Oral care is a huge part of an effective hygiene routine and flossing plays a crucial role. Every parent should ensure their child knows how to floss effectively and it’s never too early to start. Early introduction can set your children up for a lifetime of healthy smiles and establish the foundations for lifelong habits. Flossing should start when your child has two teeth that touch each other. This is usually around ages 2 to 3. Parents must floss their kid’s teeth until they’re 10 years old to begin flossing on their own.
The Importance of Flossing
Brushing acts as a defense against cavities, bad breath, and gum disease – so does flossing! Without flossing, the job is only half done. As children eat throughout the day, plaque accumulates on their teeth. Floss can get to the parts of the mouth that a toothbrush can’t, which makes flossing crucial for removing food and plaque that loves to hide between the teeth. It also whisks away the odor-causing bacteria and paves the way for fresh breath. Introducing a flossing routine early will not only prevent tooth decay and other dental issues, it will also make flossing a normal experience for your child as they get older.
Using the right floss
Flossers for children come in fun shapes, dozens of bright colours, and a variety of flavours. Traditional string floss is the most common type of floss. It is small, yet effective in removing plaque. If your kid finds it difficult to use the string floss, an alternative is the floss picks. It resembles a toothpick and has a small strand of floss. Floss must be used correctly and with care regardless of its type. Hold the floss against the tooth and gently rub it up and down. Teach your children that floss cleans the sides of the teeth, while brush cleans the front and back of the teeth.
5 ways to get your children’s flossing on the right track
- Do it together
One of the best ways kids develop a habit is by watching their parents in action. Joining your kids in their flossing routine is a great way to encourage a proper flossing habit and set a good example. Flossing together will help them watch you closely, learn from you, and adjust their technique accordingly. Moreover, you’ll be able to check whether or not your child is doing it right and can correct their mistakes. Your child will love spending fun time in front of the mirror with you, and enjoy flossing too!
- Make it fun
Music can make brushing and flossing more fun. For kids who only brush and floss for a few seconds, choosing a fun upbeat song or playing some of their favourite tunes will encourage them to clean their teeth longer, recommends Dr. Yasmin Kottait, best pediatric dentist in Dubai. Make your kids vibe to songs as part of their oral hygiene routine and include flossing steps in the song. This technique works great for kids of all ages. Not only will it motivate your kids to floss better, will also help them make it a part of their bedtime routine. For younger kids, playing a flossing game can help encourage them to floss regularly. Create a fun story around brushing and flossing involving their favourite superheroes who fight the dangerous plaque and germs. This will also teach them the importance of oral hygiene.
- Reward them
A great way to encourage your kids to build the right flossing habit is through positive reinforcement. Cheer on and encourage them as they floss. Every time they complete flossing, congratulate them or give them a high five! Create an oral calendar and add a star or sticker each time your child flosses. Reward them with a small treat, special gifts, or extra TV time for accomplishing their flossing goals over the predetermined number of days. Small frequent rewards can go a long way.
- Let them choose
Kids are more likely to use the items that they pick for themselves and feel grown up when they make decisions. Let your child have fun shopping for their oral care products. Most pharmacies have a range of toothbrushes and other dental products in multiple shapes and sizes. Help your child choose flossers in their favourite colours that they are excited about and will enjoy using every day. You can also use dental products with their favorite characters on them to make oral care fun. A new toothpaste or floss will often excite them and reignite good oral habits.
- Practice with toys
Demonstrate good dental cleaning practices by using dolls or stuffed toys. Use a toy brush and floss to show them how it’s done, step-by-step. This is an effective way to make them practice flossing correctly by applying the lessons learnt. When kids floss on their dolls or toys, it will help them prioritize the behavior for themselves. Another way to motivate your kids to floss is to build replicas of teeth using paper or egg cartons and have them get rid of the plaque using floss. You can use playdough to represent the plaque on the teeth. This is not only a fun and unique way to learn, also the best method to emphasize the importance of flossing.
Teaching your children proper flossing isn’t a one-time process. Talking about it from time to time makes it more likely that they’ll remember the importance of flossing and dental hygiene. As kids grow older, they will improve their flossing technique with time and will be able to get food out of the space between their teeth easily. Along with brushing and flossing, schedule an appointment with the best dentist for kids every six months for a dental cleaning and exam.
About Dr. Yasmin Kottait: Having dedicated 16 years of her career to spreading smiles and imparting knowledge of oral hygiene to children, Dr. Yasmin is a renowned name and face in the field of pediatric dentistry in Dubai. Her joyful personality and magical kid-whispering powers make dental appointments for kids an easy sail – and lots of fun, that they never miss a single dental appointment with her! Dr. Yasmin is also one of the few Autism friendly dentists in the region, with a diploma in Cognitive Based Hypnotherapy and IBCCES Autism certification.