How to Stay Healthy: Act Like a Kid

Summertime has always been a busy time for dental offices. Many kids have appointments before school starts again in the fall, and it’s always exciting to see kids taller, older and wiser with each dental visit.

This year has dealt a lot of change for everyone, and I’m viewing the summer activity in our dental office with a fresh perspective. With the coronavirus pandemic upending our lives, for many the focus has shifted on how we can best stay healthy. This summer, I have been reminded that one of the best ways we can stay healthy is to be more like a kid.

Here’s what I have noticed from the kids I have seen this summer:

Kids are resilient. Due to the pandemic, procedures and processes have changed in our office (and let’s be honest, everywhere else too). Kids have been extremely cooperative and helpful with the new protocols, including mask wearing. I didn’t think toddlers would be so compliant in following the Iowa Dental Board requirements of wearing masks, but it sure has been easy for us. I think this is a great testament to the parents in our community. It’s refreshing to see kids making the most of the situation at hand, proud to show off cartoon characters or bright colors on their faces.

Kids see short-term wins. I’ve learned that if a child needs a cavity fixed, you can sure brighten their day by simply playing a movie or a TV show. “My mom doesn’t let me watch TV in the morning!” is what one kid told me this summer while we picked out something to watch. Who knew the dentist could be such a treat! After a dental appointment is done, there is no greater satisfaction than getting a little trinket prize. Some of these toys might be $.25, but you’d think they won the lottery! Kids see short-term wins and they celebrate them.

Kids play. This week a young kid sat back in the dental chair, and the hygienist placed sunglasses over his eyes as part of our regular dental protection. Here he sat with his dental bib and sunglasses on, inside the dental office and said, “It’s like I’m at a beach!” Kids only know what they know, and they know a lot about playing and having fun. Kids find ways to play—even in a dental chair.

Maybe young kids aren’t the best when it comes to brushing their teeth, but they knock it out of the park in other ways to stay healthy, and now more than ever, that’s something to recognize, celebrate and learn from. Thank you, kids, for reminding us (sometimes crabby) adults to be resilient in current circumstances, celebrate the little, everyday wins and make time to play.

Here’s to you and yours staying healthy—kid-healthy—the rest of summer and beyond.

Mark Scallon, DDS