759 Pape Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K 3T2

Dental Care for Children in Toronto, ON

It is never too early to consult a dentist. Your child needs to see a dentist as soon as the first tooth appears, or he or she turns one, whichever is earlier. This is important because prevention of decay and other potential oral problems need to be addressed at this time to ensure optimal oral health as your little one develops and grows. Seeing a dentist at this time is also good because it helps your child become better accustomed to seeing a dentist for regular checkups. Also, the development of good habits (oral hygiene and dietary) needs to start early.

Many parents believe that since the first set of their child’s teeth is temporary, they don’t need to pay a lot of attention to them. However, dental problems can still arise. Cavities can develop, which may progress to infection and may lead to premature tooth loss.

Taking Care of Your Child's Teeth

As kids are dependent on their parents during their formative years, their oral hygiene becomes a parental responsibility. Here are a few things that you can do to ensure that your child’s gums and teeth remain healthy.

  • For babies with 1–2 teeth present, parents should use a damp piece of gauze to wipe the teeth clean. Toddlers and young children do not have the dexterity to brush properly. Parents should first brush for them with an appropriately sized toothbrush until the age of 8. Brush as best as you can, even if it is a bit of a struggle. Kneeling beside a young child with your arm around them can often help reduce the struggle.
  • After the age of 8, most children can brush by themselves. However, parental supervision regarding technique and frequency of brushing is a must.
  • Remember to change your child’s toothbrush immediately after an illness, and regularly, about every 2-3 months.
  • Rinse well with water after brushing and after baby feedings.
  • Use only a pea-sized amount of children’s fluoridated toothpaste once, and only if the child can predictably spit, otherwise, use water alone to brush.
  • Visit us every 6 months for a checkup and cleaning. Call us at 416-465-3111 if there are any questions or concerns or if your child has any pain or discomfort.
  • Babies should not go to bed with baby bottles or sippy-cups filled with milk, formula, juice, pop, etc. Only give them water at night. Otherwise, a lot of decay can develop. Cleanse the mouth with water once they awaken and after feedings.
  • Similarly, babies should not use baby bottles or sippy-cups filled with milk, formula, juice, pop, etc. for prolonged periods of time during the day as a lot of decay can occur. Cleanse the mouth with water after using a bottle or a sippy cup.
  • Baby teeth need to be restored if they have decay. These teeth hold space for the upcoming permanent teeth. Also, if the decay is left unchecked, infection and abscesses can occur.
  • At approximately 1 year of age, stop using the baby bottle and pacifier. Prolonged and extended use of the pacifier can negatively affect the rapidly developing bite. Switch to a regular cup or a sippy cup. Your child will adjust.
  • Avoid or limit sugary foods (cakes, cookies, candies), sticky foods (toffee, jelly beans, fruit roll-ups), and sugary drinks. Do not let them consume these often and never before bedtime. Always brush afterwards and rinse well with water.
  • Certain other habits such as prolonged thumb sucking or the presence of cross-bite can be corrected orthodontically, and necessary referrals will be made

Newborn and Infant Dental Care

Baby teeth start to erupt through the gums between six and nine months of age, sometimes earlier. These milk teeth or first teeth help your child eat and speak and help the adult teeth come in straight. Even tiny teeth must be cleaned. Infants can get cavities, just like older children and adults. Following all feedings, you should clean your baby’s mouth and teeth. If the teeth are not large enough for an infant toothbrush, simply use a gauze piece or a wet facecloth to wipe teeth and gums. This prepares the baby early for what should become a lifelong habit.

Baby’s first visit to the dentist should occur by the age of one year, or when the first tooth appears.

Infants Can Get Cavities Just Like Older Children and Adults

  • Going to bed with fluids other than water in their bottle can cause a lot of damage to your baby’s teeth. If your baby sleeps with a bottle, fill it with water.
  • Following all feedings, you should clean your baby’s mouth and teeth.
  • Letting your baby sleep at the breast or with a bottle of juice, formula, or milk can harm your baby’s teeth. The sugar will remain on the child’s teeth throughout the night and can damage the enamel and cause tooth decay.
  • If your baby normally falls asleep while feeding, brush his or her teeth before feeding.


Baby’s First Visit — Make it Fun!

Make an appointment for your child to see the dentist when the child turns one or when the first tooth appears, whichever is earlier. To prepare for the first visit:

  • Try playing “dentist.” Count your child’s teeth, then switch roles and let him or her count yours. Make the exercise fun and explain that this is essentially what the dentist will do.
  • Explain other things that may happen at the dentist’s office, using non-technical language. Don’t try to explain X-rays, for instance. Simply say, “The dentist might take some pictures of your teeth with a special camera”.
  • Let the older brother, sister, or friend accompany your child when going for a routine exam or cleaning. It’s a good way to familiarize your little one with the dentist’s office.
  • Treat the appointment as routine.
  • Be sure to advise your dentist about any special needs or medical problems, such as allergies or bleeding disorders.
  • Let your child bring his or her favourite stuffed toy along.

Toddler and Preschooler Dental Care

This is a good time in your child’s life to build habits that will protect the teeth and lay the foundation for future health.

  • Feed your child from all food groups and limit sugary foods or drinks.
  • After eating sugary or sticky foods like raisins, brush your child’s teeth, rinse the mouth with water or serve juicy fruits/vegetables to clean the teeth.
  • Don’t let your child constantly sip on sugary liquids, including milk and juice from sippy cups. Offer these liquids only at mealtimes.
  • Brush twice a day and use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste, rather than swallow it. If your child doesn’t have the coordination necessary for proper toothbrushing, brush your child’s teeth first and then let him or her “finish off”.
  • Begin flossing when your child’s teeth are touching.
  • Change your child’s toothbrush every one to three months or immediately after an illness. Never share your toothbrush with your child or use your child’s toothbrush.
  • Let your child watch you brushing your teeth as often as possible. Children are wonderful imitators, and there’s nothing like a parent’s example to teach them the way to healthy dental practices.

Children and Adolescent Dental Care

Around the ages of six to eight years, the first teeth start to fall out, and the permanent teeth erupt through the gums. By the age of 13, most of the permanent teeth, except for the wisdom teeth, should be in.

Permanent Teeth Will Not Be Replaced, So Remember:

  • Brush at least twice per day and floss once per day.
  • Reduce sugar Intake. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that feed on sugar. This forms a kind of acid that harms your teeth.
  • Limit snacking.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth when you are playing sports.

Teen Dental Care

Continuing good habits started in childhood is the best way for teens to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Whether wearing braces or orthodontic appliances, a teen needs to:

  • Brush twice and floss once per day.
  • Reduce sugar intake. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that feed on sugar. This forms a kind of acid that harms your teeth.
  • Limit snacking.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth when you are playing sports.

Some Issues You Should Be Aware of That Will Affect Your Oral Health:

EATING DISORDERS

  • Vomiting associated with eating disorders causes tooth decay, gum disease and loss of tooth enamel.
  • Your dentist can treat your teeth, but if you have – or think you have – an eating disorder, talk to your physician.


GRILLS AND TOOTH JEWELS

  • Grills are comprised of metalwork that fits over teeth, usually removable.
  • Tooth jewels are glass crystals or gold and are secured to teeth using dental composite.
  • They remain attached for up to a year or longer.
  • They can result in inflammation of the gums.
  • Talk to your dentist first about the safest choices and proper care and cleaning.

  • ORAL PIERCING
  • It can produce infections, uncontrollable bleeding and nerve damage.
  • Metal jewelry can chip or crack teeth and damage your gums.
  • Talk to your dentist first about the safest choices and proper care and cleaning.

SMOKING

  • Eight out of 10 teens who try smoking get hooked. Smoking can:
  • Stain your teeth and gums.
  • Contribute to bad breath.
  • Increase your risk of developing oral cancer and gum disease.
  • If you notice inflammation or changes in your mouth, talk to your dentist.


WISDOM TEETH

  • Usually appear between the ages of 17 and 21, although they can begin causing problems as early as age 13.


Your dentist can tell whether your wisdom teeth have enough space or if they should be removed.

Nutrition and Children

Your Checklist for Healthy Mouths

A healthy lunch and snack should definitely be part of your child’s regular eating habits.

A good nutrition program for your child includes:

  • Choosing foods from all four food groups.
  • Cheese, yogurt, and milk – all contain calcium, a mineral that strengthens teeth and can help prevent cavities.
  • Smart snacking between meals.
  • Drinking milk, water or pure fruit juices instead of so-called “sport” or carbonated drinks.
  • Cutting down on sugar.
  • A visit to your dentist every six months.


And here are some further links to help you learn more about nutrition and healthy eating:

Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating


REDUCE YOUR CHILD’S SUGAR INTAKE

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that feed on sugar from foods and produce acid that harms teeth. All foods and drinks, except water, can contribute to tooth decay in this way. Here are a few tips to cut down on sugar:

  • Make unsweetened, unflavoured milk or water your first choices.
  • Try fresh or unsweetened canned fruits and vegetables, whole-grain crackers, and bread when selecting a snack.
  • Limit carbonated drinks and sweetened fruit juices, as they contain sugar and acids that cause tooth decay.
  • Choose fruit for dessert.
  • Save sweets for mealtimes when they are less likely to harm your child’s teeth and when saliva flow is greater.


SMART SNACKING

Growing children and teens often need more than three meals a day. Smart snacking will ensure they have the energy they need to keep pace with their busy schedules.

  • Limit the number of times a day your child eats or drinks sugars.
  • Avoid sugary treats that stay in the mouth for a long time, like hard candy or lollipops.
  • Avoid soft, sticky sweets that get stuck in your child’s teeth.
  • Serve sweets for dessert while there is still plenty of saliva in your child’s mouth to wash away the sugars.
  • Drink tap water between meals.
  • Serve vegetables, fruit and cheese for snacks.
  • Have children brush their teeth at least twice a day and before going to bed.

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