Flossing is one of the most important dental habits you can instill in your child. It might seem like a daunting task, especially in addition to brushing and mouthwash, but it’s well worth it!
Too often, we tend to skip flossing in our oral hygiene routine because we don’t know how to do it properly or feel like we don’t have anything stuck in between our teeth. But your dentist doesn’t just tell you to floss to be a pain, they have a good reason!
- Flossing helps get all the debris out from between your teeth. Brushing can only do so much.
- Without flossing, the debris trapped between teeth can decay and cause cavities.
- Flossing gets rid of plaque on teeth, giving a clean, white and healthy smile.
- Getting your child to start flossing at a young age sets them up for a lifetime of good dental habits
Step 1: Explain Why Flossing Is Important
One of the best ways to make the flossing habit stick is to thoroughly explain to your child why it’s important. Kids love to ask “Why?”, this just means they’re curious. Use language and examples they can understand for their age. Dentists recommend that you start flossing with your child as soon as neighbouring teeth come in. Even though they’re baby teeth, they’re still prone to decay and all the discomfort that comes with it.
Another effective way to relay the importance of flossing is to let them know that “all the big kids do it”. Flossing is so mature! Let your kid know that by taking this extra special step they’re demonstrating big kid behaviour, which makes you very proud and, of course, is very, very cool.
Step 2: Help Them Figure It Out
It may take a couple of practice sessions before your child gets the hang of flossing. Help them by portioning the string, looping it around their tooth, and gently pulling in a see-saw motion up and down the tooth, all the way down into the crevices. Repeat with every tooth, changing the section of floss to a clean one as they go. If they use the same section of floss the whole time then they’ll just transfer plaque between teeth, instead of removing it. Not so good!
Some kids (and adults!) find flossing tricky and uncomfortable. They might prefer to use flossing sticks instead. With these sticks, your child won’t have to put their hands in their mouth and can get the job done quicker. Just make sure they’re still doing the motions properly. Using a stick can make it harder to get into tiny crevices and do a thorough job.
Step 3: Book A Dentist Visit
You’ve done the essential groundwork at home, but it’s important for your child to see a dentist to ensure their teeth and gums are in good shape. A dentist can confirm if your child is doing an effective job at flossing, and give their mouths an extra deep cleaning.
A dentist can also help show proper flossing technique, providing a refresher for both child and parent. Your child’s dentist should communicate about oral hygiene in a friendly, non-judgemental way. Providing the right environment for your child can make the difference between them having a positive association with the dentist, or treating dental appointments as something to fear and prolong as much as possible.
Step 4: Keep It Up!
Flossing only works its magic when done regularly. Let your child know that flossing is just like brushing: it must be done twice a day, after mealtimes in order to be effective. And make sure you’re leading by example. If they see you practicing what you preach, they’ll be much more inclined to do it themselves.
Flossing is one of the most important habits to instill in your child. As soon as they have two teeth to floss together, start educating them on the importance and proper method. Your pediatric dentist will help you out in this regard, and with your combined efforts, your child will be well on their way to a lifetime habit that protects their healthy gums and teeth.
Treehouse Dental provides kid-friendly dental services in Toronto, Thornhill, and Etobicoke. Give us a call at (416) 922-2668 or visit our contact page here for more information or to set up an appointment.