Smiling Your Way into the School Year: Add Flossing to Your Kids’ Homework

Smiling Your Way into the School Year: Add Flossing to Your Kids’ Homework

It’s a new school year and that means a fresh start for good habits. Are your kids flossing every day? If not, it’s a great time to put dental floss on the back to school supply list and start a new habit.

As you know, flossing is an essential element of an effective at-home oral health routine. Why is it often overlooked when it comes to kids? Let’s be honest, it might be a bit of laziness on our part as parents! Toddlers and young children can’t floss their own teeth effectively, so it’s up to us to put in the work. Flossing for your child, showing them the proper techniques, and emphasizing the importance of this daily habit is a ton of work and can be very time-consuming. But it’s a great way to build the foundation of a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime.

When to Start Flossing. Opinions vary widely about when exactly you should start flossing children’s teeth, but let’s look at it with the purpose of flossing in mind: Flossing is for cleaning between teeth that are touching. Once your child’s baby (primary) teeth start growing inside by side, it’s time to start flossing between them.

The Importance of Flossing Baby Teeth. Primary teeth are more susceptible to cavities than adult teeth. Flossing between them can help remove some of the bacteria that causes tooth decay. The habits built by flossing your child’s teeth daily are likely to stick. By flossing your child’s teeth daily, you teach them how important it is to floss, and help them develop the habits they will need to floss on their own when they’re older.

When Can Kids Floss on Their Own? Kids can usually start flossing their own teeth around age ten. Start letting them get a feel for the tools as early as possible so that once they have enough dexterity to strike out on their own, they know exactly what they’re doing. They don’t need to be perfect – they just need to floss, floss, floss until it becomes a habit. They’ll get better at it over time! One way to help them practice is to tie small loops in the dental floss and have them put their fingers in the loops before wrapping the rest of the floss around their fingers. This makes it easier for them to get a grip and not lose the end of the floss.

Make Flossing Fun. When looking for a floss to use with your child, you can buy several types and let them pick the one they like the best. Different children prefer different textures, and some flosses even come in flavors. If your child doesn’t like you flossing their teeth with regular dental floss, you could try pre-strung flossers. While these are slightly less effective than traditional dental floss, they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and themes that can help get your child excited about flossing!

The Road to Healthier Gums. If you start to floss your child’s teeth and notice that their gums are bleeding a little, don’t worry this is totally normal. The bleeding should stop after flossing with your child for a few days, as their gums get healthier. If the bleeding persists for a couple of weeks or seems heavy, call your dentist.

Monkey See, Monkey Do. Kids love to do exactly what their parents do, so be sure to show your child that you floss, too! Maybe you can floss your teeth while they practice holding the floss or while they brush their teeth. When you make oral hygiene a family activity, the good habits are more likely to stick.


Click here for more blogs by Dr. Scott Shamblott.