Flossing should start when your child is around ages 2 to 3, under the direction of your child's dentist. Before this age, flossing is not needed. Children usually need help with flossing until they are ages 8 to 10.
The importance of flossing
Brushing teeth properly and consistently helps remove most dental plaque. But, brushing alone can't remove plaque that is located in places that a toothbrush can't reach, particularly in between teeth and under the gums. In addition to removing plaque, flossing also helps to:
Your child should floss at least once a day for 2 to 3 minutes each time to be most effective.
Types of dental floss
Regular, consistent flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque. It may be more important than the toothbrush. The different types of dental floss include the following:
Waxed and unwaxed
Flavored and unflavored
Wide and regular
Textured and smooth
Your child's dentist or other oral healthcare provider can show you and your child how to floss. Methods include:
Other flossing methods
Flossing tools, such as a prethreaded flosser or floss holder may be helpful for people who are just learning how to floss. They may also help children with limited dexterity in their arms or hands, or if you are flossing your child's teeth.
Oral irrigators are not a substitute for brushing and flossing. These devices may help clean around braces where food sticks or in areas a toothbrush can't reach. However, they do not remove plaque that contains harmful bacteria.