February is dental awareness month in most venues across the states. During this time, you are likely to find dental professionals of all kinds available and willing to talk to groups of school children in an effort to begin to form a positive relationship among children, dentists, and mouth health. Use these opportunities to your advantage.
Talk about what the child is learning at school, get excited about shopping for toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste, and make a big deal about brushing and flossing your own teeth. Children want to emulate your actions, so while they are young, make brushing and flossing a family affair.
Because of the month dedicated to awareness, you are likely to find local libraries and bookstores leaning toward the same theme. Utilize the library for a fun field trip focusing on the mouth. You are likely to find doctors, assistants, and hygienists visiting and using this venue to spread awareness as well, and the librarian will likely have books displayed for you and your child to read together or to check out and take home. Dedicate your usual reading time to learning about taking care of the teeth and gums, and use the internet to search, download, and play games that involve learning about teeth, gums, and mouth care.
Once you have established the importance of taking care of the teeth and gums, use the focus as an opportunity to go on a field trip to meet the dentist. With a few well-placed phone calls to his/her office staff, you can book an unintimidating tour of the dentist’s office so that your child can get acquainted with the idea of his first real visit to this doctor. Most offices will have special toys in the lobby that kids will remember and look forward to playing with upon regular check-ups, and this initial tour of the office will ease the anxiety of the first exam.
Speaking of the first exam, the younger the child is for his or her first appointment, the better his attitude will be toward dental health. This is because younger patients rarely need any intervention, and having a doctor look inside the mouth and congratulate him on a job well done is much less intimidating on a first visit than if the primary reason for the initial visit involves cavities, drills, scrapers, and other scary situations or tools.