Learn about the percentage of childhood cavities in your community and tips on preventing cavities.
Early childhood caries, better known as cavities or tooth decay, is the most common childhood, infectious disease and it is preventable.
View an interactive map of the oral health in children in Fraser Health, as well as tips on preventing cavities.
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(Scroll down the page for printable infographic maps)
Cavities can begin soon after a baby’s first tooth appears. They can cause severe pain and infection and disrupt eating, sleeping and proper growth. They can also affect the ability to socialize, concentrate and learn and compromise a child’s overall health.
Because our communities do not have fluoridated water, it is very important that parents and families with young children practice good oral care.
Percentage of kindergartners with cavities in Fraser Health and your community
Every three years, BC kindergarten children have their teeth checked for cavities (tooth decay). We want to share how our region is doing. Please see the links to the printable maps below with tips and services to prevent dental cavities.
Each map shows the percentage of kindergartners with current or previous cavities in different neighbourhoods for the 2018/19 school year. The darker the colour of the neighbourhood, the higher the percentage with cavities. In Fraser Health overall, the percentage of kindergartners with current or previous cavities was 33.4% and in BC it was 30.8%. Cavities are preventable, so promoting good oral habits in children, families and communities can make a difference.
View close up maps for each community
Agassiz-Harrison and Hope
Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows
Surrey and White Rock
What can parents do?
- Before child has teeth, clean mouth daily with a clean, damp washcloth.
- Never put your baby to bed with a bottle or sippy cup of milk or any sweet drink.
- Visit the dentist within six months of the first baby tooth or by one year of age.
- Floss child’s teeth (once they’re touching) and your own teeth once a day.
- Brush at least twice a day with fluoride, including before bed.
- For age up to three years, use a rice size amount of toothpaste.
- For age three years and over, use a pea size amount of toothpaste.
- Introduce a healthy diet early to prevent tooth decay.
- Eat fruits and vegetables with fiber like broccoli and apples to balance natural sugars and clean teeth.
- Drink water, the most tooth friendly drink. Sugary drinks like pop and juice are the leading risk factor for tooth decay.
- Avoid daily snacking of sugary and refined snacks like cakes, cookies, potato chips, gummies and granola bars. Save them as a once in a while treat or a mealtime dessert. Give healthy fresh snacks instead.
What can community partners do?
Caregivers can join education sessions on children’s dental health provided by Fraser Health.
Schools and daycares can revise guidelines to reduce sugar intake.
Have games and activities promoting oral health.
Fluoride is a cavity fighter! Whether in the water, applied during a dental visit, or used while brushing, fluoride makes teeth stronger and provides protection against cavities.
What is Fraser Health doing to improve childhood dental health and lower tooth decay rates in your community?
At Fraser Health, we take childhood dental health very seriously. Our Public Health Dental Program’s goal is to help prevent early childhood tooth decay. The program mainly serves children under three years of age and especially those at risk of tooth decay. Urgent referrals for any age group are accepted from school staff or community workers. Also, we continue to work with community partners to support adults with dental problems.
Three special programs are run through the Public Health Dental Program:
- Fluoride Varnish Program is a free program offered for children under 36 months of age not under the regular care of a dentist. Public Health Dental staff check if a child is at risk for tooth decay. If so, the caregiver is provided dental health counselling and the child will have fluoride varnish applied to teeth. Dental staff also provide families with information on dental treatment resources that are available.
- Education sessions on children’s dental health are offered to groups and individuals. Sessions are open to parents and community professionals who work with young children and families.
- Fraser Health and The Faculty of Dentistry at UBC have partnered to provide free dental treatment for children 12 years and under. This service is for children who cannot access a dentist due to financial barriers.
For more information on affordable dentistry options, dental anxiety and oral care for your child please go to the main dental health for children web page.