When Should My Child Start Flossing?

A good oral care routine isn’t complete without flossing.

You might ask, “When should my child start flossing? Isn’t she a little too young to handle a task that even adults struggle with?”

Dental professionals say that parents should start flossing their children’s teeth as soon as their child has teeth that are sitting close together. Flossing is not the little one’s responsibility initially — it’s yours. You need to help her out, or even do it for her since she’s still developing her fine motor skills.

It is best to begin regular flossing between the ages two and six.

During this time, your child’s teeth begin to settle closely together and the child starts consuming different kinds of food that can easily lodge between their teeth.

Since it’s difficult for young children to properly floss their teeth on their own, purchasing flossing devices designed for children’s use is a good idea. A pediatric dentist will be able to recommend some. Though a little on the pricey side, an air floss is a tool that your child will have no problems using.  An air floss releases strong jets of water between the teeth and is a great investment for your child’s oral health. She can use it even when she’s already physically capable of using a regular floss at around the ages 9 and 10.

To properly instill the habit of flossing, do it every day.

Your child will naturally establish that it’s part of the process — a step that shouldn’t be missed.

When your child is ready to floss on her own using regular floss, provide her with the following instructions on proper flossing and demonstrate the proper technique.

  • Take 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around each middle finger, leaving an inch of floss between.
  • Carefully slide the floss down between teeth using the thumb and index fingers while making sure that the floss is taut. Be very gentle in wiggling the floss down through the tight space between to avoid snapping it down and cutting the gums.
  • Curve the floss around each tooth in a “C” shape and very gently move it up and down the sides of each tooth to dislodge food that can turn into plaque under the gum line.
  • Unroll a new section of floss as each new tooth is flossed.

If your child’s gums bleed, have her rinse her mouth with cold water and this should quickly stop the bleeding. Bleeding due to cuts on the gums is normal; eventually, your child will learn to work the floss more carefully to prevent cutting her gums.

To learn more about flossing or schedule a visit, please contact us here.

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