When to start flossing your child’s teeth

By Hannah   — October 25, 2016
  • Why you should floss
    1 / 5 Why you should floss

    The daily flossing of your teeth helps to keep them healthy.

    Despite recent reports that there is a lack of strong evidence showing that flossing can prevent cavities or severe gum disease, dental specialists in Singapore maintain that flossing is important for oral hygiene.

    “Flossing helps to get rid of plaque and food debris trapped between teeth,” said Dr Helena Lee, a periodontist from Specialist Dental Group. “These cannot be removed by brushing, which works well only on exposed tooth surfaces.

    “If flossing is not done and plaque accumulates, it would lead to gum disease and tooth decay.”

    Flossing is the use of dental floss or thread to clean between the teeth.

    Dr Lee said that, after 23 years of being a dentist, she is convinced of its benefits.

    Gum disease, for instance, occurs when the tissues that support your teeth become infected. It does not occur overnight, but progresses through various stages.

    Bleeding gums is an early symptom that is often dismissed, said Dr Lee. “If left untreated, it may lead to gum disease.”

    This is when the infection destroys the bone that supports the teeth. The teeth will become loose and will have to be extracted, said Dr Jerry Lim of Orchard Scotts Dental.

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  • Don't be stingy with the floss
    2 / 5 Don't be stingy with the floss

    Use a 30cm-long string of floss, which allows you to wrap it around the middle fingers of each hand. As you floss and particles are picked up with the flossing, use a new section of the string for the next area.

    Related: Healthy teeth for kids: 5 common problems 

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  • Floss once a day
    3 / 5 Floss once a day

    Plaque builds up around and between teeth daily. Most plaque hardens into tartar within days, so flossing should be done every day. Tartar build-up can cause gum disease, and tartar can only be removed with special tools at the dental clinic.

    Related: Lazy kid won’t brush teeth: here’s what you can do 

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  • Bleeding a little is normal
    4 / 5 Bleeding a little is normal

    If you are flossing for the first time, it is quite common for your gums to bleed. If this happens, it is because your gum tissue is irritated by the bacteria in the plaque, causing it to bleed at the slightest amount of pressure. 

    The bleeding should stop as your gums become healthier. See your dentist if the bleeding persists.

    Related: Healthy teeth for kids: 8 expert tips 

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  • Children should floss too
    5 / 5 Children should floss too

    Once a child’s primary, or baby, teeth start to touch each other, parents can help to floss their teeth. This occurs between the ages of two and six, Dr Lee said. Even though baby teeth are not permanent, it is important to care for them as they will last until your child turns 12.

    Dr Jerry Lim of Orchard Scotts Dental said the habit of flossing should be inculcated once a child has developed manual dexterity by the ages of eight and nine.

    Related: Fear of dentist: how to help your child overcome it 

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