Most parents already know that regular flossing is as essential to good oral care as regular brushing. Brushing and flossing go together to fight against the build-up of plaque and food debris that can lead to tooth decay and gingivitis, as well as bacteria that can cause bad breath. But, unfortunately, it can sometimes be a hassle to get your child to take an interest in flossing. Fortunately, we have a few tips that may make things easier.
Lead by example. Children love to follow in their parent’s footsteps. Make sure to show them that you are actively flossing your own teeth and they’ll be much more likely to pick up the habit.
Help out your little ones. Flossing takes a good bit of coordination and manual dexterity – especially if you’re using traditional floss instead of a floss holder. You will probably have to floss your child’s teeth until they are old enough to do it on their own (about 6 or 7 years old). And since flossing is so important to good oral health, you may want to supervise your children while they floss and give them some pointers from time to time. The benefit here is that your whole household becomes very “flossing friendly” and you’ll be creating a healthy habit that will last them a lifetime.
Use the right floss for the job. As with most pediatric dentists, Dr. Cobb recommends using an 18-inch piece of floss to properly clean your teeth. So, if your child is struggling with manual string floss, it may be best to buy them a floss holder. Oral-B has a line of floss holders designed for kids between the ages of 5 and 7 years old. You can get them at most drug stores or full-line grocery stores. Some even come in fun shapes for boys or girls.
Make flossing fun. Make up a story or a song about flossing and how you’re “vanquishing” all the bad food debris and bacteria that gets between your teeth. You can also help them track their flossing and brushing by creating a fun wall calendar/tracker and hanging it up in the bathroom. Kids love visual references and goals.
Here are a few bits of flossing information you may not already know:
- Flossing for children should begin as soon as their teeth begin to come in contact with each other (about 2 1/2 years old).
- By the time a child is old enough to go to school, they should be able to floss their own teeth.
- You don’t necessarily have to floss before or after brushing, just as long as you remember to floss once every 24 hours.
- About seventy percent of food debris is removed during brushing, but to remove the remaining thirty percent, you have to floss.
- Flossing cleans about a third of tooth surfaces that your toothbrush can’t reach.
- It doesn’t matter what brand or type of floss you buy and use. If you prefer mint flavored flossing tape over woven floss without any flavoring additive, that’s perfectly okay. Just floss!
- You can find downloadable flossing and brushing charts on the internet. Print one off today!
Dr. Cobb always says, “Good oral hygiene habits, combined with healthy food choices and bi-annual checkups, are the best ways to prevent tooth decay.” If you have more questions about flossing or dental health, please come see us!