The Benefits of Flossing

Teaching your youngster to floss may seem like a cumbersome task, but as with other important life skills, the training is worth the effort. The advantages of flossing far outweigh any inconveniences that might accompany the task.  

Why does flossing work?

Flossing helps remove edible debris from between your youngster’s teeth. This is an important component in your child’s oral hygiene regimen, especially as his or her adult teeth present, narrowing the interdental gaps. Once the spaces between the teeth are too narrow for the bristles of a toothbrush to clean them properly, flossing is needed.

When your child eats, bits of food and plaque may become trapped between the teeth. Plaque is formed as the bacteria in your child’s mouth mix with leftover food particles.

Removal of plaque is particularly important. The bacteria within plaque feed on the food left from snacks and meals and excrete acid during their digestion. This acid corrodes your child’s teeth to incite decay, causing cavities to form. It also inflames the gum tissue to promote periodontal disease.

Regular flossing removes food and plaque to help keep your child’s mouth healthy.

Benefits of Flossing

Here are some of the advantages that your child will enjoy with regular flossing:

  • Reduction in oral bacteria. Since bacterial acid is the primary cause of tooth decay, limiting the number of bacteria in your child’s mouth can lead to better dental health. Flossing removes the food supply of the bacteria as well as the microbes themselves.  
  • Fresher breath. Food left between the teeth can begin to rot in the mouth, emitting a foul odor. In addition, oral bacteria that can be removed by flossing may release volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that contribute to bad breath.
  • Less tartar buildup. Tartar forms when plaque hardens or calcifies. However, plaque can only harden in place if it is left undisturbed for a prolonged period.
  • Fewer cavities. The removal of decay-causing agents, such as plaque and oral bacteria, can result in fewer cavities for your little one.
  • Whiter teeth. Debris left between the teeth and along the gumline can cause the teeth to appear discolored. In addition, tartar has a yellow hue. Flossing removes the leftover food and discourages tartar production.
  • Healthier gums. Flossing can stimulate circulation in the gum tissue and help remove harmful substances that can cause inflammation.

Types of Floss

There are multiple types of floss from which to choose.

Conventional String Floss

String floss is usually constructed of nylon and is available in waxed and unwaxed variations. If your child’s teeth are already extremely close together, the waxed variety, which has a flatter, smoother construction, may be easiest to navigate between the teeth.

Floss Picks

If your child has trouble holding the floss during teeth-cleaning sessions, a floss pick may help. The picks are usually shaped like the letter P and can be used with one hand. They are not as flexible as traditional string floss, so a floss pick may not reach all of the nooks and crannies that conventional floss can. Nevertheless, they present a better alternative than not flossing at all.

Water Flossers

Water flossers or oral irrigators use a concentrated stream of water to clean debris from between the teeth and along the gumline. The flow of water can usually be controlled to suit the comfort of the user. In addition, since squirting water is involved in the activity, your child will likely enjoy water flossing.

A water flosser includes a reservoir to supply the water and a connected wand or probe that guides and releases the water stream. During the first few uses, your child’s flossing sessions may be a bit messy, but as the child learns to close his or her lips around the probe, splashing will be reduced.

How often should your child floss?

According to the American Dental Association, your child should floss at least once daily. By adding flossing to your child’s morning or nightly brushing session, it can become a regular part of the child’s dental routine.

If you would like assistance teaching your child about the benefits of flossing and demonstrating proper technique, contact our office to schedule an appointment. The sooner your youngster begins flossing, the sooner he or she can enjoy the oral health benefits associated with it.