Frequent Questions - Vancouver Community Dental Health Program

Vancouver Public Health
Dental Health Program

Frequent Questions

Q. Does a baby’s mouth need special care?

A. Yes. To get ready for teeth  wipe your baby’s gums daily with a clean, soft cloth. Also, keep your own teeth clean because you can transfer bacteria that cause decay to your baby.

Q. When should my baby first see a dentist?

A. Children should have their first dental check-up around their first birthday or six months after the first tooth comes in. 

Q. How often should my child have a check-up?

A. Every child is different and so are their dental needs.  Your dentist can tell you how often your child should have their teeth checked.

Q. What causes decay?

A. There are many factors involved in tooth decay such as how often food is eaten and how long food stays on teeth.  Choosing healthy foods, eating at regular times and brushing teeth daily with fluoride toothpaste will help prevent tooth decay.

Dental Plaque (bacteria on teeth) + Sugar & Carbohydrates (found in most foods we eat) = Acid

Acid + Healthy Tooth = Decay

Q. How can tooth decay be avoided?

A. Refer to The Canada Food Guide to Healthy Living for great information on healthy foods and drinks for children. It’s not just sugar in candy that causes tooth decay. Frequent snacking, or sipping between regular meals and snacks can increase the risk for tooth decay. Starchy foods that stick to the teeth like crackers, potato chips, and cookies should be avoided. Also, drinks like pop, fruit drinks or juice cocktails have lots of sugar should also be avoided.

With drinks even milk and 100% fruit juices contain sugar. Constant sipping of anything other than water from a bottle such as at night or a training cup during the day can cause your child’s teeth to decay.

Q. What kind of snacks and drinks are best?

A. Choose healthy snacks from at least two of the four food groups following Canada's Guide for Healthy Living. Limit snacking to only 2-3 times a day. Change the type of snacks often. If there is no choking hazard, offer raw vegetables or fresh fruit and cheese. Offer sweet or starchy snacks infrequently (once a week only) and rinse with water or brush after snacking.

Water is the best thing to drink between meals. Milk is essential for a healthy diet. Serve milk with meals. Refer to The Canada Food Guide to Healthy Living.

Q. Will my child get check-ups at school?

A. Presently Public Health Certified Dental Assistants provide a limited dental screening of kindergarten children that attend Vancouver schools. Dental program staff provide telephone follow-up of the children found to be in obvious need of dental treatment. Families unable to access a dentist can make an appointment to attend our public health dental clinic.

Q. How long does a parent need to brush their child’s teeth?

A. At our public health dental clinic we suggest parents need to brush their child's teeth twice daily up until the age of 10. We encourage parents to keep checking once daily to make sure brushing is done effectively for as long as possible.

Q. What kind of toothpaste should I use?

A. To make teeth strong, choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride and is recognized by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA).  See the dental resources for more information on the amount of toothpaste to use for brushing.

Q. Do you provide emergency care?

A. Urgent care can be provided for children with severe pain or swelling.

If you are an adult in need of emergency care, you may have a number of options for reduced-fee services. Outside of regular office hours, you may wish to visit your hospital’s emergency department.

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