Since those first cute teeth appeared when your kids were babies, you’ve been a superstar at brushing their teeth. But when should kids start flossing their teeth?
According to the American Dental Association, the simple answer is: once two teeth start to touch. When teeth touch, a toothbrush can’t reach all of the tooth’s surfaces, but flossing cleans food debris and plaque hiding on those hard-to-reach surfaces and in the gums. Flossing goes a long way in helping prevent cavities and gum disease.
Of course, this timing is different for every child. If your kid’s teeth start touching in the toddler years, should you dive in and floss your toddler’s teeth? Yes! Just like brushing, getting into the habit from the get-go means the likelihood of better oral health and the makings of a lifelong practice of great oral care.
Now, while some kids’ have teeth that touch in toddlerhood, other kids only have teeth that touch when their adult teeth begin to appear. If this is the case for your kiddos, then that’s the perfect time for your kids to start flossing.
A Quick Tutorial For How to Floss For Kids
Most dental professionals — including your Kids Mile High dentists — suggest that an adult floss their kids’ teeth until they are about 6 or 7 years old. But the question you might be asking is, should you floss before or after brushing your teeth? Well, research found that more plaque is removed when flossing happens first. Use the following basic steps for how to floss your kids’ teeth well:
1. Use about 18 inches of waxed dental floss. Choose a kid-friendly flavour like grape or fruit smoothie. Wind the floss around your middle fingers and hold with your thumbs and forefingers.
2. Insert the floss gently between two of your kiddo’s teeth, holding it in a C-shape against the tooth you’re cleaning. Move the floss in an up-and-down motion on the tooth’s surface and into the gumline. Be sure to floss the other tooth that’s touching too.
3. Move on to the rest of the teeth, then throw away your dental floss when you’re done.
How to Make Flossing Fun For Kids
Understandably, flossing can be a bit tricky to get the hang of for young kids… and, not surprisingly, not the most fun activity your child would choose. That’s why our award-winning Denver-area dental team wants to share our top 7 ways for how to make flossing enjoyable for your kids.
1. The Egg Carton Mouth
This is a super fun, play-based way to introduce younger kids to flossing. Grab an empty egg carton and cut off the lid. Paint the outside of the cups white. Cut the container into two long pieces and glue them upside down in two curved shapes on some cardboard to look like a mouth. Put some playdoh in between the upside-down cups, supply some yarn, and let your child remove the playdoh “plaque” with the yarn. Or work together to remove the playdoh! Be sure to talk about how this is like flossing their own teeth.
2. Make It A Game: Kids Flossing is Superhero Time
Pretend that the plaque in between teeth are bad guys or sugar bug monsters, and your little one is the superhero that saves their teeth with flossing.
3. Musical Flossing For Kids
A third way to engage kids in tooth-healthy flossing is to put on their favorite, upbeat music while you floss. It’s a floss dance party! Flossing to music creates a playful mood and you can often hold their attention longer for better flossing.
4. Let Them Choose Their Own Kids Flossing Tools
You might recall that earlier in the post, we mentioned that kids’ dental floss comes in some yummy flavors. So letting them choose dental floss that appeals to them can make flossing more fun. You might be surprised at the wide variety of kid-friendly flavours, not to mention the styles of kids’ dental floss at your local Denver grocery or drugstore.
If your child finds traditional dental floss hard to manage, they might like floss picks. Or your kiddos might be drawn to certain colors or characters on a floss container or packaging. The best floss for your kids often depends on what’s most fun for them to use.
One longer-term floss purchase we suggest is a water flosser. A water flosser for cleaning your kids’ teeth is both fun and a great way to maintain a flossing habit for years to come. Waterpik has a water flosser for kids ages 6+ that’s scaled for kids and simple to use.
5. Apps for Kids Flossing Success
If you lean towards using apps with your kids, here are to incentivize and gamify oral hygiene success for your kids.
BrushDJ: This free, music-based app plays two minutes of your little one’s chosen song so they know how long to brush and floss. There are also animated tutorials on flossing and brushing, and you can vote for your favorite tooth-cleaning song. You can also set reminders for daily cleaning and for dentist check ups.
Chomper Chums: Another free app (only for Apple products, though), Chomper Chums helps kids brush, floss, and rinse their teeth along with their animal friends. Sticking to their oral care on the daily earns your kiddo coins to feed and care for their chosen animal too.
6. Set An Example
Popular wisdom says that kids follow what their parents model more than what their parents say. And it’s definitely true for oral hygiene! So be sure to floss your own teeth daily — maybe even set a regular time to floss and brush together and make oral hygiene a family moment! You can also try having your child mirror every step as you floss your teeth. Make sure to encourage and praise your kids when they floss!
7. A Reward System For How To Make Flossing A Habit
Like any good habit, repetition helps. A reward system for your kids’ flossing activities can help make it something they’re excited to do. Make a sticker chart where your child can track their flossing — with a toy, book, or special outing as the big reward. Or fill a small jar with a gem, glass stone, or marble every time your kiddo flosses. Once it’s full, they can trade their full jar for a big prize.
Advice for Kids Flossing & Brushing Habits From Kids Mile High
Need more tips on how to make flossing a habit for your kids? We’ve got you covered. Dr. Paddy and the entire Kids Mile High team are here to help your kids become flossing superheroes!
Contact us at our Englewood, Central Park, or Thornton office today to set up an initial appointment or check up.