Everyone’s in a rush to brush but it seems many of us find it tough to get into the habit of flossing our teeth as often as we should. Especially kids!

Veteran dentist, Dr. Eduardo Kalaydjian, tells us brushing is a bona fide part of a healthy oral hygiene plan. But, you got it, there’s more.

“If you’re not flossing, you’re only doing half the job,” he says. “That’s because you’re not removing the plaque that’s stuck between the teeth and under the gums. The bristles don’t fit in the contacts and sometimes don't go under the gums well.”

That means some people who diligently brush those pearly whites but forget to floss end up with gingivitis, a common and mild form of gum disease responsible for inflamed and swollen gums. This can lead to more serious disease and even tooth loss.

Why Flossing Your Teeth is Important

To get to the root of the matter on the flossing front, we talked to dental hygienist and owner of Dental Hygiene Express, Brittany Lalonde to answer some common questions.

How important is flossing as part of a healthy oral hygiene plan?

  • If you’re not flossing, you’re essentially missing 30 per cent of the surface of your teeth. It’s very important. There are a lot of areas we cannot clean with tooth brushing alone.
  • I recommend people (who don’t floss regularly) start with a goal of two to three times a week and increase from there. Regular string floss is most effective because you can wrap it around the tooth, but floss picks are easier for kids to use.

What tips do you have for those who don’t regularly floss?

  • I suggest they leave the floss out as a reminder. When you put it in a drawer, it’s out of sight | out of mind. If you go to work, put it in with your lunch or leave it out where you watch Netflix or play games.
  • Another thing we recommend is a Waterpik that gets further below the gums. There’s a debate about whether or not it replaces flossing, but it’s absolutely a great tool for those who can’t get into using floss. You can put Listerine or water into it and it, literally, blasts in between the teeth and removes deposits brushing won’t.

Why should kids floss?

  • Kids should start flossing at an early age even if their teeth aren't touching. We recommend (parents) work it into their routine, so they get used to it. Most parents won’t start until the teeth are touching and then kids are almost thrown off and don’t want parents in there with floss.

Making Flossing Fun for Kids

To help get kids into the habit of flossing, there are some tips and tricks that might help make flossing more enjoyable for reluctant flossers:

  • Provide a Reward – Kids love to be rewarded for things. Hang a flossing calendar on the wall and give them a sticker for every day they floss. You can then give them a reward every time they reach a certain number of stickers. Make the reward something that they love like a toy or tasty treat, and they’ll be asking to floss in no time!
  • Make it a Game – Play a game of “Let’s Play Dentist” with your kids where you let them floss your teeth first. By letting them floss your teeth, they may be more open to you helping them with theirs. 
  • Get Kid-Friendly Floss – There are different types of coloured/flavoured flosses available, like bubblegum, that kids may find fun to try. Include your kids by taking them to the store with you to help pick out a flavour or colour.
  • Something is Better than Nothing – Kids may not do the best job in flossing their teeth. The important part is getting them into the habit. So, don’t sweat it if they only get a few teeth done or end up playing with the floss more than flossing with it. You can work on the quality of the flossing once they’re in the routine of flossing daily.  

Need a reminder to make sure you’re doing it right? The Canadian Dental Association demonstrates flossing here. If you want more on dental care for children and preparing your child for a visit to the dentist, we’ve done a deep dive into that, too.

Don’t forget, Having Good Dental Coverage is Important too

A trip to the dentist for you and your kids can be expensive. While upping your at-home hygiene with regular brushing and flossing can help lower your dental care costs, having good dental coverage as part of your personal health insurance plan can help make sure you can afford preventive care as well as the peace of mind to know you’re covered for any dental work you may need. If you’re looking for a new dental plan, our “help me choose” app can help find a personalized plan for you.