Even young children need to practice good oral hygiene to protect their teeth and gums from oral health problems. Baby teeth — also called primary teeth — may be temporary, but they’re still vulnerable to cavities and oral health problems that can affect the development of their permanent teeth. Instilling good oral hygiene habits when they’re young can set them up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
At Oasis Pediatric Dental Care & Orthodontics in Falls Church, Virginia, Nathalie Phaeton, DDS, Ki Youn Kil, DDS, and our pediatric dentistry team are experts in providing dental services for children and teens.
The dangers of not flossing early
The point of flossing is to remove food residue and bacteria that the toothbrush leaves behind. Flossing is specifically done to get food between the teeth and below the gumline, where bristles of a toothbrush may not reach.
If flossing isn’t done, plaque and tartar can build up. And, if plaque and tartar buildup is left unchecked, this could lead to cavities and gum disease. And despite the fact that gum disease and tooth loss are more common in adults over age 65, gum disease and tooth loss can occur much earlier.
Furthermore, if good dental hygiene habits are not learned early, this could lead to a lifetime of poor oral health. And if this happens, this could lead to poor outcomes. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, as many as 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, and nearly 40 million are missing all of their teeth. However, teaching your child to brush and floss early in life may help avert these issues later.
Getting started on flossing
Very young children won’t be able to floss on their own, so you’ll have to do it for them for the first few years. Every child is different, but in general, you should start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they start to fit closely together, which is typically between ages 2-6.
If you’re not sure what to do, we can help you find the best tools and master the right techniques to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy at every stage of development. Furthermore, we recommend that you schedule your child’s first visit either six months after their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday.
Brushing and flossing, along with a healthy diet and regular dental checkups and cleanings are the best tools available against tooth decay and gum disease. The earlier your children learn the ins and outs of oral health and form good oral hygiene habits, the more likely they’ll be to keep those habits going into adulthood.
For more information on how to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy, call 703-498-2440 or book an appointment online with Oasis Pediatric Dental Care & Orthodontics today.