Many parents do well when it comes to getting their kids to brush their teeth, thanks to some judicious hovering and countless reminders. Many times, however, we don’t take the time to ensure our children are also flossing their teeth on a daily basis.
Even after the most thorough brushing, plaque and bits of food can remain caught between our teeth and at the gumline. Flossing prevents bacteria-laden plaque from compromising our teeth’s enamel, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
Oral health is a real issue among American children. Some 20 percent of children between 5 and 11 have at least one untreated cavity, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That number would be significantly smaller if more children were encouraged to floss as well as heading to the dentist for regular checkups.
Children are more likely to follow through with something they enjoy. You can help firmly instill the flossing habit in them by making the job more fun. Here are just a few ways.
Use Fun Flossing Picks
Kids find flossing with picks easier than fiddling with old-school rolled floss. It’s also more fun because they’re using a little tool.
Further, many floss picks are brightly-colored to appeal to children. To sweeten the deal, many kids’ flossing picks may also feature handles with novelty shapes like zoo animals and flavored floss.
Check Your Floss
When you first introduce a flossing habit to kids, you might want to use a visual aid to emphasize why they’re undertaking this particular hygienic act. Have your kids take a quick peek at the floss after their done before throwing it away. It’s likely they’ll see bits of sticky white plaque and other debris. It’s a science experiment with a delightful ”eeeew” factor.
“Look at all that gunk you got,” you can say. “Think of it as cleaning house, except it only takes two minutes!”
Try A Water Pick
Your child may also enjoy the novelty as well as the interesting sensation that comes from cleaning their teeth and gums with a water pick. There are even colorful water pick flosser sets designed just for kids.
A word of warning. It’s likely that your children may wield their water picks like squirt guns. Wouldn’t you, at that age? A quick toweling-off and a reprimand later, your bathroom will be back to normal.
Chart Your Child’s Progress
When instilling a habit in children, it’s often helpful to set up a chart. Use a marker or stickers to note each day your youngster flosses. When they’ve completed the chore a certain number of days, you can give them a reward like a small toy.
Many social scientists assert it takes 21 days to instill a habit. However, any parent who’s sought to get their kids to pick their bath towels off the floor know they’re often slow to catch on. Keep your chart going for as long as you think it’s necessary to motivate flossing.
The Sound Of Music
Since dentists recommend that you floss for at least two minutes, you may want to find a song of about that length that your kid likes. You can make a point of flossing to the music, with a short song serving as an egg-timer. If they’re into pop music, you may even find yourself wanting to floss along with them. Synchronized flossing, anyone?
Dr. Taylor and the staff at our full-service dental office, Taylor Cosmetic Dental, wish you the best in getting your children to floss. It can make all the difference.