Flossing & Kids: What You Should Know
It’s not always easy to remember how your oral health regime began as a child and what your pediatric dentist encouraged. Often, it’s not until your own children are born that you remember the importance of brushing, learning the best way to floss children’s teeth, and maintaining those habits through adulthood.
If you’re looking for a refresher to help your children take care of their oral health, or you’re simply unsure if you should floss children’s teeth alongside brushing them, consider this information below.
Why Is Flossing So Important?
We’re often taught about the importance of brushing, but flossing is of equal importance. You may put a lot of effort into brushing into every nook and cranny, but bacteria can be present in areas not accessible by brush.
When left unattended, any bacteria between your teeth can destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities. Therefore, an excellent preventative measure is flossing. Using an interdental cleaner like floss, you can clean between teeth and remove plaque to prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria.
Flossing also gives you an opportunity to look out for any swelling or redness that may require a trip to your dentist to investigate.
When Should You Floss Children’s Teeth?
As flossing can require precision and accuracy to get into the gaps surrounding your teeth, you may be wondering whether this is a task reserved for teenagers and adults with advanced motor skills.
While it’s true that flossing with ordinary floss is likely to present a few challenges for children, that doesn’t mean this oral health task has to be complicated. With your help and guidance, it can begin from a young age with ease.
We recommend beginning the flossing process when all sides of a tooth can’t be cleaned by brushing alone. At this stage, you, the caregiver, can help your child floss to ensure you’re able to access all areas a brush is unable to.
As your child matures, they can take on the job themselves with your supervision, until finally mastering the process by around the age of 10.
What Should You Use to Floss Children’s Teeth?
In the same way that adults have many flossing options, so do children. When you’re flossing your children’s teeth, you may use traditional floss or flossers with handles. Some parents also enjoy the convenience of interdental brush floss with coated wire and soft spiral bristles.
As your children take on the task themselves, they may enjoy the comfort and convenience of handled flossers before switching to floss tape or continuing using handled flossers as they age. As a parent, you’ll know what works for your children and family.
How to Encourage Your Children to Floss
When you begin an oral health routine with your children as soon as possible, including trips to the dentist after their first tooth emerges, children are able to form healthy habits that carry them through childhood.
However, not all children will be overly receptive to the idea of flossing or having you help them with flossing. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make the experience an overall positive one.
1. Start As Early As Possible
The earlier you start flossing, the faster your child adjusts to having this task included in their morning and evening routines. Most dentists recommend beginning flossing from around the age of four or when brushing alone is not enough to access all parts of all teeth.
2. Use the Best Tools
Without the dexterity to use and control dental floss, you may find that alternative child-friendly dental products are necessary during those early days of flossing. Dental flossers with handles and interdental brushes may be the recommendations of your pediatric dentist.
3. Let Your Child Choose Their Oral Health Products
You can make brushing and flossing fun by letting your children choose what they want to use to look after their teeth. There are plenty of child-friendly and fun toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss products available to make your children more interested in their oral health. They may also feel a sense of importance in being able to make this selection for themselves.
4. Look After Your Oral Health
Children look up to their caregivers, so lead by example. If they see you brushing, flossing, and taking care of your teeth, they may be more likely to follow your lead.
Consider making brushing and flossing a family affair, with everyone coming together to brush and floss in the mornings and evenings. If it’s just them taking care of their teeth, they may not see it as something essential.
When to Make Your Child’s First Dentist Appointment
You now know that flossing is an essential oral health measure that can commence when brushing alone is no longer enough to combat harm-causing plaque and bacteria. However, when should you make your child’s first dental appointment?
Many pediatric dentists will recommend making an appointment for a check-up when your child’s first tooth appears. Typically, this is their lower central incisor at around six months old, but ranging from three months to 14 months. Dentists advise at least one visit in the first year of their life.
Most children will then have their first complete set of teeth by around age three, which is when your oral health care routine can begin in earnest. If you’re unsure when you should take your child to a dentist or what their first check-up covers, contact a pediatric dentist. They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
What Happens At a Child’s First Check-up?
You likely have a lot of questions relating to flossing and brushing your children’s teeth, and you will have an opportunity to ask these questions and others at your child’s first dental check-up.
The goal of this appointment is to familiarize them with the dentist’s office, chair, and overall environment. Your dentist will look inside your child’s mouth, look for any oral health issues, and assess any teeth they have, their gums, jaw, and bite. It’s pain-free and takes no time at all.
At a later appointment, your dentist may also discuss the need for sealants. Even with careful brushing and flossing, keeping food and bacteria out of pits and grooves in back teeth isn’t possible. Sealing may be able to prevent bacteria from taking hold and being fed by sugars that cause decay.
As daunting as it can be to teach your children about the importance of oral health and guide them through the flossing and brushing process, it can be necessary. If you need any advice or help, book an appointment with our pediatric dentist. They can perform your child’s first check-up and make sure you’re armed with all the correct information going forward.