Welcome, Dr. Lauren Heisinger to the Where Smiles Grow Family. Click here to read more!

Specializing in dentistry for infants, children & adolescents.

Kids flossing guide: Tips for parents teaching their children to floss


Create a healthy smile for life with flossing

Every parent wants what’s best for their child. From preventing tooth decay to gum disease, flossing is an important part of everyone’s dental care routine. That’s why we’ve put together this flossing guide to help your little ones learn this valuable dental habit early on.

Come with us as we explain the importance of flossing as well as how you can teach and motivate your children!

When should my child start flossing?

It’s recommended that your child should start flossing as early as possible so that they have time to get used to this process.  However, the time to make sure you are flossing your child’s teeth is when they are close together and contacting, which usually occurs around 3-4 years old but is different for every child. When teeth contact it becomes extremely hard to remove plaque in-between teeth with only a toothbrush. Even if you’re the one needing to floss for your child, the sooner you begin helping them floss their teeth, the earlier you’ll establish good flossing habits that can last a lifetime.

Most of the time kids won’t be able to floss on their own until they’re older. So, having a parent or caregiver help them learn is important.

The importance of flossing your child’s teeth

If you visit the dentist regularly, you should already know the importance of brushing AND flossing your teeth.  We only get one set of permanent teeth, so good habits to keep your teeth and gums healthy are essential and these habits should start early.

As your child ages, brushing by itself won’t get rid of the plaque that leads to cavities, gum disease, or tooth decay. That’s where flossing comes in. It serves as a great way to safely remove food particles and plaque in areas where a toothbrush can’t reach.

If your child is too young to floss for themselves, you may need to floss for them and gradually teach them how to floss correctly. Next, let’s go over how you can teach your child how to floss.

How to teach your child how to floss

Depending on how old your child is, it may take a little patience to help your kid learn how to floss. But, with enough practice, your child will start to learn the correct way to clean their teeth and soon they will know how to floss like a boss! Below, we’ve listed the two traditional ways your child can floss:

1. The spool method

Also called the finger wrap method, the spool method is four easy steps that will help your child learn flossing in no time.

  1. Take an 18- to 20-inch piece of floss
  2. Gently wrap both ends around each middle finger
  3. With your index fingers and thumb, begin to carefully move the floss up and down between the teeth (avoid making a side-to-side motion)
  4. Move the floss up and down (making sure to go below the gum line) and bend it to form a C on the side of the teeth

2. The loop method

The loop method is another well-known flossing method. It’s sometimes referred to as the circle method. You and your little one can do it in six steps.

  1. Take an 18-inch piece of floss
  2. Tie it in a circle
  3. Now, place your fingers, except the thumb, within the loop
  4. Use your index fingers to help guide the floss up and down your lower teeth
  5. Use your thumbs to gently guide your floss through the upper teeth
  6. Go below the gum line, bending the floss to form a C on each side of the tooth

Important note: If your child’s gums bleed at first, this can be a sign that your gums aren’t used to good flossing. This is completely normal. However, if they continue to bleed, it may be a sign they’re flossing too hard.  Make sure to ask your dentist or dental hygienist at your next visit for additional recommendations on how best to floss.

How to motivate your child to floss

Being a role model to your child is key in instilling a great flossing habit. There are some great tips we can share to help motivate your child to learn and continue to floss. We’ve listed the following tricks and tips to get your child started:

  • Make it a goal to floss daily with your child.
  • Show your child how to properly floss on yourself so they can see what it looks like.
  • Have your older children floss in front of your younger child to act as a role model for them
  • Let your child pick out their favorite type of floss. If string floss is too challenging for your child, opt for kids dental floss picks. They come in multiple colors, shapes, and flavors. Or even try a water flosser.
  • Encourage your kids to gently floss between their teeth. This way they’re not hurting their gums, which could lead to discomfort or even an infection.
  • Play music or hum a song while you and your child floss.
  • Create an oral hygiene sticker chart that allows your kid to eventually win a prize based on how many stickers they’ve earned.

Need more advice: Contact us

Starting a new routine takes time and patience, especially with a little one. If you have any questions about when your child should start flossing or how to floss your child’s teeth, contact us. Here, at Where Smiles Grow, we’re ready to help make sure your child’s teeth are healthy at every stage of childhood.