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Flossing: Do Kids Really Need To Do It?

Child flossingFlossing is my least favorite dental activity. Mostly, it’s difficult to get my kids to floss, with one being just over one, and my second being only four. With how active, crazy, and excited they are, fighting to get them to open their mouth for a few minutes of silence is like trying to put a sweater on a canary. Thank goodness for The Smile Shop, who’s ready to give some advice on why it’s important, how we can do it, and in the process – maintaining our sanity.

Why is flossing so important? 

Flossing is important to remove food and plaque that gets trapped in the tight spaces between two teeth that are touching. Flossing gets into the space where the toothbrush alone can’t reach. When we remove the plaque between the teeth, we reduce the risk of a cavity forming in that area. Flossing is important for both cavity prevention and maintaining the health of our gums to prevent conditions, such as gingivitis.

Who should be flossing? What age should the child floss on their own? 

Parents should brush their children’s teeth until around age 7 or 8. Flossing requires even more manual dexterity and therefore parents may need to assist with flossing until age 9 or 10.

Are there ways that make flossing easier?

To floss the teeth of an infant or toddler it may be easier to lay the child in your lap so you can get a bird’s eye view of the areas that need to be flossed. You can try to make flossing fun for your child by singing or making up a story about the sugar bugs you are removing, or keep them engaged by talking about the floss being a jump rope for the sugar bugs.

Should you use string floss or stick floss?

The type of floss to use is all about child and parent preference. Sometimes you need to try a few kinds to see what works best in your hands. The best floss is the floss that your child will actually use! For string floss, wrap the floss around your middle fingers and then pinch the floss between your pointer finger and thumb and gently glide the floss between each tooth. Create a “C” shape around the tooth and move the floss up and down the side of the tooth and try to avoid snapping the floss through the teeth. The more consistently you floss the more comfortable it will be. Skipping multiple nights could lead to a better chance of bleeding gums and discomfort. The stick floss is in the shape of a “V” and holds the floss between the points which can make it easier to get into small mouths. Children that have braces will need to use a special floss to get around the wires.

How often should you be flossing? 

Flossing should be done once a day. Flossing before bed is a great time to ensure your teeth are cleaner while you are sleeping. However, flossing is beneficial anytime of the day. Establishing a routine is a good way to make sure we consistently follow all the steps to ensure great oral health.

When should your kids begin flossing?

Parents are often surprised to hear that young children should be flossing. As soon as teeth are touching, they should be flossed. So the time to start flossing is really based on the individual needs of the child. Widely spaced teeth can be cleaned by a toothbrush, whereas tight teeth will need to be flossed. One of the most common places to get a cavity on a baby tooth is in between the teeth, so start flossing your child’s teeth early to be proactive about dental health.



About Lindsey Sanford

Lindsey Sanford
I’m an ultimate Frisbee loving, marketing exec who loves Reno a little too much. I knit, I read, I write, and I love long walks on the beach. I’m trying out this new “standing-desk” thing – and finding that it’s not quite so bad. I’m a recent mom of two, my little one was born on September 21st, and I still can’t sleep. Above all else, I believe in being honest with our struggles, to paint a more accurate picture of what motherhood means – leading to a supportive community of fellow swimmers.

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