Prevention Of Tooth Decay In Children

In November 2008 the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) officially declared tooth decay an infectious disease. The report showed that all children are at risk for tooth decay, and urged parents, the government, and the community to work together on prevention. Children are particularly vulnerable and suffer from this disease at an alarming rate. Tooth decay can be transmitted by licking a pacifier, sharing a spoon or kissing. The ODA really believes that an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure. Dental caries is a serious disease but is preventable in almost all cases. The following tips were compiled by the ODA for parents.

Ten tips for parents to help build healthy oral habits for their children:

  1. Before your baby has teeth, wipe the gums gently with a clean wet cloth after each feeding.
  2. If your baby sleeps with a bottle or sippy cup at naptime or bedtime, fill it with water only.
  3. If your baby normally falls asleep while feeding, brush his or her teeth before feeding.
  4. Lift your baby’s lip and watch for changes in colour, lines or spots on your child’s teeth as these may be signs of potential problems.
  5. As soon as the first tooth appears, start brushing your baby’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before bedtime. Fluoride is a mineral that protects teeth.
  6. Put a small dab of toothpaste across a small soft brush. Wipe off excess toothpaste until the child can spit it out. Begin flossing at least once a day when your child’s teeth are touching.
  7. Change your child’s toothbrush every one to three months or immediately after an illness.
  8. Let your child watch you brushing your teeth and assist your child’s tooth brushing.
  9. To prevent spreading germs that cause tooth decay, do not put anything in your child’s mouth if it has been in your mouth. Don’t share spoons, cups, food, toothbrushes, etc.
  10. Visit your dentist by the age of one year, or when the first teeth appear. Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups to make sure there are no problems.


A cavity is a hole that forms on the surface of a tooth. Cavities are caused when sugars in the food we eat and bacteria in our mouths mix together, producing a mild acid that eats away at the outer layer of our teeth (called enamel).

To help prevent cavities, one of our dentists or hygienists can apply a hard coat of resin, called a sealant, to the biting surface of your children’s molars or back teeth. This coating fills in the pits and grooves of the teeth (where cavities often start), and acts as a barrier between the teeth and the decay causing acids that form in the mouth.