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Toddlers and Preschoolers

This is a good time in your child’s life to build habits that will protect the teeth and lay the foundation for future health. Teeth start to appear at about 6 months and continue until age 3. Tender gums are associated with each stage of tooth emergence, which can make your child irritable. It helps to rub the gums with your finger, a small cool spoon or a cold teething ring that has been placed in the fridge.

From a young age:

  • Feed your child from all food groups and limit sugary foods or drinks
  • After eating sugary or sticky foods like raisins, brush your child’s teeth, rinse the mouth with water or serve juicy fruits/vegetables to clean the teeth
  • Don’t let your child constantly sip on sugary liquids, including milk and juice from sippy cups. Offer these liquids only at mealtimes.
  • Children under age 3 should have their teeth brushed twice a day by an adult using a toothbrush moistened only with water. Parents should consult a dentist to determine whether their child under age 3 is at risk of developing tooth decay before using fluoridated toothpaste. If a risk of tooth decay exists, use a minimal amount (a portion the size of a grain of rice) of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Children 3 to 6 years of age should be assisted by an adult in brushing their teeth. Only a small amount (a portion the size of a green pea) of fluoridated toothpaste should be used. Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste, rather than swallow it.
  • Begin flossing when your child’s teeth are touching
  • Change your child’s toothbrush every one to three months or immediately after an illness. Never share toothbrushes in your household.
  • Let your child watch you brushing your teeth as often as possible. Children are wonderful imitators, and will learn from your habits.

Alberta Health Services Fluoride Protection for Eligible Toddlers

Offers free fluoride applications for eligible children 12 to 35 months to protect their teeth from cavities. Children only need to have a few teeth to start getting fluoride. Click here for eligibility information or contact Health Link at 811.

For additional information see the My Health Alberta website (Click Here) or call  Health Link at 811.