Developing good oral hygiene habits in your children when they are young increase the chances they will practice those habits throughout the rest of their lives. Once the first teeth emerge from their gums around four to six months old, you should start brushing and flossing their teeth. Starting this early teaching them to accept the activity as a normal part of everyday life.
In general, small children will take to brushing their own teeth relatively early. While it will vary depending on their motor skill development, most children can do a rudimentary job of brushing their teeth by their first birthday. Once they are done with their own attempts, you should follow up with a more thorough job. This helps them understand expectations and encourages them to actively advance their own technique.
When it comes to flossing, a child’s mouth is small and can be a challenge. Many parents find waxed floss sticks make it easier to access their child’s back teeth. When a child can start flossing their own teeth really depends on their fine motor skills and their overall attitude towards oral hygiene. If properly encouraged most will start using floss sticks on their own between three and four years old.
Brushing and flossing with your child helps set an example for them to follow and makes it feel like a family experience. It’s important to keep things fun and upbeat. Having a brushing and flossing song to sing beforehand helps define expectations. Giving them stickers or gold stars to put on the calendar serves as long term recognition of a job well done.
If you have questions about how or when to introduce your child to flossing, please feel free to call us at 910.864.4646 or ask about it at your next appointment. We look forward to seeing you!