As with brushing, it’s important for kids to develop proper flossing habits early on. Flossing helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease by removing the pesky food and plaque that settles between the teeth. Starting young sets the stage for lifelong good oral hygiene habits.
Statistics differ, but most studies report that less than half of American adults floss regularly. By starting your kids early, you can help ensure that they grow up to be in the small percentage of adults who DO.
Consistent flossing is critical to oral health. If not removed, plaque buildup between the teeth can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. Nobody wants that, no matter what his or her age.
When Should Kids Start Flossing?
Ideally, kids should start flossing when they first get their baby teeth. This will help them develop the habit of flossing regularly. You’ll need to help them at first, showing proper technique and helping those small hands manipulate the floss. In fact, you may need to help them until they are 8-10 years old, depending on the child. And that’s ok. It’s time and effort well spent!
What Kind of Floss Should Kids Use?
There are many options available, and fortunately most work equally well at removing plaque. Standard floss is great and inexpensive, or many kids like to use floss picks because they are easier for small fingers to handle.
You may even want to let your kids pick out their own floss, as some come in bright colors. Anything to make it fun! There are even electric flossers, which can be a good option for kids that enjoy using an electric toothbrush. The most important part is that the child feels comfortable and develops the habit, whichever option they choose.
How Do I Help?
You can help by getting a piece of floss (roughly 18”) and wrapping it around your fingers until there is a small amount (about an inch). Keeping it tight, slide it down between your child’s teeth. Don’t snap it, though! Try to be gentile.
Then, you curve the floss in a “C” shape and slide it along the tooth and under the gumline, repeating with a new section of floss in between all teeth.
What if the Gums Bleed?
If your child’s gums bleed the first few times he flosses, reassure him that it’s totally normal. In fact, bleeding is quite common in the beginning. After doing it regularly for several days the bleeding should stop. However, if it continues or you have other concerns please consult your dentists.
Flossing is important to a child’s overall oral health, and the sooner he or she develops the habit the better. If you have any questions about kids and flossing, or pediatric dentistry in general feel free to contact us directly.