Did you know that flossing regularly has a big impact on little ones’ health?
Health writer Lucy Fry gives her top tips for teaching your cubs one of their essential healthy habits, with a little help from Disney THE LION KING.
We all know how important it is for our kids to learn about dental health from an early age. But many of us don’t realise that flossing is an important part of the process. Here, we explain why and show how you can make it a habit through a few fun Disney-inspired tricks.
Why do we need to floss?
Once the teeth start to fit tightly together, somewhere between two and six years old, it’s time to get your child flossing. As with adults, that’s because flossing removes bacterial plaque and food stuck in-between teeth, which if left unattended can lead to cavities, bad breath, gingivitis (bleeding gums) and gum disease.
What’s the correct way to floss?
Carmel McHenry at The British Dental Association recommends taking your child to the dentist when their first milk teeth begin to show so they identify any issues early. Then, just before brushing their teeth (either in the morning or evening), consider using floss or a mini brush to remove plaque or debris caught between teeth. Follow these three steps:
- Take between 15-30cm of floss and twist it around the thumb of one hand and index finger of the other so that the remaining floss is taut.
- Gently slide the floss in-between two teeth, sliding it between two teeth in a C-shape.
- Use a new bit of floss for each new space and if it’s too big for floss use an interdental brush.
How can we make flossing fun?
1. Floss as a pride
Just as Timone and Pumbaa show Simba the ropes when living in the jungle, the most effective way to teach them is by showing them you care about your teeth too. Floss along with your child and they’re much more likely to do it as part of their daily dental routine.
2. Use fun accessories
Keep things entertaining by letting them pick their flosser. They can pick one with animals or their favourite Disney characters to make the activity more fun.
3. Reward your cubs
Children are more likely to engage in an activity if the process is gamified and they respond well to positive reinforcement. Create a fun rewards system where they can achieve points or Disney stickers whenever they practice their daily flossing. The end goal is to have teeth as strong as a lion!
4. Hold surprise inspections
To keep older children on their toes, hold surprise teeth cleaning inspections every now and again. If they have siblings, ask them, ‘who will be king of the bathroom today?’ This may encourage a little healthy competition when it comes to looking after their teeth.
5. Empower older lions
At the beginning you may have to nag them to look after their teeth, but remind them that if they want to have great looking teeth like Timone and Pumbaa, they will need to floss them to clear food stuck between their teeth and keep their breath fresh. The sooner they realise the benefits themselves, the more likely they are to continue on their own.