How to Teach Your Child to Floss and Why It’s So Important

As a parent, you care about your kids’ health. It can be challenging trying to teach children how to care for themselves early on, especially when it comes to their oral care.

Many parents may not be too concerned over whether their younger kids know how to floss — after all, their baby teeth are going to fall out eventually, right?

While that may be the case, it’s still very important for toddlers and children to learn how to floss. Flossing can prevent plaque and tartar buildup, which may lead to cavities and other dental health issues down the line. 

Though baby teeth eventually fall out, your child benefits from regular brushing, flossing, and yearly dental visits. Learning how to floss from an early age will also encourage your children to maintain their oral hygiene as they get older.

Since young children are still developing their motor skills and coordination, it’s important that you show them how to properly care for their teeth early on so they can get used to the movements.

Here’s everything you need to know about why flossing is so important for your kids, and how you can help them learn how to get started.

Why is Flossing Important for Children?

Although your child will lose their baby teeth, it’s still important that they brush and floss twice a day as soon as their teeth begin to touch to avoid cavities.

Flossing helps loosen food stuck between their teeth and remove plaque, which can turn into tartar and lead to cavities. It also helps prevent bad breath and polishes the surface of their teeth.

Brushing your teeth only cleans 60% percent of the surface, leaving 40% still vulnerable and uncared for. Flossing once a day is a great way to ensure you and your child maintain healthy teeth and gums.

How Old Should Your Child Start Flossing?

Showing your kids how to floss early on will help them get into the habit of flossing by the time they get their adult teeth.

Kids usually get the hang of flossing on their own by the age of 10. It’s important to actively help them begin flossing as soon as their teeth begin to meet. This usually happens between the ages of 2 to 6. 

Kids (and adults) should floss once a day for 2-3 minutes after brushing.

Tips for Helping Your Child Learn How to Floss

It sounds surprising, but many people don’t floss correctly. You know how important it is for you and your family, but you might need a few tips to perfect the technique before teaching your child.

Here’s how you can teach your child how to floss effectively:  

  1. Take around 18 inches of floss, wrapping most of each end around your middle fingers and leaving an inch of space in between. 
  2. Gently place the floss between your child’s teeth (be careful not to pull down on their gums) and use your fingers to slide the floss back and forth, removing plaque and food.
  1. Move the floss in a “C” shape around each tooth and be sure to use a different section of floss as you go from tooth to tooth. It’s important to make sure your floss is clean so you don’t accidentally put pieces of food back in-between their teeth.
  2. Throw the floss away. 

Congrats, your child is one step closer to a healthy and radiant smile! The process is quick and simple, and with dedication, your child will quickly get the hang of flossing.

A few more tips on showing your child how to floss:

  • Don’t worry if your child’s gums bleed at first, this is common and should stop after a few days once their gums become used to their flossing routine.
  • Remember to be gentle. If your child is nervous about flossing for the first time, consider letting them floss your teeth so you can show them it’s safe and comfortable. 
  • You can also show your child how you floss with enthusiasm to get them excited about flossing their teeth. Many kids are eager to grow up and mimic their parents, so start flossing together!

Best Flossing Tools for Kids 

Flossing with a long piece of string may be uncomfortable or difficult for children when they’re first learning. There are several kinds of flossing tools that make this process easier and more effective for little ones.

You and your child can choose which flossing tool you like best, and they all offer their own unique benefits.

Water Flossers 

If your child is having trouble getting used to using floss, a water flosser may help them out. Using only a jet of water to clean between teeth, water flossers are a painless and refreshing way to encourage kids to care for their teeth. 

They’re fun and simple to use, making them a safe bet for inexperienced children learning to floss.

Floss Picks

Floss picks are convenient because they don’t need you to move your fingers in awkward positions to floss your or your child’s teeth.

These are used with one hand, and allow you to easily reach your teeth from different angles. They’re easily portable, disposable, and a single pack can last for months.

Interdental Brushes 

The thick bristles on these brushes make them just as effective as normal floss. They come in different sizes and styles to accommodate different-sized gaps between teeth. They’re especially helpful for those with limited motor skills.

Traditional Dental Floss 

When in doubt, you can never go wrong with basic dental floss. 

Floss comes waxed and unwaxed, and may or may not be flavored. No matter your preference, all floss options should be equally effective as long as you and your child are flossing using the proper technique!

There’s no doubt that flossing is an important part of your child’s dental health, and can prevent many uncomfortable issues down the line.

With persistence and patience, you’ll be well on your way to helping your child get the hang of flossing and include it in their daily routine.

Does Your Child Have Bleeding Gums? 

Sometimes, your child may experience bleeding gums when they brush or floss. This usually isn’t a cause for concern and can be caused by a few different reasons — like brushing or flossing too hard. 

But if bleeding gums is a recurring issue, it may be time to talk to your dentist.

Learn why your child may be experiencing bleeding gums and how to prevent it >