Top Tricks to Get Kids Flossing
We bet the fact that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month isn’t on your calendar…but maybe it should be. Establishing good oral habits early with your kids will serve their overall health for the rest of their lives. And who wouldn’t want to leave that legacy for their loved ones?
Superhero Against Cavities
Daily brushing is critical, but even the best toothbrush can’t reach every nook and cranny. Tiny particles of food get lodged in between teeth, and that can lead to plaque, tartar, and the eternally dreaded cavities. Enter the dental floss superhero! Floss not only takes away tiny food culprits, it also polishes the surfaces of those cute little teeth.
You’ll want to start flossing your child’s teeth at least once a day between the ages of two and six – as soon as the teeth start to touch each other. Explain to them what you are doing and why. Over time, they’ll develop the knack for it, and they should be ready to floss solo by the time they’re 10 years old.
The ABCs of Flossing
Plan to spend two minutes flossing your child’s teeth either before or after brushing. We love the ready-to-go plastic flossing tools because they make getting floss into those small spots simple. If you want to stick with the basics, you’ll need 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the dispenser. Anchor the ends of the floss by wrapping them around your middle or index fingers of each hand. Hold the floss firmly, and gently insert it in between the teeth. Move it in zigzag motion around the gum line, curving it in a “C” shape around each tooth. Then, guide it up and down against the side of each tooth.
Appeal to your kids’ sense of fun and they will become more apt to get into the spirit of flossing.
- Chart the course. We have a special Mint Dental Works Flossing Chart available in our office, or you and your child can make one of your own. Post the chart in the bathroom where they will see it every day. Gather some stickers so the kids can fill their chart each time they floss. Once they reach a goal – such as making their first full week of daily flossing – reward them with a meaningful incentive like a trip to the park on the weekend, choosing the movie for at-home movie night, or staying up an extra 15 minutes before bed.
- Create a countdown! Little kids have 20 teeth, which makes a perfect built-in counting tool. Teach your kids numbers by having them count along with you while you’re flossing their teeth.
- Tell a tale. Create a story where our superhero “Floss” defeats the villainous bacteria hiding in the hard-to-reach caverns between their teeth. Their floss could be Spiderman’s web lifting away the invisible bad guys, or a string of white light zapping germ gremlins who are trying to take over a beautiful tooth castle. Let your imaginations run wild!
- Make it musical. Rhythm and rhyme do more than tickle little ears, they also help kids focus their attention on a task. Because flossing relies on a steady, repetitive pattern, choose a melody that fits the job. Make up some easy-to-remember, upbeat lyrics and you’ll make the job a song— and your kids will remember it for years to come.
- Be the example. Kids want to feel grown up, so brushing and flossing your teeth with your kids is a great way to give them the feeling they’re just like mom and dad. It also provides you with some personal time with your children at the end of a busy day. Show your kids that you care about your own dental health and they will be twice as likely to follow your lead.
- Get crafty! Here’s an idea to channel the DIYer or artist in you. Help your child create a nifty model of a mouth! A few simple items – white paint, pink or red paper, glue, play dough, floss and egg cartons – are all you need to get going. First, paint the egg carton. Once dry, fold it in half, cut it apart and glue the pieces into curved rows of top and bottom teeth on a pink semi-circle shaped piece of paper. Once the glue sets, roll up small pieces of play dough and insert them between the “teeth.” Then let your little one remove the play dough with real floss.
With so many ways to get your child engaged in flossing, you’ll be able to establish a lifetime of healthy habits for your little ones. And who knows? All this fun activity around great oral care might just get you to floss more regularly too!