From Fraser Health. Start healthy habits early

Healthy habits lead to good dental health. Follow these tips to protect your child’s teeth:

  • Brush your child’s teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Your child will need your help with brushing and flossing until they are able to write, not print, their own name. This is usually until around 8 years of age.
  • Use a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste on a small soft toothbrush. Massage gently at the gumline, and brush the outside, the inside and the chewing surface of all teeth.
  • Daily cleaning with fluoride toothpaste is important because fluoride can prevent cavities and stop existing cavities from getting larger.
  • When the teeth are touching and brushing is well established, floss daily. Ease the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss against each tooth, and gently scrape up and down.

Sipping and snacking
Tooth decay can happen when a child sips or snacks frequently, or for prolonged periods of time.

Milk, fruit juice, any food or sweetened drinks all have sugars in them that can cause tooth decay. Decay can result if the teeth are in contact with any of these for long periods of time. Sticky foods are particularly troublesome because they remain on the teeth for a long time. Water is the best thirst quencher and will not contribute to decay.

  • Offer plain water only for between meal thirst. Offer other drinks at regular meal and snack times.
  • Offer 2-3 scheduled snacks per day. Choose a variety of healthy foods that do not stick to the teeth.

Check regularly for signs of tooth decay

Your dentist will recommend how often your child should visit, normally twice a year. This allows the dentist to catch any potential problems early to prevent the problems from getting much worse.

To spot tooth decay at home, check all sides of the teeth and look carefully along the gum line. The first sign of tooth decay can appear as whitish areas on the teeth, which may progress to brown. If you suspect a problem, consult your dentist.

Free or low-cost dental care services


The BC Healthy Kids Program helps low income families with the costs of basic dental care and prescription eye wear. If you are on premium assistance through BC Medical Services Plan (MSP), your child may be eligible for dental benefits. Visit the Healthy Kids Program to learn more.


The Children’s Dental Program offers free basic dental and preventive services to low-income school-aged children, 5-12 years of age who are not eligible for exisitng government-funded programs. Services are provided by UBC Dental students under the supervision and instruction of a licensed dentist or pedodontist. For more information on services and resources contact your local public health dental staff.

Educational resources
Caring for Your Child’s Teeth: For Parents & Caregivers of Children Three and Under

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