Would you let your child eat with mud between their fingers and under their nails? Of course not — it could make them sick! Allowing them to go without flossing every day is just as bad. Why? The nasty layer of grit that forms on our teeth is called “biofilm.” It’s made up of acid-excreting bacteria. No matter how well kids brush, that biofilm — much like the mud that’s left between fingers and under nails — will still be stuck between their teeth and under their gum line.
In addition to tooth decay, the bacteria also causes gum disease and infections that are linked to life-long health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers!
Flossing for your life
If you’re among the 70 percent of adults who don’t floss daily, it’s time to start taking better care of your gums. Set a good example and see that your child flosses every day as well. After all, habits that are formed during childhood are easier to keep throughout a lifetime.
It’s never too late to develop a new, healthy habit. Follow these tips to make flossing part of your daily routine:
- Motivation: When you think of skipping your daily floss, remember the disgusting bacteria!
- Be accountable to someone: Ask a family member to be your “flossing buddy” and floss together.
- Choose your trigger: This can be anything from a visual cue in your bathroom or a reminder on your phone.
- Bundle your habit: Floss at the same time you brush, which should already be a habit. The key is to floss before you brush, and preferably before bed when you’re less rushed.
- Reward yourself: At the end of the week, give yourself a small reward for flossing every day. At the end of the month, reward yourself with something bigger!
- Don’t get discouraged: It takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit — but nobody is perfect. Don’t give up when you miss a day.
- Get the gear: There are many different ways to clean between your teeth, including traditional floss, interdental cleaning devices, and water flossers. Try a few to see which works best for you and your child.