5 Tips to Teach Your Child How to Floss

When it comes to oral health and dental hygiene, flossing is just as important as brushing the teeth. Teeth flossing gets rid of the bits of food and debris that get stuck between the teeth. It removes all the stuff a toothbrush can't reach. Kids' teeth need to be flossed as soon as they have two next to each other in their mouths.

Of course, you can take on the job of flossing your child's teeth when they're just an infant or toddler. But as they get older, flossing is something they need to know how to do themselves. Teaching a child to floss isn't so difficult, it's getting a kid to floss that can be a challenge.

The following tips help make it easy to show your child how to floss. If you need more help, don't forget that your dentist is there to answer any questions you have.

1. Show Your Child How Flossing Works

Children learn by imitating, so the easiest way to teach them the basics of flossing is to model it yourself. If you need a quick recap, here's what you do:

  • Take an 18-inch strand of floss.
  • Wrap the ends around your middle fingers.
  • Grip the floss in the middle between your pointer finger and your thumb on both hands.
  • Slide the piece of floss between two teeth.
  • Hold the floss to one side of the tooth, sliding it down from the gums to the end of the tooth.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Remove the floss from between the teeth.
  • Repeat, moving your fingers up and down the length of floss, until you've gotten between all of your teeth.

Once you've shown your kids how it's done, help them out. Work with them to help them wrap the floss around their fingers, then slide it between their teeth.

2. Let Them Choose Their Floss

For some children, there are two ways of doing things: their way or their way. If you get a bit of resistance to the idea of flossing, give them some more freedom. One thing you can do is let them pick out the floss themselves.

Floss comes in all different types, including various flavors. Mint floss might not float your child's boat, but a cinnamon or bubblegum-flavored variety might. Packaging might make a difference, too. The next time you go to the store with your child, take them to the floss aisle and tell them to pick out any variety they want.

3. Make Teeth Flossing a Family Activity

Remember, kids are like sponges, they soak up what's around them. If they see you flossing regularly or their older siblings using floss, they want to do it, too. Make flossing a family activity by setting up a flossing time every morning or in the evening before bed. You can even make a competition out of it, keeping notes on who flosses the most.

Have fun while flossing. Put a song and have everyone dance around to it while you floss. You can also try telling your child a story while they floss. Whether it's dental hygiene themed or not is up to you.

4. Try Floss Sticks

Some kids have trouble wrapping a strand of floss around their fingers or sliding it between their teeth. Luckily, there are floss sticks, which can be much easier for children to use.

Floss sticks feature a plastic handle and a tiny piece of floss between a curve of plastic. The string of floss is already pulled tight, so all your child needs to do is slide it between their teeth. Floss sticks also often come in fun colors and some are even animal-shaped, which makes flossing a more exciting experience for kids.

While using floss sticks is a good starting point when teaching a child to floss, don't give up on the traditional method entirely. You can try starting with the sticks, then introducing flossing by hand as your child gets older.

5. Ask Your Dentist for Help

You're not on your own when teaching kids to floss. Your family's dentist can be a great source of support and encouragement. If you're not sure where to start when it comes to teaching your kids about oral health and hygiene, don't be shy about asking your dentist. They can give you advice and pointers on how to model flossing and how to get your children into the habit of cleaning between their teeth.

The team at Great Lakes Dental offers a Total Smile Care approach to your family's dental hygiene and oral health. Our services include pediatric dentistry as well as more advanced dental treatments.  If you need help getting a kid to floss or if it's time to schedule teeth cleaning for your children or your entire family, get in touch with us to schedule a visit today.