Once any two of your child’s teeth touch each other, it’s time to start flossing.
The tiny gaps between teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach make a perfect hiding place for food particles and bacteria.
If they’re allowed to remain there for a long time, these bacteria can start to destroy gum tissue as well as the bones and ligaments that support teeth. Flossing removes bacteria and food particles from between teeth.
If you’ve never tried it before flossing can be a bit fiddly and, when you first start out, it can make your gums bleed a little but this will lessen or stop over time. But, if younger children are finding it difficult to floss, they can leave it for now and come back to it when they’re a little older.
Although it may seem like a chore, if you can encourage your kids to push through the early stages and make it part of their routine they’ll have a lot to smile about later in life.
Floss is available in many different sizes, coatings and flavours. Get your kids to experiment with different ones to find their favourite. If they have trouble using the floss wrapped around their fingers, you can buy floss holders in most supermarkets and pharmacies.
Teach Your Child to Floss
To floss without using a floss holder:
Older children can do this themselves after watching you. With a younger child you can do the flossing for them. Lean your child’s head back into your lap so you can see into his or her mouth. Alternatively your child can stand in front of you and tip his or her head back against your chest.
Take about 30 cm of dental floss and wrap one end around each of your middle fingers.
Using your thumbs and index fingers as guides, gently slide the floss between two teeth, using a saw-like motion.
Once at the gum line, wrap the floss to form a C shape against one of the two teeth. Slide it up and down against that tooth. Be careful not to snap the floss between teeth.
Next, wrap the floss against the other tooth and repeat the up-down motion.
Be very gentle and try not to scrape the floss too hard against your gums.
Repeat this wherever two teeth are touching.