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3 Bribe-Free Ways to Get Your Kids to the Dentist

By Caroline Jacobson on January 12, 2016 in Kid's Health


Which trip would you have an easier time announcing to your kids: Disney or the dentist? We bet we know the answer.

Parents play an important role in how kids react to a dental visit. If you're negative about an experience – like going to the dentist — kids are more likely to mirror those thoughts.

Though it's no vacation, dental offices know it can be scary for little kiddos and can help keep them calm, but they need you, too. Iowa has over 1,700 dentists across the state, and you can help keepthe visit positive, parents!

Here are 3 ways to make a dental visit go from “meh” to magic:

1. Prepare with role play.

Though we won't advocate bribery, we do think a new educational toy is perfectly acceptable. Children love role-play, and there are tons of toys that teach kids about the checkup experience. Try a toy dental kit, Play-Doh's “Doctor Drill 'N Fill” or read one of these age-appropriate books.

“Playing dentist” will help kids feel more comfortable during their appointment. If you don't want to buy a toy, fast track your tot to a DDS degree! Let a favorite stuffed animal play “patient,” while your child takes center stage as the dentist.

2. Talk up the toys.

               

A dentist office reception area (L, Image via Paramount Pediatrics) and a play area (R, Image via ExploreZone). They'll never want to leave the dentist!
A dentist office reception area (L, Image via Paramount Pediatrics) and a play area (R, Image via ExploreZone). They'll never want to leave the dentist!

Fun is in. And some pediatric dental offices are on par with the trend. From aquariums and activity areas to movie rooms and reading nooks, many offices are getting kid-savvy. A child-friendly reception area acts as a “first impression” to little ones, helping influence future positive behaviors. And it's working! “Toys and activities” are kids' favorite part of the dentist experience, according to a 2011 study.

3. Make it a play date.

Instead of taking your little one to the dentist solo, team up with a pal for a play date. Invite the playmate and parent for a meal out and then head to the appointment together. Not only is it more fun with a friend, kids feel less stressed in situations when facing them with a friend, according to a Children's Hospital study. The best part about this kind of play date? You won't writhe in pain from stepping barefoot on scattered Legos.

Good luck at your next appointment – let us know how it went via our Facebook page!