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Oral Health

Dental care from prenatal to adolescence

Dental Care for Kids

Dental care is important from an early age. Though baby teeth will eventually fall out, caring for baby teeth is crucial to prevent tooth decay as well as the pain and infection that can even lead to problems with your child’s growth, eating, speaking and learning.

Have your child visit a dentist regularly, or every 6 months, so your dentist can help you with ways to prevent and treat tooth decay in your child.

Oral Hygiene

The foundation of dental health for your child’s teeth is regular brushing and flossing. Here are tips on when and how to clean your child’s teeth and gums.


1. Brush twice a day for 2 minutes

Brush your child’s teeth for 2 minutes after breakfast, and for another 2 minutes right before bed.

They start, you finish: Your child may find it fun to brush their own teeth and can start off the process. However, you should complete their brushing until they are old enough to tie their own shoelaces or cut food with a knife and fork on their own.

2. Use a “pea-sized” amount of toothpaste

If your child is 3 or over, use a “pea-sized” amount of fluoridated toothpaste to brush the teeth. When your child is able to spit out their toothpaste, they can graduate to an increased amount.

3. Gently brush the teeth in circles

Using gentle circles brush the teeth at a 45 degree angle to clean along the gums, being careful not to scrub too hard as this can hurt your child’s gums. Cavities can form on the front, back and top of teeth, so clean every surface of every tooth.

4. Remember to floss

If your child’s teeth touch together, you should floss between the teeth once a day. Floss sticks are a great way to help you floss for your child.

Diet

A healthy diet is key to preventing tooth decay. Use these diet tips to help keep your child’s mouth healthy.


Don'ts

Kids diet donts

  • Avoid snacking on foods high in sugar such as candy, cookies, granola bars and dried fruits throughout the day. Even starchy foods such as crackers, chips and bread can be as harmful to the teeth as candy.
  • Limit giving milk, juice and sweetened drinks to regularly scheduled meal and snack times.
  • Always choose 100% unsweetened juice – and be sure to limit it to 1 cup a day.

Dos

kids diet dos

  • Eat a balanced diet of healthy foods. Canada’s Good Guide is a great resource.

  • Keep your child hydrated with water in between meals.

  • Pick snacks that help fight tooth decay such as cheeses, nuts, meats and firm/crunchy fruits and vegetables.



Dental Care for Infants & Toddlers

Dental care starts even before your baby’s first tooth grows in. Visit the dentist with your child for their first check-up by age 1 or by the time the first tooth erupts to get the tools and advice you need to prevent your child from developing tooth decay.

Oral Hygiene

The foundation of dental health for your baby or toddler’s teeth is regular gum wiping and brushing. Here are tips on when and how to clean your child’s teeth and gums.


1. Wipe your child’s mouth and gums

Wipe your newborn’s gums with a soft, clean, damp cloth after every feeding until their first tooth appears. This will wipe away bacteria and help your child grow comfortable with having their mouth cleaned.

To avoid transferring bacteria that can cause tooth decay, don’t share toothbrushes, pacifiers or utensils with your child.

2. Use a soft baby toothbrush

When teeth first appear, clean them with a soft bristle toothbrush appropriately sized for your child’s age.

3. Use a “rice grain” amount of toothpaste

Brush your child’s teeth with water or toothpaste as soon as teeth appear. If your child is under 3 years of age, use a “smear” or “rice grain” amount of toothpaste to brush. Speak to your dentist about using fluoridated toothpaste.

4. Gently brush the teeth in circles

Using gentle circles brush the teeth at a 45 degree angle to clean along the gums, being careful not to scrub too hard as this can hurt your child’s gums. Cavities can form on the front, back and top of teeth, so clean every surface of every tooth.

Diet

A healthy diet is key to preventing tooth decay. Use these diet tips to help keep your child’s mouth healthy.


Don'ts

infants diet donts

  • Don’t let your child sleep while breastfeeding, or with a bottle of formula, juice or milk in their mouth.
  • Prolonged use of bottles can increase the risk of tooth decay. Start weaning them at 12 months, with the goal of being bottle-free by 18 months.
  • Juice and sweetened drinks should be limited to 1 cup a day during regularly scheduled meal and snack times, and always use 100% unsweetened juice.

Dos

infants diet dos

  • Breast milk gives your baby nutrition and immune factors that help fight infections.
  • Use water in between meals for thirsty children, especially if they use sippy cups or bottles.
  • Help your baby learn to drink from an open cup to help prevent tooth decay.

Prenatal Dental Care

Pregnant Mom

Good oral hygiene is especially important while pregnant, as healthy moms are more likely to have healthy babies. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. (Fluoride toothpaste is safe to use during pregnancy.)
  • Floss everyday.
  • A small amount of bleeding from your gums is normal.
  • Your mouth may become dry and cause bad breath because of hormonal changes.
  • Toothaches may be due to cavities or gum disease.
  • If you have pain or discomfort, do not wait, go to a dentist.
Pregnant Mom