Posted by Jack Fan Jun 03, 2018

As a parent of small children, you want to do everything you can to make sure they have a healthy smile for life. In addition to getting regular dental care, helping them establish good hygiene habits early is a crucial part of setting them up for good oral health down the road. But what’s the best age for them to start flossing? They don’t have the motor skills to use a piece of floss or even children’s flossers on their own until they’re around 6-8 years old, so can you wait until then, or should you start earlier? Find out what a family dentist in Oak Hill has to say on the matter below!


Flossing is beneficial for children for the same reasons that it’s important for adults. Brushing alone only removes about 2/3 of the bacteria in a child’s mouth, no matter how well they brush, because the bristles simply can’t reach all the nooks and crannies where bacteria can hide.

But floss removes the bacteria from these areas in between the teeth and under the gumline, where it can otherwise cause cavities and gum disease. That’s why flossing prevents the need for fillings and other dental work – it removes the source of the problem!

In addition, childhood is a great time to introduce flossing because children accept it as a normal part of the hygiene routine. It’s much harder to start the habit as an adult!


You should start flossing your child’s teeth when their teeth start to touch, usually between ages 3-6. In many cases, there are spaces between a child’s front teeth, so you primarily need to focus on the back teeth.

Here are some tips for incorporating flossing into their routine:

  • Brush and floss together – Kids love to imitate you, so a great way to encourage them is to floss your own teeth while they’re brushing theirs. When they’re done brushing, it’s their turn! Not only can you help them floss, you can also make sure they did a good job brushing at the same time.
  • Find the right floss – Kids’ flossers are a convenient tool for many parents and kids because they have a pre-threaded piece of floss on a plastic handle, which is much easier to maneuver than string floss.
  • Use positive reinforcement – Using a reward system to encourage your kids is always helpful. You could put a sticker on the calendar for each day they floss or use one of the many apps that offer rewards for regular flossing.

And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help at your child’s next checkup with a family dentist. Sometimes hearing about the importance of flossing from a dentist or seeing a short demonstration on technique can make a huge difference!


Dr. Jack Fan is a general dentist in Oak Hill who builds lifelong relationships with his patients. He especially loves watching his pediatric patients grow into adolescence and adulthood. He knows that when children establish good hygiene habits, they usually need significantly less dental work over the course of their life. If you have any questions, he can be reached via his website or at (512) 361-4288.


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