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Teaching kids good habits from a young age is a great way to lay a solid foundation for life later. Flossing teeth is something that should be done early and often with kids.
My oldest son is 7 years old, and he now has several adult teeth in his mouth. As we have visited the dentist the past couple of times, we’ve been encouraged to have our son floss his teeth regularly. While he doesn’t have any cavities, it’s about this age where they start to see kids with cavities in their teeth. Both brushing and flossing of teeth is encouraged.
Flossing teeth is not something I did a lot of in my younger years. I always felt that flossing my teeth was a waste of time. It would appear that I’m not the only one that thought that. According to US News, only 37% of Americans floss daily, and 32% of Americans never floss their teeth. Neither of those numbers are overly surprising to me.
Flossing your teeth seems like it will take a long time, but in reality, it’s actually a super quick activity. While I didn’t floss my teeth until sometime in adulthood, it’s something I do on a regular basis these days. In fact, I’m not sure the last day that I didn’t floss my teeth (it’s been at least 2 years). It takes me less than 2 minutes to floss my teeth each night.
You know when I do that flossing? While my kids are brushing their teeth. I grab my floss, go into their bathroom and make sure they’re brushing their teeth while I floss mine - I always brush after flossing my teeth. The reason this is so good is that my kids see me flossing my teeth every single day - teaching your kids by example is one of the most powerful ways to get them to do something as well.
In order to teach your child to floss their teeth, you need to be flossing your own teeth. Telling your child to do something that you don’t do yourself is generally extremely difficult to pull off. If your kids see you flossing, they will likely ask what you’re doing, and why you are putting that string into your mouth. Younger children will likely want their own string to put in their mouth as well, so make sure you get your old floss thrown away to a place that they can’t get to it when you’re not watching as they’ll likely want to eat it.
Beyond flossing your own teeth every day, you’ll need to make sure that your kids have floss of their own. Younger kids will likely have trouble with standard floss, so feel free to buy them some flossers to use - at a younger age it’s more about building the habit of flossing teeth than it is about being extremely effective. It may take your child a few tries to learn how to use a flosser, but once they do, they should be able to do it themselves. Personally, I can’t use a flosser for the life of me, but regular floss is no problem.
Leading by example, and getting your child something they can use to floss are the two primary steps. Lastly, you’ll also want to make sure to remind or ask your child if they flossed. Incorporate it as part of their bedtime routine, and make sure they do it every night - preferably they see you floss your own teeth so that they can see they’re doing the same thing as you. If you have younger children, they’ll likely want to floss as well, so just be patient and work with them every now and then as well.
Teaching children to floss can be a simple activity, but you must be committed to the act. Get into the habit of flossing your teeth, and you’ll likely find that your kids will follow your example.