The Back to School Special

When should I start flossing my child’s teeth?

Now that the kids are back in class, you’ll want them to be paying special attention to their oral hygiene, so that their mouths look and feel clean while they are at school. This means flossing regularly in addition to their normal tooth-brushing regimen. Once a child’s teeth have begun to fit a little closer together – usually when they are anywhere from two to six-years-old – you can begin teaching them how to develop a daily flossing routine.

This is very important even though they will still only have their baby (primary) teeth. That’s because you will want them to have the process down pat by the time their adult teeth have emerged.  As they begin to develop more coordination they can begin to make flossing part of their bedtime routine and start to take on the task themselves.

With proper instruction on technique children have usually developed the ability to floss on their own by around the age of 10. To demonstrate the importance of this routine it is important to do it with them until they can manage it themselves. Make sure to use floss that is soft and flexible, so that it is comfortable on their gums, and doesn’t hurt their teeth.

How Can I Help My Child Learn To Floss?

You can try tying little circles in to the strands of floss so that your child’s fingers can easily fit in. This will enable them to get a better grip until their fingers are large enough to really take hold.

Try having your child follow these four basic flossing steps (

  • Take about 18 inches of floss and loosely wrap most of it around each middle finger leaving an inch of floss between.
  • Gently slide it down between your teeth with your thumb and index fingers holding the floss taut. Be careful not to snap it down on your gums.
  • Curve the floss around each tooth in a “C” shape and gently move it up and down the sides of each tooth, including under the gum line.
  • Unroll a new section of floss as your move from tooth to tooth.

If your child’s gums bleed a little bit at first – don’t panic! It is quite common and just means that you are getting to new places in their mouth. After their oral cavity gets used to the pressure, the bleeding should stop, and their gums will begin to get healthier. If the bleeding continues, or seems to be excessive, contact your dentist right away.


Read more in our Back to School Special series:

Tooth Friendly Snacks

Sports Guards

Playground Accidents and Tooth Injuries

Teeth Cleaning and Maintenance

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