Brushing and flossing are both essential to achieving the perfect smile. However, a surprising number of people who habitually brush twice a day find ways to put off flossing.
This is because they believe it is either too tedious or it doesn’t matter. In reality, if you don’t floss, you are going to lose your teeth. That fact makes it very important for parents to instill good flossing habits in their children at a young age.

Importance of Flossing

Flossing regularly and carefully, as well as brushing properly, helps get rid of the 400 species of bacteria that live and ferment in the human mouth. If not tended to, these bacteria gradually infect the gums and underlying bones, and this eventually leads to both tooth loosening and tooth loss.

Getting Your Kids to Floss

The attention spans of kids makes it very difficult to teach them good oral hygiene. It can take several days just to show them how to hold a toothbrush, what’s the right amount of toothpaste, and how to make sure they clean all of their teeth. If you’re a parent, you know first-hand how much patience it takes to keep your child still long enough to teach them all of that. But still, your teaching doesn’t end with brushing. You now have to teach them how to floss.

Make it Fun

Nothing can be dry and boring when it comes to teaching kids anything. To keep them interested, your methods have to be fun, engaging, and entertaining. Otherwise, you’ve already lost. Turn flossing into a dance party, storytelling event, or a plot between good and evil.
Play snappy songs with a slow beat during flossing time to help your kid move their hands in-time with the floss. Don’t use a fast beat because moving the floss too fast can damage gums. Moving in rhythm with a beat will help them get used to having the floss against their gums, but after they get the hang of it, make sure they use proper technique.
Children love exploring their mouths, so take advantage of that by turning flossing into a fun math lesson. While they’re flossing, have your children count their teeth. Small children have 20 teeth, so this exercise will help them count up to what they consider a large number.
Putting a flossing chart in the bathroom is a great way to engage, remind, and track your child’s flossing. After each floss, have them put a sticker on the corresponding day. After the end of each week, give them a prize if they flossed at least once per day. An example of a prize is going to bed later on the weekend. A small incentive will keep them motivated to floss. You can find printable charts online.

What to Teach

It’s important to slide the floss all the way to gum level. Using an “up-and-down” motion, massage your gums, pressing the floss into the crevice between your teeth. Don’t use a sawing motion, which can cause cuts in the gum tissue or grooves or ridges in the tooth or root surfaces. When flossing press firmly because a light touch doesn’t do the job. Use a different piece of floss for the upper and lower jaw.

Types of Floss

There are two commonly used forms of floss:
Disposable plastic units resemble miniature slingshots and are sold in many supermarkets and drug stores. They are able to get between teeth pretty well and they make flossing easier, especially in the back of the mouth. These are great for children because they are easy to use.
Nylon flossing line is the more traditional form of floss. If used, cut about 14 inches of floss and wrap it around the middle or index finger of each hand. Pull the floss tight, keeping an inch or less between the fingers. Let out new line as you move between teeth.