Flossing and Children
Flossing should start when your child has 2 teeth that touch. This is often around
ages 2 to 3. Always floss under the direction of your child's dentist or primary care
provider. Before this age, flossing is not needed. Children often need help with flossing
until they are ages 8 to 10.
The importance of flossing
Brushing teeth correctly 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.
This includes in between the 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
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
Waxed and unwaxed
Flavored and unflavored
Wide and regular
Textured and smooth
Your child's dentist or primary care provider can show you and your child how to floss.
Other flossing methods
Flossing tools are also available, such as a pre-threaded flosser or floss holder.
These 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 they may be helpful
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.
But they don't remove plaque that contains harmful bacteria.