Do As I Say, Not As I Do! Flossing...
By: Dr. Peter Markov, Owner and Kids Dentist at VK Pediatric Dentistry in Arlington, VA
I recently asked a patient when the last time they flossed was and they told me “You were there!”
For most of us, every time we go to the dentist we are asked how often we floss and we usually have the same answer: we don’t do it as much as we should. So how do we teach kids to do something that we don’t do? Here are some tips to get your kids to floss as part of their daily routine.
It’s a Learning Experience For Everyone.
Life was different when we were kids. Times have changed and diets have changed too. There is high fructose corn syrup or sugar added to almost everything we consider delicious (I was recently getting groceries and saw high fructose corn syrup added to my ketchup). It’s becoming incredibly difficult to navigate away from refreshing ‘healthy’ sports drinks or organic fruit ‘snacks’ that are packed with sugar. But having children and taking their health seriously can be a good motivator for everyone in the family to do better. If you really want your kids to take flossing seriously, show them that it is something you are committed to and do regularly. Commit to flossing with your kids every day – they will enjoy spending time with you and you’ll start a major positive lifestyle change for yourself!
Use The Best Floss (and Floss Tools)
There are many kinds of floss out there but my favorite for kids is a brand called Plackers Kids. I use these in my office because they are fun colored, have fluoride (an added benefit for healthy teeth), and taste great. They are also incredibly easy to use. Instead of complicated trigonometry and lost finger circulation, kids can learn to floss their teeth properly with their comfortable handles that are designed just for kids.
It’s Not Easy, Sometimes We Forget...
Most kids cannot tie their shoes until around age 7. Flossing requires a certain level of manual dexterity that requires practice and patience. Most kids won’t be able to do it well, even if they want to. Every day, show your child how to maneuver their flosser around and in between their teeth until they are able to do it themselves. It never hurts to have them try first and then you go over all of the teeth afterwards to make sure they did a good job.
Put up a calendar and give your child (and yourself) a gold star every day you floss. At the end of the month, they get a reward – whether it’s stay up an hour later than usual or a new book they want. Although they may not be old enough to understand the importance of flossing, rewarding them for good behavior and positive lifestyle changes can help solidify their healthy habit.
Ps. Don't hesitate to give yourself a reward too! Flossing isn’t easy but it’s healthy.
VK Pediatric Dentistry
5001 Lee Hwy. Arlington, VA 22207