One night, as my husband flossed his teeth our daughter exclaimed, “Daddy, why are you removing your teeth?”
Taken aback he responded, “What do you mean, honey?”
She replied, “The lady at the salon did the same thing to Mommy’s eyebrows so she could remove the extra hairs.”
Oops! I’d completely forgotten our quick trip to the salon to get my eyebrows threaded. I guess the thread in hand act resembles flossing from a child’s perspective.
My husband seized this opportunity to educate our daughter about the importance of flossing. Her curiosity made it easy for us to explain to her why flossing will help keep her teeth healthy.
In fact, between the ages of 2 and 4, when teeth in the mouth start to touch, little ones can and should be introduced to flossing.
As a parent, I know how tired we all are at the end of the day. Teaching your kid to floss may seem like the last battle you want to take on, especially when brushing teeth can be a struggle. But, flossing is an extremely important part of good oral care. Flossing cleans the 40% of tooth surfaces brushing can’t reach.
When it comes to teaching children to floss their teeth, creativity goes a long way. Here are three tips for teaching a child how to floss:
Tip 1: Use visuals
To demonstrate the impact of flossing to our little girl, my husband dug his teeth into some chocolate. He made sure the chocolate got in between is teeth. Then, he got out a strand of floss. He flossed his teeth in front of her to show how well flossing removes leftover food particles from between our teeth. Afterwards, he got out a flossing stick (little kids find these easier to handle) and asked her to open wide so they could try it out on her teeth.
Tip 2: Give rewards
As a parent, you know how well positive reinforcement works on kids. They love it when there’s something fun waiting for them at the end of a task.
Try creating a flossing chart and give them a golden star for each day they floss. At the end of each week, reward them with a fun activity or small toy.
Tip 3: Create activities
This is one of my favorite flossing activities for kids of all ages! All you need is some play dough, a large Duplo block, and some yarn. The block represents the teeth, the play dough represents food and gunk that gets caught in between your teeth, and the yarn is the floss. Use the yarn just like floss to show how easily it removes food from teeth. This is a great visual and the kids love jamming the dough in the blocks.
Talk with your child’s dentist to get even more tips on teaching them how to floss.
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