CDAA Position Statement – Childhood Oral Healthcare

Canadian Dental Assistants Association



Childhood Oral Healthcare

The Canadian Dental Assistants Association (CDAA) believes oral health is an integral component of overall health.  Poor oral health may contribute to systemic illnesses over time so building good oral health habits at a young age is important.

The CDAA supports:

  • Efforts and initiatives of all healthcare providers and caregivers who share their expertise and knowledge on the overall health benefits of good oral health, with Canadians.
  • Pre-natal education and prevention campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of the impact of good nutrition on pre-natal oral health.
  • Initiatives aimed at promoting and raising awareness amongst Canadians about the benefits of physical activity and healthy eating according to Canada’s Food Guide.

The CDAA recommends:

  • Children be seen by a dentist before their first birthday, with annual visits each subsequent year.
  • Children under the age of three (3) have their teeth brushed by an adult caregiver; children between three (3) and six (6) years of age should be assisted by an adult when brushing their teeth.
  • An adult routinely monitor the result of the child’s oral hygiene efforts until such time as they are confident the child is adequately performing the task;  adults should be made aware adolescence is a time when efforts may regress and require reinforcement- the ideal reinforcement being an adult modeling proper oral hygiene themselves.
  • Children brush their teeth prior to bedtime.
  • Children’s teeth be brushed using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Bedtime bottles contain only water, not milk or juice.
  • Expectant mothers eat a nutritionally-balanced diet to give their child’s teeth the best start in life.
  • Dental assistants, wherever and whenever possible, educate expectant mothers and patients with young children on the lifelong health benefits of good oral health.


Increasingly, research has demonstrated that good oral health is a contributing factor to strong overall health and well-being.  Poor oral health and periodontal diseases have been found to be linked to diabetes, respiratory illnesses, pre-term/low birth weight babies and cardiovascular disease. (SMILE, 2009)

Oral health is important at all stages of life.  Young children who form strong oral health habits and practices build a foundation for lifelong oral health and overall health.   Without a strong oral health foundation among Canadian children, future generations of Canadians are at risk of increasing their risk for chronic diseases over their lifetime.  As well, over the lifespan of Canadians, poor oral health across the population increases the annual loss of time from school, work or normal activities.  The latest data from 2009 shows Canadians lost 40.36 million hours of school, work and activity time due to check-ups or problems with their teeth.   Translated into days, this means that there are an estimated 2.26 million school-days and 4.15 million working-days lost annually due to dental visits or dental sick-days. (CHMS, 2010)

A study of 35,267 women performed by Hwang et al. in 2012 demonstrated those who did not receive dental care or preventive periodontal therapy during pregnancy were at a slightly higher risk for pre-term delivery.  Beyond this finding, studies have shown pre-term infants often experience an increased risk of developing dental problems such as delayed tooth eruption, enamel hypoplasia, tooth discoloration, palatal groove, and a possible increased risk for needing braces (Tracy, 1999).  Educating expectant mothers on the consequences of poor oral health and the consequences it may have on their child may improve the oral health of future Canadians.

Good nutrition is a contributing factor to good oral health.  Studies performed in developed countries have shown increased exposure to dietary sugars is linked to an increase in dental caries (Moynihan, 2005). Evidence from many types of investigations, including human, animal and experimental studies, consistently have shown that sugars are the most important factor in the development of dental caries (Moynihan, 2005).  The CDAA recommends young children given a bedtime bottle be given only water in their bottles, based on vast evidence that bottles with milk and juices contain sugar and promote decay.  The CDAA further supports health programs and initiatives which support good pre-natal and childhood nutrition practices in order that children develop healthy nutritional habits that will impact their oral health throughout their lifetime.


SMILE Publication. Health Canada.  2009

Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) 2007-2009. Health Canada. 2010

Hwang, S.S., Smith, V.C., McCormick, M.C. et al. The Association between Maternal Oral Health Experiences and Risk of Preterm Birth in 10 States, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2004–2006.  Maternal Child Health Journal (2012) 16: 1688.

Tracy, A., Maroney, D., R.N.  Your Premature Baby and Child : Helpful Answers and Advice for Parents. Berkeley, 1999.

Moynihan, P.  The Role of diet and nutrition in the etiology and prevention of oral diseases.  Bulletin of the World Health Organization, September 2005. 83 (9)