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When should I start flossing my children's teeth?

If you've been wondering whether or not it's time to start flossing your children's teeth, look no further. We get asked this question a lot, so we decided to document this answer for our readers.

The importance of oral hygiene for children

Teeth are an integral part of overall health and with proper care, many people can keep their teeth for a lifetime. Good oral health should begin early – even before a child’s first teeth erupt. Baby teeth generally start to peek through the gums at six months of age.

In addition to allowing a child to eat and speak, baby teeth "hold the space" for future adult teeth. Parents play a crucial role in caring for their children's mouths and assisting them in developing good oral hygiene habits. The first visit to the dental hygienist is recommended before the child's first birthday, followed by regular visits.

Cavities are very common in North American children. Untreated cavities can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. 

When should I start flossing my child's teeth?

You should floss even your infant child (or primary teeth). When your child's teeth begin to crowd, typically between the ages of two and six, flossing becomes an essential component of their oral health.

When can children floss their teeth by themselves?

Until your child can floss their teeth on their own, you should help them floss to get them in the habit of flossing daily. Children are usually able to floss by themselves around the age of 10.

How can I help them learn to floss?

To emphasize the importance of flossing and to help them develop a good flossing habit, floss their teeth on a regular basis until they can do it themselves. You want to establish the healthy habit of daily flossing as early as possible so that when their permanent teeth erupt, they are already accustomed to the practice.

Use floss that is soft and flexible so that it doesn't hurt their teeth and is comfortable on their gums.

Flossing is so very important in maintaining healthy gums and teeth, and it is better to start early than late.

How to get your child to be enthusiastic about flossing

To get your child excited about flossing, set up a simple game or activity that will both entertain him or her and teach him or her the significance of flossing. A suggested activity would be peanut butter flossing. Put on a rubber glove and give your child permission to spread peanut butter between your fingers. Explain how this resembles the plaque and food that become lodged between our teeth when we fail to floss and allow plaque to accumulate. Then, provide your child with a piece of floss and instruct him or her to attempt to remove all of the peanut butter.

This activity, or something similar, can be a great way to entice your child into trying to floss more often.

For answers to your questions about caring for your child's teeth, contact our Okotoks dentists.

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