Flossing for Kids: Why & How to Floss Children’s Teeth
Why flossing teeth for kids matters
Flossing may not be everyone’s favorite thing to do but it is an integral part of your dental health. It can be especially difficult to encourage your child to start flossing at a young age, but it is so vital to their overall oral health. We recommend starting the process of flossing with your child the moment their first molars start to grow in. Floss is the only way to adequately get in between those areas that the toothbrush simply can’t reach.
While the act of flossing teeth for kids does matter, what matters more is how you, as parents, go about teaching your little ones about flossing. Getting them familiar with the concept is a great starting point, the next step is to show them the significance of it! Here are some benefits of flossing you can share with them:
Flossing Can Prevent Cavities
Food can easily get stuck in the very tight contacts between the back molars which can lead to the very quick formation of cavities. You can explain to your children that flossing more often means fewer trips to the dentist! Though fearing the dentist is another topic in itself (refer to previous blog posts), avoiding constant trips to the dentist will probably give your child some level of incentive!
Flossing Freshens Your Breath
Your child may think bad breath is directly caused only by eating certain foods, but really tooth tartar can also cause excessive bad breath. Tooth tartar is the crusty mineral that develops when plaque sits in your mouth unremoved – so removing the tartar can help freshen your breath almost instantly! More so for those teenagers out there, letting them know this may, in fact, incentify them to floss much more often.
Step-by-step: How to Floss for Kids
Need some guidance on where to start with flossing your kids’ teeth? Follow these three steps for an easier flossing experience:
Choosing the Best Dental Floss
There are so many options for floss out there. We recommend whichever floss you end up choosing, to stick with it! Consistency allows for familiarity and that’s exactly what your child needs when it comes to flossing! This in turn will make for a much more comfortable experience as well.
All flosses have their positives and negatives. We recommend using traditional string floss or floss picks instead of water flossers or water picks. This is because research has shown that water-based flossers are not able to get as deep in between teeth and under the gums the way regular floss can, so it’s much better to stick with the traditional types!
For younger, more sensitive children, floss picks may be the way to go! Instead of the long string floss, the stick allows you to easily reach in between their back teeth without causing them too much discomfort. Regardless of the type, make sure to get a flavor of floss that you think your kid would enjoy – there’s nothing like a nice tasty floss session!
Picking a Flossing Method
There are two distinct methods of flossing with traditional string floss: The circle method and the finger-wrap method.
The Circle (Loop) Method – Take a piece of your string floss and tie the ends together, creating a circle. Every finger (except your thumb) should go into this circle/loop. You will then use your index fingers to guide the floss along your child’s lower teeth, and the thumbs to guide the floss along their upper teeth. This method is typically more useful and performs better with smaller children.
The Finger-Wrap (Spool) Method – This is the most commonly used method. Take a piece of string floss about 18 to 20 inches long, and wrap each side around your middle fingers until you have about two inches of floss in the middle. Hold the floss tight between your thumbs and index fingers. Then, gently use your thumbs and index fingers to move the floss between your child’s teeth. As you move tooth to tooth, make sure to use a new, clean section of floss!
For whichever method works best with your child, it is important to not just teach your children to go straight up and down but to rather make almost a C shape against each tooth. This is to ensure you or your child are getting into all the nooks and crannies and not missing any food in between the teeth.
Many of the same strategies used with traditional floss can also be used with floss picks! When flossing with a pick, firmly grip the handle and point the tip of it at an angle facing toward the teeth you plan on flossing first. Gently guide the pick between the two teeth and use the same sliding zigzag motion to clean the area you would with regular dental floss. Make sure you don’t snap or pop the floss, which could hurt your gums!
Flossing With Your Child
Whether you are teaching your child to be an independent flosser, or you are flossing their teeth for them, they need to be comfortable. If you find that your child is uncomfortable with the feeling while you are flossing their teeth, try laying them down on a couch or bed. Flossing does not necessarily always have to happen standing up in the bathroom. Sometimes when your child is standing, the pressure used to push down on the floss becomes harder on the gums and starts to cause discomfort. When this happens, laying them flat (similar to how we do at the dentist) calls for a more easy glide in between their teeth.
How to teach kids to floss at home
The best way to teach your kids how to floss is by observation! Kids love to mimic the elements around them – this comes in handy when it comes to flossing. By seeing how you floss, it allows them to get familiar with the entire process. You can even intentionally eat a leafy vegetable and show them how the leftover particles of that vegetable can come out with the floss. This visual can help them better understand the purpose and importance of flossing.
As stated in the subsection above, comfortability is essential. In order for your kids to enjoy the act of flossing and not be frightened at the sight of it, it’s important to make the process more fun. This can easily be done by associating this time with a distinct flossing song or even a funny story! Introducing an activity that children can positively associate with flossing can make for a more effective flossing strategy!
The best dental floss for kids
As mentioned previously, there are so many options for floss out there and each one will have its pros and cons. Here is a list of some of our personal favorites:
- The EcoFrenzy Kids Floss Picks
- Crayola Kids Flossers, Grape Flavored & Fluoride Coated
- Oral B Glide, Pro-Health
FAQs about flossing for kids
Research shows that a child should start flossing as soon as their molars start growing in. The moment two teeth start to barely touch, it’s time to get flossing!
It is definitely safe to floss kids’ teeth. As long as the parents are being gentle and allowing for a comfortable environment, there’s no need to be concerned about flossing kids’ teeth.
- Show them by being an example. Children learn by observation and often mimic what they see in their surroundings
- Teach them the importance of flossing
- Show them the proper method to flossing their teeth
- Encourage positive associations with flossing time
As long as they have two touching teeth and/or their molars are starting to grow in, you should begin the flossing process.
Floss picks may be the way to go! Instead of the long string floss, the stick allows you to easily reach in between their back teeth without causing them too much discomfort.
Flossing Your Kid’s Teeth Doesn’t Have to Be Hard!
Figuring out where to start when it comes to flossing your kids’ teeth can be challenging. It’s important to set examples for your kids at an early age and to establish a sense of comfortability around flossing. Taking the steps you’ve learned through this blog and implementing them with your kids will hopefully enable a smoother transition into your children’s flossing routine.