Aren't they just baby teeth? Oral health tips for parents of young kids

Do you think you know how to keep your teeth healthy? It’s time to #BrushUpOnTheFacts, because there’s more we can all do to prevent the tooth decay and other dental issues that are common in Ontario.

“But aren’t they just baby teeth?”

We focus on kids’ oral health because keeping little mouths healthy means less chance for root canals later. Who wants to spend more time in a dental chair because of something that could have been prevented?

Keeping baby teeth cavity-free is just as important as keeping our adult teeth cavity-free. Baby teeth help children to talk, form words and develop their language skills. Additionally, baby teeth help children to nourish their bodies so that they can eat fresh foods like vegetables and fruit for healthy growth and development. Good oral hygiene can help your child to have positive self-esteem and overall well-being.

Toddler boy eating watermelon

How can you help your child to have a healthy smile and encourage good oral habits later in life?

  • Brush twice a day as soon as the baby teeth appear
  • Floss teeth that touch
  • See a dental professional by age one

“It’s hard to brush my toddler’s teeth. It’s always a struggle!”

The struggle is real for many families, but don’t give up!  Here are some tips to make it fun for your little one … and less stressful for you.

Father and son brushing teeth together

Brushing and flossing are the best things you can do to prevent tooth decay. Ensuring your child has good oral health takes only five minutes a day.

  • Start brushing teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. Establish a clear routine and stick to it. Infant gum massagers can be used after meals to get babies used to the routine of having their mouths cleaned.
  • Since brushing is not a choice your kids can make, try to give as many choices as possible according to age in other parts of daily routines such as choosing between two different colour pajamas or which book to read before bed.
  • Have your kids pick out their own toothbrush or try an electric one.
  • Let kids choose their own flavour of toothpaste (often adult flavours are too strong).
  • Lying in bed with your child’s head in your lap may be more comfortable and also give you a better view of your child’s teeth when brushing.
  • Compliment their efforts along the way. Notice out loud specific things they are doing that you want to continue: “I like the way you make lots of bubbles with the toothpaste when you brush in circles!”
  • A visit to the dentist or a dental hygienist can help motivate. Sometimes hearing instructions from someone other than a parent can make all the difference.
  • Sticker and flossing charts can help motivate the daily routine (download the chart)

Use dental activities, trivia and games to help teach and encourage brushing. Get ideas from The Canadian Dental Association and The Ontario Dental Association.

“But I can’t afford to take my child to the dentist”

Call Public Health. We are here to help!

Hygienist looking into child's mouth

Public Health has free dental programs for children ages 0-17 who live in the Wellington, Dufferin and Guelph areas. These programs are designed for families who struggle financially to pay for dental care. The best way to find out if your child is eligible is to call our Dental Line. One of our dental team members will ask you a few questions and book your child an appointment for a dental screening at one of our clinic sites. Our oral health team will assess your child and direct you to the right dental program. If eligible, your child may receive free dental cleanings or fillings if needed. Please call our Dental Line at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 2661 if you have any questions or would like to book an appointment.

Shelley-Ann Morgan
Registered Dental Hygienist