Why do children and adolescents neglect dental flossing?

Eur Arch Paediatr Dent. 2017 Feb;18(1):45-50. doi: 10.1007/s40368-016-0266-4. Epub 2017 Jan 30.


Aim: To identify the variables and actual difficulties related to children and adolescents' non-compliance with dental flossing.

Methods: This cross-sectional study with 36 children and 59 adolescents were selected from dental clinics at the Dental School, University of São Paulo. The percentage of surfaces with disclosed biofilm was used to evaluate general oral hygiene. Participants answered questions concerning dental flossing (difficulties, self-reported motivation, and previous instruction). An examiner observed how the participants flossed their teeth and their possible faults. Univariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed and odds ratio values were calculated in order to verify the association between non-compliance (or difficulties) with flossing and possible reasons for that.

Results: Similar non-compliance with daily flossing was observed among children and adolescents (p = 0.95). Children's flossing negligence was strongly associated with self-reported laziness in flossing (p = 0.02), and negatively associated with their previous practice by some dentists (p = 0.009). Self-described difficulties in flossing also showed an association with laziness in flossing (p = 0.03). No association was found between negligence of flossing and all variables tested among adolescents (p ≥ 0.05).

Conclusions: Low compliance and difficulties in flossing among children and adolescents seemed to be more related to lack of motivation, although problems concerning manual skills were also observed.

Keywords: Adolescent; Child; Compliance; Dental floss.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brazil
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Devices, Home Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Oral Hygiene / statistics & numerical data*