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Fellow parents, I am here to tell you I have been there. I have had the kid that fought getting his teeth brushed (or brushing on his own) and was scared of the dentist. I have had the husband that when it was his turn to take care of the bed time routine, would skip brushing the kids teeth because it was such a struggle. I have had the child who was terrified of the dentist visit. And we have been the family that let life get in the way of getting our regular cleanings (like when we had twins). Let’s face it, when it comes to dental care, there are usually a lot of other things most of us would rather be doing. When it comes to kids and dental care, a lot of us would rather be undergoing a root canal…I mean major surgery… than dealing with that battle. I get it, I have been there. But not anymore.
Why Is Dental Care Important?
Look, most of us know that good dental hygiene is important. But did you know that it isn’t just about keeping your teeth from falling out? Poor oral health has been linked to other medical conditions. Conditions like diabetes, heart disease and more. That is why it is super important that we make sure our families set good dental care habits, especially our kids.
Regular dentist visits help remove built up bacteria in your mouth that can lead to cavities, decay, and even tooth loss. Regular dental visits help prevent these problems, but also help catch these problems early, before it costs your or your family your beautiful smiles.
Okay, But My Kid HATES It!
Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time, there was a mom that had to hold her child down to brush his teeth, and it left them both crying and angry. Sound familiar? No? If not, that is because it was me. When the Goof was very little, we had tricks to get him to let us brush his teeth but around age 3 he started really fighting brushing his teeth. It was a twice daily struggle that left us all in tears.
And the thought of taking him to the dentist? He was going through a time in his life filled with medical tests, doctors visits, IVs, and more. I could only imagine the meltdown that would happen at the dentist. Oh the tears! It was awful when I mentioned going to the dentist.
But those days are gone. Thank goodness. And guess what, I am going to share what steps we took that got our entire family excited about dental care. Hopefully, some of this will help you.
- Talk about dental care. When we started talking about our teeth, why it is important to brush them, and how we should brush them, the Goof started to learn that we were not just punishing him when we told him to brush his teeth.
- Give your kids control. One of the biggest tips I have is to give your kids control. With the Goof, we said- if you go in without a fight to brush your teeth, you can brush them first, and we will touch up. That little bit of control made a huge difference. Even though at the time he was nowhere near able to brush his teeth well enough to not have us follow up after, being able to do it first made a big difference.
- Make it a game. We also made it a game to brush his teeth and to floss. Using timers, apps, and many other tools you can help make brushing and flossing fun.
- Bring them to your cleanings. If your kids are old enough, bring them to your cleanings with you. Even if you are letting them play an ipad in a chair while you have your cleaning, them seeing you handle your cleaning well will help ease their nerves about their own cleanings.
- Read about the dentist. There are a lot of children’s books about going to the dentist. You can go check some out of the library or purchase them from a local bookstore. Start reading them to your children to prepare them for their dental visit.
- Plan a visit to the dentist. And I don’t mean for a cleaning. Call local dentists (preferably the one your child will go to) and see if you can plan a field trip to meet the dentist, have them talk to the kids, and maybe even sit in the chair (the chair was honestly the scariest thing for the Goof so this helped a lot). If you can, maybe go with a preschool (this is what we did) or a group of parents with other kids the same age.
- Sticker charts. If your child likes sticker charts, this is a great idea to get them in the habit of brushing two times a day. Once they fill up a chart, have a reward for them (toy, money, activity).
Sometimes, it isn’t just our kids that keep us from going to the dentist. It seems that life can just not want us to do things we really should. Sometimes it is us adults that are finding reasons to not get in regular visits, or keep up on dental care. So let’s break it down.
- Flossing takes forever. I know how hard it is to find time to floss. I got out of the habit of regularly flossing when the twins came. Instead of daily, I was lucky if I did it more than once a week. But then I had a revleation, I didn’t have to floss over the sink. I bought the little toothpick style flossers and I started flossing whenever I could fit it in. While feeding babies, at the stop light (I know, not very attractive but whatever), while unwinding watching TV at night while rocking a baby.
- I can’t get in to the dentist because of my schedule. There are a lot of dentists now that have non-traditional business hours for those who can not get to their office Monday-Friday between 8 and 5. Call around and find a dentist who may have weekend, evening, or early morning shifts. Also, schedule your next appointment before you leave your first one, and then put it on your calendar. If you wait to schedule it, you might forget, or life will get busy and you won’t have any openings in your schedule. If you have it on your schedule 6 months in advance, and actually put it in your phone’s calendar or your planner, you will be more likely to keep the appointment.
- It is so expensive. Yes, dental care can be expensive. Especially if you need more than cleanings. The costs can add up quickly. However, dental insurance can help cover some of that cost.
- I don’t have dental insurance. I had an employer that gave us amazing medical benefits, but they did not provide dental insurance. I have been there. It sucks. You want to go to the dentist, but that cost, and lack of insurance just keeps you praying that nothing goes wrong. Guess what? You can purchase dental insurance independently from companies like Guardian Dental. Guardian Dental is dental insurance you can purchase on your own, any time of the year, for individuals or families. It covers basic preventative care, as well as more costly procedures.
- I don’t have a dentist. After you purchase dental insurance, you can use the Guardian Dental site to find a dentist. Finding a dentist that you are comfortable with, and can see regularly, and not just when a problem arises will help you keep going to your regular check ups.
Seriously, life, and bedtime, are so much easier now that The Goof is excited about dental care and loves his regular dental visits. In fact, last week he had to get some small fillings, and that kid handled it like a champ (no numbing).
Be sure to shop for dental insurance from Guardian Dental, and take good care of your smile.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.