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3 ways you can prepare your child for a dentist appointment

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Prepare Your Child (2)When I took my son (5 1/2) to the dentist for a simple cleaning I didn’t prepare him.  That was a MAJOR mistake.  I should have known my child better.  There are certain personalities that can deal with something like that and certain personalities that can’t.  I don’t know if he was just having a bad day but he was totally freaked out by them putting toothpaste into his mouth for the cleaning.  He hemmed and hawed and cried and screamed.  He doesn’t like toothpaste at home and he was ultra scared of it when they put the electric tool full of toothpaste into his mouth.  Even though the staff at Burg Children’s Dentistry is amazing and they are used to seeing children of all temperaments there are a few things I could have done beforehand to make things go much smoother.

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1.  Talk to your child beforehand about what is going to happen at the dentist so they know what to expect.

Children like to know what is going to happen ahead of time.  That way they can process through the experience in their mind and get used to the idea that something is going to be in their mouth.  Don’t scare them by giving too many details like “and maybe you’ll have a cavity and then they’ll have to give you a shot in your mouth.”  Do tell them that the dentist will need them to open their mouth wide so they can clean all the teeth and make sure they look healthy.  Keep it positive but also realistic.

2.   Have a pretend dentist appointment at home.

You can have your child lie down on a bed and you can pretend to be the dentist.  “Open wide so I can count all of your teeth!” “Oh they look good.  You must be brushing every night.”  “I’m just going to brush your teeth really softly.”  “Now that you did such a great job you can choose a special prize from the treasure chest.”  After your child’s “visit” they can pretend to be the dentist and you can be the patient.  By pretending and making it a game it will help ease any fears they may have.

3.  If it will help, bribery is a good thing.

As I mentioned earlier, each child has a different personality.  When I was potty training my daughter there was absolutely nothing I could do to get her to go.  I tried treats, bribery, yelling and screaming.  But in the end it had to be her idea.  It had to be her choice of whether or not she would go.  My son, on the other hand, was so easy to bribe with candy and toys.  If your child can be persuaded and talked into something with the help of toys, by all means use that power at certain times!  My son was really wanting Pokemon cards.  I know …eyeroll right?  But, hey, if it helps the situation it will be worth the $5-$10!  After his initial cleaning appointment that was horrible we had to go back to get his cavities filled…and I came prepared!  We went to the store and I let him pick out a pack of cards.  I told him that he couldn’t open the cards until after his appointment and only if he was really good.  Well guess what?!  He was WAY better at the appointment where he received 4 fillings then at the appointment which was a simple cleaning.  Seriously.  And it was all because I talked to him a LOT beforehand and pumped him up with those stinkin’ Pokemon cards.

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Good luck to you!  I hope these ideas help you to get through your child’s dental check-ups!

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