Your child grins widely, proudly proclaiming, “All done!” after a brushing session. As you inspect their gleaming teeth, it’s tempting to declare their oral hygiene complete. However, don’t be fooled. Brushing is just one part of the dental care equation.

Food debris and plaque can still lurk in the narrow spaces between teeth, out of reach from even the most diligent toothbrush. That’s why it’s essential to teach the importance of flossing and proper flossing techniques so that your child can learn to clean areas a brush simply can’t reach. Learn why flossing for kids is essential and how to teach your little one to do it effectively.

Why Flossing Matters for Children

Children need to floss for the same reason adults need to floss. Brushing alone only removes up to 60% of plaque on the teeth and gum surface, leaving behind hidden plaque in the nooks and crannies that a toothbrush can’t access.

Flossing is immensely important because one in five children between the ages of two and five has at least one cavity in their baby teeth, according to the Center for Disease Control. It also helps prevent cavities from forming between the teeth. These cavities are not as visible and can only be detected through dental X-rays.

Why are cavities so detrimental? Cavities and decay can lead to a host of other issues among pre-adolescent children, including but not limited to:

  • Pain
  • Greater risk of tooth fractures
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Gum and periodontal disease in adulthood

Read also: The 5 Most Common Causes of Cavities in Children

How to Floss Your Child’s Teeth

The technique for flossing for a child is the same as flossing your own teeth. The only major difference is to apply more gentle pressure. Generally, there are two most common flossing methods: loop and spool methods.

Loop/Circle Method

  1. Take a piece of floss approximately 18 inches long and securely tie the ends together to form a circle.
  2. Insert all fingers except the thumbs into the floss loop.
  3. Use the index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth and the thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth.
  4. Go below the gumline, bending the floss into a C-shape against the side of each tooth.
  5. Gently slide the floss up and down to remove plaque and debris from the sides of both upper and lower teeth.
  6. Work your way around the mouth, thoroughly flossing each tooth before moving on to the next one.

Spool/Finger-Wrap Method

  1. Start by cutting off a strand of floss about 18-20 inches long.
  2. Lightly wrap the floss around each middle finger, leaving several inches free in between.
  3. Use your index fingers and thumbs to gently guide the floss between two teeth. Carefully move the floss up and down, avoiding sawing back and forth.
  4. Bring the floss all the way down below the gumline, creating a C-shape curve against each tooth.

Our pediatric dental specialists at Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry recommend using Oral-B Glide Pro Health, as it’s comfortable and easy to slide between the teeth. If using a traditional dental floss proves difficult, then consider using floss picks. We recommend Oral-B Glide Pro Floss Picks.

Begin flossing your children’s teeth once you see at least two of their teeth are touching. This usually begins with the primary molars between the ages of two and three. Floss between every tooth, even between two teeth that aren’t touching. Introducing flossing at this stage is crucial to instill the habit in them at an early age.

When Can Kids Floss on Their Own?

There’s no specific age when children can floss without parental assistance. It depends on the child and how early you instill the habit. Some children naturally have better hand and finger coordination that’ll enable them to floss on their own sooner. Generally, most kids will be able to floss by themselves between the ages of 8 and 10.

Once they start, continue to supervise their performance to be sure they did a thorough job and don’t skip any rows. It may also be easier for your kid to use floss picks instead of traditional dental floss. We recommend Oral-B Glide Pro Floss Picks or Plackers Kids Dual Gripz if they floss on their own.

Read also: What Toothbrush Do Dentists Really Recommend for Your Kids?

How to Make Flossing a Habit

Most parents can attest that it’s a challenge to get their children to brush twice daily, much less floss. How can parents encourage their kids to floss and do so thoroughly when it’s a chore that even many adults don’t enjoy? Here are some tips to make flossing for kids at least semi-enjoyable:

  • Floss alongside your child. Do it as a family at the same time. You can even have contests to see who has the cleanest teeth after flossing.
  • Mirror your enthusiasm. If you act excited about flossing time, it rubs off on them. Your engaged attitude matters.
  • Use floss with child-friendly packaging or flavored floss.
  • Play your child’s favorite song during flossing time.
  • Give an external reward after flossing, such as a sticker that can be redeemed for extra television or video game time.

Find the Best Pediatric Dentist Near You

Even if your child brushes twice a day and flosses daily, it still doesn’t comprise the full dental hygiene picture. For complete care, your child also needs to regularly see a pediatric dentist. A professional can detect signs of caries, decay, and infections. Children often learn by imitation, so mimic the dental habits you wish to see in your own kid.

If you live in the Lafayette, LA area, schedule an appointment with the best pediatric dentist in Lafayette, LADr. Anita Gouri at Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Gouri and our team provide gentle, kid-friendly dental care in a fun, welcoming environment. We can make even the littlest patients feel right at home while providing comprehensive oral health services like cleanings, sealants, and more.

Dr. Gouri emphasizes preventative care and parent education so your child can develop a strong foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles. From your baby’s first dental visit through the teen years, you can trust Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry to meet your child’s unique needs. Schedule an appointment today and give your kids the happy, confident grins they deserve with the team at Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry.