In addition to brushing, children and teens must floss regularly (just like adults!) to keep their teeth and gums healthy. However, flossing can be tricky, and young children in particular may struggle to properly manipulate the floss. Here are some ideas to help make flossing easier for kids and teens.
Introduce your child to flossing as early as possible.
As soon as your child has two teeth next to each other, you can begin flossing between them. And once your child is old enough to hold onto the floss, you can let him try it out for himself.
The younger children are when they’re introduced the flossing, the more likely they are to consider it a normal part of their daily routine. This means they’re less likely to fuss or question why they need to floss when they get older.
Choose the right tools.
To make flossing as easy as possible for your child, make age-appropriate flossing tools available. A five year old may not have the manual dexterity to use regular dental floss, but may be able to manage a dental flosser or even an interdental brush.
Let your child choose the tools.
Take your child down the dental aisle, and let her select the floss she wants to use (this goes for toothbrushes and toothpaste too!). Remember that feeling of pride you felt when mom and dad let you make your own decision about something important? You can use that to your advantage when you’re trying to get your own kids to take an interest in their oral hygiene. They may be more excited about the process if they get to use something they picked out themselves.
Lead by example.
Children and teens are more likely to floss if they see their parents doing it. It’s good for you anyway, so make a point of letting your child see that you floss carefully every night before bed. In short, practice what you preach.
Make flossing (and brushing!) a family event.
Gather everyone in the bathroom for the nightly oral hygiene routine. It’s a great way to keep the whole family honest about their oral hygiene, and it’s a small way you can get in a little extra quality time together, too.
Try a reward system.
Draw out a chart to mark off daily flossing. Then, after your child has flossed every day for a week (or two weeks, or a month… or whatever interval you decide on), provide a small reward. This can be an oral health friendly treat, some stickers, an extra half hour of TV before bed, or a trip to the movies. Anything you like! This may even work with teens; just make the reward age appropriate.