The importance of oral hygiene for children
Many people can keep their teeth for their whole lifetime if they care for them properly. Your dental health is important to your overall bodily health, which is why it is important for good oral hygiene practices to begin early – even before a child’s first teeth erupt. Baby teeth generally start to peek through the gums at six months of age.
Besides allowing a child to eat and speak, baby teeth “hold the space” and guide adult teeth in later. Parents play an important role in caring for their children’s oral health and helping them develop good dental cleaning habits. The first visit to the dental hygienist is recommended before the child turns 12 months old, after which regular visits should be scheduled every 6 months.
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 baby teeth as soon as they're next to each other. Once your child’s teeth start to fit closely together, usually between the ages of 2 and 6 years old, flossing should be a part of their regular routine.
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?
Floss your child's teeth regularly until they can do it themselves. You'll want to establish this habit early on so that when your child's dental hygiene is up to them, they are already accustomed to the routine and maintain it.
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
You can try to get your child excited for flossing by making a game out of it!
One suggestion would be a peanut butter flossing activity. Put on a rubber glove and allow your child to 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, giving your child a piece of floss, instruct him/her to try and scrape off 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.