Oral health means the health of your gums, teeth, mouth, and jaw
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Oral Health All Ages

Oral health means the health of your gums, teeth, mouth, and jaw

Oral health means the health of your gums, teeth, mouth, and jaw.

From the time she is born, taking care of your child’s oral health is important.

For more information about your child’s oral health, click on one of the buttons below.

Oral Health (0-1 year)

Babies are not born with the germs that cause cavities. These germs are passed to them from the people who take care of them, especially mothers. Germs can be passed through saliva when sharing a spoon with your baby or cleaning a pacifier with your mouth.

You can help reduce the chance of early cavities in your child’s teeth by:

  • keeping your mouth healthy and free of cavities
  • not sharing items between your mouth and your baby’s mouth
  • taking your child for a dental visit by age one

First Dental Appointment

By the time your child is one year old, he should go to his first dental check-up. The dentist or hygienist will count your child’s teeth and clean his teeth and mouth. This visit allows the dentist or hygienist to find any early oral health problems and fix them before they get bigger.

The dentist or hygienist will answer any questions you have about your child’s oral health. This visit lets you and your child develop a positive relationship with the dentist or hygienist.

Teething

Your baby’s first teeth will likely begin to come in at 6 months. She will have all of her baby teeth by the time she is around 3 years old. Your baby’s bottom front teeth will probably come in first. These will be followed by her top front teeth.

When each tooth comes in, it can be uncomfortable and painful. Your baby may get irritable and may not want to eat. Biting a teething ring or cold wet wash cloth can help. You can also try rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger or finger toothbrush.


Caring for Your Baby’s Oral Health

Cleaning Your Baby’s Mouth

Oral health care for your baby should begin before his first tooth appears. This is an important step towards having a healthy mouth for life.

Clean your baby’s mouth every day. Start soon after birth by wiping all around the inside of your baby’s mouth with a soft, moist, clean cloth at least once a day. This will reduce bacteria and help your child get used to regular cleaning.

Once your child’s first tooth appears, use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and gently clean your baby’s teeth. It is important to get into the habit of doing this for your baby twice a day.

Keep cleaning your child’s teeth until he can do this properly himself. Brushing teeth properly requires the child to move the brush at many angles. Help your child to brush his teeth until he is able to tie his shoelaces. Tying shoelaces requires the same fine motor skills as brushing teeth.

Early Childhood Tooth Decay

Your child’s teeth can start to decay as soon as her first tooth starts to appear. Going to bed with a bottle filled with sugary liquids can cause tooth decay. Fruit juice, sweetened tea, pop, cow’s milk, and formula all contain sugar.

Over time, sugar causes acid that eats away at the enamel of the teeth. Enamel is a protective coating on the teeth. When the enamel is eaten away, cavities occur.

Oral Health (1-5 year)

Oral health means the health of your gums, teeth, mouth, and jaw.

By the time your child is three years old, he will have most or all of his baby teeth.

The Canadian Dental Association has lots of activities that you can do with your child to help him understand the importance of his oral health.

Children are not born with the germs that cause cavities. These germs are passed to them from the people who take care of them, especially mothers. Germs can be passed through saliva when sharing a spoon or cleaning a pacifier by mouth.

You can help reduce the chance of early cavities in your child’s teeth by:

  • keeping your mouth healthy and free of cavities
  • not sharing items between your mouth and your child’s mouth
  • taking your child to regular dental visits
  • brushing and flossing your child’s teeth twice a day

Your child’s teeth can start to decay as soon as her first tooth starts to appear. Going to bed with a bottle filled with sugary liquids can cause tooth decay. Fruit juice, sweetened tea, pop, cow’s milk, and formula all contain sugar.

Plaque

Plaque causes tooth decay (cavities), gum disease, and bad breath. Plaque is a sticky, build-up of bacteria that forms on the teeth, gums, and tongue.

Tooth Decay/Cavities

Tooth decay begins when plaque sticks to a tooth. The plaque makes acid from the sugars and starches that are in your mouth from the food you eat. This acid causes a hole to form in the tooth’s enamel. Enamel is what covers and protects the tooth. The hole is called a cavity.

Tooth Decay/Cavities

Gum Disease

Gum disease in an infection of the gums and other areas that support the teeth. Gum disease happens when plaque is not removed every day by brushing and flossing. When the plaque builds up, the gums get red, swollen, and can bleed. If your child’s gums are bleeding, ask your dentist or hygienist for some tips about flossing and brushing.

Visiting the Dentist

Visiting the Dentist

Continue to take your child to the dentist or hygienist once a year. Sometimes, your dentist or hygienist may request seeing your child more often. Visiting the dentist or hygienist regularly can help to treat problems early on.

Untreated dental problems can lead to health problems later in your child’s life. Preventing these problems is the best choice.


Caring for Your Baby’s Oral Health

Brushing

Brushing teeth removes plaque and food from the teeth and gums. Below is a list of things to remember.

  • Use a child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles. Replace the brush every three months or after an illness. Never share toothbrushes.
  • Brush your child’s teeth 2-3 times a day.
  • Gently move the toothbrush back and forth. Do 2-3 teeth at a time. Make sure you do all the teeth. Make sure you brush the front, back, and top of the teeth.
  • Brush your child’s tongue.
    Brush your child's tongue
  • Your child should not swallow the toothpaste. Have your child spit out the toothpaste into the sink. Give your child some water so she can rinse her mouth out. Have your child spit the water into the sink after rinsing her mouth.
  • Rinse the toothbrush well after brushing. Keep it in a clean, dry place. Don’t let the bristles touch the bristles of other toothbrushes.
  • Keep cleaning your child’s teeth until he can do this properly himself. Brushing teeth properly requires the child to move the brush at many angles. An adult should take a turn to help brush teeth until the child is able to tie a shoelace which requires about the same number of angles.

Flossing

Flossing removes plaque and food from the places that your toothbrush cannot reach.

  • Floss your child’s teeth once a day.
  • Break off a piece of dental floss 45 cm (17.7 in) long.
  • Wrap most of the floss around a finger on one hand. Wrap the rest around a finger of the other hand.
  • Hold the floss tightly between the fingers and work it slowly between the teeth and under the gum line, using a gentle back and forth motion.
  • You can also use a floss pick. This may be easier for children when they are first learning to floss.
  • Floss every tooth.
    Floss every tooth

Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that helps the enamel on your teeth get stronger. This makes them less likely to decay.

Fluoride can be found in some communities’ water supplies. It is also found in toothpaste that is recommended by the Canadian Dental Association, and in some mouth rinses and fluoride varnishes.

Sealants

Sealants prevent tooth decay. Sealants are painted on the chewing surfaces of the molars by a dentist or dental hygienist.

Diet

Avoid foods and drinks that have a lot of sugar. This includes pop and juice.

Cheese and milk provide calcium that helps teeth stay strong. Eating cheese also produces saliva. Saliva rinses away sugars, decreases acids, and mineralizes the teeth. Also, cheese sticks to teeth and helps protect them from acid.

Milk and juice given at naptime and bedtime will pool around your child’s teeth and cause decay. It is recommended to give your child only water after his teeth are brushed, especially at naptime and bedtime. This will help to prevent tooth decay.

Your Child’s Teeth

Cavities

A cavity is damage to the tooth. Cavities are also called caries. The damage caused by cavities starts on the outside of the tooth (enamel) and progresses to the inside of the tooth. Cavities can cause a toothache.

Saliva

Saliva is the liquid that is found in your mouth. Saliva has water in it and a lot of other substances. One of the roles of saliva is to rinse out the areas between your teeth. Saliva rinses away sugars, decreases acids, and mineralizes the teeth.

Dentist

A dentist is a trained and licensed medical professional. A dentist has skills in the area of the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, injuries, and malformations of the teeth, jaws, and mouth.

Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist is a trained and licensed professional. Dental hygienists can work alongside dentists but can also work privately. They are trained to work in the area of prevention and treatment in order to promote and maintain good oral health.

Enamel

Enamel is the outside protective layer of the teeth. It can be damaged and can wear out over time. Proper dental care helps to protect the enamel.

Plaque

Plaque is a sticky substance that can coat the teeth. It contains bacteria that can damage the enamel of the teeth and cause cavities. You cannot always see plaque that is on the teeth. Plaque can be removed through brushing and flossing.

Dental Floss

Dental floss is a thin “string” that helps to remove plaque from between the teeth. This can prevent gum disease and cavities. Using dental floss is an important part of taking care of you and your child’s dental health.

Sealants

Dental sealants are a treatment that is used to prevent cavities. Dental sealants fill in all the creases and pits in the teeth. This makes them easier to keep clean and stops plaque from collecting on the teeth.

Quiz

If you would like to receive a certificate for completing this program, you need to complete the quizzes for each section of this resource. Once you have completed all 18 quizzes, you will be able to download your certificate.

You also need to register to get a certificate. If you’re not yet registered, please press go here (connect to register).