Let’s talk flossing – and no, we are not talking about that dance your kids are doing on repeat all day, every day. Teaching dental care habits to your children can be difficult. But early instruction can set your kids up for a lifetime of healthy and happy smiles. Flossing is crucial to proper oral hygiene, so it is important that parents make sure that their child knows how to floss. Here are some flossing tips for kids to help you get started!
Why Do We Need to Floss?
Flossing is important for removing food particles and plaque that has accumulated between the teeth. The act of flossing can help to polish the sides of teeth and prevent tartar which could lead to tooth decay. Once the decay sets in, your child may need fillings or crowns. Flossing also helps to fend off bad breath since it takes away odor-causing bacteria and food grime. Teach your children that while brushing cleans the front and backs of the teeth, flossing cleans the sides of the teeth. Without flossing, the job is only half done.
When to Start Flossing
Children should begin flossing as soon as they have two teeth that touch one another. Parents should floss their children’s teeth until they are old enough to floss effectively on their own. As a general rule of thumb, kids are usually able to begin flossing on their own by the time they are 6 or 7 years old.
Take the time to teach your kids how to floss. Ensure that your children remember all the steps and work with your kids every night to make sure that they understand how to floss. The technique that you use will depend on the type of dental floss that you and your child prefer.
Traditional Dental Floss: If using traditional dental floss, teach your child to grip a length of dental floss between their thumb and index finger on each hand. Show your child how to wrap the dental floss around their index finger to reduce slippage. Teach your kids how to relax the floss into a “C” shape and gently glide it between their teeth. Explain that kids should use a new section of floss when moving from tooth to tooth to prevent spreading germs. Make sure to clean both sides of each gap, and continue down slightly under the gumline.
Dental Floss Picks: If your kid is like most children, they might have a difficult time handling traditional dental floss at first. To make flossing easier, buy some children’s dental floss picks. They have small lengths of pre-strung floss spread between tines on a convenient plastic handle. Show your child how to push the floss between the teeth and how to tell when they need a new flosser.
Teaching your kids to floss is one thing, but getting them excited about flossing is another challenge altogether. Try these tactics to make flossing and dental care more enjoyable for kids.
Do it Together: Kids love a great example, which is why making dental care and flossing a family activity is a good idea. Brush your teeth alongside your little ones and let them watch you floss your teeth. They will love imitating you. For another variation, let them brush your teeth while you brush theirs.
Let’s Go Shopping: Allow your child to choose their own toothbrush, dental floss, toothpaste, and dental flossing picks. This can help them to personalize the activity and make it more interesting. After all, what kid wouldn’t want to floss with a princess dental floss pick or brush with a toothbrush that has a car on the front?
Reward It: Consider offering rewards for proper brushing and flossing, such as small toys or stickers. An immediate, tangible reward is best.