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Teaching Kids to Floss
Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP posted:
Floss, floss, floss your teeth!
Floss them every day!
Floss the top.
Floss the bottom.
Floss the plaque away!

I sing this song with my own kids every night. At ages 4 and 6, my boys still need help flossing their teeth, as well as a reminder to do so.

Flossing is just as important as brushing, since flossing prevents the buildup of sticky plaque between the teeth. And if not removed, plaque can cause tooth decay and cavities. It can also damage the gums and the roots below the teeth.

There are several types of floss you can choose from, including waxed, flavored, string, tape, or sticks. It doesn't really matter which type you choose. The best type of floss is the one your child likes the most and is more likely to use every day. My pediatric dentist gave my sons character floss sticks. And they enjoy choosing the character and color of their floss stick every night.

A good time to start a flossing routine with your child is when he has developed two teeth that touch each other. Floss after your child eats foods that are sticky, and most importantly, before bedtime. This important routine will help keep your child's teeth and smile beautiful and healthy.

Around age 8, many children are capable of flossing their teeth on their own. Here are some simple tips on the proper way to floss:

• If using loose floss, take a long piece -- around 1 foot in length -- and wrap each end around your index fingers.
• Carefully insert the floss between two teeth, and slide back and forth and up and down the side of each tooth. Remember to floss the back side of the teeth, including the molars.
• Gently floss toward the gum line and even slightly below.
• Don't force the floss into the gums, as this can injure the gums and be painful. One "Ouch!" and it may be really hard to get your child to open up and let you back in.

Remember to see your pediatric dentist every 6 months, starting around 1 year of age. No question is a bad question, so ask your pediatrician or pediatric dentist about anything you want to know concerning your child's oral health.

How did you get your child to start flossing? What kinds of fun flossing products or habits have worked for your little one?

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