Along with brushing twice a day, flossing your teeth once daily is an essential part of routine oral hygiene. It helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease by removing plaque and food particles from between the teeth, where a toothbrush can’t reach.
If you have a child, you may be curious as to how old they need to be before you start flossing their teeth. As your child’s first teeth begin to come in, oral hygiene starts to become very important for their health.
Primary teeth may ultimately be temporary but they’re still important, and you will need to make your child learn to care for them. Preschool-age children are especially susceptible to tooth decay stemming from bacteria in between their teeth, especially their molars.
There are some root causes of tooth decay that you can control, and others that you can’t. You can’t control the genes that influence their saliva composition, dietary preferences, oral microflora, and other factors that contribute to tooth decay susceptibility. But you can control their dietary intake and their oral hygiene.
How Old is Old Enough to Floss?
You should be brushing your children’s teeth as soon as they start coming in. As for flossing, the right age is generally around two and a half years or so. By that time, your child has most of their baby teeth, and the spaces between the teeth accumulate food debris and bacteria. During early childhood, you’ll need to floss for them once a day. Be sure to make it a habit while they still have their baby teeth, so it will stick with them for life. Consistency is very important.
By age ten or so, your child can handle flossing on their own. However, it’s still important to make sure they do it. For whatever reason, kids don’t like to brush and floss regularly, but it’s essential for preventing tooth decay.
What About Brushing?
You should also brush your child’s teeth as they start erupting. Prior to their baby teeth coming in, you can start caring for their gums. Use a moistened washcloth or gauze to gently wipe their gums after feedings and before bedtime. Once they start getting teeth, you can start using a baby-sized toothbrush with soft bristles, with a tiny bit of toothpaste; the size of a grain of rice.
Once your child is about three, you can increase the amount of toothpaste you’re using to a pea-sized amount. There are child-friendly toothpastes available with fruity or bubblegum flavors, which children often prefer over the mint that’s standard for adult toothpastes.
Dietary Considerations for Your Child’s Dental Health
While some children are more prone to cavities than others, there are still things you can do to minimize their likelihood of developing them. Diet plays an important role in oral health, and too much sugar encourages bacterial growth that leads to tooth decay. Limiting the amount of sugar your child ingests can go a long way toward preventing tooth decay.
Make Sure Your Child Sees a Dentist
Once your infant starts getting their teeth, you should begin planning to take them to the dentist. From the age of 12-18 months through adulthood, they will need to see the dentist for cleanings and checkups about twice a year. It’s recommended that children have their first dentist visit by age one. Your dentist can advise you about things like teething, brushing their teeth, dealing with thumb-sucking or pacifier habits, and when to start flossing.
At Access Dental, we provide dental treatments and examinations for both children and adults, from infants to senior citizens. Call us any time to book your appointment with us.