Caring for your child’s teeth

But when is the perfect time to take your child to the dentist? Some advise to go before the age of one, others recommend to wait until the age of 2-3 years old. You must also consider your child’s comfort with the dentist. If your baby starts to scream as soon as they see the dentist, the doctor, or anyone else, it becomes a traumatic experience for everyone that no one wants to repeat. So, to delay your child’s first dentist appointment and wait until they grow a little, make sure to take good care of their teeth at home.

Wait a little, but not too long ... A friend of mine waited until her daughter was three years old to take her to the dentist's office: the little girl had a fear of doctors and nurses, so her mother was reluctant to bring her to the dentist. The good news is that it went very well between the dentist and the child ... The bad, the child had 10 cavities!

Teeth care for Baby

Even before their first teeth appear, baby's mouth and gums should be cleaned with a soft washcloth, after each meal or feeding.

It is when the first tooth appears that you start using a soft toothbrush designed for toddlers. An adult should not only supervise brushing until the age of 4 but even do it themselves to make sure the child gets everywhere. To make it comfortable for everyone, it is recommended to sit on the floor with the child's head on their knees. With the mouth open, mom and dad will clearly see the small teeth that need to be brushed. You can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste if desired.

There are 20 baby teeth. They normally burst, starting with the central incisors (lower middle teeth), at the age of 6 to 10 months, and ending with the molars, shortly after the age of 2 years. The loss of these teeth occurs between the ages of 6 and 12 years.

Look for signs of early decay by lifting the baby's lips. White, chalky teeth are the signal of a mild case; teeth stained with brown or black indicate a more serious case that requires immediate care.

Children who experience early decay tend to remain at high risk when they have permanent teeth.

Upper teeth

Central Incisor 8 to 12 months 6 to 7 years old
Lateral Incisor 9 to 13 months 7 to 8 years old
Canine 16 to 22 months 10 to 12 years old
First Molar 13 to 19 months 9 to 11 years old
Second Molar 25 to 33 months 10 to 12 years old

Lower Teeth

Central Incisor 6 to 10 months 6 to 7 years old
Lateral Incisor 10 to 16 months 7 to 8 years old
Canine 17 to 23 months 9 to 12 years old
First Molar 14 to 18 months 9 to 11 years old
Second Molar 23 to 31 months 10 to 12 years old
Baby bottle tooth decay

Young children, like the little girl we were talking about earlier, are particularly sensitive to so-called baby bottle tooth decay: cavities that are caused by the prolonged presence of liquids in the baby’s mouth, like when they fall asleep with the bottle in their mouths. It may look cute but it could be harmful. Only thorough maintenance of the mouth and regular visits to the dentist can prevent cavities in your child’s mouth.

Your decision to breastfeed or not, and for how long, is a very personal decision. While experts agree that breastfeeding is very beneficial to your baby's health, studies have shown that breastfeeding, in the long run, can be associated with increased acid production and an increased risk of early teeth decay. As a general guideline to minimize this risk, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that babies be weaned from the bottle or breast by the age of 12 months, and taught to use the cup.


If your baby uses a pacifier, check the packaging and shape to make sure it is orthodontic. The best are those that have a nipple shape and that keep the baby's lips closed, which encourages natural nasal breathing. Never soak the pacifier in something sweet. Honey is one of the most damaging foods for your baby’s teeth.

Acidic saliva

By gradually introducing foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet, you will help their saliva regain a better balance in acidity. These foods need to be heavily chewed for a long time, which stimulates the flow of saliva and therefore, decreases the acidity and brings back the calcium that protects their teeth against cavities.

Teeth care for children

Early loss of baby teeth can affect language, chewing ability, and tongue use. If the child loses a tooth due to decay, the permanent tooth may burst at an angle, causing an overlap of adult teeth.

Between the ages of 4 and 7, encourage your child to brush their teeth alone by showing them the correct movements: back and forth from top to bottom. Supervise them until the age of 10 or when they get the hang of it! Speaking of maintenance ... it may sound funny, but the most difficult part when teaching a child to brush their teeth is not the exercise itself ... It's explaining how to spit out the toothpaste that tastes like bubble gum rather than swallowing it! Not always obvious! However, it is very important to make them spit and rinse their mouth because if the child ingests the toothpaste like candy, they will end up with a fluoride overdose problem.

Mollar Sealing

The sealing of permanent molar grooves is an effective preventive measure against cavities. It obstructs the cavities that are numerous on the molars. The sealing is done with a thin layer of liquid resin, a bit like nail polish. The installation of this sealant is not covered by the Quebec health insurance program, but most private insurers reimburse the cost (around $ 50 per tooth).


Fluoride acts in two ways on the teeth: during their formation, it makes the teeth, up to a certain extent, naturally resistant to cavities. When the teeth have pierced the gum, the fluoride that is absorbed is added and reduces the risk of developing cavities by 60 per cent.

Fluoride is therefore important for the protection of teeth. But the child who absorbs too much fluoride will develop dental fluorosis. The main consequence of this is the appearance of brown or white spots on the teeth. In addition, the enamel of the teeth will become rough and therefore difficult to clean. It’s a shame because these children often end up doing cosmetic dentistry during their adolescence or adulthood because these spots can be very apparent, and therefore embarrassing!

Before giving fluoride supplements to your child, it is important to do at least two things: A phone call to find out if your city "fluoridates" tap water and a close-up reading of your toothpaste tubes ... Having a good idea of the amount of fluoride your child absorbs, you will be able to better judge the precautions to take ... And an appointment at the dentist does not hurt either!

Sources: Canadian Dental Association, Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

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