Health habits started early in life are hard to change – if you want your children to have good oral hygiene habits, start training your kids while they are young. One of the best dental health habits you can teach your child is how to floss properly.
Food particles and plaque can settle between the teeth, and this can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath. Flossing prevents tooth decay and reduces your child’s risk of developing gum disease. Flossing also removes plaque, which is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria and sugars that constantly form on teeth.
Routine flossing also gives your child a moment to examine his or her mouth and learn about teeth and gums. Simply flossing teeth can make them appear brighter by removing tiny food particles and plaque that give teeth a dull, dirty appearance.
Teaching your children to floss properly is easier than you might think.
How to Teach Your Children to Floss Properly
Begin early. Start teaching your children to floss when their teeth are too close together for the bristle of a toothbrush to fit easily between them. This will be between the ages of 5 and 7 years old – some dental professionals recommend starting even sooner. Kids should be able to floss on their own by the time they are 9 years old. Developing the habit early in childhood increases the chances that your children will continue to floss throughout their entire adult lives.
Be prepared for an unenthusiastic response. Some children think flossing is fun. Other kids are not as captivated and they can lose interest after flossing between just one or two teeth.
Understand that kids often have sensitive gums, so flossing may be uncomfortable for them. This sensitivity goes away in time. While you do not want your children to associate flossing with discomfort, you do want to instill healthy flossing habits in your children while they are young. If you have a child with sensitive gums, encourage him or her to floss very gently but to still floss every day.
Remember that young children do not have the same coordination as older kids, so little ones may complain that flossing is too hard. Encourage your children to keep trying, and reassure your kids that flossing gets easier with time and practice.
Teach your child to examine his or her gums, teeth and tongue while flossing. Specifically, get your child into the habit of looking for redness, inflammation, or other signs of tooth and gum disease.
Show Your Child How to Floss Properly
Show your young child how to floss properly a few times as you teach him or her how to floss. Use good flossing practices.
Cut a short length of floss, about 18 inches will do. Pinch the floss between your thumb and index finger.
Wrap one end of the floss around the index finger of your right hand and the other around your left index finger.
Slide the floss between two teeth. Explain to your child that you should not push too hard or you might hurt your gums.
Pull both ends of the floss to curve it into the letter ‘C’ around a tooth. Slide the floss up and down gently along your tooth. Slide the floss down into your gum a little bit to remove food and plaque you cannot see.
Use a new section of floss for each tooth so you don’t move the food and plaque from one tooth to another.
Tips for Getting Your Kids Excited about Flossing
Flossing can be a fun family activity! Kids love a good example, so brush and floss your teeth alongside your wee ones.
Make flossing look like it is a lot of fun. Smile, make funny faces, play a song, and dance!
Try different colors and flavors of dental floss, and let each of your children pick on that they like. Fun flavors and colors makes flossing a bit more fun, and this will increase the chances that your children will maintain healthy flossing habits throughout their lives.
Use a flosser instead of traditional dental floss. A flosser is easier for many kids to manage. For best results, let your children pick out their own flossers; manufacturers now offer a variety of fun kid-friendly flossers.
Flossing can have lifelong dental health benefits. Teaching your children to floss properly at a young age can greatly improve their chances of having bright, healthy smiles for life.