Tuesday, April 14, 2015

First Comes Brushing, Then Comes Flossing!

By: Amy Requa, MSN, CRNP

We have all heard about the key elements to excellent oral health and hygiene for young children: brushing their teeth twice a day, before bed and after breakfast, with a smear of fluoride toothpaste on a soft child-sized toothbrush; providing tooth-healthy drinks, such as water, instead of sugary beverages; flossing between teeth as soon as you see that they are touching each other; and taking your child for regular check-ups starting when the first tooth erupts. We’ve discussed creating good brushing habits with your children and starting regular check-ups when their first tooth appears, but what happens after they have been seen by the dentist and are on the way to mastering daily dental routines? 

On one of our recent posts, a mom mentioned that her little one likes to dip his/her toothbrush into a cup of mouthwash and rinse with that. It got me thinking, as I am sure many children would love to do that. What does it do to their teeth/mouth? Is it safe? 

The instructions on the label of mouthwashes is that children under six should not use the product. This is likely due to the fact that many, but not all, mouthwashes have a form of alcohol in their liquid and it is not safe to be swallowed in large amounts. This is something you will want to discuss with your child’s dentist. There’s no need to wait for your child’s next dental visit, just pick up the phone and call your dentist and ask for current recommendations! 

Also, it is important to understand that any ingredient that limits our normal production of saliva will actually be counterproductive and can even lead to more decay of our teeth. Saliva is very beneficial because it has a buffering effect on the “acid attack,” composed of acid waste products that are created when the bacteria in our mouths digest sugars and carbohydrates.
If your children are anxious to start copying your mouth washing techniques, my suggestion is to teach them how to floss instead. Flossing between two teeth that are touching is helpful because it breaks down the build-up of plaque between the teeth, which is essential to do because the toothbrush bristles cannot get in-between the teeth that are tightly spaced. It is important to help children with flossing because they do not have the manual dexterity to floss by themselves until they can write cursive. Be sure to move the floss gently under the gum line, where the germs causing decay are more likely to grow because that is where it’s dark and warm. The gum line is also where there are leftover food particles hanging out (which the germs love to eat). Flossing between our own teeth and our child’s teeth on a daily basis will disrupt the plaque traps and prevent the germs from building up. By demonstrating flossing between our own teeth on a daily basis, our children will want to copy us. 

The manufactured “flossers” for children are very helpful because they are easier to grasp for small fingers and they fit into small mouths more easily, plus they are colorful and animated looking! 

Have your children tried flossing? What age did they start? Remember to check out Choosy Kids CD and DVD collection for brushing songs and videos!




About the Author: Amy Requa, MSN, CRNP, CPNP-PC, is a board certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. She has 20 years of experience in public health nursing, maternal and child health, family and community health promotion and has extensive health expertise in oral health, childhood obesity prevention and child nutrition. Click here to learn more about Amy.

23 comments :

  1. My daughter started flossing after a horrible dentist appointment where she was diagnosed with 12 cavities! Mostly between the back teeth. They could have been prevented if we had only started to floss sooner. It's still a struggle. In fact, she has a dentist appointment in 30 minutes to get another cavity filled.

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    1. 12! Wow! Poor thing. Hopefully she learned a valuable lesson that sticks with her for life.

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  2. My boys are almost 3 and enjoy brushing their teeth most of the time (I do it for them still but they do it too). I've glossed them a couple,times but need to start doing it more regularly so they get used to it. Great tips to take good care of those baby choppers.

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    1. It is so hard to get kids to brush, let alone floss so great work mom!!!

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  3. I still have to remind my 9 yr old to brush and floss LOL. It's not that he doesn't want to brush them but he gets so busy playing that he forgets. All I have to do is mention the word "cavity" and he is in there faster than I can even finish saying it LOL

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    1. And I am sure you'll have to keep reminding him even at 16, 25, 30+ :)

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  4. My daughter loves the flossers! We also did mouthwash, mainly because she was curious, but we just finished it and I don't plan on buying another bottle for a while.

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    1. Flossers give the kids some independence to their brushing and flossing routine. Regular floss can be very hard to control. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. My daughter loves brushing her teeth. She always brushes first, then I brush to make sure we get everything. I hadn't even thought about flossing yet. But her teeth aren't really touching yet so I probably have a few more months...

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    1. You're lucky that your little one likes to brush! Keep up the awesome work!

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  6. Wow! What a good post. Reminds me that I need to introduce flossing to my preschooler.

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    1. Yup! Now would be a great time!! Good luck!

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  7. We have four 4 year-old children. They floss using the adult flossers which are mint flavored and are easy for them to handle. I am guessing that they are also a better price in bulk than those designed for children. That helps us given we go through a lot of them! I also floss them too at other meals so that it is done more thoroughly and no teeth are skipped.

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    1. Wow- 4! Great job with getting them hooked on flossing!!!

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  8. My kids love flossing only because of these types of picks. When it was the string floss, they'd never do it.

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    1. Aren't they a great little invention?! I love that they are easier than regular floss!

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  9. I am so thankful my daughter loves brushing! I have the opposite problem where she wants to brush her teeth 16389 times a day and too much isn't good either.... I'm told it's a sensory kinda thing and kiddos that love brushing love the extra imput it gives them so I'm just Waiting for the day she grows out of asking to brush every 5 minutes lol...

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    1. I think it is an obsession at first and then will just become more routine. No worries!

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  10. My husband uses plackers and the little guy is always trying to take his. I'll have to get him some of his own.

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  11. looks like this is fun for the kids which makes them want to do it more

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  12. I love using flossers, and I can see why kids would like to use them, they really are fun!

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  13. You make a great point about how it is important for children to floss as well. If you only brush, you actually leave 30% of your total teeth surfaces uncleaned. The dentist saying about how "you only need to floss the teeth you want to keep" is true. Teaching your children how to floss properly can help reduce their cavities. http://www.galleriadentalcentre.ca/en/products_and_services.html

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  14. I've always struggled with finding ways to make it easier to take care of my children's teeth. The recommendations in this post were terrific and gave me hope that making sure my kids’ smile and teeth are healthy won’t be as challenging in the future. Thanks for such a great post and I hope to learn more from you about ways in which I can help better care for my kids’ teeth!

    Sharon Woods @ Fall Spark Dentistry

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