Kids And Flossing: A Parent's Guide to Flossing for Kids

Happy Tooth CartoonFlossing is a fantastic way of keeping kids’ teeth and gums healthy. Oftentimes, parents have a lot of questions regarding flossing: how often should kids floss? When should they start? What kind of floss should they use? Check out the parent’s guide to flossing for kids in the article below to get these and other questions answers.

Should kids floss their teeth?

Despite recent reports that question the value of flossing, using like floss is an important part of taking care of kids’ teeth. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also reaffirmed flossing as “an important oral hygiene practice”. Parents should absolutely incorporate flossing into their kids’ healthy oral habits.

When should parents start flossing kid’s teeth?

Parents should start flossing their children’s teeth even when they have only their baby teeth. Once a child’s teeth start to fit closely together, usually between the ages of two and six, parents should start to get their children in the habit of flossing daily. Parents can begin flossing their child’s teeth once a day as soon as two teeth emerge that touch.

When should my child start flossing?

Flossing does take a certain amount of coordination and dexterity. Though different for every child, most pediatric dentists suggest a child can floss around 10 years of age, when they can easily floss on their own. They can use regular floss or special floss holders or picks if that makes flossing easier for them. Picks are easier to use and they still do a good job. Be sure they’re doing a thorough job without flossing too aggressively, which can harm gums over time.

How do I teach my child to floss?

When you’re still flossing your child’s teeth for them, start explaining what you’re doing and why. Talk about getting between each tooth, and the motions you’re doing to clear away debris. Do this a few times until they understand what you’re doing as you floss their teeth. Next, when they have the dexterity to floss for themselves, stand in front of a mirror with them and have them floss as you floss. Again, explain what you’re doing, and show them how it’s done. Be sure to watch as they floss to confirm they’re doing it correctly. There are also great videos that teach kids to floss that can help reinforce what you’ve taught them while putting the instructions to music!

What kind of floss should my child use?

As mentioned before, there are flossing picks or regular floss, but actually, there are several types of floss for different purposes. Here’s a brief overview of each kind of floss:

  1. Big gaps between teeth? – Use dental tape, which is wider than regular floss
  2. Teeth close together? – try waxed dental floss to make flossing easier
  3. Some teeth tight, some teeth have gaps? – try ultra-floss that can stretch to better maneuver.
  4. Need a taste? – flavored flosses can give a nice minty touch while flossing. There are even flosses out there flavored like bubble gum!

In the end, the “right” floss is the one your child can easily use on a daily basis, so be sure to experiment until you find one that is easy for them to use.

What if my child’s gums bleed when they floss?

If you see that your child’s gums bleed when they floss, there may be a few reasons for this. Chances are, they bleed because they haven’t been flossing as well or as often as they should, so over time the bleeding will stop once they resume and maintain the healthy habit of daily flossing. The bleeding is caused by bacteria build up, which causes inflammation. Over time with good oral habits, the inflammation will reside and the bleeding will stop.  A second cause may be that they are being overly aggressive when they floss. Be sure to see how they’re flossing and correct them if they’re flossing too aggressively.

Flossing is an important part of a child’s overall oral health. This parent’s guide to flossing for kids should make it a bit easier. Still have questions? Contact your pediatric dentist, who can answer all your questions on how your child should floss.