Helpful Pediatric Dentistry Tips!

When Should My Child Start Flossing Their Teeth?

by Dr. Steven Whittemore | Published November 1, 2018

Helping your child brush starting around the time they grow them in is crucial to keeping their mouths healthy as they grow; you also want to ensure your child’s baby teeth are healthy and durable enough to last until all of their permanent teeth grow in.

Much like brushing, flossing from a young age is an important factor in keeping your child’s teeth healthy and keeping your kids free from unnecessary dental pain associated with plaque and cavities. How old should your child be before they need to start flossing? How can you make flossing as easy and pain-free as possible? Our professionals detail flossing information below that breaks it all down.

How Old Should My Child Should Be to Floss?

With brushing teeth, parents and children can start the habit as soon as a child grows in multiple baby teeth. However, with flossing, it’s not necessary to begin until their teeth start to fit closely together. Most children will be able to start flossing between the ages of two and six, but make sure to keep a close eye on your kid’s teeth as more grow in so you know when you need to start flossing regularly! If your child is on the younger side of this age range, you will need to floss for them until they’re old enough to learn how to floss themselves with your help.

Even after your child is physically capable of flossing their own teeth, you should continue to supervise and help out until they are around the age of 10 so that you can be sure they are flossing thoroughly and getting the areas between each tooth every time they floss.

Bleeding When Flossing

If you’re a first-time parent, you may notice your child’s gums bleeding when you floss for them and become alarmed. No need to panic; a little bit of bleeding at the beginning of a flossing habit is totally normal! This can also happen in adults who start flossing their teeth regularly for the first time. If your child’s gums bleed when you floss for them, this should stop happening after you’ve been flossing regularly for several days, as their gums become stronger and healthier.

If your child’s gums are still bleeding after a week of starting a flossing habit, contact our dentists to check and make sure everything is okay. You may simply need to floss more gently, but persistent gum bleeding could also be a sign of gingivitis, which should be checked by a dental professional.

How Can I Make Flossing Easier?

Although most adults have no problem flossing on their own, there are a few additional challenges associated with flossing kids’ teeth. For one, if you are using traditional dental floss to floss your child’s teeth, you may have difficulty reaching between each tooth effectively since their mouths and teeth are much smaller than yours. If you’re able to effectively use traditional floss for your child’s teeth, teach them the same flossing techniques adults use when they are old enough to start picking it up on their own. You can show them how to wrap the floss firmly around their fingers and pull it tight so that it is more effective in removing plaque and food particles from their mouth.

You may want to consider selecting a wider, flatter dental tape for flossing your child’s teeth than you would for your own. Since kids are still growing in all of their teeth and their baby teeth will eventually be replaced by permanent ones, baby teeth tend to be smaller and farther apart than adult teeth. A flatter dental floss will help your child more effectively clean the spaces between their teeth than they would with a floss that has a finer width.

Children’s Floss Picks

If you’re struggling to reach the smaller areas in your child’s mouth with traditional dental floss, consider buying some floss picks! This will make it much easier to reach between your child’s teeth effectively, and they are also much easier for children to use on their own when they learn to floss. Additionally, individual floss picks come in fun shapes and colors that may make your child more interested in nightly flossing!

These tips should help start you and your child out on the right foot to set up a lifelong flossing habit to keep their mouth healthy! If you have any questions or would like to consult with a dentist, please contact our offices today.

Trusted Pediatric Dentists Of Des Moines

Drs. Barsetti and Whittemore have been serving the greater Des Moines community with decades of combined experience. If you haven’t had the chance to meet the new dentist yet, learn a little bit about Dr. Percival! He is a West Des Moines native who is excited to have been onboard with our team for nearly two months now. 

We look forward to seeing you and your kid(s)!