FLOSSING FOR KIDS

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Flossing should start when your child has 2 teeth that touch. This is often around ages 2 to 3. Always floss under the direction of your child’s dentist or primary care provider. Before this age, flossing is not needed. Children often need help with flossing until they are ages 8 to 10. 

When to Teach Your Kids to Floss

Children should begin flossing as soon as they have two teeth that touch one another. Parents should floss their children’s teeth until they are old enough to floss effectively on their own. As a general rule of thumb, kids are usually able to begin flossing on their own by the time they are 6 or 7 years old.

The importance of flossing

Brushing teeth correctly and consistently helps remove most dental plaque. But brushing alone can’t remove plaque that is located in places that a toothbrush can’t reach. This includes in between the teeth and under the gums. In addition to removing plaque, flossing also helps to:

  • Remove debris that sticks to teeth between the teeth and under the gums
  • Polish tooth surfaces
  • Control bad breath

Your child should floss at least once a day for 2 to 3 minutes each time to be most effective. Flossing is crucial for removing food particles and plaque that has accumulated between the teeth. The act of flossing can help to polish the sides of teeth and prevent tartar which could lead to tooth decay. Once the decay sets in, your child may need fillings or crowns. Flossing also helps to fend off bad breath, since it whisks away odor-causing bacteria and food grime. Teach your children that although brushing cleans the front and backs of the teeth, flossing cleans the sides of the teeth. Without flossing, the job is only half done.

Types of dental floss

Regular, consistent flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque. It may be more important than the toothbrush. The different types of dental floss include the following:

  • Waxed and unwaxed
  • Flavored and unflavored
  • Wide and regular
  • Textured and smooth

Flossing methods

Your child’s dentist or primary care provider can show you and your child how to floss. Methods include:

  • Spool method (also called the finger-wrap method)
    • Cut off a piece of floss about18 to 20 inches long.
    • Lightly wrap each side of the piece of floss several times around each middle finger.
    • Next, carefully move the floss in between the teeth with your index fingers and thumbs in an up and down, not side-to-side, motion.
    • Bring the floss up and down, making sure to go below the gum line. Bend it to form a C on the side of each tooth.
  • Loop method (also called the circle method)
    • Cut off a piece of floss that is about 18 inches long.
    • Tie it securely in a circle.
    • Next, place all of the fingers, except the thumb, within the loop.
    • Then use your index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth. Use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth. 
    • Go below the gum line, bending it to form a C on the side of each tooth.

Try these 3 easy steps to help your child learn to floss:

Step One: To begin, your child should cut off approximately 18 inches of floss.

Step Two: Wrap the ends of the floss around the middle or index finger on each hand.

Step Three: Gently guide the floss between the teeth, gently curving the floss around the tooth and sliding it carefully under the gum line. Children should understand that the goal of flossing is to clean the area between the gum line and the side of each tooth.

Floss is available in lots of colors and flavors, so try to find one that your child will like. It’s okay to make flossing something exciting to look forward to increasing your child’s chances of maintaining the habit. Some children prefer to use pre-threaded flossers or floss holders for better control.

Teaching Proper Flossing Technique

Take the time to teach your kids how to floss. To make sure that your children remember all the steps, work with your kids every night to make sure that they understand how to floss. The technique that you use will depend on the type of dental floss that you and your child prefer.

TRADITIONAL DENTAL FLOSS

If using traditional dental floss, teach your child to grip a length of dental floss between their thumb and index finger on each hand. Show your child how to wrap the dental floss around their index finger to reduce slippage. Teach your kids how to relax the floss into a “C” shape and gently glide it between their teeth. Explain that kids should use a new section of floss when moving from tooth to tooth to prevent spreading germs. Make sure to clean both sides of each gap, and continue down slightly under the gumline.

DENTAL FLOSS PICKS

If your kid is like most children, they might have a difficult time handling traditional dental floss at first. To make flossing easier, buy some children’s dental floss picks. They have small lengths of pre-strung floss spread between tines on a convenient plastic handle. Show your child how to push the floss between the teeth and how to tell when they need a new flosser.

Getting Kids Excited About Flossing

Teaching your kids to floss is one thing, but getting them excited about flossing is another challenge altogether. Try these tactics to make flossing and dental care more enjoyable for kids.

MAKE FLOSSING A FAMILY ACTIVITY

Kids love a great example, which is why making dental care and flossing a family activity is a good idea. Brush your teeth alongside your little ones and let them watch you floss your teeth. They will love imitating you. For another variation, let them brush your teeth while you brush theirs.

TAKE THEM SHOPPING

Allow your child to choose their toothbrush, dental floss, toothpaste, and dental flossing picks. This can help them to personalize the activity and make it more interesting. After all, what kid wouldn’t want to floss with a princess dental floss pick or brush with a toothbrush that has a car on the front?

Resources:

stanfordchildrens.org

ckdentistry.com

babytoothcenter.com

We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment