Brushing teeth properly and consistently helps to remove most dental plaque, however, brushing alone cannot remove plaque that is located in places that a toothbrush cannot reach, particularly in-between teeth. In addition to removing plaque, flossing also helps to remove debris that adheres to teeth and gums in-between teeth; polish tooth surfaces; and control bad breath. It should take place at least once a day for two to three minutes each time to be most effective.
Flossing should be started when your child is around 2 to 3 years of age, under the direction of your child’s dentist. Prior to this age, flossing is not necessary. Children usually need assistance with flossing until they are 8 to 10 years of age.
Your child’s dentist or other oral healthcare provider can provide a demonstration of any of the following flossing techniques. They include:
• spool method (also called the finger-wrap method)
Cut off a piece of floss that is approximately 18 to 20 inches in length. Lightly wrap each side of the piece of floss several times around each middle finger. Next, carefully maneuver the floss in-between the teeth with your index fingers and thumbs in an up and down, not side-to-side motion. It is best to bring the floss up and down making sure to go below the gumline, forming a “C” on the side of each tooth.
• loop method (also called the circle method)
Cut off a piece of floss that is approximately 18 inches long, and tie it securely in a circle. Next, place all of the fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Then, use your index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, making sure to go below the gumline, forming a “C” on the side of each tooth.
Encourage your kids to floss on a regular basis. While it may be a little tricky at times, the health benefits are endless. Choose an appealing tooth floss your kids will enjoy. There are many varieties out there, including flavored or unflavored.
For more information on oral health, please visit the CHOC Health Library on choc.org, or click here: