Tips for keeping your child's teeth and gums healthy.
How do I care for my child's baby teeth?
Healthy teeth and gums are vital to your child’s general health. There is a misconception that it's not important to provide much oral care and cleaning for baby teeth because they will fall out and be replaced by adult teeth. On the contrary, health professionals recommend that parents start oral care early. Wipe an infant's gums with a clean cloth and start brushing an infant's teeth by six months of age.
Baby teeth are important for:
- Proper jaw development
- Guiding adult teeth into place
- Speaking clearly
Children usually start losing their baby teeth around six years of age. From six to 12 years, children have a mixture of adult and baby teeth. The baby teeth at the back are replaced around 10 to 12 years of age. By this age, most children have all their adult teeth except for their third molars, known as wisdom teeth, which generally come in during a child's late teens and early 20s.
How should I care for my child's teeth?
By the time your child reaches school age, they might be starting to clean their own teeth. If so, it’s a good idea for you to either start or finish the cleaning process. Your child will still need your supervision and help until they are at least eight years old to ensure they are cleaning correctly.
You need to use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush. Encourage your child to spit the toothpaste out as you clean. There is no need to rinse their mouth with water. The small amount of fluoridated toothpaste left in the mouth will help build strong, healthy teeth. Flossing can be introduced later on in childhood when the child's teeth are touching and brushing is well established.
Do sugary foods and drinks cause tooth decay?
When we consume sugary foods or drinks the germs in dental plaque mix with the sugars to make a mild acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel, the hard outer layer of teeth. If these germs are not removed, over time the enamel becomes soft and a cavity forms. To avoid tooth decay, practice good dental health:
- Limit the frequency of sticky, sugary foods and sweet drinks.
- Strengthen tooth enamel every day by brushing in the morning and at night with fluoride toothpaste.
- BC Dental Association: Oral health handouts
- HealthyFamilies BC: Dental care for school age children
- Healthy Kids Program: Children in families who receive income assistance can apply for MSP supplementary benefits to receive basic dental care through the Healthy Kids Program. For more information, call 1-866-866-0800.
- Canada Dental Benefit: The interim Canada Dental Benefit is intended to help lower dental costs for eligible families earning less than $90,000 per year. 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.
Depending on your adjusted family net income, a tax-free payment of $260, $390 or $650 is available for each eligible child. This interim dental benefit is only available for two periods. You can get a maximum of two payments for each eligible child. Benefit payments are administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).