Children need to floss their teeth, like adults, to maintain healthy teeth and gums. While brushing is essential for removing food debris and sugars from the surface of the teeth, a toothbrush can not fit everywhere.
Floss is able to slip in between teeth to clean out food that has become lodged, and it can even remove plaque from these hard-to-reach places between your teeth. Starting your child off with brushing in the morning and before bed is certainly a step in the right direction. Adding flossing once a day to your child’s daily routine not only helps protect your child’s mouth from potential cavities and destructive gum disease, but it also helps establish a good habit.
Why Is Flossing Kids’ Teeth Important?
Flossing teeth is important for everyone because removing plaque and bacteria along with food that is stuck between teeth will keep teeth healthy and clean, as well as keep breath smelling fresh.
When your child brushes their teeth, plaque, the sticky film that accumulates on teeth daily, can be cleaned off. Any plaque that is not cleared away will eventually begin to harden, turning into a substance called tartar or calculus. Not only is tartar difficult to remove, but it can also allow bacteria to thrive above and below the gum line.
Flossing your child's teeth is important because the small spaces between teeth can also develop tartar which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, possibly even affecting their permanent teeth that have yet to erupt. Floss is very effective at removing the plaque before it hardens, allowing the hard-to-reach places between your children's teeth to be properly cleaned so their mouths can stay healthy.
What's the Best Way to Floss Kids’ Teeth?
Having time set aside each day to floss your child’s teeth is a great way to make flossing part of your daily routine. While it seems natural to floss after brushing your child’s teeth, the time of day, before or after meals, doesn’t really matter. As long as flossing happens at some point during the day, your child’s teeth will reap the benefits of this good oral hygiene habit. Of course, if a particular meal has food like corn on the cob that easily gets stuck between teeth, using floss to remove the food from your child's teeth is necessary, even if your child has already flossed that day.
Tips for Flossing Toddler's Teeth
Children may need help with flossing because it can be difficult to do by themselves. Sometimes, getting children to cooperate can be difficult, especially if they have something better to do or don’t like having to brush their teeth. Cleaning their teeth with floss, for a toddler, may be uncomfortable or new, so it is important to try to make it as fun and calming as possible.
Taking the time to explain to children why brushing and flossing are important may help to get your kids excited to keep their mouths healthy. You can simplify the explanation, so even a toddler understands by saying something like, “We have to clean our teeth so they don’t start hurting."
Tips for how to floss a toddler’s teeth include:
- Do it at the same time every day, so your toddler knows what to expect.
- Always be gentle. Flossing should never be painful.
- Have a special toy for your toddler to hold or play with after they floss.
- Sing a song to your toddler while you floss their teeth. This will help them know how long they have to stand still while you floss their teeth.
- Use dental floss picks for easier maneuvering and a faster flossing session
- Let your toddler try to use the floss picks first, so they feel like they are getting to participate.
Do Kids Need Special Floss?
While a special floss isn’t necessary for your children to successfully clean between their teeth, learning how to use traditional floss in a spool can be difficult for young children. Parents should always assist very young children while flossing. While there are brands that cater to children, you don't need a specific toddler floss or baby floss as your child grows. Though using dental floss picks may be a more kid-friendly type of floss that can help encourage your kids to keep flossing every day. But when it comes to cleaning in between teeth, any type of floss will get the job done. Different types of floss to consider are:
- Waxed or unwaxed floss: The wax prevents the floss from breaking easily, but it can also make it difficult to fit through tight spaces.
- Super floss: A heavy-duty floss made to use around braces and other oral appliances.
- Floss picks, also called flossers: May make it easier for a parent to floss their child’s teeth. Also, it has a thin plastic handle that can be a good buffer in case your toddler decides to bite down.
- Flavored floss: If you have a child who is easily discouraged by new flavors, getting unflavored floss may be a better choice.
Regardless of which type of floss you choose for your child, it should always be soft and flexible. Any pain associated with flossing will make the next flossing time more difficult. Though it is important to note that the first few times you floss your child's teeth, there may be a small amount of bleeding. The bleeding will stop soon after your child's mouth gets used to flossing.
Best Kids Flossers
While any floss can be successful at removing food, bacteria, and even plaque from between teeth, no matter how young or small the mouth is, using flossers can be easier and more fun for young flossers.
Available in fun shapes, flavors, and designs, kids can have fun when it is time to floss their teeth by using kids' dental floss picks or flossers. Some of the best kids’ flossers include brands like:
When Should Kids Start Flossing?
Knowing when to start flossing your children's teeth may be the next question on your mind. Though keeping your toddler calm and still so you can brush their teeth may seem difficult enough, the American Dental Association recommends that you start flossing your toddler’s teeth when they have at least two teeth that touch one another. For many babies, flossing will start soon after they get their second tooth if the teeth are close together. At what age should a child start flossing on their own depends on the child, but many children are not capable of doing a thorough job until they are about ten years old.
How Often Should Kids Floss Their Teeth?
To keep your child’s oral health in the best shape possible, it is important to brush their teeth in the morning and before bed and thoroughly floss at least once a day or more if needed.
Find A Dentist In Your Community
To keep your child’s teeth healthy, brushing twice a day and making sure to floss at least once a day is essential. Having your child’s teeth looked over by a dentist every six months is also important to maintaining a healthy mouth. To find a kid-friendly dentist in your area, use Smile Generation’s Find a Dentist tool to find the right dentist for your family.
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“Flossing.” Mouth Healthy, 4 Nov. 2022, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/all-topics-a-z/flossing
Smile Generation, 4 Nov. 2022, https://www.smilegeneration.com/
Smith-Garcia, Dorian, “Flossing For Kids: A How-To Guide.” Healthline, 30 June 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/kids-flossing#other-tips
“When To Start Flossing.” Oral-B, 4 Nov. 2022, https://oralb.com/en-us/oral-health/why-oral-b/floss/when-to-start-flossing/
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