Are Your Kids Flossing?

Are Your Kids Flossing?
By Dr. Kao Pediatric Dentistry

When visiting the dentist, there is one question, you are almost certain to hear: “Have you been flossing regularly?” For many parents, they make a point of brushing their little ones teeth twice a day, as is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA), however, very few will floss. The ADA suggests they should start flossing as soon as their teeth begin to touch. Then, you can start to teach your child how to floss as early as the age of two. They will require supervision and assistance until they are about 8 years old and the routine will allow for healthy gums and teeth throughout their lives.

As you may already know, flossing removes dental plaque trapped between teeth and along the gum line that a toothbrush cannot usually reach. For your child, this practice should be done at least once a day and will take about two minutes. Here are a few steps to get you started.

Step One. Have your child cut off a piece of floss approximately 18 inches long.

Step Two. Have them wrap the ends around their middle or index fingers on both hands.

Step Three. Have them gently guide the floss between the base of each tooth, carefully moving the floss back and forth around the tooth and under the gum line.

Unlike a toothbrush, which cleans the tops and outer surfaces of the teeth and gums, floss is an interdental cleaner, which is designed specifically to clean the tight spaces between the teeth, the base of the teeth, and the gums. It can also help polish the teeth and prevent bad breath.

There are two types of floss from which to choose:

  • Nylon (or multifilament) floss
  • PTFE (monofilament) floss

    Nylon floss is available waxed and unwaxed, and in a variety of flavors. This type of floss may sometimes tear or shred, especially between teeth with tight contact points. Single filament (PTFE) floss slides easily between teeth, even those with tight spaces between teeth. Although it is a little more expensive, it is virtually shred-resistant. When used properly, both types of floss are excellent at removing plaque and debris.

    Here are a few videos to help instruct you and your child on flossing.


    Keep in mind that floss comes in many colors and flavors, so it is a good idea to let your child pick one that they like. By making flossing something exciting to look forward to, you will increase the chance that your child will maintain the habit. Visiting the dentist for a dental cleaning is wonderful, but as a preventative, make sure they floss daily for healthy smiles!