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Caring for Your Child's Teeth

Cavities and How To Prevent Them


*This webpage is for information purposes only. It is NOT a substitute for professional dental advice.*

Fast Facts
  • Brush your child’s teeth two times each day for two minutes each time.
  • Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for your child’s age.
  • Choose a toothpaste brand that’s been recognized by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA)

Choosing and replacing a toothbrush

Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head designed for your child’s age.

Use a soft finger toothbrush or clean damp cloth for babies.

The Canadian Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush at least every 3 or 4 months.

Did You Know?
You can prevent bad breath by brushing the tongue. See your dentist if your child has prolonged bad breath.

Amount of toothpaste

Parents/caregivers of children under 3 years of age should help brush their child’s teeth, using a toothbrush moistened only with water to minimize the risk of dental fluorosis (Dental fluorosis can occur when a child swallows too much fluoride when their teeth are developing. In its mildest form, which is the most common form, fluorosis appears as tiny white streaks or specks that are often unnoticeable. It is cosmetic in nature, and does not affect the function of the tooth). Talk to a health professional to determine if your child is at risk of developing tooth decay. They can determine if and when your child should use fluoride toothpaste.

Pea-sized amount of toothpaste

Parents/caregivers of children 3-6 years of age should help brush their child’s teeth, using only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Supervise/help children brush until they have the ability to brush properly on their own.

Be sure to choose a toothpaste brand that’s been recognized by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) when buying toothpaste for your child.

How to Brush

Did You Know?
There are lots of ways to encourage children to brush their teeth. Print our Making Brushing Fun handout.

[Looking for larger text? Print our How to Brush handout]

2 for 2 is What You Do!

[ Print our Brushing Chart handout ]

Brush your child's teeth at least 2 times each day for 2 minutes each time.

Brush in the morning and at night before bed. If you can't brush twice each day, brush your child's teeth at night before he goes to bed. It's important to go to sleep with a clean mouth.

During the night you produce less saliva. Saliva helps wash the bacteria out of your mouth. Brushing your teeth decreases the bacteria in your mouth. If you go to sleep without brushing, the bacteria will settle on your teeth all night. The bacteria then mix with the food left on your teeth to create acid, which eats away at the tooth enamel and causes cavities.

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Revised: March 24, 2020

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