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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
  • Tooth decay (cavities) is caused by the sugar in foods we eat.

About tooth decay 

Tooth decay (commonly known as cavities) occurs when the sugar in foods we eat reacts with the germs in the mouth to form acid. This acid dissolves parts of the tooth, causing tooth decay.

Tooth Decay

Possible effects
Tooth decay can cause pain. Children don’t always complain of pain caused by dental diseases. Sometimes the pain is so constant for so long that it begins to feel normal to the child.

If your child has tooth decay, he might:

    Brush your teeth 2 times each day for 2 minutes each time. If you can't brush your teeth, try to rinse your mouth with water, chew sugar-free gum, or eat raw vegetables, such as celery or carrots. However, brushing your teeth is always the best way to prevent cavities.

  • Have difficulty eating.
  • Have difficulty sleeping.
  • Have difficulty concentrating.
  • Have trouble speaking.
  • Have low self-esteem.

Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to:

  • Poor eating habits. 
  • Speech problems.
  • Pain and infection.
  • Early loss of baby teeth.
  • Costly dental treatment.
  • Crooked teeth.
Did You Know?
  • A Comprehensive Report on Health in Peel shows that more than 1 in 3 children in the region have been affected by cavities and 11% of children in Peel are in urgent need of dental treatment.


Avoid tooth decay by:

Did You Know?
  • Children’s medicine and chewable vitamins may contain sugar that can lead to cavities. Always brush your child’s teeth after he takes medicine or vitamins.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum doesn’t cause cavities.


Take your child to the dentist if you think he has tooth decay.

If you don’t have dental insurance and you can’t afford dental treatment for your child, the Ontario Government might cover the cost.

Contact Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700 to see if your child qualifies for the Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) program.

Did You Know? ...is one of the most common disorders of childhood affecting 60% of 5 to 17 year-olds."

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Revised: March 24, 2020

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