Let’s Talk Floss with Dr. Krista Kunz of Magnolia Pediatric Dentistry in Mt. Pleasant, SC

New flash! Flossing is not just for grown ups. Flossing is important because it removes plaque and food from between teeth. Brushing can only go so far, and flossing does the rest of the job. It’s not only good for your mouth, but helps prevent bad breath, which makes morning cuddles with your kiddos much more enjoyable. Even if your kid’s teeth aren’t touching, you can still work on forming the habit from a young age.

To help your children understand why flossing is important, we suggest doing the following: put the pads of your two pointer fingers together. You can brush all around the tops of those pointer fingers, but no matter how well you brush, the parts that are touching (the pads of your fingers) aren’t getting clean! When you use floss, it’s so small, that it can get between those areas to make sure your entire tooth is getting the attention it needs. You can even have them practice “flossing” with a piece of floss between your fingers to illustrate this point.

There are some dentists who say to floss before you brush, in case the plaque you remove ends up on the surfaces of other teeth. There are some who disagree and say that flossing after you brush works the fluoride from toothpaste down between teeth, making them stronger. We say, mix it up! Floss before brushing in the morning, and after brushing in the evening. Or visa versa.

Plaque takes 24 hours to form, so brushing and flossing twice a day disrupts that build up. Because gums are sensitive, parents should be in charge of flossing until age 6 or 7 when kids have better control over fine motor skills. A little bit of bleeding is normal, especially at the beginning.

Floss sticks, like the ones pictured above, can be good teaching tools but ultimately, a long string of floss is best to ensure that a clean piece of floss is going between the teeth each time. Kids tend to use the same floss stick for the entire mouth, which isn’t ideal. They can also be tricky to use in the back part of mouths. They are a good way to get kids involved in their flossing when they’re too young to do their entire mouth themselves. They can use the floss sticks in the spaces between the teeth in the front of their mouth, and then you can take a turn getting their molars.

If your kids are having trouble, bring them into the office. We’re happy to help demonstrate!

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