Dental Advice

Dental Advice


A child’s first visit to the dentist should coincide with the appearance of the primary teeth or in the six-month period following this event (at about age 1). The earlier the visit, the better the odds of preventing dental problems. If you think your child may have a cavity, or if your older children have had them, do not hesitate to speak with your dentist.

The First Appointment of Your Child

What causes cavities?

There are many causes of cavities in children, but diet and oral hygiene are key. It is important to understand the various stages of a cavity’s development. After every meal, food particles stay stuck on the teeth. If they are not removed by brushing, bacteria in the mouth transform the sugar in these particles into acids that attack the teeth’s enamel. This is why parents must teach their children the basics of good daily oral hygiene early on.

Beware of snacks!

Candy bars, dried fruit, and juice – even natural – contain sugar. Parents should limit their children’s consumption of sugar drinks to one a day
Choose non-sticky and sugar-free snacks such as cheese, vegetables, and fresh fruit
When the primary teeth have grown in, children can start to use dental floss
The use of a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste is recommended for children less than two years of age and pea-sized amount for children two years old and up.

Restorative dentistry


Cavities in very young children are aggressive and can spread quickly to all of their primary teeth. In the early stage, dental cavity lesions may not be noticed since they appear as stains or white lines near the gums, especially on the inside of the gums. Parents realize their child has a cavity when there is a hole in the tooth or if the tooth changes colour (brown or black). The damage occurs so quickly that it is not unusual for parents to mistake it for normal tooth development.

Causes of cavities in babies

Sleeping with a feeding bottle containing milk, juice, or other beverage as they all contain sugar
Using a pacifier that has been dipped in a liquid containing sugar
Drinking juice or eating sugary foods throughout the day
Not having their teeth cleaned regularly. Even before primary appear, parents must clean their baby’s gums in the morning and evening, using a clean cloth rolled around a finger.

Feeding bottles

At around 12 months or when the child has sufficient coordination, it is recommended that the feeding bottle be replaced with a spouted goblet with a lid
At around 15 months, stop using the feeding bottle at bedtime. To wean the child from the feeding bottle, gradually dilute juice or milk with water until the child is used to drinking water
As soon the first teeth appear, use a soft-bristle toothbrush with rounded ends to brush the surface of the child’s teeth and continue to use a wet cloth to clean the gums


Dental care during pregnancy

Pregnancy brings on major physical changes that may have an effect on oral health. Due to hormonal changes, pregnant women may experience greater fatigue, nausea, and vomiting in the first trimester, which may then taper off later in the pregnancy. They may develop excessive appetite for unusual kinds of food, which increases the risk of dental cavities.

Pregnant women must consume more protein, vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and folic acid. It is also recommended that they take calcium supplements, since unlike the calcium present in the teeth, calcium in the bones can flow into the blood and nourish the fetus.

Fluoride supplements are not recommended, since no benefit to the mother or fetus of such supplements has been demonstrated. However, fluoride toothpaste is more effective for pregnant women and carries less risk for the fetus.

At the onset of their pregnancy, women should visit their dentist for cleaning and tartar removal and to seek advice for appropriate oral hygiene during pregnancy. The dentist must be informed of the pregnancy; accordingly, he or she will limit the use of X-rays, especially in the first trimester when the fetus is particularly sensitive to them. Other dental treatments will be deferred to the second trimester. Local anesthetic involves no risk to the fetus, whatever the trimester. However, certain medications can cause fetal malformations. It is therefore important to speak with your doctor before taking any medication.

Routine examination and cleaning


As the teeth develop and mature, fluoride is incorporated into the enamel and dentine, making the teeth more resistant to cavities.

Fluoride also plays a role when the teeth are fully developed by penetrating the top layer of the teeth to form fluorapatite.

In the first instance, fluoride is given in pill form or as drops and can also be found in tap water. In the second instance, fluoride is found in most toothpastes, some mouthwashes, and in treatments provided by dentists.

The combined effects of these two sources of fluoride reduces the incidence of cavities by 60%.


Optimal fluoride dose for children

Total daily ingestion of fluoride from all sources – tap water, toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamin supplements, and food – should not exceed 0.05 to 0.07 mg per kilogram of body weight.

For children less than two years of age, use only minimal amounts of fluoride toothpaste, since they are likely to swallow as much toothpaste residue as they spit out. For children two years of age and up, a small pea-sized quantity of toothpaste should be used.

In Québec, the optimal concentration of fluoride for the prevention of dental cavities is a regulatory matter. The government’s health and social services department has established a provincial water fluoridation program in which a number of municipalities participate.

The Ordre des dentistes du Québec supports the judicious use of fluoride for the prevention of dental cavities and believes this measure has historically been one of the most successful initiatives in dental care.

Bruxism (teeth-grinding)

Bruxism refers to the habit of grinding one’s teeth. It can also refer to the habit of clenching one’s jaw. There are several consequences of bruxism, including wear and abrasion of the teeth, headaches, facial and mouth pain, and jawbone pain. In addition, the noise of teeth-grinding may prevent other family members from sleeping.

It is estimated that 8% of adults suffer from bruxism, and that 14% of children grind their teeth a few times a week.

There can be many causes for bruxism, from anxiety to a neurochemical sensitivity to brief and intense waking episodes at night, but science has yet to shed light on this mystery. One thing is certain: anxiety is a trigger for teeth-grinding.


Here are a few tips for preventing bruxism:

Don’t smoke in the evening
Avoid heavy alcohol consumption
Don’t sleep on your back
Avoid noise, for example, a computer or TV in the bedroom
Products such as Robaxacet, Tylenol Muscle or Flexeril (prescription needed) can be taken when you go to bed to reduce muscle pain and tension during episodes of bruxism. For more severe cases, you can take Rivotril (Clonazepam, prescription needed) for a short period.

Learn more about bruxism

Halitosis (bad breath)

Halitosis affects 65% of the population. In most cases, it is a temporary condition, as in the case of morning breath, which is due to a reduction in the production of saliva during sleep and less movement of the tongue and cheeks. A healthy and balanced breakfast along with brushing your teeth and tongue will restore your fresh breath.

There are many causes of halitosis:

Swollen gums and gum disease
Inadequate oral hygiene
The presence of cavities and poor restorative work
Retention of food particles between the teeth
Infection sites
Smoking and alcohol consumption
Reduction in saliva production
Accumulation of bacteria and food particles on the tongue
Certain foods such as garlic, onion, pastrami, etc.
Certain medications and supplements
Food particles that collect in the esophagus or near the tonsils
Certain diseases can produce fetid breath, such as diabetes.


Solutions for halitosis

Using mouthwash can temporarily mask bad breath. However, overuse can irritate the lining of the mouth and aggravate the problem. Your dentist and hygienist can recommend a mouthwash with good, scientifically established anti-microbial action.

The best way to prevent halitosis is to practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly. If your halitosis persists, be sure to speak with your dentist.

Periodontal treatment (gum disease)


A healthy and balanced diet helps prevent cavities and promotes your teeth’s remineralization as well as healthy gums.

To find out more, visit the site Healthy food, healthy teeth! by the Ordre des dentistes du Québec (Québec order of dentists)

Daily care

Daily dental care is essential for good oral health. Brushing and the regular use of dental floss are key dental care activities.

Everyone should brush his or her teeth at least twice a day, in the morning and evening, or ideally, after every meal. You should brush for two to three minutes. Remember to brush carefully, using a circular rather than side-to-side motion without pressing too hard on the brush. You must brush all sides of each tooth: inner, outer, and in the space between your teeth. To combat bad breath, you should also brush your tongue using a back-and-forth motion. Whether you use a manual or power toothbrush, be sure to choose one with soft bristles. It is important to change your toothbrush or power toothbrush head every three to six months.

In addition to brushing, it is important to use dental floss every night, particularly to remove plaque. When plaque is not removed on a daily basis, it hardens and forms a calcium deposit – or tartar – which accumulates over time. Tartar can trigger gum disease, in which the gums get swollen, turn red, and bleed. This condition develops insidiously over months and even years without causing pain until the gums are seriously affected and the teeth loosen.

Good oral health and regular visits to your dentist are the best ways to prevent complications.

Learn more about daily care

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