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Oral Health - Children/Tweens

Good oral health is part of your child's overall health & well being

  • Parents should supervise the toothpaste and supervise or help with brushing until the child is of 7 years of age.

Taking care of your child’s oral health is a key part of their overall health and well-being. Of all the body parts, the mouth area is injured the most during contact sports. Here are some resources to help you ensure your child has healthy, strong teeth to last a lifetime.

What kind of foods cause tooth decay?

Foods high in sugar that stay in the mouth longer.

  • Hard candy
  • Sticky foods
  • Fruit leathers
  • Dried fruit

Eating more sugar will produce more acid in the mouth.

What kind of foods are good for teeth?

The best snacks for a healthy mouth are low in sugar and are nutritious, such as:

How to brush your teeth - click to show/hide
How to floss your teeth - click to show/hide

A healthy diet is very important for good oral health. Eating healthy foods will help reduce tooth decay and gum disease. Limiting the amount and how often sugar is eaten is very important in the prevention of tooth decay.

How to ensure a healthy mouth

Healthy choices for between meal snacks

Mostly nutritious and low in sugar

Occasional snacks are nutritious but contain sugar

Treats have a lot of sugar which sticks to teeth.

  • nuts
  • eggs
  • fruits
  • cheese
  • pretzels
  • popcorn
  • crackers
  • white milk
  • plain yogurt
  • raw vegetables
  • sunflower seeds
  • unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices
  • ice cream
  • fruit muffins
  • milk shakes
  • milk pudding
  • chocolate milk
  • pop
  • cake
  • raisins
  • cookies
  • candies
  • chocolate bars

*Be sure to only have treats when you can brush teeth afterwards

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A close up image of early childhood tooth decay.Early Childhood Tooth Decay (ECTD) (PDF file) (order resource) is a dental condition where baby teeth decay quickly, which can be expensive and difficult to treat.

How does early childhood tooth decay happen?

If your child has ECTD they may experience:

  • Pain
  • Trouble eating
  • Problems with speech
  • Poor self-image
  • If baby teeth are lost too early due to ECTD, permanent teeth may come in crooked and crowded.
  • It happens when teeth are not being cleaned, and liquids other than water are left in the mouth for a long time. When liquids stay on the teeth, the bacteria in the mouth can turn the sugar in the liquid into acid, which causes tooth decay.

How will I know if my child has this condition?

  • Lift your child’s lip once a month. Look at the gum line, if you see brown or white spots between and on the teeth there may be a problem, take your child to the dentist.
  • The teeth most likely to be affected are the top front teeth.
  • You may not know there is a problem until serious damage has been done.
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A close up image of sealants.What are sealants?

  • Sealants are a clear or shaded thin coating of plastic that protects the grooved or pitted surfaces of the back teeth.
  • Food and germs can get stuck in the pits of the back teeth and stay there for along time. This is because the toothbrush bristles are too large to reach inside these pits making it impossible for food to be brushed away.
  • Staying cavity-free:

    • Sealants are only one step in the plan to keep your child cavity-free for a lifetime.
    • Brushing and flossing, balanced nutrition, limited snacking, and regular dental visits are still essential to a bright healthy smile


    • Most dental insurance companies pay for sealants.
    • Check with your benefits provider about your child’s coverage and talk to your dentist about the exact cost of sealants for your child
    • Remember we can provide financial assistance to families who qualify
  • Children with deep pits and grooves on their teeth are more likely to get tooth decay.

When should sealants be placed on teeth?

  • Sealants are most often placed on the teeth of children and teenagers between 5 years and 14 years of age.
  • Always check with your dental professional to know when and if necessary.

How long do sealants last?

  • Research shows that sealants can last for many years if properly cared for.
  • If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects such as pencils and ice cubes, their sealants will last even longer.
  • Your dental professional will check the sealants during routine visits and can recommend reapplication or repair. Sealants need to be checked at regular dental visits to make sure they are not chipped or worn away.

What is the treatment like?

  • The application of sealants is easy, painless, and takes only a few minutes to complete.
  • The sealant is painted on the tooth surface and it flows into the pits and grooves and bonds to the tooth.
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An image of a girl holding a soccer ball and wearing a blue mouthguard.
Of all the body parts, the mouth area is injured the most during contact sports. Wearing a mouthguard (PDF file) (order resource) while active is a simple but effective way of protecting teeth.

What does a mouthguard do?

  • A mouthguard acts like a shock absorber that helps to protect and cushion your teeth, lips mouth and jaw when playing contact sports.
  • Wearing a mouthguard can help prevent serious injuries like broken jaws, chipped teeth and cuts to your tongue and cheeks.

When is wearing a mouthguard a good idea?

  • During any sport where the mouth is at risk for injury. A few examples are hockey, basketball, football, soccer and wrestling.

How do I take care of a mouthguard?

  • Rinse your mouthguard under cool water after each use and air dry.
  • Occasionally clean it with a mild soap and water.
  • Check your mouthguard regularly. If it shows signs of wearing down, tearing or cracking, it must be replaced. If it is custom made contact your dental professional.

Are there different kinds of mouthguards?

Choosing a mouthguard is very important. There are three types of mouthguards to choose from.

  • Custom-made 
    They are made by a dental professional and are individually designed, which ensures the best fit.
  • Self-adapted 
    They can be purchased in most sports stores. They are moulded to fit the mouth by boiling the mouthguard in water and then biting into the warm plastic. They can feel bulky and interfere with breathing and speaking.
  • Ready-made 
    They can be purchased in most sports stores. They come in many different shapes and sizes, but little can be done to adjust the mouthguard to fit your mouth properly. They are often too bulky, loose, and uncomfortable and can interfere with breathing and speaking.
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If you or your family is having trouble paying for dental treatment, Halton has financial assistance programs to help kids aged 17 and under get dental care.

How do I apply for assistance?

  • Before booking an appointment with your oral health care provider, call the Halton Region Health Department to find out if you qualify. One of our Oral Health team will help you through the process. Dial 311 or 905-825-6000.


Check out this fun video from Halton Region to learn more about Healthy Smiles Ontario financial assistance program for youths.

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