Flossing is an important part of healthy oral hygiene for both kids and adults. We know brushing becomes important as soon as the first baby teeth emerge. But just how early should kids be flossing? And when will it be ok to let them floss on their own?
Flossing Starts with Baby Teeth
Just like brushing, flossing should be introduced early in your child’s oral health routine to both establish healthy behavior and keep their teeth clean. Dr. Jenkins recommends flossing your child’s teeth once they start to fit close together, usually between the ages of 2-6 years old.
Flossing helps remove food particles and hard-to-reach plaque that brushing can miss. It might not seem important for baby teeth, since they’re going to fall out eventually. However, bacteria and infections in baby teeth can have long-lasting effects, leading to cavities and tooth decay in your child’s permanent teeth.
Establish a Routine
Brushing twice a day is important for keeping your child’s teeth healthy. Encouraging a consistent brushing routine will make it easier to integrate flossing into their daily habits. For more detailed brushing tips for infants and toddlers, check out this blog by Dr. Jenkins.
Lend a Helping Hand
Children aren’t usually ready to floss independently until around ages 6-8. Toddlers and younger children still need help flossing properly, even if they’re old enough to start brushing their own teeth.
For some toddlers, Dr. Jenkins recommends letting them chew on their own toothbrush while you take care of the difficult work. Chewing on a toothbrush handle “prevents them from closing down as you floss the back teeth,” says Dr. Jenkins. “I find the handled floss holders work the best at this age to reach those trickier back teeth.” It can also help them feel involved in the routine and build healthy habits.
Once children are old enough to floss on their own, it is still important to observe them for a little while in order to establish proper technique and correct any bad habits early on.
We’re Here to Help
With your guidance, your children will be able to create and maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine that includes flossing. Visit our blog for more tips, and feel free to bring any questions you have when you schedule your child’s next dental appointment.