Flossing For Children: Types, Benefits & Methods

Flossing for Kids – Importance and Methods

Though flossing is an essential part of maintaining oral hygiene, not many people are in the habit of practicing it and often wonder: is flossing necessary? Simply brushing your teeth will only clean the outside of the teeth without being able to reach between the teeth themselves to remove any extra food or waste that could eventually develop into bacteria. A string of dental floss can be easily positioned to remove anything that may have lodged itself between the teeth, making flossing an important second step in your oral hygiene routine.
Here we will discuss flossing, why it is important for children, and the proper flossing for kids. 

What Is Flossing? 

Cleaning between the teeth using a string-like tool called dental floss is flossing. This process will help remove the plaque and food particles that may have lodged themselves between the teeth or any other place that your toothbrush cannot reach. When food and plaque build up, it tends to cause oral conditions such as gingivitis. Flossing is the best way to prevent this, keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy. 

Is Flossing Important for Kids? 

In the case of flossing vs. not flossing for kids, flossing will come out the winner. Flossing is extremely important for children. Some believe that since children have baby teeth that will eventually fall out, flossing is not very important until the permanent teeth come in. However, it is important to maintain the health of your child’s teeth and gums, and flossing is the perfect way to do it.

Types of Dental Floss

Different types of floss are suited for different needs. Here are some of the different kinds of floss that are available in the market:

1. Unwaxed Floss

Made by twisting multiple strands of nylon material together, unwaxed floss is the most common of the different types of floss. As there is no flavoring, it is chemical-free and perfect for those with smaller gaps between the teeth. As this type of floss is very thin, it may be more prone to breaking or shredding than the other types.

2. Waxed Floss 

This type of floss has a layer of wax on it, and the rest of the construction is similar to that of unwaxed floss. It is much stronger than unwaxed floss and is not easily shredded. While the layer of wax helps the floss to glide between teeth better, it is also harder to grip due to the smoothness of the floss.

3. Dental Tape

Dental tape is the best option if you have more significant gaps between your teeth. It is thicker than other types of dental floss, but it is flatter and similar in shape to cello tape. Dental tape can come in waxed or unwaxed versions. Children who have started to lose teeth may be able to use a strip for a particular gap or two, but it is best to opt for the thinner types of floss for children.

4. PTFE Floss  

This is made from a material known as Polytetrafluorethylene. This is a very strong floss that is easy to work with without breaking or shredding while also perfect for those with smaller gaps between their teeth. Though it sounds ideal, it is best to avoid this type of floss for your children. It uses perfluorooctanoic acid during production, which has been known to affect the immune system negatively.

5. Super Floss

If your child has braces, this is the floss to opt for. This floss comprises spongy floss, regular floss, and a stiff end threader. The stiff threader can help maneuver the floss better so that the teeth can be cleaned more thoroughly.

What Are the Benefits of Flossing Teeth? 

Many benefits come with flossing. They are as follows:

1. Removes Plaque 

Plaque is a film with no color and sticks to the gums and the teeth. It is formed when sugary, or starch-filled food and drinks are consumed and mixed with the bacteria present in the mouth. There are acids present in plaque that can cause severe damage to the tooth’s enamel. Brushing your teeth can help remove this plaque from the general areas of the mouth, but you need to floss to remove the plaque from smaller spaces where your toothbrush cannot reach.

2. Reduces Bad Breath 

Bad breath is often caused by decaying food particles trapped between the teeth. It is also caused by plaque that can build around or between your teeth. Once your enamel starts to erode, gum diseases and cavities will follow. Each of these is also known to contribute to bad breath. By flossing daily, you can ensure to get all the food particles out and maintain healthy teeth and gums, which result in better breath.

3. Aids in Prevention of Gum Diseases

Keeping the gums healthy is important for maintaining good oral health. Inflammation around the gums is known as gingivitis and is the early stage of the disease. It can worsen, turning into Periodontitis, causing loose teeth and inflammation. Flossing and brushing twice a day can reduce the risk dramatically.

4. Lowers the Risk of Cavities 

Cavities are small holes or openings that form on the surface of the enamel. This does not happen overnight, but plaque build-up tends to increase the risk of this occurring. Flossing once a day will help rid the teeth of small food particles and plaque, thereby decreasing the risk of getting cavities.

At What Age Should a Child Start Flossing? 

Young children cannot floss on their own, but once your child grows two teeth close, it is time to begin flossing. You will need to floss their teeth for them until they are old enough to do it themselves. However, it is not recommended that you leave your child alone during the process until they are old enough to handle floss and not be curious enough to swallow or misuse it. 

Methods/Ways for Flossing

There are a few different flossing methods that you can try out. They are: 

1. Spool Method

  • This is also known as the “Finger Wrap Method.”
  • Take around 18 inches of floss.
  • Wrap each side of the floss around your middle fingers, making sure that more of the floss is wrapped around one of the fingers and only a little on the other. 
  • With the index finger and the thumb, position the floss between the teeth and move it gently up and down and form a C shape around each tooth.
  • Wind the bit of floss used around the finger that has less floss wrapped around it, and release fresh floss from the finger with more floss wrapped around it. This will prevent you from taking the plaque from one tooth to another.

2. Loop Method 

  • This method is also known as the “Circle Method.”
  • Take out an 18-inch-long piece of floss
  • Knot the ends well to form a circle
  • You should place all your fingers inside the loop except for your thumb.
  • Use the index fingers to move the floss around the lower teeth and the thumbs for the upper teeth.
  • Move the floss below the gum line, and bend it into a C so it can floss the sides of each tooth.

Other Ways of Flossing Child’s Teeth 

If regular flossing is not suitable for you or your child, there are other ways to floss. Tools for flossing, such as a floss holder or a pre-threaded flosser, are available to help make it easier for beginners and those who have limited skills with their hands. These are also great tools to use when flossing for someone else, like your child. 

Flossing tools such as Water Flossers and Oral Irrigators are suitable for those who have braces. These are good for removing food particles from braces or hard-to-reach places. However, it is not known to remove plaque very well.

Tips for Incorporating Flossing Into Your Kid’s Routine 

Children may not find flossing very comfortable at first, but if you manage it the right way, you will be able to get them used to flossing. Here are some tips you can try:

  • Make sure that you are very gentle while flossing your child’s teeth. Being forceful will make it painful, which will make your child dread flossing. 
  • Let your child floss your teeth. It can help make them more comfortable around floss.
  • Flossing gums should never be done, so always start from just under the gum line. 
  • As long as you floss once a day, the time of day should not matter. Just make sure to stick to the same time every day, so it becomes a routine. 
  • When you and your child have a good flossing experience, they should always be rewarded. Other than food or drink, any other reward will work. 

Seeing how important it is to floss, getting your children into the habit of it at a young age is vital in ensuring that they keep this habit throughout their lives. 

Also Read:

Broken Teeth in Kids
Tooth Discoloration in Children
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) in Kids

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