Flossing is an important tool for children as much as it is with adults for preventing cavities between teeth, removing plaque between teeth, and keeping things clean below the gum line. Children may need to begin flossing as early as two or three years of age.
Primary (baby) teeth often have space between them in which case flossing is not routinely necessary, although we don’t discourage beginning good oral habits such as flossing early. Eventually, as the spacing between your child’s teeth decreases, you will notice two or more of your child’s teeth touching―or at least close enough that simply brushing teeth is not enough. That’s when you need to start flossing your child’s teeth if you have not already done so. Remember the goal is complete dental hygiene; it is important to get all sides of the tooth clean―including those you can’t reach with a brush.
Your child does not and will not have the fine motor skills necessary for flossing for quite some time (usually not until age 10 or 11), so the job is up to you as a parent or guardian. Make flossing a pleasant experience and emphasize that it is part of a healthy dental routine. Use the simplest motions possible to dislodge whatever food or plaque might be stuck between the teeth.
Sometimes it is easiest to have your child lie flat with his or her head on a pillow or in your lap and say, “Open wide!” Take a piece of floss and wrap it between your middle fingers until you have about two inches of floss to work with. Place the floss around the base of the tooth near the gum in a “C” shape. Move from bottom to top two to three times, using a fresh part of the floss as you go from tooth to tooth.
As a parent, you need to set the groundwork for a healthy dental routine. Remember, including flossing in this routine is vital to your child’s oral health―you don’t want to risk any long-term dental issues. Call our office with any questions you may have about flossing, or bring them up at your child’s next appointment.