A few years ago, you couldn’t get kids to stop flossing, but dentists weren’t necessarily happy about it. While the video-game-inspired dance craze got lots of kids up and moving, it didn’t increase their interest in dental care. It can feel like an uphill battle to get kids to brush their teeth, let alone get them to commit to brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash every day. Flossing can be tedious and uncomfortable. Is it even that important? According to dentists and pediatricians – YES!
Why is flossing so important?
Flossing can be an important part of keeping teeth squeaky clean, fighting cavities, and protecting teeth for the long haul. So the earlier kids can learn to floss, the more natural the habit will be for the rest of their lives. Flossing gets into spots the brush bristles can’t get to and can allow kids to get rid of tartar, plaque, and bacteria. Flossing prevents the buildup of nasty stuff on the teeth that can lead to a duller smile, tooth decay, and gum disease. Plaque and tartar build up between teeth and gums and can contribute to cavities.
Here are 3 ideas to encourage flossing:
- Start a few times a week, not every day, and build them up to daily flossing. While regular flossing is important, for kids who have sensitive teeth and gums or who have sensory concerns, flossing can be an annoying or even anxiety-inducing task. Helping them slowly get used to the feeling can make it easier to adjust to the sensations.
- Try using flavored floss, with your dentist’s recommendation. Sometimes an exciting flavor just makes it easier to get a small child, or a big kid, to do something that is good for them. In today’s market, there are actually lots of options for flavored floss, even organic brands! From mint to watermelon, there is probably a dentist-approved floss out there with a fun flavor to help keep your kids getting between each tooth.
- Let them experiment between normal floss and floss picks. Some people prefer traditional lengths of floss, while others use small picks with pieces of floss which can be helpful in particular for smaller mouths to get in the back. Give them the opportunity to figure out which one is easier for them; and if one encourages them to floss, let them use that tool!
Let us know how you help your children build healthy habits!
Bethany is a freelance writer and editor. Click on her name to find out more!