When should I begin flossing my child's teeth?

I would say sometime between 5-6 is fine. At the very least, introduce your children to dental floss then. They may have trouble with it at first (it's not as easy as brushing), so I would encourage that they start with the front teeth (which are far easier to floss), and go from there as they get more comfortable with it.
Carol Jahn

If your child's teeth are close together, then you should start trying to floss their teeth as soon you can. If they have spaces, then those are should be easily cleaned with a toothbrush.

As you child gets older, and the responsibility for their mouth shifts to them, worry less about flossing and more about finding a tool they will use to clean between their teeth. Millions of adults struggle with dental floss—and for no reason. Flossing is not superior to other methods of interdental cleaning. By helping your child find a product they like and can easily use, you will help them have a lifetime of good oral health.

Many companies make child-friendly products that are designed for smaller hands and are easy to use including a Water Flosser for Kids.

When the baby teeth emerge and touch, usually around age 2, you should start flossing them regularly. A pediatric dentist can demonstrate how. Children usually can start flossing on their own around ages nine or ten, but some may have the ability (and willingness) to floss properly on their own before then. Tools like a prethreaded flosser may be useful for children learning how to floss.

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Begin using floss when your child's teeth begin to touch one another. Flossing helps prevent cavities between the teeth. The following are proper techniques in flossing your child's teeth:
  • Use about a foot and a half of floss. Wind most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss between the thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle, back-and-forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth.
  • Curve the floss into a C-shape and guide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth.
  • Repeat these steps on each tooth. Don't forget the backs of the last teeth in each corner of the mouth.
Because flossing is a difficult skill to master, you should floss your child's teeth until he or she can do it alone. Every child is different, however. Your dentist and hygienist can show you how to floss.
Dr. Diana K. Blythe, MD

Start flossing your child's teeth when they begin to touch each other. The purpose of flossing is to remove particles of food that get stuck between the teeth. Make flossing part of the bedtime ritual and your child will be more likely to do it later.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.