In this age of social media, people have the opportunity of helping others live better lives. On the other hand, much “promotion” is simply a form of nagging. How can we encourage our families and friends in ways that are most effective?

What You Might Do

1. Lead by example. Tell your friends when you are doing something good for your own health. Here are some ideas to stimulate your thinking.

2. Promote dentists you like. Sincere and specific comments about experiences in dental offices are more than appreciated. They are influential and motivational. If you have had a great experience somewhere and you “tweet” it out or share it on Facebook, other’s will reflect on their own circumstances and may move to act.

3. Pass on or re-tweet health messages you read to those who follow you.

What to Avoid

  1. Don’t overdo it. Be selective in order to give your words more weight. People stop listening when people don’t give it a rest once in a while.
  2. Avoid telling people what they ought to do. Adults hate this because it reminds them of all the times their parents lectured them. It’s an automatic turn-off.
  3. Don’t promote negative stereotypes. I love dentist jokes, really, but they need to be clever. Keep in mind that many people are afraid of the dentist, not because they have had a bad experience personally, but because they have heard so many horror stories. Often it starts with older kids trying to scare younger ones just for the fun of it. If you are a parent, and even if you have fears about dentists, try not to pass these on to your children. The best way to do this, frankly, is to work to overcome your own fears first. Even if the child knows of your fears, when he or she sees you face them head on, they are encouraged to be brave as well. Besides, there are so many ways people can be treated now days that take fear and pain right out of the equation.