For kids, learning new skills acts as a rite of passage. From learning how to dress themselves to riding a bike without training wheels, these important milestones foster independence for your kiddos –– and for you! The same is true with teaching your kids healthy dental hygiene habits like brushing and flossing teeth. Not sure of the best ways to teach your kids flossing techniques?

Read on to learn our best tips and teach your child how to properly care for their teeth.

When Your Child Should Start Flossing

Flossing is a vital part of your oral hygiene routine because it’s the only way to remove plaque from between the teeth. Kids should start flossing once their teeth begin to touch. Once they touch, floss to get rid of plaque in the area in between the teeth and under the gums that your kiddo’s toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing also helps to get rid of debris that can get stuck in the tight spaces of your child’s smile and it eliminates bad breath.

How to Floss Your Child’s Teeth

When it comes time to get your kids flossing, there are lots of different types of dental floss out there. The best dental floss for kids, though, will be whatever is simplest for you to work with. When shopping, opt for a soft, gentle floss or a kids’ dental floss pick.

It’s normal for toddlers and small children to not love flossing their teeth. When that’s the case, it can sometimes be helpful to try out different positions and use floss picks, which can be maneuvered one-handed.

Sit behind your child and have them tilt their head up to look at the sky. Rest their head on your shoulder or upper arm and use the hand that’s not holding the floss to gently pull back their cheek and lips so you can see what you’re doing. Gently guide the floss between any two teeth. Floss up and down one side of that tooth sliding it under the gum line and then up and down the side of the other tooth.

How to Teach Kids to Floss Their Own Teeth

Once daily flossing is a part of your child’s dental hygiene routine, it’s just a matter of time before you can teach them to floss their own teeth.

Here are a few ways to help your child learn to floss on their own:

  • Before you start, consider using floss made for sensitive gums. This floss has a coating on it that makes it gentler on the gum tissue. Using sensitive-gum floss allows your kids to avoid the pain and bleeding that may sometimes accompany flossing.
  • Your child only needs 16-18 inches of floss each time. This length can be measured by the distance between your elbow and your fingertips.
  • Show your child how to wrap most of the floss around a finger. Wind the rest of the floss around the same finger on the other hand. This second finger is the one that collects the used floss.
  • Pro tip: Don’t wrap the floss so tight that the tips of the fingers turn purple. Dental floss should be held taut, but not tight enough to cause discoloration or pain.
  • Teach kids to glide the floss between each tooth in a back-and-forth motion. Slide the floss against the side of each tooth before moving on to the next tooth.
  • When it’s time to move to the next tooth, slide the floss to the second hand to make sure you’re using a clean portion of floss for each tooth.
  • Or, consider teaching your child to floss using floss picks. These are easier for small hands to maneuver around each tooth.
  • Practice together to make sure your child gets the hang of flossing.

While all these tips are helpful, one of the best ways to teach your child to properly care for their teeth is to lead by example. When your kids see you brush twice per day, flossing daily, and regularly visiting the dentist, they’ll gain a better understanding of healthy dental habits.

Here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, we make it our mission to restore our patients’ smiles and save their natural teeth. Learn how we can help give you a beautiful, healthy smile by contacting us today!