Helping your children have healthy teeth and gums for life starts with teaching them proper oral care. It's no secret that brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day reduces the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. However, flossing may require more preparation and demonstration for your children than tooth brushing. Learn how to teach your child to clean between their teeth with dental floss and encourage them to keep up with this habit in the long term with this flossing guide for kids.
How to Help Your Child Floss
When to Start Helping Your Children Floss
According to the Ministry of Health, children's teeth should be flossed once they come into contact with each other. This step needs to be done by an adult as the kids are not able to do this on their own yet. Bacteria can settle between the teeth, leading to early tooth decay and inflamed gums.
Parents often have to floss their children's teeth for them at first. It's important to be gentle when moving the floss between your child's teeth. Forceful flossing can lead to soreness or bleeding gums. Floss gently, especially when teaching your children how important flossing is.
How to Encourage Your Children to Make Flossing a Habit
Your child is going to need your help to maintain proper oral hygiene. Cleaning between their teeth can be challenging to do every day, but you can do activities to make it fun, including:
- Demonstrating how flossing works
- Rewarding proper flossing
- Singing songs
- Letting your child pick out their oral care products
Demonstrate how well floss removes food debris from your teeth after eating. Eat a snack such as leafy greens or fruit that tend to get stuck between your teeth, and then demonstrate proper flossing technique so your child can see how it removes pesky food. Help your child make flossing a habit by making an oral care calendar and giving your child stickers to place on days they accomplish their oral care routine, including flossing. You can make oral care fun by using dental products with their favourite characters, rewarding good behaviour with stickers, or singing a silly song during the daily routine.
How to Floss in 4 Easy Steps
- Step 1: Dispense about 45 cm of floss.
- Step 2: Wind the floss around your thumb and index finger at each end until you have a short section of floss between your fingers to use. Gently slide the section of floss between your child's teeth.
- Step 3: Adjust the floss into a 'C' shape curve around each tooth and slide it up and down gently along the side of the tooth and under the gum line.
- Step 4: Use a fresh section of floss for each tooth to avoid reinserting food and biofilm.
You can use water flossers or interdental toothbrushes to clean between your children's teeth if flossing is too uncomfortable.
Helping your child brush and floss, along with keeping their dentist appointments, can ensure your child maintains their oral hygiene on their own as they grow.