TVs playing movies for kids while they have their teeth cleaned.

Why not? I’ll tell you.   Don’t get me wrong; I love to have fun with kids. And I don’t want anyone to dread a visit to the dentist! But should you make a game out of going to the dentist?  I don’t think so.

Children know their health is important. It's not a game.

Most children I see are fascinated by their own bodies, and their own teeth. Sitting down in the exam room with a friendly dental hygienist and having a dentist examine your teeth is exciting! Seeing the x-ray and intraoral images of their teeth can be very interesting to a young person. The opportunity for a child to visit the dentist is interesting to kids, and it can be fun. After all, it’s a few precious moments when the attention is focused on them. Many kids have told me they "feel like a grown up" when they go to the dentist. Kids appreciate the fact that you, as their parents, and we, as health care professionals, want what’s best for them. To parents who are tempted to liken a trip to the dentist to an amusement park, I say, don't sell your kids short. They get it. They know their teeth are important.

Distracting young patients from the task at hand, which is focusing on how to best care for their teeth, serves no purpose.

Birthday parties and swimming pools and playgrounds are places where the focus is on laughing and being silly. In a medical or dental office, the focus is on the patient’s health. It's serious business, but not the least bit unpleasant. We don’t advertise our office as a pediatric dental office, because we take care of patients of all ages.

We care for our patients as individuals, including the youngest ones. They all seem to appreciate that.

Should you make a game out of visiting the dentist? While you won't catch us playing around with your dental hygiene, we’re happy to highlight some sites where you can play dental-themed games. 

The ADA has several fun games at its site, http://www.ada.org/353.aspx  and  this education site offers dental-themed word searches, crossword puzzles, and more.

 Enjoy them!