Even as adults, flossing may seem like a chore, however, flossing really only takes a few minutes out of our day. According to a recent analysis, only 30% of Americans floss on a daily basis. That statistic reveals the importance of teaching the younger generations the importance of flossing.
Teaching children how to floss and the importance of flossing on a daily basis is a topic that many parents ask for some guidance on. What do you do when your child won’t floss? How do you teach your child flossing skills?
In this article, we will explore 7 helpful tips and tricks on how to teach flossing skills to your child. First, let’s cover general oral health recommendations for kids.
Oral Health Recommendations for Children
Dentists recommend that parents start brushing their children’s teeth when the first tooth appears, which is generally around 6 months old. Starting to floss your child’s teeth should begin when the surface of two of their baby teeth are up against one another, which is typically is when they are around 2-3 years old. Your child’s tongue should be brushed daily as well in order to remove bacteria from the surface of the tongue and to prevent halitosis.
It is recommended that parents brush their children’s teeth until they are at least 6 or 7 years old which is when they typically have the dexterity needed to brush their own teeth. Children are encouraged to brush with a parent’s oversight until around the age of 10.
Parents should ensure that their child is flossing once per day.
Visiting a dentist from an early age helps to encourage healthy dental habits. Schedule an appointment with a trusted dentist when their first tooth appears.
How to Floss
- Take a short piece of floss between your index finger and thumb
- Twirl the floss around each of those fingers and pull it taut
- Wrap the floss around each tooth in a C-shaped position and gently move the floss up and down each tooth
- Be sure not to exert too much pressure or force on the gums as you floss your child’s teeth
- Use a different part of the floss to clean in between each tooth so that you do not reintroduce bacteria to other parts of the mouth
Creating a Life-Long Flossing Habit: 7 Tips for Parents
1. Make it Fun!
From the time that you begin flossing your child’s teeth, make it as fun as possible. Sing or listen to a silly song about flossing each time you floss. There are many ideas out there on the internet. There is even a dance called the “Floss Dance”.
It’s especially important to make it fun when your child won’t floss or refuses to let you floss their teeth!
Other ideas to make it fun are to turn the flossing time into a counting game. You could tell your child ahead of time that you will be flossing in between each of their teeth for a certain amount of time (for instance, 3 seconds) so they know what to expect and can count along with you in their head. Each time you help your child floss, you could change that number or keep it the same depending on what works best for your child.
2. Read a Book
Pick out an age-appropriate book that discusses the importance of flossing, as well as the importance of general oral health. Some good options for younger children are “Flossing Your Teeth” by Mari Schuh or Sesame Street’s “Ready, Set, Brush!” by Che Rudko.
Reading an educational book on flossing will help to cement the value of flossing in your child’s mind. It might also generate questions that they have about their teeth or oral health.
3. Make It a Routine
Creating life-long health dental habits start when children are young. Have your child floss their teeth after the same activity each day.
Routine helps a child to stay on task and lets them know what to expect. For instance, they could floss their teeth right after they brush their teeth or vice versa.
If it’s a regular part of their routine, then there’s less of a chance of them resisting the activity when the time comes.
4. Let Them Decide When to Floss
Allowing your child to decide what time of day to floss provides them with some autonomy and makes them feel like they have some sort of control over the activity.
They may be more likely to floss as a result.
Experts say that it does not really matter what time of day children floss.
5. Floss Sticks
Floss sticks might be helpful when your child starts flossing their own teeth around ages 6 or 7. There are kid-sized ones that come in a variety of different colors. Make it exciting and allow your child to pick their favorite color as this will help them to feel like they have more control over their flossing habit.
6. Water Flosser
If your child is particularly resistant to flossing then you may want to consider investing in a water flosser. A water flosser is a handheld device that sprays water in between teeth. It is said to help remove plaque in between teeth in a similar way to string floss. Many people who have braces or dental bridges often use a water flosser as opposed to traditional floss.
7. Lots of Praise!
Praise your child’s efforts each time that you floss or they floss! Praise goes a long way in helping to encourage your child to keep up their healthy habit.
Flossing for Life
For many parents, teaching their children how to floss may seem like a daunting task. However, the value of instructing your child how to floss from a young age far outweighs the headache of actually starting the teaching process.
Regular trips to the dentist are another important habit to start from a young age. It is generally recommended to visit a dentist once your child’s first tooth appears or before their first birthday, whichever occurs first.
Please feel free to reach out to us with any dental questions or to make an appointment! We are glad to help your family’s quest for great oral health.