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

January 14, 2016

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 the experience, kids are more likely to mirror those thoughts.

Though it’s no Magic Kingdom, there are plenty of delightful dentist offices. Make a cleaning as exciting as a character breakfast. Use interesting information to “trick” kids.

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

Prepare with role play.

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.

Talk up the indoor playground. 

A dentist office reception area (L) and a play area (R). Notice the similarities? Images via Paramount Pediatrics and ExploreZone, respectively.
A dentist office reception area (L) and a play area (R). Notice the similarities? Images via Paramount Pediatrics and ExploreZone, respectively.

Fun is in. And pediatric dentist 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.

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.

Get on it! Schedule your kids’ dentist appointments and prepare to give Mickey & Minnie a run for their money.