Dentists estimate the regular number of daily flossers is less than 30 percent – a number that could use some work, especially since when people don’t floss, they miss cleaning 40 percent of their tooth surfaces, which can lead to a variety of future dental problems.
It’s clear most adults are not flossing on a regular basis, and unfortunately, children are no different. But parents can help change that for the better.
Dentists recommend children begin flossing (with parent’s help) after their teeth begin touching each other. Essentially, once the gaps that little ones tend to have close up, flossing becomes beneficial in removing food and plaque trapped between teeth.
When it comes to kids, it’s important for oral hygiene to be fun so that daily flossing becomes second nature in their oral hygiene routines moving forward. There are colorful, flavored kids’ flossers available to start children on their flossing journeys. These can be ordered online or found at any grocery store in a variety of brands and price points.
There is also the Waterpik and the Airfloss, both of which definitely kicks the act of traditional flossing up a few notches. The Waterpik works well, but parents will have to assist children with its use, and it tends to be quite messy because of the stream of water being used. The Airfloss is cordless and less messy, but equally effective at cleaning in between teeth. Both can be decorated with fun stickers and jazzed up to suit your child’s personality.
Another less expensive option is called an interdental flosser; the tool resembles a mini toothbrush and is efficient at getting in between teeth to remove debris very well. Regardless of the apparatus, you choose for your family, remember to make flossing fun. Play music, floss together or actually do the “floss” with your child after you finish flossing your teeth. Another fun idea for younger children is to create a sticker chart for tracking their flossing progress and rewarding them after a certain number of stickers are earned.
Even if you have your children on a steady routine of brushing their teeth, flossing, using a fluoride rinse and making healthy eating choices, scheduling bi-annual dentist appointments is still imperative. Kids should see a dentist twice a year, beginning no later than their first birthday and continuing indefinitely into adulthood.
Unfortunately, some families believe they can’t afford to see a dentist, but recent studies conducted by First Things First show that 1 in 5 parents surveyed reported their child had AHCCCS insurance but also said they had no dental coverage. This is an incorrect belief because, in Arizona, dental insurance for children is part of the AHCCCS plan and includes office visits and cleanings for children, typically at no cost to the policyholder.