The Do's and Don'ts of Teaching Your Kids to Floss

The Do's and Don'ts of Teaching Your Kids to Floss
Posted on 02/07/2019

FlossingFlossing daily is beneficial for kids' overall oral health. It's easy to do and only takes minutes to complete. However, some children may be intimidated or even scared of flossing. Consider these do’s and don'ts to help your children learn how to floss properly and even embrace this healthy habit.

Do Read Books on Flossing to Kids
Children are likely to be more receptive to the idea of flossing if you approach the topic in a light-hearted way. Try reading them fun books about flossing. Doing so can spark their imagination and inspire them to ask you questions about flossing.

Some children's books that address the topic of flossing include "Flossing Teeth" by Mari Schuh and "Rotten Tooth Ruth" by Ilana K. Levinsky. "Max Goes to the Dentist" by Adria F. Klein more indirectly addresses the topic of flossing by featuring a hero who flosses each day.

After reading these books aloud to children, you may also encourage them to do related activities. They may create a drawing related to the book or write a one-paragraph book report on why flossing was important for the character in the story. This can help you then easily transition to talking about why flossing will help your kids have healthy teeth and gums.

Don't Hesitate to Let Kids Pick Out Their Own Floss
Children who feel some control over their daily flossing habit will be more likely to look forward to it. Child-friendly dental flossers are now made with themes that kids love, so don't hesitate to go with the fun options that are available in stores.

Making a special day out of taking your kids to shop for their very first floss can help them associate the habit of flossing with fun. Selecting the floss they most want to use can be an empowering choice for young kids. Be sure to praise your kids for making a smart choice.

Do Supervise All Young Kids As They Learn to Floss
The American Dental Association recommends cleaning between teeth each day. You can start flossing your children's teeth when their first two baby teeth start to touch. Children are usually ready to floss independently when they're seven or eight years old. Be sure to instruct them carefully on proper flossing techniques, then supervise them carefully.

As you observe your children when they floss each day, step in to gently correct them when they mess up on the technique. You may also offer suggestions on how they can floss more effectively. Either way, be sure to heap lots of praise on them every time they finish flossing. Positive reinforcement can be one of the most motivating things for kids.

Don't Be Afraid to Try Other Interdental Cleaners
Floss is the most popular way to clean between teeth, but other interdental cleaners can be effective. Water flossers and wooden plaque removers are popular. Some kids will much prefer to use other types of interdental cleaners. Exercise caution with which devices you allow your kids to use. Extra supervision might be necessary with tools like water flossers.

Do Talk to Complainers About Why Flossing Is Important
Not all kids will be comfortable flossing, and some may refuse to do it. If your children are not fond of flossing, try talking to them about why it's so important for their dental health. You may talk to them about the negative consequences some people experience when they don't floss. Consider your child's age and maturity level when deciding how far to go with that conversation.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends flossing to help prevent tooth decay, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares it to be an important oral hygiene habit. Sharing information from professional organizations can be helpful for skeptical kids.

Encourage children to continue this discussion at the dentist's office. Your dentist will be happy to talk to your kids directly about why they should floss. If you struggle with motivating your children to floss, you may also talk to your dentist privately to ask for advice about how you can best help your children embrace this habit.

Don't Get Caught Up on When Children Should Floss
Although it's a good idea to set certain minimum standards for flossing, don't go overboard. For example, it doesn't really matter whether your kids floss before or after they brush their teeth. Experts don't yet have conclusive evidence on whether it's best to floss at the start, middle, or end of your daily dental care routine. So, follow cues from your kids and let them decide.

Likewise, it doesn't really matter whether your children floss in the morning or before bedtime. They only need to floss once per day, and the best strategy is to be consistent on the time of day that it's done. Flossing is equally effective whether your kids prefer to floss early or late in the day.

Finally, continue to have ongoing discussions about healthy dental care habits with your children. Also, encourage them to ask their dentist any questions they may have about flossing and other aspects of their daily dental care. Contact Dentistry for Children & Adolescents to make an appointment for your kids today.

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Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

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