Even the most basic oral hygiene regimen includes daily brushing, but many of us can admit to forgetting (or avoiding) flossing our teeth. It’s uncomfortable, difficult, messy, and for some people, can feel silly. However, flossing is a very important part of good oral health, since it goes beyond removing food stuck between your teeth to actually getting rid of plaque. Even if you brush twice daily, if you don’t floss, you could develop gum disease or lose teeth. To make sure your technique is correct, click here for an instructional video on flossing.
Our dislike of flossing starts when we’re young. Kids express all of the excuses adults have for not flossing, plus, it is one more chore parents nag their kids to do. So how so you get your kids to floss regularly? Here are a few of our tips…
- Get them fun tools. Luckily for parents today, dental hygiene tools have progressed to make oral hygiene easier, more effective, and for kids, more fun. Instead of giving your child a plain container of mint-flavored floss, have them pick out flossing sticks/wands in their favorite color and floss in their preferred flavor.
- Incorporate stories and/or songs. Younger kids love singing and stories. Tell a story about the evil plaque being fought off by the superhero floss, or make up, or sing songs with a slow, steady beat (so as not to damage their gums) that they can floss along to.
- Chart and reward their progress. Kids love goals that come with measurable success and rewards. Use a chart to track how many days in a row they floss with stickers, and after your child reaches a specified number of stickers, reward them with something non-monetary. For example, if your child flosses for 10 days in a row, they could win an hour longer before bedtime on Saturday night. And if they achieve 15 days in a row, they could earn an extra hour to play video/computer games.
- Make flossing a family event. If your kids feel like flossing is fun for you, the likelihood of them mimicking your behavior is higher. At bedtime, make a point to floss in front of and/or with your kids, and make sure the mood supports the idea that flossing is fun.
- Give them a reason, and encourage curiosity. Many kids are classic askers of “why?” for just about anything. When it comes to flossing, answer the question as clearly as you can. Make sure your child understands the importance of the practice for keeping teeth and gums healthy (don’t forget to talk about the distinction between losing baby teeth and losing adult teeth due to disease!).
Dr. Mimi is always happy to talk to parents and their kids about the importance of flossing and techniques. Just ask at your next cleaning or dental treatment appointment.
Featured photo source: Pixabay.com