Dental Health

Dental Care for your Youth

Oral Piercings

HPV and Oral Cancer

Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) program

Dental Care for your Youth

Adult teeth are important for the overall health of your youth. Explain to your youth that healthy teeth are important for chewing, smiling, feeling good, and staying healthy.

You can help your youth by encouraging them to:

  • Brush their teeth at least twice a day. Use a soft toothbrush with no more than a pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Floss daily before bedtime
  • Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports
  • Avoid tobacco products. Explain to your youth that tobacco products stain your teeth and tongue, cause bad breath, and increase your risk of developing oral cancer.

Tips for parents:

  • When wisdom teeth erupt they can cause pain if they do not have enough space. Bring your youth to the dentist for more information.
  • Vomiting associated with an eating disorder will increase the risk of cavities and gum disease. For more information on eating disorders see the mental health section for youth.
  • Talk to your youth about the risks associated with oral piercings
  • Talk to your youth about HPV and oral cancer

Oral Piercings

Oral piercing may be trendy but there are risks involved. If your youth is thinking about an oral piercing such as a tongue or lip ring, talk to them about the risks.

Risks with oral piercing

  • Problems with teeth. Oral jewellery may damage teeth, fillings or gums.
  • Nerve damage. Oral piercings can cause damage to the facial or tongue muscles.
  • Infection. Piercings can cause too much swelling and pain. Pus around the site may also appear.
  • Possibility of disease transmission. For example, hepatitis, HIV, and herpes. This can happen if proper sterilization methods are not used. This can also happen if oral sex occurs during the healing process.
  • Allergic reactions. This can occur if your youth is allergic to nickel or other metals.
  • Other risks: accidental swallowing, irritation to teeth and gums, limited tongue movement, speech problems, and loss of taste or sensation.

Teach your youth to be a smart consumer. With your youth, make sure to:

  • Talk to a dentist, dental hygienist, doctor or nurse before making a decision
  • Have the piercing studio provide verbal and written instructions on after-care
  • Ask about the studio's sterilization methods
  • Make sure the piercer practices proper hand washing and wears single-use gloves

HPV and Oral Cancer

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world.

A person's immune system usually fights off an HPV infection on its own. When the immune system cannot get rid of the virus, it can cause cancers. This includes cancer of the mouth, cervix, penis, anus, as well as genital warts.

Your youth can prevent oral cancer by:

  • Getting the HPV vaccine. It protects you from over 90% of oral cancers that result from an HPV infection. For more information on the HPV vaccine, please see our immunization section.
  • Seeing a dental professional for a regular dental check-up and cleaning
  • Quitting or reducing smoking and using tobacco products of any kind
  • Not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Using a condom if they are sexually active
  • Using lip balm that contains UV protection when they are outside

Healthy Smiles Ontario program

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.

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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