Evaluating Flossing Alternatives for Children
Flossing is one of the most overlooked aspects of dental care, but it is also one of the most important. This is because whilst brushing is effective at removing plaque and bacteria from the larger surfaces of the teeth, only the flossing technique can successfully remove that which collects in the tiny gaps that form around and between our teeth. For this reason, pediatric dentists recommend that children are taught the importance of flossing from a very young age, and of course, how to floss their teeth. Nevertheless, there is no getting away from the fact that flossing using conventional dental floss can be tricky – especially for small hands. Children can be notoriously fussy and difficult to please, and as parents, we try and find ways to make typically ‘boring’ tasks like brushing their teeth as fun as possible for them. You may have bought a toothbrush with their favorite cartoon character on or bought a cool timer to teach them how long they need to brush their teeth for. But what do you do about flossing if your little one can’t get to grips with conventional dental floss? Fortunately, there are some alternatives available.
Also sometimes called water picks, these modern and effective tools are not dissimilar to something that you might find in your family dentistry offices. As you may have guessed, they use water to remove any bacteria and debris that may have accumulated in the hard to reach areas of your child’s mouth. This is made possible because the water is ejected with enough force to dislodge anything nasty from between the teeth. The process is painless, simple and easy, although as you might expect, it can get a little messy. Nevertheless, many children actually enjoy the process and find it quite fun – which makes it ideal to encourage regular use and boost your child’s dental health.
Very similar in technique, air flossing uses concentrated streams of air, combined with micro-droplets of water or mouthwash to remove all traces of plaque, bacteria and tiny food particles from the hardest to reach areas of the mouth. Like water flossers, air flossers are particularly good for older children who have braces since they can get around the brackets and wires much more easily than conventional floss can.
Why is flossing so important?
Many people don’t fully realize the importance of flossing and instead focus on removing the plaque only from the front of the teeth. Whilst this is essential too, it is debris that becomes trapped in the tiny, hard-to-reach spaces between teeth that is the primary cause of gum disease. Gum disease is an inflammatory condition that is progressive and left without treatment, can have serious consequences for your child’s dental health. The early symptoms of gum disease, which include red, swollen and inflamed gums which may bleed when your child brushes their teeth, can be easily overlooked. However, if the condition progresses, your child could suffer pain, infection, gum recession, deterioration of the jawbone and tooth loss. Studies have also shown links between poor dental hygiene and wider health problems such s diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Getting your child comfortable with flossing from an early age will help them to maintain healthy, functional and attractive teeth. It will also ensure that their teeth are in the best possible shape going into adulthood and give them a positive habit that will last a lifetime.
For more information and advice on flossing alternatives for children, please don’t hesitate to contact your family dentistry team by calling our offices.
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