Flossing is extremely important to your child’s oral health, but it’s not a skill they will develop on their own. Learning to floss adequately takes time and practice. That’s why it’s important for parents to show their children the right way to floss from a very young age, even before their regular dental check-ups.
Developing A Flossing Routine Early
As soon as your child has teeth that touch one another, it’s time to start flossing. Remember to floss at least once a day, particularly before bed. If you don’t remove food particles before going to sleep, they’ll have all night to damage your child’s teeth.
Keep in mind that your child will need a good deal of assistance with flossing until they are six or seven years old. Most toddlers and preschoolers cannot floss properly on their own.
Even so, practice makes perfect. These teaching tips will give you practical skills to help your child become a master flosser in no time.
- Tear off an 18-to-24-inch piece of dental floss. Look for a soft, pliable variety that will be gentle on your child’s gums.
- Wrap the ends around your index and middle fingers.
- Holding the floss in a “C” shape, gently slide it back and forth between your child’s teeth. Be certain to move it up and down to remove food away from the gums.
- Use a clean section of floss for each tooth.
- Repeat throughout the mouth until all teeth have been cleaned.
Young kids may lack the dexterity needed to manage a long piece of dental floss. Consider using pre-threaded dental picks or sticks to make flossing easier for little hands.
Importance of Flossing
While many kids will take to flossing without much encouragement from mom and dad, some may need a gentle nudge. Visual explanations are great teaching tools for young kids who may be resistant to flossing. Try this:
- Put on a rubber glove.
- Give your child a spoonful of peanut butter.
- Spread your fingers wide, and ask your child to smear the peanut butter all over your hand.
- Close your fingers tightly, and tell your child to use a toothbrush to remove all the peanut butter. Rinse the brush in water as needed.
- Ask your child to observe the peanut butter that’s left in between your fingers. Tell your child to notice how much peanut butter is left, regardless of how much he or she brushes.
- Now, give your child some dental floss and instruct him or her to remove the peanut butter. Keep your fingers closed tightly to simulate teeth.
This is an excellent way to show your child that some foods just can’t be removed from teeth. Regardless of how much you brush, flossing is a necessary part of an oral care routine.
Oral care doesn’t have to be boring and dull. Make the experience fun for your child. Here are some tips:
- Make it a family activity. Get everyone together and floss your teeth at the same time. Leading by example and having fun as a family is a great way to instill the importance of flossing.
- Go shopping and let your child select his or her own floss or dental picks. These are available in a wide variety of colors, flavors, and styles, many of which are kid-friendly and fun.
- Play your child’s favorite song, or even make one up, to make it fun and interactive when they floss.
- Praise your child when he or she learns to floss properly. You can even give prizes or rewards for regular flossing.
Positive reinforcement is the key to establishing a good oral care routine. Don’t nag or fuss at your child if he or she forgets to floss before bed. Simply offer a reminder and ask your child to return to the bathroom and floss.
Your dentist has even more pro tips for helping your child learn to floss properly. It’s also a good idea to ask your dentist or hygienist to give a demonstration of the proper way to floss during a routine cleaning and exam. Contact Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida today to schedule a six-month appointment for your child, and be sure to ask about additional flossing tips!