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Brushing and flossing go together like peanut butter and jelly. So once your kids have gotten the hang of brushing, teaching them how to floss is an important follow-up.

Flossing only takes a few minutes a day and is a small, simple step that has a huge impact on a child’s oral health.

Unlike a toothbrush, which cleans the tops and outer surfaces of the teeth and gums, floss is specifically designed to clean the tight spaces between teeth and the places a toothbrush can’t reach.

Here are six tips for getting your kids into the healthy habit of flossing.

1. Start Early

When should kids start flossing? As soon as their teeth begin touching one another — even baby teeth.

You will probably have to floss your child’s teeth until they are old enough to do it themselves (about 6 or 7 years old).

2. Choose the Right Type of Floss

Dental floss comes in a large variety of forms, flavors, and colors, so choose one your kids will enjoy.

There are many varieties out there; try a few different kinds to see which your kids like most.

Keep in mind that a long piece of floss can be difficult for young children to handle. Let them get comfortable using floss sticks first; they are easy to hold and use and come in lots of different colors and characters.

Since the sticks are on the small side, kids may need to use 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. Floss should never be reused.)

3. Make It Fun

Make up a story or a song about how they are wiping out all the “bad guys” and bacteria that gets between their teeth.

4. Chart Their Progress

Having a chart in the bathroom is an easy way to remind kids to floss every day.

Use their favorite stickers to count how many days in a row they floss. Offer incentives such as staying up a little later on weekends or an extra story at bedtime as motivation.

If they see a fun reward at the end of the week, they’ll be more likely to keep flossing.

5. Lead by Example

Children love to follow in their parent’s footsteps. Show them that you are actively flossing your own teeth and they’ll be much more likely to pick up the habit.

(A great reminder to keep up with your own oral health, too).

6. Reinforce Their Efforts

Good habits take time to develop, so give your kids plenty of positive reinforcement.

If you have more questions about flossing or dental health, please call or come see us!

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