Does your child floss on a daily basis? It can be difficult for children to get in the habit of flossing, but daily flossing is extremely beneficial for your child’s dental and oral health. We recommend flossing once a day to keep the teeth and gums healthy.
Why should you ensure your child flosses every day? Here are five good reasons.
- Prevent tooth decay. One of the most common places that cavities form is between your child’s teeth. This is because plaque, a sticky film made of food residue and bacteria, builds up between the teeth where your child’s toothbrush doesn’t reach. Daily flossing removes plaque from between your child’s teeth and the pockets of space between their teeth and gums. This prevents bacteria from eating away at their tooth enamel and forming cavities.
- Prevent gum disease. Gum disease is another problem plaque causes. When plaque remains on your child’s teeth for too long, especially between the teeth and along the gum line, the bacteria eventually infects the gum tissue, resulting in gum disease. Daily flossing can prevent gum disease by removing plaque. Flossing also strengthens the gum tissue, making it more resilient and resistant to infection.
- Fresh breath. Flossing can freshen your child’s breath in several ways. By removing food and bacteria from between the teeth, flossing eliminates one source of bad breath. Flossing also prevents gum disease, which also causes severe bad breath due to infection.
- Reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between gum disease and both diabetes and heart disease. Tooth decay is also related to heart disease. There are multiple theories to explain the connection, but the bottom line is that flossing daily can prevent gum disease and reduce your risk of more severe health conditions over the long-term.
- Save money. Even with dental insurance, procedures can be costly. Cavity fillings, root canals, periodontal treatment, tooth replacement, and more could all be necessary due to tooth decay and gum disease. Daily flossing can help prevent the need for these procedures.
How to Floss Properly
Many children avoid flossing simply because they aren’t sure how to do it. Very young children should start by using Plackers®, which are basically a piece of floss on a stick. Once your children are older and ready to use string floss, teach them the following method:
- Pull out a piece of floss between 18-24 inches long.
- Wrap it around both of your forefingers until they are about 2 inches apart.
- Using your thumbs and forefingers, gently slide the floss down between your teeth until it reaches the gums.
- Slightly wrap the floss around each tooth and be sure to get it down into the pocket between the tooth and gums.
- Do this between each of your teeth on both the top and bottom rows.
We recommend flossing first and brushing your teeth afterward because flossing may dislodge food or plaque that can be more easily brushed away.
Types of Floss
There are a few different types of floss available for purchase:
- String floss (waxed or unwaxed). This is the traditional type of floss that is essentially like string. It comes on a spool in a small plastic box and may be either waxed or unwaxed.
- Superfloss. Superfloss has a reinforced end like a shoestring with a thicker, spongy texture. It is useful for getting in between teeth with larger gaps and for flossing with braces.
- Flossing sticks. Sold under the brand name Plackers®, these are plastic sticks with a U-shape at the top and floss suspended across it. You simply push the floss down between each of your teeth using the plastic handle.
- Water flosser. A water flosser is an electric device that sprays water forcefully through a wand you can place at the opening between each of your teeth. The force of the water removes the plaque from the spaces between your teeth. Water flossers are particularly handy at getting under dental prosthetics like braces and dentures.
ABQ Pediatric Dentistry Provides Flossing Instruction for Kids
We can teach your child how to properly floss their teeth when they come in for routine dental cleanings and exams. A big part of our job as a pediatric dental practice is to help children establish healthy oral hygiene habits at an early age so that they continue throughout their life.