Teaching children how to floss is an important, but often difficult task, especially considering that kids are pretty squirmy and have short attention spans. However, flossing is a critical part of a good oral hygiene routine. While brushing is the first line of defense against cavities, gum disease and other oral health issues, flossing is a very close second. Dental floss removes food and plaque that hide between teeth and along the gum line. Brushing alone won’t get rid of the pesky debris that causes decay. Read on for some easy – and maybe even fun – tips to help your kids establish good flossing habits.
- It’s never too early to each your kids how to floss. While most kids can begin flossing their own teeth when they are around seven or eight, you should start teaching them the process when they have two teeth that touch one another. And even after they are flossing on their own, some supervision, as well as gentle guidance may be needed.
- Teach the proper flossing technique.
- For traditional floss, break off about 18 inches of floss. Have your kiddo wrap most of it around one finger (usually the pointer) on the left or right hand. Then, have them wind the rest of the floss around one finger on the other hand – just make sure they don’t wrap it too tight! The finger with the most amount of floss will release between each tooth and the other will collect the used floss.
- Have your child take the floss up one side of the tooth and down the other side, making sure to get along the gum line of both the top and bottom teeth.
- Repeat this between each pair of teeth.
- Consider dental floss picks. Many children, and honestly, quite a few adults, prefer to use dental floss picks. While they are a bit easier to use than traditional dental floss, they aren’t quite as effective. For adults, it’s probably best to stick with regular floss, but picks are a good option for kids, especially those that have a hard time with traditional floss.
- Dental floss picks are either Y-shaped or shaped like a harp. Simply run the floss up and down the teeth like you would with traditional floss. Rinse off the floss between teeth. Remember to switch the pick when the floss looks worn.
- If flossing is a struggle for you and your kiddo, make it fun!
- Put on some fun music, make silly faces in the mirror and floss together. Seeing you floss may just help them understand the importance of establishing good oral hygiene habits.
- Use a reward system, such as sticker chart, to reinforce your kiddo for not fussing about flossing, as well as remembering to do it!
- Let your kid choose the floss. Take your child to the store and have them pick out what color and flavor floss they would like to use. And remember that while chocolate floss may sound gross to you, to your kid, it may be a dream come true!
- Don’t get hung up on whether your kiddo prefers to floss in the morning or at night or before or after they brush their teeth. At this time, dental experts don’t have conclusive evidence on when flossing should occur during your daily dental care routine. All that matters is that flossing is happening daily. So follow your kids lead and let them decide the time of day and the order!
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Encourage your child to talk to their pediatric dentist about the importance of flossing at their six-month cleaning and check-up. Have them ask the dentist any questions they may have about the process. We’re always happy to help in the quest to establish good oral hygiene habits!
You can schedule an appointment at one of our offices. Our staff look forward to serving you in a clean and safe environment! Book your appointment with us today at torreypinespediatricdentistry.com or call us at (858) 259-0331.