Why Oral Hygiene is Important for Children
Teeth are an essential component of overall health, and if cared for properly lots of people can keep their teeth their whole lives. Optimal oral health starts early before a child's first tooth even erupts. Infants start getting their baby teeth when they are approximately six months old.
Other than letting a child speak and eat, baby teeth “hold the space” for adult teeth that will emerge later. Parents have an important part in taking care of their child’s mouths and helping them establish good dental cleaning habits. A child should be brought for their first dental appointment before they are one year old, with regular visits scheduled after the initial appointment.
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 to Start Flossing Your Child's Teeth
You should floss even your child’s baby (or primary teeth). Once your child’s teeth start to fit closely together, usually between the ages of two and six, flossing is an important part of their oral health.
When Your Child Can Start Flossing Their Own Teeth
You should help your child floss their teeth until they are able to floss by themselves, by helping your child floss you are helping them develop the habit of flossing every day. Typically, children can start flossing their teeth by themselves when they are 10 years old.
Helping Your Child Learn 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 a soft and flexible floss that is comfortable on their gums and doesn't hurt their teeth.
Flossing is so very important in maintaining healthy gums and teeth, and it is better to start early than late.
Getting Your Child Excited About Flossing
You can try to get your child excited about flossing their teeth by implementing a simple activity, game, or both that can entertain them and teach them that flossing is important. 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, give your child a piece of floss and tell them to try scraping away 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.