little girl flossing

Many parents ask the question: if my child’s teeth aren’t permanent, how important is it for him to floss? To which we answer: extremely! Your child’s baby teeth aren’t just taking up space until they fall out, they allow your child to chew, speak, and smile properly. Without proper oral hygiene, these functions can be impaired. 

Baby teeth also hold space in the jaws for developing permanent teeth. When a baby tooth falls out too early because of decay or trauma, the permanent teeth are more likely to come in crooked. While using floss won’t help fight against trauma, it will remove food particles and bacteria from the hardest to reach places to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Because of this, pediatric dentists like Dr. Matt and the American Dental Association recommend teaching children to floss when they have two teeth that touch. 

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, teaching your child to floss now will set him or her up for oral and overall health success in the future! 

Here are five surprising benefits of dental floss: 

1. Reduces bad breath

This is probably a little less shocking but flossing also reduces bad breath. If you’ve noticed your child constantly has bad breath despite good brushing habits, give floss a try! 

Allowing tartar to remain on your teeth is like your child leaving a glass of unfinished milk under his bed– over time, it will make itself known (and you’ll probably be the first one to smell it!). 

Have your child floss regularly for a week and see if you notice an improvement. If not, contact your pediatric dentist for an appointment. 

2. Prevents gingivitis

Flossing removes plaque buildup on the gum line that leads to gingivitis. The first sign of gingivitis (which is the first stage of gum disease) is bleeding gums. However, don’t be alarmed if your child’s gums bleed the first few times he flosses– this is normal. 

If your child’s bleeding gums are also red and swollen, a trip to your pediatric dentist may be necessary. 

3. Reduces risk of heart disease

Heart disease is often associated with gingivitis. Bleeding gums opens the pathway for bacteria to enter into the bloodstream and attack the heart. This may result in heart disease or blood clots. Daily flossing is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of heart disease (especially in men). 

You probably aren’t worried about your child developing heart disease now, but in twenty years, you’ll be glad you taught him how to floss. 

4. Controls diabetes

As surprising as it sounds, flossing and diabetes have something in common– oral bacteria. For children and adults with diabetes, the removal of oral bacteria with dental floss actually helps stabilize glucose levels. 

To experience this benefit, consistency is key. Be sure to floss at least once a day to eliminate as much bacteria as possible. 

5. Reduces risk of pulmonary disease

When our mouths are healthy, the rest of the body benefits. This is because the mouth is a direct channel to the other organs in the body, including the respiratory system. Sometimes, the oral bacteria in our mouths find their way into the lungs and can lead to bronchitis and pneumonia. 

However, this only happens when there are large amounts of bad bacteria in our mouths. Dental floss is a sure way to limit the number of disease-causing bacteria. 

Types of floss

There are several types of floss to choose from:

  • Flavored floss
  • Dental tape
  • Monofilament floss
  • Floss pick
  • Waxed and unwaxed floss

It doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as you do choose one!

Flossing for fun

Teaching your child good oral hygiene habits is no easy task, but it can be done! Check out this blog to learn how to floss properly and ways to make it enjoyable for your little one.

Along with brushing and flossing, be sure to schedule regular dental appointments with a pediatric dentist near you to keep your child’s smile bright and healthy. 

To schedule an appointment at our kid-friendly dental office, call (913) 685-9990 today. 

preteen with toothbrush curlers and alarm clock

Does your little one have a meltdown when it’s time to brush his teeth? When it comes to teens’ dental care, is your kiddo “so over it?” All you need are these awesome tips to help make brushing and flossing fun for kids of all ages (and for parents, too)!

No More Tantrums from Preschoolers when It’s Time to Brush

Those tiny preschoolers have BIG personalities and BIGGER opinions about personal hygiene.

Parents can make life a lot easier by implementing these tips into the morning and evening dental hygiene routine.

  • Allow your child to pick his or her toothbrush. Having a bright toothbrush with a favorite character can help a preschooler look forward to brushing “with a friend.” 
  • Let your child choose her toothpaste. While you may not appreciate bubblegum-flavored toothpaste, your child might love it – and that’s okay. Start with a tiny blip of paste. When your child has begun to spit, you can increase the amount of toothpaste to the size of a green pea.
  • Sing the alphabet while brushing. Not only will your child enjoy the attention, but you’ll teach good oral habits as well as the ABCs. Kids (and adults) should brush for two minutes.
  • A brushing chart like this one can provide just the incentive your little one needs. Once a chart is filled with great results, go on a family outing as a reward.
  • Read fun books to your child about the benefits of brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist.
  • In regards to flossing, don’t skip it! Use a threaded flosser if it’s easier for you. This activity helps preschoolers understand the importance of flossing.

School Kids Still Need Mom or Dad to Oversee Brushing and Flossing

As children grow, their dental hygiene habits should grow with them. Adults should continue to be the primary brushers until children reach the age of 7.

After that, however, it is important to continue to monitor them and make sure they are properly flossing and brushing all teeth, especially the back ones. Kids tend to get a little sloppy, with cleaning their room, feeding the pets, and brushing and flossing. Do a breath-check and smile inspection before leaving the house in the morning!

To ensure that your child brushes for a full two minutes, set a timer or play a song they enjoy that lasts for two minutes.

Let’s talk about electric toothbrushes. Studies show that the aren’t more effective than a manual brush but, and this is a big BUT, people tend to brush longer when using electric toothbrushes. So, if your kiddo isn’t brushing thoroughly, it may be time to go electric.

Ways that a parent can help their kids reduce the risk of cavities:

  • Brush twice a day
  • Add an antibacterial mouthwash
  • Floss daily
  • Dental sealants
  • Fluoride treatment at the dentist
  • Visit the dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings
  • Eat a healthy diet, limiting sugars and other starches
  • Drink WATER – all day long, drink, drink, drink!
  • No sodas, sports drinks, or energy drinks

Hormones Make Teens’ Dental Care Imperative

Preteens and teenagers seem to care little oral health, and yet it can be the most important time for diligence in dental hygiene. This is especially true for kids who wear braces.

Keep your older children interested in dental hygiene by utilizing ideas important to them.

For instance, most pre-teens and teenagers are overly interested in their appearance. Help them understand how good oral care helps them look and feel better.

  • Send them to soccer practice with a pack of sugar-free gum.
  • Pack their camp bag with threaded flossers and sugar-free mints.
  • You can also help them appreciate the importance of fresh breath. In other words, their friends will enjoy being around them and talking with them more if their breath is fresh and minty.
  • Be creative. Find ways to keep oral health important for your teenager. Even if it means offering rewards.
  • Continue routine visits with the dentist every six months.
  • Check those smiles daily to make sure they’re brushing and flossing!
  • If the mouthwash bottle isn’t getting lighter, then they aren’t using the mouthwash.

For athletic children and teens, a custom-made mouthguard will help protect them from traumatic injuries to the mouth and teeth. Ask Dr. Hillman about a mouthguard at your next visit.

How to Encourage Good Dental Hygiene Practices

Led by Dr. Matt Hillman, our caring, energy-filled team loves catering to the special, unique needs of children and providing teens’ dental care. Located in Overland Park, SmilesDentistry4Kids is accepting new patients. Call (913) 685-9990 today to schedule your appointment.

HAPPY BRUSHING! (And flossing).

We are excited to welcome Dr Tara Craven to the Smiles Dentistry for Kids team!Learn More