Jan 17 2020

Dental Care Tips for Parents: Teaching Kids to Floss

father and daughter flossing

The responsibilities of parenting are great, but also rewarding. As parents, we are responsible for teaching our kids how to clean up after themselves, feed themselves, and maintain good hygiene. Oral care is a huge part of an effective hygiene routine. Most parents do a great job of teaching their children how to brush properly, but flossing tends to be more difficult.

Children can begin flossing their own teeth at age seven or eight, but it’s never too early to teach them! In fact, you should start teaching your child to floss when he or she has two teeth that touch one another.

In this blog, Dr. Matt gives dental care tips that will help make flossing simple and enjoyable for your little one!

Before we begin, we should answer: Why is flossing important?

Brushing is obviously the first line of defense against decay, bad breath, and gum disease, but flossing is a close second. Dental floss gets to the parts of the mouth that toothbrushes can’t.

Food and plaque love to hide between teeth and along the gum line. If not removed by flossing, cavities or gum disease may develop. 

Now that you know the “why”, let’s get to the “how”.

Proper Flossing Technique

Dental floss comes in two types: traditional dental floss and dental floss picks. The technique you use will depend on which type of floss you and your child choose.

Traditional Floss

Break off about 18 inches of floss and have your child wrap most of it around one finger (usually the pointer) on the left or right hand. He or she will wind the rest of the floss around one finger on the other hand (just make sure it’s not too tight!). The finger with the most amount of floss will release between each tooth and the other will collect the used floss.

Have your child take the floss up one side of the tooth and down the other side making sure to get along the gum line of both the top and bottom teeth.

Repeat this between each pair of teeth.

Dental Floss Picks

Many children (and even many adults) prefer to use dental floss picks. Honestly, they are easier, but they aren’t quite as effective as regular floss. For adults, we would suggest using traditional floss, but picks are still a great option for kids who have a more difficult time with traditional floss.

Dental floss picks are either harp- or Y-shaped. Simply run the floss up and down the teeth like you would with traditional floss. Rinse off the floss between teeth and switch the pick when the floss looks worn.

How to Make Flossing Fun

If you’re struggling to get your child to floss, here are three ways to make it enjoyable:

  1. Do it together! Put on some fun music, make silly faces in the mirror, and get to flossing. Your child will love spending extra time with you (and will hopefully enjoy flossing too!).
  2. Use a reward system. A flossing chart is a great way to encourage your child to floss daily. Each time your child flosses, put a sticker on the chart. For every five consecutive days he or she flosses, offer a reward of some sort—we’ll let you decide what that is!
  3. Let them choose the floss. Before teaching your child to floss, take him to the store to pick out the type and flavor of floss he wants to use. Flossing with their favorite color or a tasty flavor is a great incentive.

Another Dental Care Tip

Along with brushing and flossing, your child should visit a pediatric dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and exam. Contact a pediatric dentist near you today to schedule an appointment.

To meet with Dr. Matt or for additional dental care tips, call (913) 685-9990.

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