Cavities between the teeth are slow, insidious and begin showing up between age 3 and 5 years old. They account for 90% of cavities that I see; the majority of them happening between 5 and 9 years old. I cannot apply preventive sealants between teeth. Tooth brushing will not clean between the teeth. Flossing will, however, and will help protect those areas. Since brushing will not help prevent these cavities, lets make flossing easy and bring it up high in the parent priority list.
Floss anywhere. At evening story time on the couch, children can lay with head on your lap, looking up with mouth open wide. It is easy to see in that mouth and the head is supported, making the job quick, easy and comfortable for the younger kids. Some parents floss when the kids are in bed. For the flossing to be effective for children, it only needs to slide past the tight spot between the teeth and then slide back out. Simple.
Caution: Kids get very independent minded and insist on flossing themselves. Many haven’t developed adequate hand skills yet. They go through the motions with the limp floss that does not get between the teeth and are rudely surprised later when cavities show up. It is too late then, when we point out to the parents that the children have not been using the floss effectively.