According to a recent New York Times article, flossing may be overrated. The article explained that while the American Dental Association says that flossing is essential, The Academy of Periodontology acknowledged that evidence falls short, which caused a stir and garnered a lot of attention on social media outlets.
I sent the article to Dr. Garol, RMB’s friend at The Smile Shop, to get her take, and this is what she had to say:
Is flossing really that important?
Yes, I believe so. Toothbrushes are unable to reach/remove bacteria between the teeth by itself, which is why flossing is so important. Floss helps with the physical removal of plaque and bacteria from between the teeth. It’s not just an up and down quick motion to get food out between the teeth. To floss properly, you should contour the floss around one side of the tooth, and then rub the floss up and down the side of the tooth and into the gum a few times. While in between the same teeth, contour the floss onto the other tooth and repeat.
When should a parent start flossing their child’s teeth?
It is important to start flossing once your child’s teeth are touching. This can start from an early age when the front teeth are touching – perhaps around 2 years old to about 5 or 6 years old when the teeth start touching in the back. These are the areas that the toothbrush cannot reach by itself. Sometimes laying the child on the floor between the parents legs give the best view as well as angle for flossing and brushing.
Do parents really need to floss their child’s teeth every day?
The areas where the teeth are touching are not getting brushed by the toothbrush, so it is ideal to floss teeth once a day. At night is the best time so that you can brush and floss everything the child ate throughout the day before they go to bed.
At what age can a child floss their own teeth?
For children to be able to brush and floss their own teeth properly, they must have the dexterity to do so. Typically, a good rule of thumb for brushing is when they are able to tie their shoes proficiently around age 6 or 7. They should still be monitored by parents until about age 11 to ensure that they are consistently brushing properly. Flossing is a little harder when using regular string floss wrapped around fingers, so it might be a good idea to use floss with small handle while using the same technique described above. Flossing requires more technique, so parents may want to help with flossing until the child can demonstrate proper flossing technique.
About Dr. Garol
Dr. Whitney Garol attended Galena High School, then the University of Nevada, Reno where she graduated with distinction, receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a minor in psychology. Dr. Garol graduated magna cum laude with a doctor of dental medicine degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine. Always having a passion for treating children, she decided to further her training with a pediatric dental residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. At one of the premier children’s hospitals in the nation, she received extensive training to provide excellent dental care to infants, children and adolescents. She is a board candidate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and active member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.