Being a parent, I’m so relieved my children have had such positive experiences going to dental appointments. The kind smiling faces of the staff make them feel right at home. I have never said to them that this is the last place on earth that I would like to be. I need to confess that growing up I was afraid of the dentist. I was a regular rule following little girl and I would try my very best to sit still for the dentist, but I could not stop gagging. Still to this day, I can barely chew spearmint gum because the taste and smell reminds me of visiting the dentist. Keeping dental visits positive, I have managed not to pass on my fear of the dentist to my children. I have managed to teach my children the importance of regular brushing and flossing which make these visits to the dentist even easier. There is nothing better than the feeling after you floss (or is that just me?)! LOL;)
I’m going to share with you a few of my secrets to getting busy, quick, squirmy toddlers to sit still to have their teeth brushed and flossed. It takes patience but with any luck they will grow into teens who understand the importance of keeping their mouth clean. There are nights when I just want my three lovely school-aged children to please climb in bed. I’m tired, they are tired. We’ve been running around to activities all evening and I just want everyone to go to bed. When I question why they are not in bed yet, they reply “I can’t, I haven’t finished flossing!” (sigh). What have I created? I have created children with healthy gums and teeth!
My first trick when they were little was to have them sit on my lap and play dentist. I would hang my glasses off the end of my nose and they would sit in the dentist’s chair (my lap). I would change my voice into something really silly. They would laugh and play along because it was a game. I’m sure to someone on the outside looking in, I looked quite silly. Luckily only my husband saw this. LOL! First dental visits are recommended by one year of age, and I think playing this game made it easier on all of us. Beginning dental visits at an early age can not only help prevent cavities, but help your child get used to having someone look in their mouth.
As they grew and got too big for the “mom’s dentist chair”, they took on the role of brushing and flossing for themselves. I stuck around to be on hand for a final check and to supervise in case they were missing the teeth in the back. Another trick was to use an egg timer set to control the length of time they brushed. They would set the timer for two minutes and brush for that time. The timer was a funny looking chicken and they loved it.
Here are a few key points for parents to remember:
- Keep dental visits positive.
- Start young. Make brushing teeth fun for little ones. The goofier, the better.
- Continue to supervise as they get older.
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For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.