We’re on to blog 3 in our Kid’s Oral Health Series! Today we’re going to focus on flossing! Remember, your kids won’t be ready to floss on their own until 9 or 10, but we want to start teaching them the importance and role of flossing while they are still young. Today we’ve got a hands-on activity to help your children practice flossing. This will also help kids to visualize what flossing actually does. Afterward, we’ve got a dancing challenge to get you all moving and laughing together.
What does flossing do?
We’ve already brushed our teeth for 2 full minutes, and we are going to swish with mouthwash- why do we need to floss too? Flossing can help remove food, plaque, and bacteria that’s stuck between two teeth or a tooth and gums. Your brush is designed to hug your teeth, but there is just no way for it to reach the spot where two teeth touch. These places become a safe haven for bacteria and plaque. As they sit there they break down your enamel and create holes. You should floss once every 24 hours.
How do you floss?
Take one 18″ piece of floss and cut it from the container. Wind most of it around the pointer finger of one hand, leaving about six inches. Wind the other end around the pointer finger of your other hand, leaving about 1-2″ of floss between your two hands. Use your thumbs to hold the floss in place on your pointer fingers. Gently glide the floss between two teeth, pulling side to side. Pull the floss all the way to your gumline, and switch to an up and down motion to “polish” the plaque off your tooth and away from under your gums. Pull the floss around your tooth like a “C” or as though it is hugging your tooth. Once it starts to squeak, you know you’ve cleaned the plaque off. Switch to the other tooth and repeat. Pull the floss (and plaque out of the crack and twist your fingers to get a fresh spot on your floss. Repeat between every two teeth, and on the backsides of the back teeth.
Still unsure if you’re doing it right? Here’s a video to demonstrate proper flossing technique.
Practice makes perfect
Handling floss can be hard for little hands! Getting that floss in their mouths is even harder! Here’s a great activity to let kids practice flossing without the pressure of a confined space.
- a latex glove
- dental floss
- spare toothbrush
- peanut butter
- Put a glove on one hand, and hold it up in the air like you’re giving a high-five with your fingers pressed tightly together.
- Smear peanut butter in the cracks between fingers (“teeth.”)
- Ask your child to use the spare toothbrush to brush the peanut butter off your finger “teeth.”
- When they’re finished, open your fingers and show how much peanut butter is still between your finger “teeth.”
- Guide your child to hold the floss correctly.
- Let your child practice “flossing” the peanut butter out from between your “teeth.”
- What was easy?
- What was hard?
- Which was more effective in removing the peanut butter?
- How are brushing and flossing different? The same?
What does dancing have to do with it?
Really… nothing. The Floss is a dance move that’s become popular on the internet. Although it shares some of the motion of flossing teeth, it’s not going to really teach your kids anything about oral health. But, it is a great way to get active and have some laughs together! So check out this kid-friendly song that teaches the basics of the Floss Dance and enjoy some silly dancing with your kiddos. It’s great to pepper serious learning with laughter and movement to help kids’ brains stay engaged!
Have our suggestions been helpful? How did last week’s science experiment go for you? Comment below and let us know. Stay tuned for more activities and experiments to teach your kids about oral health!