NEXT TO BRUSHING, the best tool we have for preventing tooth decay and gum disease is daily flossing. Brushing alone only cleans 60% of our teeth. Flossing takes care of the rest. That is why it’s so important to help our kids develop a flossing habit early on. Here are some great tips for parents with kids who are learning how to floss, and how to get you in the habit too:
Explain what flossing does for their teeth. They will be more motivated to floss if they understand why it's so important. Need a refresher? Watch this video to learn how to explain the importance of dental hygiene in a way your child understands.
Big kids floss. Tell them that flossing is one of the coveted Big Kid skills, like tying their shoes or riding a bike without training wheels. They’ll be excited to prove how grown up they are by flossing.
Show by example! If your child sees you flossing, they're more likely to copy you. By demonstrating that oral hygiene is part of your nightly routine, they're more likely to make it a habit too.
Recruit your kid to be your floss buddy! Kids love the chance to tell their parents what to do. Let them know that your dentist says you have to floss more but you keep forgetting. Ask your child if they can help you by being your "tooth guard" and remind you every night to floss. The trick is they have to floss with you too.
Kids love cartoons! YouTube has dental educational videos to hold your kid's attention. If they won't listen to you, maybe Elmo can help them out. See the end of this blog to try out a few of our favorite ones.
If using traditional floss, demonstrate pulling out the right amount (about eighteen inches) and loosely wrapping it around their middle fingers, with just an inch or two left in the middle to slide between teeth.
Help them get the hang of good flossing technique. Form a C-shape around a tooth to slide the floss down and use an upward motion to remove debris. Don't use a sawing side-to-side motion, but up-and-down motion for flossing. Flossing should be gentle, not painful!
Show them how to move the floss along so they’re using clean floss for each tooth. The point is to get rid of plaque, not just move it around!
If traditional floss is too challenging, use floss picks or water flossers instead. They can be a little easier for smaller hands to use
Reward good behavior. Download this handy chart to track the days your child remembers to floss. Hang it up by the sink to serve as a visual reminder. At the end of the week, give them a small reward for flossing every day. At the end of the month, reward yourself with something bigger! Don't let a missed day stop the lesson. Remember, it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit and nobody is perfect.
Cartoons to Teach Your Child Dental Hygiene
Our In-House Dentist for Kids Can Help
Need a little back-up? Our in-house pedodontist, a dentist for kids, can give you some more tips on how to teach your child oral hygiene. If it's been more than 6 months since your child's last dental visit, schedule their next visit today. Regular check-ups can help your dentist spot issues before they become a bigger problem for your child and your wallet. Your kid's are counting on you, schedule today!