How To Prevent Cavities

Care of your Child’s Teeth: Download pamphlet

Parents often ask how they can help prevent cavities with their kids. Here are some basic guidelines to help your child maintain a healthy smile!


  • Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day: after breakfast and before bed. Use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush and encourage them NOT to swallow.
  • Continue to help your child brush until at LEAST age nine.
  • Replace your child’s toothbrush every three months and always use a new toothbrush after he/she has had a cold.


  • Flossing cleans between the teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Help your child floss his/her teeth once a day: ease floss in between the teeth, curve the floss around the tooth at the gum line, and gently sweep up and down.

Good Diet = Healthy Teeth

  • Putting a child to bed with a bottle containing formula, milk, juice or soda as well as breast-feeding your child throughout the night leads to cavities. Sweet liquids in the mouth support bacteria that attack the teeth and can lead to severe cavities. Protect your child from early childhood cavities by putting them to sleep only with a pacifier or a bottle of water.

Sugar is not only found in candy!

  • Bacteria in the mouth convert sugar and starch from our food into an acid, which causes cavities.
  • Watch for hidden sugars and starches in many natural or processed foods like fruits, vegetables, crackers, potato chips, peanut butter, ketchup, etc.
  • Your child does NOT have to give up all foods with sugar or starch. Just limit the frequency of snacking to no more than 2-3 times a day: the more a child snacks and nibbles the greater their chance of developing cavities.

Eat Smart!

  • Foods with sugar or starch are safer for the teeth if eaten with a meal, not as a snack. Avoid eating sticky foods, such as fruit snacks or toffee because they are not easily washed away from the teeth by saliva or water.


  • Fluoride, when combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene, is effective at preventing cavities when combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene. It slows enamel breakdown and makes the teeth more resistant to the attack of bacterial acid.
  • Most cities in BC do not have fluoridated water. If your water comes from a well, you can have it tested its fluoride content.
    Please find the procedures for testing your private well water and a list of labs in BC which will test your water.
  • RECOMMENDED FLUORIDE SUPPLEMENT SCHEDULE (BC Dental Association Publication: Connections Issue March 2006)

What is fissure sealant?

Your child’s teeth may develop imperfections called pits and fissures, which often become filled with bacteria and food. The bristles of your toothbrush may be too thick to reach into these areas and the bacteria and food can’t be removed by brushing, flossing or rinsing.

Watch a video demo of fissure sealant


Close up view of pits and grooves on a tooth Bristles of tooth brush unable to brush in the very small grooves of the teeth

Left: Microscopic view of the surface of a tooth showing very small pits and fissures

Right: Microscopic view of the surface of a tooth
showing bristles of toothbrush unable
to brush in the very small grooves of the teeth

Special materials, which have proved to be safe and effective in the mouth, can be painted on the pits and fissures and bonded firmly in place. Pits and fissures are effectively “sealed” and bacteria and food cannot accumulate.

Importance of fissure sealants What is fissure sealants?

Left: (arrows) pits and grooves naturally present on the tooth which become bacteria and food traps. These teeth are at risk of getting decay

Right: Pits and grooves sealed by fissure sealant so that bacteria and food cannot accumulate.

Sealants can last for many years. However, due to chewing and the abrasive nature of some foods, such as ice cubes, crunchy candy or sticky foods, sealants may become dislodged or damaged. In such cases, new sealant material can be applied to repair or replace the original sealant. Sealants prove to be beneficial where pits and fissures make a tooth at risk for decay.

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