Keeping those baby teeth healthy – one question at a time

Healthy baby teeth are very important for growing children. They maintain space for adult teeth. They help your child chew, speak and smile!

On the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page (, we get many questions on how to keep children’s teeth healthy. Here are just a few questions we have answered:

Q: When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth? Two have just appeared. And brush with what? Toothbrush and water?

A: Now is the time to start brushing. Use a toddler toothbrush with soft or extra soft bristles. Water is just fine to start wait until three years of age to start with fluoridated toothpaste. Brush twice a day and start to floss daily when your baby has two teeth that are touching.

Q: When should baby’s first dental visit be?

A: We recommend baby’s first visit to the dentist be at one year, or when the first teeth appear. You may find your dentist doesn’t want to see children until three years of age, but insist. Starting early means issues can be caught early, little ones get used to the dentist/hygienist early, and parents can learn great prevention tips.

*It is very important for parents to get help from other parents experiencing the same issues:

Q: My toddler hates brushing; well I should say, hates having them brushed. He will play with the toothbrush fine. Any tips to get him to enjoy or at least not scream when brushing for him?

With permission, we reposted her question and she received 30 replies with links to great resources. Here are some of the replies:

• “I let my toddler ‘brush’ my teeth while I brush hers. It’s distracting enough for her to let me get in there.”

• “We use a kid’s electric (toothbrush). It plays music when you are finished. Kept them interested for a while.”

“I get my kids to pick two songs each that I sing to them while I brush their teeth. Or three animals if it’s Old MacDonald.” 

What a wealth of information parents have to share, and Parenting in Ottawa is a great place to find it – moderated by a nurse, no less!

Do you have more questions? Call the Ottawa Public Health Info Line at 613-PARENTS (613-727-3687) (TTY: 613-580-9656) or email