FLOSSING DAILY IS such an important part of maintaining good oral health and hygiene in between dental visits. The best way to ensure that kids make flossing a part of their day is to teach them how! Our South San Francisco dentist for kids, Dr. Erin Shah, shares some of her advice for teaching your kids this habit. Here are a few tips parents should bear in mind when teaching their children how to floss.
Is It Important to Floss Baby Teeth?
The answer is yes. Just because baby teeth are temporary, that doesn’t mean we can treat them like freebies. Kids can practice brushing and flossing with baby teeth so that they’re masters of good oral health habits by the time their permanent teeth arrive. It’s also important to keep baby teeth healthy because of the roles they perform in chewing, learning how to talk, and guiding incoming permanent teeth into place.
How Early Should Flossing Begin?
As soon as kids have teeth that touch, we should start flossing. Small children don’t have the kind of hand-eye coordination or dexterity needed to floss effectively, so it is something parents must do for them at first. By getting them used to daily flossing when they’re little (making sure to be gentle), we’re preparing them for continuing daily flossing on their own. The most important factor is consistency, but also make sure to set an example by flossing your teeth too!
Motivational Tips for Building a Flossing Habit
Okay, we’ve covered why flossing is important and when to start, but the people who really need convincing are the kids!
Even gentle flossing can be uncomfortable and strange for young children, so explain why flossing is so important to do.
Emphasize that flossing is something Big Kids do. Growing children always want to prove that they’re very grown-up, so this framing will make flossing into a rite of passage for them, just like tying their own shoes and riding their bikes with no training wheels.
Use flossers or floss picks if regular floss is too difficult for them.
Floss every day yourself. Kids love to copy whatever we say and do, and seeing you floss every day will help normalize and
Make it a part of their nightly routine. Just like putting on pajamas, turning off your light, and reading bed time stories, make flossing part of their bedtime routine.
Technique Matters in Effective Flossing
If you’re sticking with regular floss, the technique you teach your kids matters. Show them how to pull out the correct amount of floss (they shouldn’t need more than a foot and a half) and secure it around their middle fingers without pulling too tight, leaving an inch or two in between. Demonstrate how to curve the floss around each side of every tooth in a C-shape, and how to gently wiggle back and forth without pulling straight down to the gums.
The right technique is great for cleaning, but it’s also gentle! Finally, show them how to slide the floss back out and rotate to a clean section of floss for the next tooth so that they will actually clean their teeth instead of moving the plaque around!
Ask the Dentist for Additional Tips!
Hopefully this has been a useful resource to help you get started with teaching your child good flossing habits, but if you still have questions, we’re happy to answer them! Flossing is just one of the aspects of pediatric dental health we’re the experts on!
If it's been more than 6 months since your child's last visit, schedule their appointment today. Scheduling an appointment with our dentist for kids, Dr. Erin Shah is easy. You can text or call us at (650) 871-1400 or request an appointment online.