The Importance of Children's Oral Hygiene
Teeth have a key role in our overall health and with the right amount of care, most people can keep their teeth their whole lives. Optimal oral health should start early – even before a child’s first teeth erupt. Baby teeth generally start to peek through the gums at six months of age.
Other than letting children eat and speak, baby teeth “hold the space” for adult teeth that later erupt. Parents have an essential part in caring for their children’s mouths and helping them develop good oral cleaning habits. The first visit to the dental hygienist is recommended before the child turns one, and then regular visits should be scheduled.
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 your child’s primary (or baby teeth). When your child’s teeth begin to fit closely together, generally between two and six years old, flossing is an essential element of their oral health.
When can children start flossing on their own?
You should help your child floss until they can floss their teeth by themselves, to help them develop the habit of flossing every day. Children are typically able to floss on their own when they are approximately 10 years of age.
How can I help teach my child how to floss?
To stress the importance of flossing, and help them develop a good habit of flossing, do it for them regularly until they're able to do it themselves. You want to establish the healthy habit of daily flossing early so that when their permanent teeth come in, they already have flossing worked into their daily routine.
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 can I get my child excited about flossing?
To help motivate your child to floss, create a simple game or activity to give them both entertainment and help them understand the importance of flossing. One recommendation is a peanut butter flossing activity. Put on a rubber glove and let your child spread peanut butter between your fingers. Explain how this resembles plaque and food getting stuck in between our teeth when we don’t floss and allow plaque to build up. Then, provide your child with a piece of floss, tell them to try and scrape all of the peanut butter off.
This activity, or something similar, can be a great way to entice your child into trying to floss more often.