Children's Dental Health
Babies can get cavities just like older children and adults.
How to keep your baby’s teeth healthy
- Clean your baby’s teeth every day
- Lift your baby’s lip once a month to look at their teeth and gums
- Take your baby to visit the dentist for the first time when they are one year old
- Your child should drink from a cup without a lid by 18 months old
- Use a favourite toy, hugs, stories or songs to comfort your child instead of using a bottle or sippy cup, breastfeeding or food
- Letting your baby sleep while breastfeeding or with a bottle of juice or milk can harm their teeth.
How to clean your baby’s teeth at different ages
- Wipe your baby’s teeth and gums with a wet cloth after feeding them, starting from birth.
- When your baby gets teeth, use a soft infant toothbrush and water to clean their teeth.
- If your child is under three years old, ask your dentist if you should use toothpaste to brush their teeth.
- When your child is three years old, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to brush their teeth twice each day. Make sure your child spits out the toothpaste after you finish brushing.
It is important that your child’s teeth are brushed twice a day, for at least 2 minutes. Use toothpaste with fluoride (size of a pea) to help reduce cavities. Daily flossing of your child’s teeth is also important. Depending on your child’s age, you might need to help them brush and floss their teeth to make sure their teeth are clean. Dental problems can cause poor sleeping, trouble eating, and make it hard to pay attention in school and at home.
Check your child’s teeth at least once a month. Visit a dentist if you see any of these signs:
- Broken or chipped teeth
- Holes in their teeth
Track your child’s dental health and development with this checklist.
|If your child is between 18 and 24 months, does she or he have at least 12 teeth?||yes/no||By 18 months, most children have 12 to 16 teeth. The first teeth to come in are the front teeth, followed by the teeth in the back.|
|If your child is between 25 and 36 months, does he or she have at least 16 teeth?||yes/no||By 36 months, most children have 18 to 20 teeth.|
|Does an adult clean your child’s teeth every day?||yes/no||Clean your child’s teeth daily using a rice-sized portion of toothpaste. The most important time to clean your child’s teeth is before going to sleep at night.|
Are your child’s teeth shiny and white?
|yes/no||Even toddlers can get tooth decay. Check your child’s teeth at least once a month. Lift the upper lip to see the teeth right up to the gum line. If teeth have chalky-white or brown spots or teeth are chipped or broken, take your child to a dentist.|
|Has your child seen a dentist or dental hygienist?||yes/no||Children should have their teeth checked by the time they are one year old by a dentist or a registered dental hygienist so any problems are found early.|
|Does your child drink mostly from a cup without a lid?||yes/no||By 18 months, your child should drink from a cup without a lid. Do not let your child constantly sip from a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk, formula, juice, pop, Kool-aid or sugar water.|
|Does your child sleep without a bottle?||yes/no||If your child must have a bottle to fall asleep, fill it with plain water. If you are breastfeeding, take your child off the breast when he or she is done actively feeding.|
|Does your child have set times during the day for meals and snacks?||yes/no||Your child should have no more than five to six set meal and snack times during the day. Frequent snacking can cause cavities, especially if foods are sticky and sweet. Examples of healthy snacks are cheese, whole grain crackers, yogurt, fruit and vegetables. For snack time drinks, offer plain water, milk or unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice. When your child is thirsty at other times, offer plain water.|
If you answered “no” to three or more questions on the checklist, talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about your child’s teeth.
If you do not have a dentist, call Public Health Services at 905-546-2424 ext. 3789 to speak with one of our dental staff.
Source: Adapted from the Community Dental Health Services Research Unit, Ontario Government’s Health Systems Linked Research Units
The Public Health Services Children’s Preventive Dental Clinics provide free preventive dental care and Healthy Smiles Ontario assessments for Hamilton residents under 18 years of age who have a low income. Dental services include cleaning teeth, fluoride, and dental sealants. If your child is enrolled in HSO, they can be seen in the clinic. If your child is NOT already enrolled in HSO and you have a low income, you can book a dental screening. Call 905-546-2424 ext.5369 to book an appointment.
Dental Clinic hours and locations
The Children’s Preventive Dental Clinics are open by appointment only at these times and locations. Bring your child’s Ontario Health Card to the appointment.
East Children’s Preventive Dental Clinic
247 Centennial Parkway North, Unit 8
Tuesday & last Friday of the month
9 am to 12 noon
1 to 4 pm
Mountain Children's Preventive Dental Clinic
891 Upper James Street
Thursday & first three Fridays of the month
9 am to 12 noon
1 to 4 pm
Downtown Dental Clinic
- Provides free dental services such as dental exams, x-rays, fillings, extractions or removal of teeth, and cleanings
- For children and youth under 18 years old with low income
- Call 905-546-2424 ext. 5369 or 3789 to book an appointment
Healthy Smiles Ontario pays the cost of dental services for children and youth under 18 years old who live in Hamilton and are low income. Children and youth under 18 years old must be enrolled in Healthy Smiles Ontario in order to receive free dental care at our clinics.
To book dental screenings and Healthy Smiles Ontario assessments or to get more information call 905-546-2424 ext. 5369
Does your child have a Healthy Smiles Ontario card already?
This card means your child can get free dental care. Please call us or your family dentist to book an appointment.
More information is available at www.ontario.ca/HealthySmilesOntario
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school oral health screenings are temporarily on hold. If your child is in need of dental care, please call us at 905-546-2424 ext. 5369.
Registered Dental Hygienists and Dental Clerks visit Hamilton schools each year to provide oral health screenings to JK, SK and Grade 2 students. Additional grades may be screened based on the previous year’s oral health screening results.
An oral health screening is a brief, 30 second look in the mouth using a sterilized mirror and flashlight. If any urgent dental needs such as holes in the teeth or signs of infection are seen, the dental hygienist will contact the parent or guardian to see if they need help accessing dental care. Please note, the oral health screening does NOT replace a check up by a dentist.
If you have any questions about school oral health screenings or our free dental programs, please call 905-546-2424 ext. 5369.