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Flossing

Flossing should be started when your child is around 2 to 3 years of age, under the direction of your child's dentist. Prior to this age, flossing is not necessary. Children usually need assistance with flossing until they are 8 to 10 years of age.

The importance of flossing:

Brushing teeth properly and consistently helps to remove most dental plaque; however, brushing alone cannot remove plaque that is located in places that a toothbrush cannot reach, particularly in-between teeth. In addition to removing plaque, flossing also helps to:

Picture of young girl flossing her teeth

Flossing should take place at least once a day for two to three minutes each time to be most effective.

Types of dental floss:

Regular, consistent flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque, perhaps more important than the toothbrush. The different types of dental floss include the following:

Flossing methods:

Your child's dentist or other oral healthcare provider can provide a demonstration of any of the following flossing techniques. They include:

Picture of a young girl being instructed by her dentist on how to floss

Other flossing techniques:

Flossing tools, such as a prethreaded flosser or floss holder may be helpful for people who are just learning how to floss, individuals with limited dexterity in their arms and/or hands, or persons who are flossing the teeth of someone else (particularly a child or disabled person).

Irrigating devices, such as waterpicks, are not considered a substitute for brushing and flossing. These devices may be effective around orthodontic braces that retain food or in areas a toothbrush cannot reach. However, they do not remove plaque.

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