Putting the Bite on Cavities

Did you know?

  • Every year, 3,200 people are diagnosed with oral cancer in Canada
  • Babies need their gums cleaned even before teeth erupt
  • Dental decay and gum disease is preventable
  • Improved standards of dental care has allowed more people to keep their natural teeth
  • Plaque forms on our teeth every day and can only be removed by brushing and flossing
  • Bacteria in the plaque cause preventable gum inflammation and tooth decay – leading reasons why people lose their teeth

4 Steps to good oral health

  1. See your dentist regularly: Regular checkups and professional cleanings are the best way to prevent problems or to stop small problems from getting worse. Dentists look for subtle signs of oral disease, which may lead to or indicate serious health problems in other parts of your body.
  2. Practice good oral hygiene:
    • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste using a soft-bristle toothbrush.
    • Floss every day (or you miss 1/3 of your teeth’s surface!)
    • Rinsing with an antiseptic mouth wash may be a good addition to your oral care routine as it penetrates the biofilm (called plaque) that forms in your mouth
  3. Eat a well-balanced diet: Healthy nutrients from healthy food help fight cavities and gum disease. Avoid excess sugar – a major cause of dental problems.
  4. Check your mouth regularly: Look for signs of periodontal disease (problems in the structures surrounding and supporting the teeth), and oral cancer. (For details: http://ow.ly/5fzgr)


Start cleaning your children’s mouths even before they have teeth. Before bedtime, gently clean your baby’s gums with a clean, damp cloth. Once teeth begin to show up, you can change to a soft-bristled toothbrush.

When your child can write (not print) his or her name, you child is ready to do a good job brushing. Some tips:

  • Toothpaste the size of a pea on the brush. NO swallowing the paste!
  • Choose flavored toothpaste and floss. Make sure the toothpaste has fluoride.
  • Let your child choose a favorite color or shape of brush. Funky = fun.
  • Brush your teeth at the same time as your child.
  • Play a favorite song that is 2-3 minutes in length. Brush until the song is over
  • For snacks, use cheese cubes, vegetable shapes, small bowls of sugar-free cereal, small pieces of fresh fruit.
    • Use raisins, dried fruit, and sticky items modestly (e.g. fruit leathers or rolled-up fruit snacks) – they get stuck in the mouth.
  • Limit sweets to meals. There is more saliva in the mouth to help wash away the sugars.
  • Check with your dentist during your home assignment or before overseas departure to assess the need for fluoridated drops if treated water will not be available. The following is the CDA position: http://ow.ly/5fz37


  • Mouth piercings on the lips or tongue cause problems… The metal in your mouth can strip away the gums attached to the lower front teeth and wear away the enamel. NOT COOL!
  • If you have braces, brush extra carefully

Enamel: A fair weather friend

Enamel – the barrier between the outside of the tooth and the sensitive inner part – is your teeth’s first line of defense against corrosive bacteria and the stresses of chewing. Though it is the hardest substance in the body, it is not invincible to soft drinks and other acidic beverages. (Not convinced? Try using Coca Cola or Pepsi to remove rust). The keys to protecting enamel are fluoride toothpaste and a healthy diet.