January 27, 2015

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How to make flossing easier for kids

TF142951It is well known that a combination of brushing, flossing and periodic dental checkups are essential to oral health. Some parents teach their children to brush thoroughly early on, even taking them for dental visits at young ages so youngsters can become acclimated to the dentist’s office. But flossing is one component of oral hygiene that may be overlooked because many kids simply don’t enjoy it.

Flossing is one of those tasks that people understand they must do regularly, but many still do not. According to Humana Dental, flossing cleans bacteria and trapped food from between the teeth. Brushing only reaches the surface of the teeth, but floss is required to get into the small crevices to prevent bacteria from turning into plaque buildup. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once per day. It is far better to floss once a day and do a thorough job rather than several times a day and miss areas of the mouth by doing it quickly.


Children should be urged to floss regularly in addition to brushing. However, flossing can be cumbersome for youngsters who have yet to develop the dexterity needed to manipulate dental floss. There are many products available and techniques that can be used to assist children with cleaning between their teeth. The following are some flossing tips for kids.


* Begin the introduction to floss early.  The younger children are introduced to floss, the more likely they are to embrace flossing as part of their oral hygiene routine.

* Show visual proof of the benefits of flossing. Oftentimes, children are more likely to respond to something they can see. Show pictures of dental decay and what occurs when proper oral hygiene is not followed. This may help make the concept of flossing more attractive.

* Get the proper tools.  Kids cannot floss unless they have floss products on hand. There are various age-appropriate flossers and types of dental floss available. Children may not be able to use dental floss properly because of a lack of dexterity. However, floss picks are much easier to hold and work between the teeth, particularly for kids with small hands. Floss should always be on hand, whether at home or when you go on vacation.

* Let kids choose.  Take kids down the dental aisle at the store and let them pick and choose which products they want to use. They may be more excited to brush and floss if they’re using something they picked out themselves.

* Lead by example.  Children will be more likely to floss if they see their parents flossing. That means adults should floss regularly and let their children watch and learn.

Benefits of flossing

Removing bacteria and trapped food from teeth has a number of benefits. Bacteria can cause bad breath, but flossing and brushing helps to keep breath smelling fresh.

Dirty teeth can lead to dental carries. Children may be more inclined to floss if they know they’ll be preventing cavities and avoiding potentially painful trips to the dentist.

Plaque trapped between the teeth and along the gum line that leads to periodontal disease puts a person at a greater risk for heart disease. There are some studies that show bacteria from the mouth can end up in the bloodstream.

Flossing is a necessary component of good oral hygiene. Everyone should floss, no matter their age, and children should begin flossing as soon as their mouth starts to fill out with pearly whites.