The importance of oral hygiene for children
Your teeth are a staple in your overall health, and plenty of people can keep their teeth for their whole lifetime when cared for properly. Your child should begin good oral health practices early on, even before the first teeth sprout at 6 months old.
Besides allowing a child to eat and speak, baby teeth essentially reserve the space for the adult teeth that will develop later. Parents play an important role in caring for their children’s mouths and helping them develop good oral cleaning habits. The first visit to the dental hygienist is recommended before the child turns one, and then regular visits should be scheduled.
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 should I start flossing my 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 can children floss their teeth by themselves?
Children don't have the dexterity to floss by themselves, so they will require your help until about 7 to 10 years old!
How can I help them learn to floss?
Flossing your child's teeth regularly will implement good habits in them early on. 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 floss that is soft and flexible so that it doesn't hurt their teeth and is comfortable on their gums.
Flossing is so very important in maintaining healthy gums and teeth, and it is better to start early than late.
How to get your child to be enthusiastic about flossing
To get your child excited about the idea of flossing, set up a simple game or activity to both provide entertainment and an understanding of the importance of flossing. 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, giving your child a piece of floss, instruct him/her to try and scrape off 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.