You’re great at getting your kids to brush their teeth. It’s easy to incorporate teeth brushing into any regular bedtime routine. Everyone does it. But flossing? That can be harder. Not many adults like to floss their teeth, so it stands to reason that getting your kids to floss can feel like a monumental task. A recent survey found that 25 percent of American adults lie to their dentists about flossing, and about a third of Americans would rather do an unpleasant task like cleaning the toilet or sitting in traffic than floss. Why all that hate for flossing? It’s messy, uncomfortable, and can make your gums bleed if done infrequently. Which doesn’t exactly sound like fun for kids. But it’s important. Let’s talk about why.
If flossing is so unpleasant, and it can be, then why do it? Because it removes plaque. Throughout the day your kids’ teeth build up a layer of plaque as a result of eating and bacterial byproducts. Say your kids didn’t ever floss. Eventually, that plaque would collect below their gum line and harden into what dentists call tartar, which can lead to periodontal disease. By flossing, your kids will clean out plaque from gums and teeth. One in two people have periodontal disease. Flossing will help your child avoid being one of them.
Knowing that your kids need to floss and actually getting them to floss are two different things. When your kids need help flossing, here are some ideas to get them started.
- Floss with them. You both need to do it, why not make it a family affair? Doing something you don’t really like to do becomes easier when you do it with someone else. Not to mention it’s a lot easier to teach kids when they see you doing it. Bonus: you can make sure your kids are actually doing it, and doing it correctly.
- Explore different ways to floss. Let’s face it, not everyone loves wrapping a long string of floss around their fingers and slowly working it between each tooth. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that hard or that messy. Your kids might do better with a water pick or even stick flossers. Explore options with your kids and let them have a say.
- Do it for them. Don’t expect your little kids to be able to floss. In fact, most kids won’t be able to maneuver well enough to easily floss until they’re about age 10. Before that age, you should help your kids floss. Do it for them until they can do it for themselves.
- Stay consistent. Your kids will eventually learn to floss as a matter of habit. Once flossing is part of their daily routine, it’ll be easier to get them to floss.
Flossing is hard, even for adults. But helping your kids learn to floss on a regular basis will pay off. Good flossing habits help avoid tooth decay and periodontal disease down the road.