Seeing those first baby teeth come in is an exciting time for any parent. Although the difficulties that come with teething are certainly no picnic, it’s great to see the results that come with it. Baby teeth mean that soon your little one will be branching out with the foods they can eat — and their smile will only become more adorable.
It also comes with questions about taking care of these new teeth. Is flossing still necessary for baby teeth? And if so, when should kids start flossing?
Learning the answers to these questions can help you and your child stay focused on oral health and hygiene. It can also be a key preventive step of early dental treatment that helps you avoid problems down the road. We’re happy to share this guide to help you get the answers and information you need on this important topic.
When Should Kids Start Flossing?
Flossing is definitely necessary for baby teeth, and it is recommended to begin flossing as early as possible. Basically, as soon as your child has two teeth that touch together, you can begin some kind of flossing routine. Even if your little one may be fussy and barely eating solid foods, if nothing else, it’s good to start the habit for both of you at the absolute beginning.
According to pediatric dentists, by around the age of two to three years old, kids will generally have most of their baby teeth in. This is the recommended time to begin regularly flossing between the teeth. You don’t want food to get stuck in there, especially if you see that the contacts between the teeth are close together.
Why Is Flossing Important?
Tooth decay and cavities develop when bacteria feed off of food particles on the surface of the teeth — and between the teeth — giving off acid as a byproduct that eats away at the enamel and other parts of the teeth. If the hole goes deep enough it can cause painful exposure to nerves, and increase the chances of a potentially dangerous infection. Baby teeth are just as much at risk for cavities and decay as adult teeth.
Just because baby teeth are meant to fall out, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of them. Cavities can be painful, and can increase the risk of infections and other serious health problems.
Flossing is important because while brushing removes food material from the surface of the teeth, particles can still get stuck in the tight spaces between them. Teeth are naturally placed in a way that there are no gaps between them, so flossing is able to remove food from those hard-to-reach areas.
Flossing is an intricate process that many adults can be challenged by, so it’s natural to assume that it would be difficult for a two or three year old. Of course this means that parents will generally be flossing for their child until they are a little bit older. For parents wanting to make the process as easy and fuss-free as possible, there are a number of tips and tricks that can help:
- Use hand-held flossers instead of traditional floss to have a better grip
- Waxed floss or flossers can help make it easier to fit between the teeth, especially for really tight spaces
- Make it fun by letting them pick out a favorite color or flavor at the store
- Get them involved by creating a chart or calendar where they can track progress with stickers
- Set a good example by flossing yourself
- Flossing can be done before or after brushing, so whatever your or your little one’s preference is the right time to floss
To be truly effective, flossing must be combined with other good habits, including brushing, drinking plenty of water, and of course limiting your child’s sugar intake. Regular checkups at the dentist are also critical to ensuring that teeth are coming in healthy and spotting problems early.
Your pediatric dentist can give you and your little ones flossing tips as well, and identify potential problem areas that could require extra attention. He or she may also recommend preventative treatments that can work in conjunction with flossing, such as dental sealants.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!