Look no further if you've been debating whether or not it's time to start flossing your children's teeth. Because we are frequently asked this question, we have decided to document our response for our readers.
The importance of oral hygiene for children
Teeth are an integral part of overall health and with proper care, many people can keep their teeth for a lifetime. Good oral health should begin early – even before a child’s first teeth erupt. Baby teeth generally start to peek through the gums at six months of age.
Baby teeth not only allow a child to eat and speak, but they also "hold the space" for adult teeth to emerge later. Parents are crucial in caring for their children's mouths and assisting them in developing good oral hygiene habits. Before the child turns one, a first visit to the dental hygienist is recommended, followed by regular visits.
Cavities are very common in North American children. Untreated cavities can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.
When should I start flossing my child's teeth?
Even your child's baby should be flossed (or primary teeth). Flossing is essential for your child's oral health once their teeth begin to fit closely together, usually between the ages of two and six.
When can children floss their teeth by themselves?
Until your child can floss their teeth on their own, you should help them floss to get them in the habit of flossing daily. Children are usually able to floss by themselves around the age of 10.
How can I help them learn to floss?
Do it for them until they can do it themselves to emphasize the importance of flossing and help them develop a good flossing habit. You want to start them on the healthy habit of flossing every day early so that when their permanent teeth come in, they are already flossing every day.
Use floss that is soft and flexible so that it doesn't hurt their teeth and is comfortable on their gums.
Flossing is so very important in maintaining healthy gums and teeth, and it is better to start early than late.
How to get your child to be enthusiastic about flossing
Set up a simple game or activity to get your child excited about flossing while also providing entertainment and an understanding of the importance of flossing. A peanut butter flossing activity is one suggestion. Allow your child to spread peanut butter between your fingers while wearing a rubber glove. Explain how this is similar to plaque and food becoming stuck between our teeth if we don't floss and plaque builds up. Then, hand your child a piece of floss and tell him or her to scrape off as much peanut butter as possible.
This activity, or something similar, can be a great way to entice your child into trying to floss more often.