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Should Kids Floss Before or After Brushing?

Flossing is one of the most important oral hygiene practices you can teach your child. If you want your child to have healthy teeth and a healthy smile, you can’t overlook the importance of flossing. 

We sometimes get a question from parents about whether their kids should be flossing before or after brushing their teeth. It’s a great question!

Of course, we love to see kids flossing their teeth every day, regardless of whether they do it before or after they brush their teeth. That said, there are benefits to flossing first and brushing second. 

The most important thing is for kids to brush their teeth and floss regularly. Whether they floss then brush, or brush then floss, this healthy habit is going to help both today and in the long term.

A father and son flossing their teeth together after brushing

Should Kids Floss Before Brushing Their Teeth?

Most people tend to brush first, then floss. 

It’s hard to say where this pattern started, but perhaps it is because it seems sensible to brush your teeth to get rid of any debris and food particles from your mouth first. Then, after your teeth are clean, you can floss those tight, harder-to-reach areas. 

However, research has shown that brushing after flossing has more health benefits than the other way around. 

We know that flossing can dislodge food particles from where they are stuck between teeth. If you have already brushed your teeth and then you floss, those debris just stay in your mouth until the next time you brush. 

Bacterial growth overnight is one of the leading causes of cavities, so it is important for kids to have the cleanest mouth possible at bedtime. 

It is more important to floss daily than to worry about whether flossing or brushing comes first. 

The Importance of Flossing

Why is flossing so important, anyway? 

Here’s a list of some of the biggest benefits of developing a daily flossing routine: 

We don’t think it’s possible to emphasize this enough: kids need to floss their teeth!

A young girl getting her teeth checked by a dentist

How often should your child floss? 

Children should floss their teeth every day before bed as part of a regular dental hygiene routine. 

While children are young, they will need help with flossing. They can eventually learn to floss on their own, but most young kids will need some help for the first several years of flossing. 

When parents help children develop this habit early, it will benefit them throughout their entire lives. 

At what age should kids start to floss? 

You don’t need to floss at the first sight of a baby tooth — or even a few baby teeth. 

Rather, you should start flossing when your child’s teeth get closer together and start to touch; this usually happens between the ages of 2 and 6.

Tips for Getting Kids to Floss

Okay, so let’s say that we have convinced you about the importance of flossing. The next question is: how do we get kids to actually floss?

Many of the creative ways for getting your kids to brush their teeth apply to flossing, too!

For example, you can use one of the following methods: 

How to floss a child’s teeth

There are two standard methods for flossing a child’s teeth: the spool method and the loop method.

The spool method (AKA: the finger-wrap method) goes like this: 

Here are the instructions for the loop (or circle) method: 

A young girl being taught how to floss her teeth by her dad

What about flossing picks? 

Parents often have questions about flossing picks, which may also be called flossing sticks. 

This handy, disposable tool has one end that you hold onto, and another end with a small piece of floss stretched between two pieces of plastic. Kids have small mouths, and sometimes it can be difficult for their trusted grown-ups to reach those molars. 

That’s where a flossing pick comes into play! 

You can reach further and easier with a flossing pick. It’s also a good tool for teaching kids to floss on their own, because these picks are easier to use than traditional floss. 

To use a flossing stick, follow these simple instructions: 

What’s More Important Than Flossing Before or After Brushing?

When building good dental hygiene habits with your kids, the most important thing to do is to make flossing a part of your routine.

Although there may be some benefits to flossing first and brushing second, the most important thing is that flossing happens at all! 

Ashburn Children’s Dentistry Helps Kids Keep Their Healthy Smiles 

At Ashburn, our team believes in taking a holistic and compassionate approach to pediatric dental care. We know that going to the dentist can be scary for some kids, especially if they have had any negative experiences elsewhere. 

We are committed to making your child’s experience at the dentist’s office fun, pleasant, and stress-free! 

Call our office today to set up an appointment for your child. 

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