Dental Health

Brushing and Flossing

Dental program for Children

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 eight 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. 

Canada Dental Benefit

The interim Canada Dental Benefit is intended to help lower dental costs for eligible families.  Parents and guardians can apply if the child receiving dental care is under 12 years old and does not have access to a private dental insurance plan. 

For more information and to apply for Canada Dental Benefit, visit Canada Dental Benefit or call 1-800-715-8836.

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 about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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