At Berrien Dental, we have always believed that flossing is an essential part of keeping our teeth clean and healthy. The one challenge that we as caregivers and parents have had is: how do we pass this crucial habit on to our children? This is one hurdle of parenting we’re happy to help you clear!
Why Does Flossing Matter?
You might wonder why it’s so important to include flossing when it’s hard enough to get your children to brush. Keeping baby teeth healthy is crucial because they are placeholders for adult teeth, and a toothbrush alone simply cannot get rid of all the decay-causing plaque lurking in the dark crevices between the teeth. Just as important is that the earlier children learn good dental hygiene habits, the easier it will be for them to continue those habits into their teens and adulthood.
When To Start Flossing
Your child probably won’t have the dexterity to floss their own teeth until they’re around five years old, but as soon as they have teeth that are close together (usually around two and a half years old), you should start flossing for them. Try to floss each night so you can create a daily habit with them. Consistency is crucial to helping them see it as simply part of their day. Model for them that you floss as well. Showing off your commitment to a healthy smile is a great motivator.
Flossing With Your Child
Knowing how to floss your own teeth and teaching a small child how to floss are very different things. Here are a few tips to make it easier.
- If you begin gently flossing their teeth daily while they’re still toddlers, they should be used to it and maybe even eager to take the reins by the time they’re old enough to try it themselves.
- Explain why flossing is so important. If your child understands the purpose behind flossing, it will help motivate them to do it.
- When they’re ready to try it, show them how to pull out the right amount of floss (about a foot and a half), and loosely wrap it around their middle fingers to hold it in place, leaving an inch or two of floss to get up close between the teeth.
- Help them gently insert the floss between their teeth using a back and forth motion without snapping their gums. Curving the floss around each tooth in a C-shape will make the process more gentle.
- Teach them to always move the strand along so that they’re using clean floss on each tooth. If they’re using the same part of the floss the whole time, they’re just moving the plaque around instead of removing it!
- Emphasize that flossing is something that big kids do, and encourage them to do it by themselves once they have the hang of it. They’ll be excited to do something so grown up!
If your child is struggling to figure out flossing, an easier alternative to traditional floss is using flossers or floss picks. They’re more expensive than floss, but they also require much less coordination.
Need A Professional Demonstration?
Building good dental hygiene habits is about more than teaching them the right technique. It’s also about giving them the right perspective: dental hygiene isn’t an unpleasant chore, it’s quick and easy and makes our teeth feel great! If you’re struggling to convince your child of the importance of good dental hygiene, maybe a fun, professional demonstration at our practice can help!
We’re happy to help you train a new generation of daily flossers!
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.