When Are Your Children Old Enough for Flossing?


Did you know that you can start a daily flossing routine for your child’s teeth as soon as any two teeth touch each other? Of course, parents will initially perform the flossing. But as soon as children have learned to brush on their own, it’s time to teach them how to floss. 

how-to-floss-children's-dental-careWhile it’s never too late for anyone to start flossing, an important part of children’s dental care is to get into the habit as early as possible. If you and your child already have an oral care routine with brushing, try adding flossing. It can be a challenge that is fun for your child!

The Flossing Challenge

As we all know, flossing is not as easy as it looks. Even experienced flossers remember a bit of awkwardness in learning the technique. But flossing is a primary tool for good oral health because it backs up your toothbrush. It cleans the tight spaces in-between teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. Children CAN learn the technique and develop the lifelong habit.

The Flossing Technique in Three Easy Steps

Flossing is important, and children should learn the right way to floss as soon as possible. Here’s a summary of how to floss:

Step One. To begin flossing, have your child cut off a piece of dental floss approximately 18 inches long.
Step Two. Have them wrap the ends around their middle or index fingers on both hands.
Step Three. Next, have them gently guide the dental floss between their teeth, carefully moving the floss around the tooth and under the gum line. Make sure they floss between the gum line and the side of each tooth.

Flossing Can Be Easy and Fun


If your child struggles to manipulate 18 inches of dental floss between the fingers on both hands, try using a floss stick. These tools make it easier for your child because they require only one hand to use.  Child-friendly floss sticks come in a variety of colors and characters. Start with a pack of 50 to 100 sticks to allow plenty of practice. Your dentist or dental hygienist can give you some tips on how to use these.

Once they learn the basic technique and are flossing AND brushing, you can set up incentives to help them maintain the daily routine.  Post a flossing and brushing chart to remind your children of the daily routine and reward them for completion. Stickers can be a useful visual record of their accomplishment and a way to collect desirable rewards. Remember, good habits take time to develop at any age!

BONUS:  How-to videos: see for yourself!

If you and your kids want some help with flossing, you don’t have to wait for your next checkup – schedule an appointment at your convenience.

Remember, beautiful teeth are healthy teeth!

Dr. Nishan Halim

 Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. We can help your child get started on her own oral care routine at her next appointment.



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