You should already understand the importance of teaching your children to brush twice a day and avoid sugary snacks and drinks. After all, it's vital to start developing a strong respect for oral health early on, even if those baby teeth are eventually going to fall out and be replaced.
However, many parents aren't quite as aware of how important it is to teach their children to floss. Ideally, you should really start flossing your baby's teeth as soon as they come through and then continue until they develop the dexterity to take care of the task themselves. You might well be thinking that it sounds ridiculous to start flossing so early, but there are several very important reasons why you should.
Flossing is just as important as brushing
Unfortunately, many people still see brushing as something you need to do and flossing as something that isn't quite as important. In reality, getting to the spaces between the teeth is just as important as getting to the more accessible surfaces. When your child drinks a sugary fruit juice or chews on some sticky candy, it's going to get between the teeth just as much as along the surfaces. In fact, it's quite easy for that stickier stuff to get caught between the teeth.
If you make sure your children brush their teeth but don't take care of flossing, you're only going to reinforce the idea that flossing isn't very important. If you want your children to continue caring for their teeth properly throughout their lives, you need to start now.
Baby teeth are more vulnerable to decay
You might think that it's okay to be a little less vigilant with baby teeth since they won't be in the mouth for very long. However, you should keep in mind that baby teeth are a lot more vulnerable to decay than permanent teeth. This is because the enamel and dentin, the first two layers of a tooth, are thinner in baby teeth, while the pulp is much larger.
Baby teeth are necessary placeholders
Reports suggest that half of 6-year-old children have tooth decay in their baby teeth, with a 78% increase from 1996 to 2010, and experts report that children as young as 18 months old are having to have their baby teeth extracted due to decay. These are obviously troubling statistics. As well as being unpleasant in their own right, a baby tooth extraction can negatively affect the permanent teeth. The baby teeth effectively act as placeholders for the permanent teeth, so it's likely that permanent teeth will come in crooked if the baby teeth had to be pulled some time ago. Brushing can help prevent decay, but adding flossing into the mix can drastically improve your child's chances of keeping their baby teeth in good condition.
Talk with a family dentist if you have concerns about your child's oral health.