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It is just as important for children to take care of their teeth as it is for adults. The Chicago Dental Society surveyed more than 600 of its members to gather tips about how parents might best educate their kids about the importance of the dentist and good oral health. Here are the top 10 tips to help make trips to the dentist something kids enjoy rather than fear.
The survey was conducted for the Chicago Dental Society's 139th annual Midwinter Meeting, which will bring more than 30,000 dentists and dental hygienists to Chicago this February.
1. Be positive and honest. When talking to your child about the dentist, use positive language. Don't say, “It won't hurt.” Kids probably won't think of a visit to the dentist as a negative experience unless the issue of pain is discussed. Talk to kids in a positive, honest way and use words they can understand. Remember, dentistry today is easy for children, especially compared to 20 years ago.
2. Don't transfer your fears about the dentist to your children. Too often adults who fear the dentist will tell horror stories about their own experiences. If you are afraid of the dentist, try not to share your fears with your children. A child who goes to the dentist without any preconceived notions is more likely to have a good experience.
3. Talk about oral health as a routine part of taking care of yourself, just like going to the doctor. Going to the dentist is part of being healthy. Preventative measures taken from a child's first visit to the dentist will help to ensure that the child has healthy teeth and gums for the rest of his or her life.
4. Set a good example. From the time they are toddlers, parents should brush and floss with their children. Kids often imitate the good (and bad) habits of their parents, and if brushing and flossing are activities parents do on a regular basis, children are more likely to continue such good behavior as they grow up.
5. Never threaten children with pulled teeth or other dental procedures. If you are having a hard time getting your kids to brush their teeth, don't threaten them with frightening dental procedures such as having a tooth pulled. Instead, teach your children why oral health is an important part of overall physical health.
6. Don't make a big deal out of going to the dentist. Surveyed dentists also recommend talking about the dentist as something that's necessary but not a big deal. Many pediatric dentists have their own methods to make appointments easy and enjoyable for kids such as music, toys and videos.
7. Let the dentist do the talking. If you don't feel comfortable explaining what happens at the dentist or you are afraid of the dentist, let the dentist speak to your child. Many dentists, especially pediatric dentists, are skilled at making children feel comfortable and explaining good oral health to kids in a way they can understand.
8. Use other educational materials such as books and videos. There are many children's books and videos available to help you teach your kids about the importance of brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist. Call your dentist or visit your local library to find some of these tools.
9. Bring kids to the dentist early and let them watch you or an older sibling have their teeth cleaned. The earlier you bring kids to the dentist, the more they will feel comfortable there. This allows the child to see the process and understand that it's not a painful experience.
10. Make a game of brushing. Find ways to make brushing fun for your children. For example, play your child's favorite song while she is brushing her teeth, and tell her that she should brush until the song ends. Games help children to associate positive feelings with brushing, as well as teach children to brush their teeth for the appropriate length of time, which is at least two minutes.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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