We all understand the importance of flossing as adults.
But have you ever stopped to consider that you should also start flossing for kids?
Whether it be by your own hand or their own, the sooner they start and learn the correct floss technique the better.
Teaching your children how to floss correctly at an early age will instill an oral hygiene routine that will keep their teeth healthy right through to adult hood. And that’s when they will teach their kids the same thing.
First, the purpose of flossing
Flossing removes food remnants and plaque from the areas where a toothbrush can’t reach. Specifically the area between the teeth, so if you’re wondering when should you floss children’s teeth?. The answer is whenever food starts to collect between their teeth.
Or in other words, as soon as they develop tight contacts between the teeth that are sufficient to trap food particles and remnants.
So when is the correct time to start flossing for kids?
To answer this question, we must understand the chronology of teeth eruption, which is the dates when each tooth starts to appear in the mouth and their order.
We were blessed with two full sets of teeth. One when we were children that are fully exchanged for the second set when we grow into adults.
Teeth development is composed of 4 stages:
No teeth stage (or Edentulous stage)
The first 6 months of the life of your infant, where heshe develops no teeth and relies entirely on nursing for feeding and nutrition. Obviously, no need to brush or floss at this stage.
Baby teeth stage (or Deciduous Dentition stage)
Your baby usually develops hisher first tooth at the tender age of 6 months and continues erupting more and more teeth until they reach 2 years of age. By which time all their baby teeth should have come out.
Again at this stage, there is very little need for flossing as brushing alone is sufficient to clear the food debris and minimize the risk of decay and other problems. This stage lasts from 2 years to 6 years of age when the first permanent tooth comes out.
Mixed teeth stage
This stage starts at 6 or 7 years of age. The time when the first baby tooth is shed and the first permanent tooth comes out to stay. This age is also when the first permanent molars come out which need special care since they are the corner stone of the mouth.
Flossing should start at this stage, since the child is big enough to understand its importance. The mouth is big enough to accommodate the hands which carry the floss and the teeth have developed tight contacts by now.
Permanent teeth stage
This is when all the permanent teeth have come out, which usually happens around 12 or 13 years of age (except for wisdom teeth of course which usually come out at 20 years of age or older). By this time flossing should definitely be a habit.
Teachin kids the importance of flossing
Of course you shouldn’t expect your child to be able to handle a floss on their own at least until they are 6 or 7 years old. Before that you should do it yourself for them.
In the beginning it is very difficult for a child to handle a piece of string floss, so you should find another more suitable and easier method for them. Such as floss picks, interdental brushes, or water flossers. Of course this must all be done under strict supervision so they don’t injure themselves.
Children are resilient and they are like a sponge. At their young age, while they are exploring the world, try to make oral hygiene in general (and flossing in particular) a regular part of their day.
So we suggest you do one or many of the following acts:
Your child looks up to you, as you are the mirror to their world. When they see you brushing or flossing, they will be eager to do as you do. So in other words, start with yourself and your child would follow.
If your child is old and smart enough to understand, you should definitely be teaching your children how to brush and floss correctly. Either verbally, with videos and pictures and a practical demonstration.
Teach them the importance of a healthy mouth and a beautiful smile. Explain that when their teeth go bad, it is very hard to restore them, so they better keep them healthy.
Pediatric dentists are well trained for this situation. Part of their daily work schedule is teaching kids how and why to brush and floss. So if you find the task daunting, take advantage of the knowledge and advice of your child’s dentist.
When a movie star or a celebrity comes on TV having a beautiful set of pearly whites, make sure to point that out to your kids. Encourage them to have teeth similar to these by regularly brushing and flossing.
Children respond best to treats and rewards. So take advantage of that. Offer them a trip to the park or a small toy if they floss regularly for a week or two and see how that goes.
Oral hygiene should not be a tiresome act, so try to make it fun. Start by taking your kids with you while you shop for their brush and floss. Let them choose their own, and make them the boss.
Flossing for kids answered!
In conclusion, when it comes to flossing for kids, it is not a question if you should do it because the answer is obvious. The real question is “when and how” and that is exactly what we have just answered for you.