September 24, 2012
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Tips for helping kids learn to floss and love it.
If you have kids, you know how difficult it can be to teach good tooth-brushing habits. It can take many sessions at the sink to help them learn how to do it correctly.
But once they've gotten the hang of brushing, teaching them how to floss is an important follow-up. Flossing is an essential part of any oral health care routine. It helps remove plaque and bacteria from between your teeth, in areas that the toothbrush can't reach, and it helps prevent gum disease and dental decay.
Flossing can actually be a fun and easy extension of your kids' oral care routine (no, really!). The following are four practical tips to get your kids flossing:
1. Set an Example
What better way to show a great example of health to your children than by being proactive with your own teeth? Brushing and flossing your teeth alongside your kids will reinforce good habits to them, and following up on their oral care is a great reminder to keep up with your own. Teaching them to properly care for their mouth sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth.
2. Chart Their Progress and Reinforce their Efforts
Having a flossing chart in the bathroom is a great reminder for kids to floss at least once a day. Have your kids use their favorite stickers to count how many days in a row they floss. Use non-monetary incentives such as staying up a little later on the weekends or an extra story at bedtime as a weekly finishing line. If they see something fun at the end of the tunnel, they'll be even more motivated to keep flossing. Don’t forget to give your kids lots of positive reinforcement along the way!
3. Make It Fun
Make flossing into a storytelling event, dance party or an undercover math lesson! Here are some ways to keep kids focused on their flossing while having a great time:
• Choose short, snappy songs to play during flossing time. Find a steady but slow beat to help kids move their hands in time to the music.
• Kids love a battle between good and evil. What better way to grab their attention than to make up an adventure story involving evil bacteria and the mighty power of floss. The best part about this story is they get to control the hero by, you guessed it, flossing!
• Kids love to look in their mouths, so use that curiosity to your advantage. Help your children learn to count their teeth while flossing. Since little kids have 20 teeth in their mouths, flossing can help them learn to count up to what sounds like a huge number to them.
4. Get Them Their Own Tools
The American Dental Association recommends using an 18-inch piece of floss wound around your two middle fingers through your teeth, then gently guiding it between your teeth. Hold the floss tightly between thumb and forefinger. Then gently curve the floss into a c-shape around the tooth and rub up and down around one tooth at a time. Don’t forget about the back side of the last tooth! For a step-by-step, guide check out Mouth Healthy's website here.
Winding a long piece of floss around a young child's finger -- and keeping it there while actually flossing -- is a tricky feat. Luckily, kids have way cooler options to make flossing fun and productive.
Easy to hold and use, kid-friendly floss sticks are available in a wide variety of colors and characters. They come in packs of about 50 to 100 sticks, so children have plenty to practice with. Since the sticks are on the small side, kids might need two per flossing session -- one each for the upper and lower teeth. Make sure your kids know to throw away the sticks (and any other type of floss) after each use because floss should never be reused.
It's never too late to start flossing, but the earlier your kids get into the habit, the better. For more information on how to help your kids floss, talk to your dentist and check out the American Dental Association’s new web site, www.MouthHealthy.org.
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If you have any comments, feedback, or would like to suggest a topic, please email us at [email protected] and reference Macaroni Kid. Thank you.
Source: American Dental Association and Discovery Fit & Health.
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