Dental Health

Brushing and Flossing

Dental program for Children

Dental Screening

Healthy snacks and foods to avoid

Brushing and Flossing

Growing teeth are important for eating, talking, smiling, and for keeping space for the adult teeth to grow.

  • Brush your child's teeth and tongue after breakfast and before bedtime
  • Use a small soft toothbrush with no more than a pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Make sure your child does not swallow the toothpaste.
  • Remind your child to brush the large back teeth
  • Help with brushing until your child is 8 years old
  • Floss your child's teeth before bed. Children can begin to floss their own teeth at around 10 years old
  • Have your child wear a mouth guard when playing a contact sport
  • Talk to your dentist about sealing the pits and grooves of your child's molars with a protective coating

Dental Program for Children

Good oral health is important to children's overall health. The cost of dental treatment can be difficult for many families who do not have dental coverage. The Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) program offers free dental care. This program is for children from birth to 17 years in low-income families. 

Dental Screening

Dental Screening in Schools

Did you know?

  • Ottawa Public Health provided 30,000 dental screenings last year
  • 57% of 6-11 year old have or have had a cavity

Every year, dental hygienists from Ottawa Public Health offer free dental screenings in schools. This program identifies children with urgent dental needs and works with families to help them see a dentist. Children with dental problems will go home with a letter. It is important to return the pink letter to Ottawa Public Health or to contact the dental hygienist.

Dental screenings do not replace dental visits with your family dentist.

The school will inform you which classes will receive the dental screening. If your child's class is not selected, but you wish for the dental hygienist to see him/her, please let the school know.

If your child missed the dental screening, you can attend a free dental screening at a community health and resource center. These dental screenings are open to everyone.

To find out more about dental screening in schools, please watch our video:

Dental Screening in the Community

Ottawa Public Health offers free dental screening in the community. All ages are welcome.

Dental screenings include:

  • Dental health information
  • Fluoride varnish applications
  • Healthy Smiles Ontario enrolment
  • Denture cleaning offered at certain locations

To find out about dental screening in the community, please see the calendar and locations.

Healthy snacks/foods to avoid

Sugar and plaque are the main causes of dental cavities in children.

Here are some factors to consider when giving snacks to your child:

  • Choose snacks that are nutritious and unsweetened. Healthy food is good for both your child's dental and general health.
  • Read the ingredients list when choosing snacks to give your child. Note that raw cane sugar, honey, molasses, corn or maple syrup, glucose and fructose are all types of sugar.
  • Limit serving sweets to special occasions and only serve them at mealtime. The increased flow of saliva during a meal helps wash away and dilute sugars.
  • Reduce the length of time that sweet food stays in contact with your child's teeth. Do not allow your child to sip on sweet drinks for a long period of time. This also applies to sucking on a candy or chewing sugared gum.
  • Avoid serving your child sticky foods, such as cereal bars and dried fruits. These foods stay on the surface of the teeth longer.
  • Have your child rinse their mouth with water, eat a piece of cheese or chew sugar free gum when brushing is not possible.

Do you have more questions?

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