How to Prevent Cavities (Tooth Decay)

Brush Twice Daily

Public Health recommends that all residents brush their teeth twice daily for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities.

Oral health is important for overall health. Dental cavities are the most common chronic disease of children ages 5 to 18.

Untreated tooth decay can lead to pain and infection, which may result in problems with eating, speaking and learning.

Tips to Help Prevent Cavities

  • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste as recommended
  • Babies can use fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth appears
  • Children under the age of six should not use mouthwash or mouth rinse
  • Parents and caregivers with children under six years should apply the toothpaste to the toothbrush and supervise to ensure proper brushing
  • Floss daily

Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride is not added to tap water in Niagara. Talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments, such as fluoride varnish application.

Visit the Dentist

All family members should visit the dentist twice a year (before age one). Free dental programs are available for children and youth 17 years and and younger.

Public Health does not have adult dental programs. Find cost effective adult dental services.

Under three years of age

Showing the size of a pea on a toothbrush

Children should have their teeth brushed by an adult, using a rice grain sized portion of fluoride toothpaste until the child can spit out.

Three years of age and up

Showing the size of a pea on a toothbrush

Once a child can spit out, they should be supervised using no more than a pea sized portion of fluoride toothpaste.

Healthy Diet

  • Eat a healthy diet and limit sticky, sugary and salty snacks
  • Avoid starchy foods, such as pretzels, crackers and chips which contain sugars and contribute to tooth decay
  • Drink water instead of sweetened beverages like pop, juice and sports drinks

Learn more about a healthy diet with Canada's Food Guide.


For more information or to book an appointment, call the Dental Health Line at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7399.

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