FEBRUARY – National Children’s Dental Health Month

February 1, 2015

blog 3The American Dental Association (ADA) has designated February as National Children’s Dental Health Month. What a perfect time to visit the dentist with your child! To prepare them for this visit and dispel any dentophobia, the ADA has multiple online resources to promote the dentist in a positive light.

Dental education materials are available for parents and teachers to help explain a trip to the dentist and make it something children will look forward to. Visit their web site and find ways to share Healthy Smiles with your children. Information is available and applicable for a variety of ages from toddlers to pre-teens.

Your local Children’s Museum may also have activities to help your child prepare for a visit to the dentist. The Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia, WA has several days of activities devoted to Children’s Dental Health Month. Check out their schedule of events and make a visit so your child can “be the dentist” in their own dental office.

Everyone wants their child to have a positive experience at the dentist, but do parents with dental phobias, pass these phobias on to their children? Delta Dental, one of the nation’s leading providers of dental insurance, conducted a survey in 2013 to see if this statement was accurate. And guess what? It was! The number of children afraid to visit the dentist jumps by 10 percent if the parent is also phobic. But don’t worry, there are ways to break this cycle.

Along with using the resources available from ADA and a visit to the children’s museum, here are three simple tips to help curb children’s dental fears:

  1. Begin Early – it is recommended that children visit the dentist around their first birthday. This helps establish trust with the dentist and begins a pattern of routine care.
  2. Positively Simple – Answer any questions you child has, but avoid words such as drill, shot or filling, or talking to them about it “not hurting”. Children are often not even aware it could hurt. Instead, explain the dentist wants to see their smile and count how many teeth they have. Try to not discuss any negative experiences you may have had. Let them develop their own opinions with this experience.
  3. Call the Office – Be sure to let the dental office know your child may be anxious. Offices geared for children have strategies to help make the experience more enjoyable.

Helping children understand why it is important to have healthy teeth and visit the dentist can create adults with healthy smiles. There are so many avenues available to educate children and make the experience more enjoyable and National Children’s Dental Health Month is a great time to start.

1 Morpace Inc. conducted the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey. Interviews were conducted nationally via the Internet with 926 primary caregivers of children from birth to age 11. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of error is ±3.2 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

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