussy children that teeth brushing can be a fun part of their daily routine by purchasing fun colored toothbrushes and unique flavored toothpaste. Switching up flavors and experimenting with different, child-friendly brushes gives them options and stimulates autonomy. If all else fails, make dental hygiene a game or offer prizes to keep them engaged and eager to perform.
Normalize dentist trips
If you continuously complain and express dread at the thought of attending an annual dentist appointment, your child will pick up on your cues. Although dental exams aren’t always pleasant, steer clear of horror stories or negative attitudes and instead focus on the positives when conversing with your little one. Making their first visit a good experience will create positive memories associated with dentist appointments. Spend additional time researching kid-friendly dentists to help calm nerves and maximize comfort.
Brush your teeth together
As your child grows into a hormone-riddled teen, you’ll likely spend less quality time together. Take advantage of their early years by routinely involving them in activities and daily tasks. Make an event out of teeth brushing by getting the family together and brushing all at once. By setting aside time to engage in healthy, daily habits as a family, you encourage positive practices in the future while bonding with your little ones.
Use kid-friendly dental products
When purchasing toothpaste and floss for your child, make sure you are buying products specifically for kids. Although a strawberry-flavored toothpaste may not be as pleasant as a minty fresh option, most children find adult brands too abrasive and overwhelming. Give them freedom by allowing them to choose which flavor suits them best and swap it out as they age.
Shaking the pre-dentist jitters is challenging for anyone, let alone a child. The experience is often overwhelming and unpleasant, filled with loud machines and unfamiliar faces. Set your little one up for success by adequately preparing them for their first visit, engaging in healthy dental habits together, and comforting them every step of the way.