Children's Dental & Oral Health

Oral health is an important part of your child’s health, self-esteem and sense of well-being.

Did you know that children should start seeing a dentist around age one? Once they begin visiting the dentist, it’s important to continue to go regularly.

If you can’t afford to pay for dental care for your children (ages 0-17), we have programs that can help. To learn more about our dental programs please call our Dental Line at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 2661. We can:

  • Answer any questions or concerns you have about dental and oral health
  • Help you find out if your children qualify for free dental care
  • Help enroll your child in our dental programs

Programs and services

Healthy Smiles Ontario cardPublic Health offers FREE dental care to children and youth who cannot afford dental care through the Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) program. Healthy Smiles Ontario is a government-funded dental program that provides free preventive, routine, and emergency dental services to eligible children and youth 17 and younger from families with limited income. Does your child have the Healthy Smiles Ontario card? Call Public Health or your family dental professional to book an appointment for your child.

Emergency Dental Care (pain, infection, suspected cavity, trauma to the mouth)

Your child may be eligible for dental care through Public Health if they have an urgent dental need and you cannot afford treatment. If your child is experiencing pain, infection such as a gum abscess or if you suspect or have had a dentist confirm they have a cavity, don’t delay in calling Public Health for help. Our staff will assess your child’s situation and schedule your child in for a dental screening. Our dental team will perform a quick visual screening and will assist you in completing the necessary applications to get your child the care they need. The dental team will also review with you and your child how to brush the teeth and talk to you and your child about ways to fit oral care into your daily routine. Eligibility requirements for the emergency program:

  • 17 or under AND
  • Live in Ontario AND
  • Cannot afford the cost of dental care for your child AND
  • Your household income is equivalent to a level at which you would be in receipt of the Ontario Child Benefit.
Preventive Dental Care (cleanings, sealants, fluoride varnish)

Our dental hygienists will check your child’s mouth for oral health concerns and clean your child’s teeth, apply fluoride and sealants, and teach them how to brush and floss. They can also provide information about brushing, healthy eating and other ways to keep your mouth healthy. Our staff will also help you find out if your children qualifies for any other free dental programs. Eligibility requirements for the preventive program:

  • 17 or under AND
  • Live in Ontario AND
  • Cannot afford the cost of preventive dental care for your child AND
  • Your household income is equivalent to a level at which you would be in receipt of the Ontario Child Benefit.
Routine Dental Care (cleanings fillings and most routine services)

If your child is eligible for the Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) program and you have a family dentist, Public Health can assist you with completing an application if required.

Children and youth may be eligible for regular dental care through HSO if they:

  • Are 17 or under AND
  • Live in Ontario AND
  • Have a household income that meets the program criteria

Children are automatically enrolled in HSO if:

  • They receive assistance under:
    • Temporary Care Assistance
    • Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities
  • They or their family receive:
    • Ontario Works
    • Ontario Disability Support

A child or youth may be eligible for dental care at Public Health if they have an urgent dental need and cannot afford treatment. If your child has a dental emergency, call Public Health for help.

School services

Dental screenings 2023-2024

Our registered dental hygienists visit elementary schools and provide a quick check of students’ teeth. They let parents/guardians know if they see any problems, such as large cavities, in the child’s mouth. These screenings do not replace an exam by a dentist.

  • To opt out or be excluded from dental screenings: If your child is in JK, SK or Grade 2, 4, or 7, and you do not want your child participate in the dental screening, please complete the opt-out request form.
  • To request a screening: If your child is in Grades 1, 3, 5, 6 or 8 and you would like your child to participate in the dental screening, please complete the opt-in request form.

If you have a child in Grade 1 at certain schools, they will also be screened.  If you would like your child to opt-out, you must complete the opt-out request form.

Fluoride varnish

Our team provides free fluoride varnish applications at select schools. Fluoride varnish is a protective coating that helps to make teeth strong and prevent cavities.

If your child attends a school that offers fluoride varnish, you can register your child to receive this service for free by completing the online consent form.

Fluoride varnish Schools

Schools offering Fluoride Varnish to Junior and Senior Kindergartens, Grades 1 and 2
Brant Public School St. Francis Catholic School
Gateway Public School St. Joseph Catholic School (Guelph)
Jean Little Public School St. Peter’s Catholic School (Guelph)
Mitchell Woods Public School Westwood Public School
Paisley Road Public School William C. Winegard Public School
Parkinson Centennial Public School Willow Road Public School


Schools offering Fluoride Varnish to Junior and Senior Kindergartens only

Arthur Public School Minto Clifford Public School
Centennial Hylands Public School Montgomery Village Public School
Central Public School Ponsonby Public School
Centre Peel Public School Primrose Public School
Ecole Arbour Vista Princess Elizabeth Public School
Ecole Guelph Lake Princess Margaret Public School
Edward Johnston Public School Rickson Ridge Public School
John Galt Public School St John Brebeuf Catholic School
June Ave Public School St John Catholic School (Guelph)
Ken Danby Public School St. Benedict Catholic School
Kenilworth Public School St. John Catholic School (Arthur)
King George Public School St. Michael Catholic School
Kortright Hills Public School St. Paul Catholic School
Laurelwoods Public School Taylor Evans Public School
Mary Phelan Catholic School Westminster Woods Public School


Additional dental programs available for children

  • The Canada Dental Benefit can help lower dental costs for children under 12 years old in eligible families who do not have access to private dental insurance plans.
  • If you would like more information about additional programs your child may be eligible for, call our dental line 1-800-265-7293 ext 2661.

Healthy Teeth Healthy Kids checklist

Use the Healthy Teeth Healthy Kids checklist (available in multiple languages) below to help you keep track of your child’s dental health and development.