Even if you are afraid of going to the dentist, you can still make it fun, well, at least not so scary for your kids by following a couple of simple steps.

Take them early for their first visit, we recommend children start from three years of age. They can accompany mum or dad at their check-up and have a ride in the chair. Their first tooth is just as important as their last. Be consistent; visit your dentist every 6 months so it becomes part of their life.

Set good examples at home have your children brush 2x daily and have them use a fun toothbrush. For younger children that are teething (one year of age) we suggest two toothbrushes, one to play with as a toy – this will automatically be put into their mouth as many toys will, and one to used by mum or dad to clean their teeth in a fun way.

Younger children don’t need toothpaste but once they see you using it they will want to try. Buy children’s toothpaste that appeals to them, it may not be your preferred brand, but the point is, they are using it. Take your child shopping and let them pick out their toothbrush of choice.

Do your kids sing the birthday song or ABCs when washing their hands? In a similar fashion, have them hum it out while brushing; better yet, the motorised toothbrushes can even beep when it’s time to switch zones and shut off when it’s time. The trick is to make it fun.

Before their appointment, don’t make promises you can’t keep; avoid saying things like, “it won’t hurt”…pain is subjective, you have no way of knowing where their threshold is. While you’re at it, don’t use words like pain, ouch, and hurt; instead put a positive spin on it, use words that they can relate to; make up phrases that sound fun; for example, “the Dr. Leon is going to get the Mister Ickies off your teeth so you can have a very pretty smile!” Use flowery, silly terms. Your children will eat it up.

Describe all the “cool” tools they are going to see and hear. Get creative, compare moving up and down in the chair to riding in a spaceship or airplane. It’s like going Disneyland. You get the idea. In fact we use a “vacuum cleaner” to suck the saliva and we ask children to “open their mouths as wide as a crocodile so we can see”.

During and after their appointment, praise and reward their good behaviour, don’t bribe or threaten. If you must, use a reward system. Offer a non-sugary snack or small toy after their appointment. We have stickers, so your child may be happy with that.

Children will often model good behaviour and your child can watch how much fun you’re having!

For further reading: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/teeth-development-in-children