Tips for preventing tooth decay in children

Dentists typically recommend parents brush their kids' teeth for them until about age 7-8. Then it's time to start teaching your child how to brush, floss and rinse his or her own teeth (and teach them why they should) to prevent cavities and painful trips to the dentist. Here are some popular tricks parents use to motivate their children.

TRICK #1: Get Fancy, Fun Brushes and Kid-Friendly Rinse Flavours

Let your child pick out their own toothbrush and rinse at the shops, as well as toothpaste. These days you can find all sorts of kid-friendly brushes in bright colours and covered with favourite movie and television-show characters. LISTERINE SMART RINSE® is available in two kid-friendly flavours.

TRICK #2: Sing A Song

Play a fun game where you sing the song your child selects while they brush, floss and rinse. The only catch is they have to keep up with the routine the whole time! Or, if your child is competitive, you can use a stopwatch instead of a song, and make it a competition to see if they can keep brushing until the stopwatch goes off.

TRICK #3: Calendar Games

Reward them with an enticing prize. Turn it into a contest so that the length of time of consecutive brushing earns your child a bigger prize -give your child a toy they really want after 14 days of twice-daily brushing and rinsing! Hang a calendar at your child's height in the bathroom and allow him to stick a gold star on each day they successfully brush and rinse in the morning and at night.

TRICK #4: Tell a Tooth Story

Explain why it is important to brush and rinse and make animated motions when describing the sugar bugs that can make holes in our teeth if we don't wash and rinse them away. Turn your child into a superhero, complete with a cape, who fights off those sugar bugs in their mouth attacking their teeth!


Age - 0-3: A child has his or her first set of teeth, known as baby teeth, firmly in place by the time they reach 3 years old.

Age - 3-5: This junior set of 20 teeth stays in place until age 5, when, one by one, they teeth will start to fall out and are replaced by permanent, or adult teeth.

Age - 5-13: These baby teeth have shorter roots and fall out to make way for permanent teeth. Typically, by the time a child reaches 13 years old, he or she has lost all of the baby teeth and they have been replaced by a full set of 28 permanent teeth.

Age - 17-25: Later, between the ages of 17 and 25, four wisdom teeth will also surface in the back of the mouth.

Baby teeth differ from permanent teeth in that they are whiter in color (permanent, adult teeth are naturally more yellowish in color). Baby teeth also differ in that their outer shell, known as enamel, and the dentin layer are both thinner and weaker, and the pulp is larger relative to the size of the whole tooth, so that if a kid gets a cavity, it spreads much more quickly to the nerve of the tooth. Regular checkups can catch any tooth decay early on and keep it from spreading. Remember that damage, such as tartar (which is the more advanced stage of plaque), can only be removed by dentists and their professional tools.