Flossing is just as important for children as it is for adults. Developing good oral hygiene early on can lead to a lifetime of good habits and a decreased chance of developing periodontal disease as an adult.
Flossing in some form can begin as soon as a child develops two teeth that emerge close to each other. This is usually the two lower front teeth. Because a child’s mouth is smaller, you may need to use your pinky fingers to floss their molars.
By flossing their teeth early on, you start to ingrain the activity as an expected part of the child’s tooth-brushing ritual. There is no hard and fast rule on when a child can start to floss his or her own teeth. It varies from child to child. Attitude and fine motor dexterity are usually the two primary factors that will influence success.
One of the early challenges for children is spooling the floss around the fingers and maintaining a firm grip. A simple floss stick is an easy-to-hold, kid-friendly tool to help them get started. Just make sure children understand not to force the floss or snap it into their gums.
Try to keep things fun. Having a brushing and flossing song to sing beforehand helps define expectations. Counting each tooth they floss reinforces number skills. Giving them stickers or gold stars to put on the calendar serves as long-term recognition of a job well done.
Brushing and flossing with your child helps set an example for them to follow later on when they have developed the fine motor skills needed for spooling floss from one finger to the other. Developing these good habits now can lead to a lifetime of good oral health habits.
If you have questions about how or when to introduce your child to flossing, please feel free to call us at 435.637.9590 or ask about it at your next appointment. We look forward to helping you and your little ones floss your way to better oral health!