We all know flossing our teeth is essential for overall oral health, yet many of us fail to do it regularly. As a parent, it is vital to not only make sure you are flossing regularly to show the importance of proper dental hygiene but that you also teach good hygiene habits to your children, as well.
Getting your kids on a flossing routine can be a challenge, but we have a few simple steps that may make that process a little easier on you both to keep those smiles shiny and healthy.
Why is Flossing Important?
Did you know that you should start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they have two teeth that touch? It’s usually around age 2-3 that the mouth reaches this point, and their toothbrush alone can no longer properly clean the surfaces between teeth. This can lead to plaque and bacteria buildup that can lead to cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and other serious infections.
Flossing regularly can also help alleviate bad breath by removing food particles and bacteria hiding in the gums that leave your child’s breath smelling rancid.
While the order of flossing and brushing is deemed not significant by the American Dental Association, they do recommend flossing your child’s teeth for 2-3 minutes every day to be most effective at maintaining good oral health.
Flossing Steps for Kids
Always floss your children’s teeth under the direction of their dentist at Children’s Dental Center and remember consistency is key. Most kids are able to begin flossing on their own around 8-10 years old, but a good method of judging their dexterity for flossing is their ability to tie their shoes. If they need help tying their shoes, they likely need some help flossing.
The following steps can help ensure a successful flossing journey.
Step #1: Choosing Your Floss
There is no shortage of options for making flossing a personal experience. We can all find a comfortable and practical choice. When choosing floss for your child, consider their preferences in the following options.
Waxed Floss: Waxed floss has a light wax film coating and is typically a mint or cinnamon flavor, but children’s brands such as GUM Crayola and CocoFloss offer fun flavors like grape, watermelon, coconut, and even chocolate options to encourage all kids to floss their teeth. The wax allows the floss string to glide between the teeth more effortless, but this also makes the floss itself thicker and can be harder to get in between children’s teeth.
Unwaxed Floss: Unwaxed floss is typically a flavorless nylon string. It has anti-slip properties making it easy to hold, but it also is prone to fraying during use, especially between tighter teeth.
Eco-Friendly Floss: Environment-safe floss is made from biodegradable silk that naturally breaks down and also commonly comes in mint flavor.
Pre-Threaded Floss Picks: Another recently popular option is pre-threaded floss picks that usually come with a fun colored handle. These can be easier for small hands to hold on to and are great for getting debris between teeth and reaching those far back spots in tiny mouths.
Step #2: Choosing Your Method
There are two basic methods to floss your teeth effectively. Either method will work just the same, but again, the routine and consistency in flossing your children’s teeth matter most. And make sure you floss below the gum line.
If you need some guidance or a demonstration, your child’s dentist at Children’s Dental Center can help with both methods.
Loop (Circle) Method: In this method, you use a piece of floss about 18 inches long that is tied together on the ends to form a loop or circle. You will insert all of your fingers into the circle leaving your thumbs on the outside. Then, you will use your index fingers to guide the floss along and between the bottom teeth, and you will use your thumbs to push the floss along and between the top teeth. Use a “C” motion at the gum line to be sure and dislodge any bacteria or food particles that may be hiding.
Spool (Finger-Wrap) Method: This method uses a piece of dental floss that is about 18-20 inches long. Wrap the ends of the floss string around the ends of your middle fingers. Use your thumbs and index fingers to guide the floss up and down between the teeth on top and bottom. You will also use the C-Motion when reaching the gum line with this method to any residing plaque build up and bacteria.
Step #3: Creating a Routine
Children should floss once per day for about 2-3 minutes. The time they floss is not as essential, but make sure it fits into your kids’ schedule and routine well to ensure it is consistent. Positive associations to flossing can make the experience fun, so listening to a specific song, using special floss, or flossing together can make a difference for your kid.
Eventually, your child will get the hang of effectively flossing independently, and you won’t have to be as involved. Check-in with them regularly to see their progress and make sure they are not rushing or skipping such an important piece of oral health maintenance.
Trust the Experts at Children’s Dental Center
Flossing doesn’t need to be a negative experience for kids! With the proper education and parental support, your child can grow up with confidence in their smile and oral health. Is it time for your child’s next cleaning, or do you need a little help better understanding flossing? Our talented team is ready to help create happy, healthy smiles! Give us a call today for compassionate care in Germantown and the surrounding areas.