Things Parents Should Know about Their Child and Flossing

Feb 21, 2023

Helping your child take care of their teeth is an important responsibility and part of building a foundation that will help your child live a healthy life. Brushing is an integral part of good oral care–it should be done at least twice a day starting before your child even has teeth. But what about flossing?

When to Help with Flossing

While you should start brushing your child’s mouth very early, flossing doesn’t start until later. Your child’s teeth don’t need flossing until they have two teeth that touch. This usually happens around the time they’re 2-3 years old. Flossing takes a certain level of coordination to do well. Most children need an adult to help them floss thoroughly until they’re around 8-10 years old.

Flossing Methods

There are a couple of ways you can floss your child’s teeth. The first way is to use string floss. Cut off a piece that is about 18-20 inches long and lightly wrap it several times around your middle fingers. Use your index fingers and thumbs to place the floss between the teeth and move it in an up-and-down motion. Create a C shape around each tooth as you do this, making sure you get the floss below the gum line.

Floss picks are another way to floss your child’s teeth. Floss your child’s teeth with the sticks the same way you would use string floss. The main benefit of using floss picks is that you can use them with just one hand, rather than needing both.

Leave the Water Flosser for Braces

Water flossers use a stream of water to remove larger food particles from between the teeth and from around the braces. They don’t do a very good job of getting between teeth that are touching and don’t remove plaque effectively. For these reasons, water flossers should not be used in place of actual floss, but should instead be used by those with braces to remove food from around braces brackets and from under wires.

Flossing is a critical part of oral hygiene, but the approach to it is a little different than brushing. Flossing should be done at least once a day while brushing the teeth should happen at least twice a day. It’s the best way to remove food particles and bacteria from between the teeth, protecting them from developing cavities. Talk to your dentist if you have any questions about your child and flossing.

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