mom and daughter flossing together

As adults, we have all heard about how important flossing is for our teeth. But what about our children’s teeth? Do they need to be flossed? Simply put: yes! The bigger question is when should your child start getting into a good flossing routine?

Children’s Tooth Development

Your child’s teeth will start to erupt somewhere between 5 and 10 months of age. The central incisors are first, and you’ll notice that there’s quite a bit of space between the teeth. As the rest erupt, the space between the teeth will close up a bit. After the central incisors come the lateral incisors and then the first molars, the canines, and finally the second molars. Your child’s primary (baby) teeth should all be in by the time he or she is 3 years old.

When to Start a Flossing Routine

Between ages 2 and 6 years old, your child’s teeth and mouth will have developed in such a way that the teeth are closer together than they were previously. The tight space between the teeth becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Food that your child eats can become stuck between the teeth. Giving your child water after meals or snacks is good for rinsing off the surface of the teeth, but it can’t remove the food particles from in between the teeth.

This time in your child’s oral development is the ideal time to start a regular flossing routine. At first, you will need to floss your child’s teeth for them. Children at a young age lack not only the coordination to properly floss, but also the discipline to maintain a regular dental hygiene routine. The time will come when your child is ready to take over caring for their own dental health, and the team at Bright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry will be here to help you, and them, make that transition.

How to Floss Your Child’s Teeth

A proper flossing technique is essential to getting your child’s teeth good and cleaned. When you are the one flossing, be sure to be firm but gentle. We recommend using the floss picks when flossing your child’s teeth as they allow you to be gentler. We can even send you home with samples to get you started! Make sure to wrap the floss in a C shape around each tooth, too, to get along the gumline.

When your child is ready to start flossing his own teeth, you’ll want to practice with him first. Use about 18 inches of string floss and tie it around your child’s middle fingers. Wrap around your child’s fingers (not too tightly!) until about an inch of floss remains between his fingers. Use your own hands to help your child guide the floss between the teeth, being careful not to snap it into the space. Show your child how to make the C shape around each tooth to get a thorough clean. As your child moves from space to space, rewrap the floss the expose a fresh section. After a few times, let your child take the reins and do the flossing themselves. Just make sure you check in on their progress!

If you have any questions about how to keep your child’s teeth clean and bacteria-free, don’t hesitate to ask! We invite you to come to us with any concerns you have about your child’s dental health. We can also go over proper brushing and flossing techniques with you and your child. Schedule your child’s next appointment today!