Doctors and dentists may not be top of your kid’s favourite people to visit, but if you want to keep them healthy and well, seeing them now and again is necessary. Both doctors and dentists can help with preventative medicine too, so it’s not just a case of visiting when something is wrong.
It’s advisable that you have your child registered with a doctor from birth and, likewise, you should have a GP too. In the early years, doctors are a fantastic source of support and help for any health worries you may have with your baby and young child – and, let’s face it; most parents have worries at some point. They can help reassure you that your child is developing well, put your mind at rest over little aches and pains, plus offer treatment for any health problems that occur. Children are entitled to free NHS prescriptions, so there’s no excuse for not taking them.
Children might not be madly fond of seeing a doctor, but it’s a great help to them if you treat any doctor visits positively. Let your child grow up regarding it as a normal part of life and, the chances are, they’ll be happy to visit the doctor when they need to later in life. Most doctors are good with children, but if you’re not happy with your GP or just don’t seem to click, you have the right to ask to change and see someone else in the same practice or elsewhere.
Similarly, the advice from dentists is that you should take your children to visit them from a young age. This can help in two ways. Firstly, it will get kids used to what happens in a dentist surgery, the sights, sounds and smells that are typically there. Secondly, seeing a dentist from a young age ensures that your child starts getting their teeth checked early in life and may well help to identify and minimise tooth problems.
In the first instance, for example, you could take your baby or toddler along when you go for an appointment. It helps if there’s another adult with you, to look after your child whilst you’re having a check-up, but your child can then be in the same room and see what’s going on. Ideally, it’s best if you don’t look utterly petrified at this point and instead seem calm, relaxed and portray the idea that having a dental check is a normal part of life.
Children are treated free under the NHS, so there’s no worry about having to pay hefty costs. Once you’ve got them used to going to the dentist surgery, you can make them their own appointment. Despite all the myths and stories that may circulate, dentists are friendly, geared up towards treating children and nothing to be scared of!
In fact, a survey published in the British Dental Journal and carried out among five years olds in the north west of England, found that 80% of children aren’t scared of the dentist and don’t mind going. The research indicates that those who were anxious about visiting seemed to be gaining their anxiety from parents who weren’t fond of dentists and by not attending regularly.
It’s not just younger children who should have regular check-ups; older children need to go too. Most dentists will do checks either every six or 12 months and going regularly is a great habit to set for the rest of their lives.
To find a doctor or dentist in your area, call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.