The Importance of Flossing for Your Children

Flossing and kids? Absolutely. Floss removes bacteria from places where a toothbrush cannot reach. And it is essential to your kids’ oral hygiene. Here are the important things to know about flossing for children.

Is flossing necessary for children?

The main reason to introduce flossing for kids is to remove the build-up of plaque, which is responsible for cavities and gum sensitivity. Plaque forms between teeth, and brushing won’t remove it effectively. Flossing is the only way to get between the teeth and under the gums to remove plaque.

If plaque keeps building up, your child is likely to have stinky breath. This can attract jibes from peers and affect their self-confidence.

Neglecting to floss altogether and not paying attention to a kid’s oral hygiene increases the risk of gum disease. While it’s uncommon for children to have advanced gum disease, they can have a milder form of the condition known as gingivitis. A common sign is bleeding gums while brushing or flossing. Gingivitis can also be caused due to mouth breathing, nutritional deficiencies, and teeth grinding. Caring for kids’ teeth should include regular flossing.

When to introduce flossing

Flossing should begin once your child has two teeth that touch. This usually happens between two and three years of age.

You can train your kids to use regular dental floss. There’s a learning curve to this; being patient and doing it correctly is vital to caring for kids’ teeth (more on this in the next section).

Alternatively, you can use floss picks or water flossers. A floss pick resembles a toothpick and has strands of floss. There are fun kids’ floss picks in different colours and shapes. Have your children pick those that catch their fancy. A water flosser works on electric power and directs a stream of water at the teeth to dislodge debris. They are great for kids that have small teeth or braces.

Note that floss picks and water flossers are generally less effective than traditional floss. They are still valuable for kids’ oral hygiene as they can enthuse your children to begin flossing and move on to regular floss. Your children’s dentist should be able to provide more guidance in this regard.

Tips on teaching your child to floss the right way

An essential part of caring for kids’ teeth is teaching them to use oral hygiene products properly. Flossing may be challenging for young ones; not doing it correctly can cause pain and bleeding along the gum line. It’s crucial that you floss your child’s teeth and supervise them as your little one learns to floss on their own.

Steps of flossing

Step 1: Cut a piece of floss 18-20 inches long (teach kids to cut the right amount).
Step 2: Wrap the floss lightly around each middle finger.
Step 3: Using the index finger and thumb, move the floss gently between each tooth in an up-and-down motion.
Step 4: Shift the floss up and down, ensuring that you go below the gum line. Bend the floss to form a ‘C’ on the side of each tooth (this will require practice).

There are other methods of flossing that your children’s dentist will help you with.

To get your kids excited about flossing, allow them to choose dental floss in their favourite colour. To make the habit stick, reward them for flossing regularly, make it fun by playing music as they floss, or make flossing a family activity where everyone (to the extent possible) flosses together.


Flossing improves your child’s oral hygiene. Along with encouraging your child to brush and floss regularly and monitoring what they eat, you also want to get dental checkups with a children’s dentist every six months. Dental and gum problems in kids can be challenging to see. Only a pediatric dentist can tell you what’s happening and provide reliable guidance on helping your kids maintain a healthy mouth. Visit Woodlawn Kids Dental today.


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