Tooth Decay in Ontario's Children


Tooth decay is an infectious disease — and it is a reality. We all need to work together on prevention.

Tooth Decay Facts: Did you know?

  • it is the second most common cause of school absenteeism
  • it is five times more common than asthma in children age 5-17
  • it can be transmitted by sharing a spoon with young children or licking their pacifier
  • it is preventable in almost all cases

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.


ODA Members log in for additional resources.

Ten Tips for Parents

  1. Before your baby has teeth, wipe the gums gently with a clean wet cloth after each feeding.
  2. If your baby sleeps with a bottle or sippy cup at naptime or bedtime, fill it with water only.
  3. If your baby normally falls asleep while feeding, brush his or her teeth before feeding.
  4. Lift your baby’s lip and watch for changes in colour, lines or spots on your child’s teeth as these may be signs of potential problems.
  5. For children from birth to 3 years of age, talk to your dentist about whether fluoridated toothpaste is appropriate for your child and how much should be used.
  6. For children from 3 to 6 years of age, only a small amount (a portion the size of a green pea) of fluoridated toothpaste should be used. Children in this age group should be assisted by an adult when brushing their teeth.
  7. Begin flossing at least once a day when your child’s teeth are touching.
  8. Change your child’s toothbrush every one to three months or immediately after an illness.
  9. To prevent spreading germs that cause tooth decay, do not put anything in your child’s mouth if it has been in your mouth.  Don’t share spoons, cups, food, toothbrushes, etc.
  10. Visit your dentist by the age of one year, or when the first teeth appear.  Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups to make sure there are no problems.

Download and print the Ten Tips for Parents

IADR Presentations

The International Association of Dental Research (IADR) conference was held in Toronto in 2008. The conference featured international experts and high-profile oral health-care stakeholders who focused on best practices aimed at the prevention of tooth decay, especially in the children’s high-risk category.

  • Dr. C. Friedman, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.
    "Defining the Population" (PPT)
  • Dr. J. Featherstone, University of California, USA
    "Caries Management and Prevention" (PPT)
  • Dr. N. Pitts, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK
    "The Value of Early Caries Detection in Enabling Preventive Therapies in Dentistry" (PPT)
  • Dr. I. McConnachie, Pediatric Dentist/ ODA Past-President, Nepean, Ont.
    "Applying New Ideas and Program Design to Ontario Government Sponsored Dental Programs" (PPT)

Public Awareness Radio Spots

  • Tooth Decay in Ontario's Children: "Echo" (Windows Media)
  • Tooth Decay in Ontario's Children: "Megaphone" (Windows Media)

ODA Sound Bite
Listen to ODA President Dr. Larry Levin: Tooth Decay in Ontario's Children

ODA President Dr. Larry Levin on Tooth Decay in Children (WAV)

Top of this page