- Breastfeeding and baby’s teeth
Ages: newborn to 1 year
English (PDF) | French (PDF)
- Dental health and newborn babies
Ages: newborn to 1 year
- Dental health at six months
Ages: newborn to 1 year
- Dental health at one year
Ages: 1 to 3 years
- Dental health
Ages: newborn to 6 years
Healthy Smile Happy Child
A healthy baby is a happy baby. We are a community outreach initiative focused on promoting early childhood oral health and early childhood caries prevention strategies across Manitoba — focusing on children under six and their families.
Who we are
Healthy Smile Happy Child (HSHC) is a collaborative partnership that takes an upstream community development approach to engage communities in Early Childhood Caries (ECC) prevention strategies and promotion of early childhood oral health.
HSHC was formed in 2000 in response to the high rates of early childhood tooth decay and excessive demand and wait times for pediatric dental surgery under general anesthesia.
HSHC is guided by three fundamental principles:
- relationship building and community development
- oral health promotion
- research and development
The program is a partnership that includes Manitoba Health, University of Manitoba, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Manitoba Dental Association, Manitoba Metis Federation, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, and the Regional Health Authorities in Manitoba.
Caring for baby teeth
From early pregnancy to your child's sixth birthday - we offer resources and tips on how to take care of children's teeth.
Prenatal dental care
Brushing for two. Your oral health affects baby during the prenatal stage – here are some things to know:
- it is important for mom to take of her teeth during pregnancy to prevent spread of cavity causing bacteria to the baby, once baby is born
- it is safe to visit the dentist during pregnancy: check-ups and preventive treatments (e.g. cleanings) can be done at any time during the pregnancy
- baby teeth begin to form at six weeks of pregnancy – baby teeth have the best chance of developing well if the expectant mother takes prenatal vitamins and follows the recommendations of their healthcare provider during their pregnancy
- eat a well-balanced diet, making sure to include calcium and vitamin D-rich foods that will help with the healthy development of teeth
Newborn to 1 year
Caring for a child's mouth and teeth should start even before teeth come in. Below are some tips to make sure your child’s teeth stay healthy:
- breastfeed if possible
- wipe your baby’s gums after feeding with clean, damp wash cloth
- if using a bottle, always hold your baby to feed. Bottle-propping can lead to tooth decay
- do not put your baby to bed with a bottle, unless it contains plain water
- do not dip soother in sugar or sugary liquids
- when baby starts teething, avoid teething biscuits (they are full of sugar) – give your baby a cold, clean wash cloth to suck on
- start brushing baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears – brush twice a day, especially before bed, using a soft toothbrush
- use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (size of a grain of rice) when brushing
- switch from the bottle to a sippy cup at six months
- put only plain water in the sippy cup between meals
- limit juice and pop to half a cup a day
1 to 3 years
As children grow, it's important to continue to care for their teeth as they come in. Here are some tips and guidelines to help keep teeth healthy:
- celebrate your child’s first birthday with a visit to the dentist
- wean your baby off the bottle/sippy cup by 12-14 months and switch to a regular cup
- continue to brush twice a day using a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste (size of a grain of rice)
- limit juice and pop to half a cup a day and give only at meal times
- give healthy food and snacks that are low in sugar
- check your child’s teeth at least once a month for signs of tooth decay – lift the lip and look along the gum line for chalky white lines
- wean your baby off the soother by the age of three
4 to 6 years
It's important to care of a child's mouth and teeth right from the beginning to prevent tooth decay. Below are tips and guidelines that can help prevent early childhood tooth decay, and give a good start to a healthy mouth and a healthy body:
- continue brushing twice a day using a soft toothbrush and a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste
- as soon as your child’s teeth start touching, it’s time to start flossing
- continue to help your child brush and floss until they are eight years old
- limit sugary drinks to half a cup a day and give only during meal times
- take your child for regular dental check-ups and cleanings
Resources by age
Good oral health habits right from the start will help ensure a lifetime of healthy teeth. Below are some age appropriate resources to help with your child’s overall health and well-being.
All of our resources, including those listed below, are helpful tools for parents, caregivers, and those working in community outreach initiatives.
Posters and flipcharts
Dental games and activities
Dental bingo for adults
Dental bingo for preschool
Dental Bingo for elementary school
Additional video resources
Commonly asked questions (dental care for moms and young children)
Check for tooth decay at home (lift the lip)
How to brush and floss
For more videos check out our YouTube channel.
- Health promotion strategies to improve early childhood oral health in Manitoba First Nations and Metis communities (video; 2020)
- Assessing the oral health related quality of life of First Nations and Metis children in Manitoba (video; 2020)
- The development of an oral health educational tool for newcomer parents of young children (video; 2020)
- Part I: Dispelling myths in early childhood oral health (video; 2020)
- Part II: Dispelling myths in early childhood oral health (video; 2020)
Canadian Caries Risk Assessment Tool
This tool allows non-dental primary health care providers and oral health care providers in non-traditional clinical settings to assess the risk of (and take defined action upon) tooth decay for children under the age of six.
The Canadian Caries Risk Assessment (CCRA) Tool was pilot tested at wellness fairs, while six focus groups were conducted with 62 participants, including nurses and nurse practitioners, family physicians, pediatricians, dieticians, social workers, dental hygienists and dentists.
This tool has now been endorsed by the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Learn more about the CCRA tool's journey from discovery to implementation
The Office of the Chief Dental Officer of Canada (OCDO) at the Public Health Agency of Canada initiated this caries risk assessment project, and commissioned Dr. Robert Schroth’s team at the University of Manitoba in 2017 to comprehensively explore and report on the global body of evidence on caries risk assessment. From that evidence base, they were then to develop a Canadian caries risk assessment tool that would allow non-dental primary health care providers and oral health care providers in non-traditional clinical settings to assess the risk of (and take defined action upon) tooth decay for children under the age of six.
In March 2018, the OCDO convened a landmark inter-professional stakeholders meeting of experts and potential professional users to discuss the findings of the University of Manitoba team’s initial report on their systematic review of the literature, their global review of existing tools, and an initial draft version of a Canadian caries risk assessment tool for pre-schoolers (see appended reports). Participants included staff of the OCDO and representatives of the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry. Representatives from the Canadian Dental Association, Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, Canadian Dental Assistants Association, Canadian Dental Therapists Association, College of Family Physicians of Canada, Canadian Dental Regulatory Authorities Federation and the Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry attended as observers. It should be noted that the Canadian Nurses Association was invited to participate but was unable to do so.
Dr. Schroth’s team then undertook focus group testing of the draft Canadian caries risk assessment tool with primary healthcare providers. It was pilot tested at wellness fairs, while six focus groups were conducted with 62 participants, including nurses and nurse practitioners, family physicians, pediatricians, dieticians, social workers, dental hygienists and dentists. This feedback informed the refinement of the Canadian caries risk assessment tool. The OCDO then re-convened the original stakeholders group in November 2018 to consider and discuss the proposed final version of the Canadian caries risk assessment tool. This tool has now been endorsed by the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. It is also being considered for inclusion in the Rourke Baby Record, which is a system that many Canadian physicians and other healthcare professionals use for well-baby and well-child visits for infants and children from one week to five years of age. Validation research on the Canadian caries risk assessment tool, funded by the Network for Canadian Oral Health Research, is currently being conducted by Dr. Schroth’s team; the results are expected to be published by Fall 2021.
Le Bureau du dentiste en chef du Canada (BDCC) à l'Agence de la santé publique du Canada a lancé ce projet d'évaluation du risque de caries et a chargé l'équipe de Dr Robert Schroth de l'Université du Manitoba en 2017 d'explorer et de faire rapport de façon exhaustive sur l'ensemble des preuves sur l'évaluation du risque de carie. À partir de cette base de données probantes, ils devaient ensuite élaborer un outil canadien d'évaluation du risque de carie qui permettrait aux fournisseurs de soins de santé primaires non dentaires et aux fournisseurs de soins de santé buccodentaire dans des milieux cliniques non traditionnels d'évaluer le risque (et de prendre des mesures définies) de carie dentaire chez les enfants de moins de six ans.
En mars 2018, le BDCC a convoqué une réunion d'intervenants interprofessionnels d'experts et d'utilisateurs professionnels potentiels pour discuter des conclusions du rapport initial de l'équipe de l'Université du Manitoba sur leur examen systématique de la littérature, leur examen global des outils existants et une première version provisoire d'un outil canadien d'évaluation du risque de carie pour les enfants d'âge préscolaire (voir rapports en annexe). Les participants comprenaient le personnel de du BDCC et des représentants de la Société canadienne de pédiatrie, de l'Académie canadienne de dentisterie pédiatrique et de l'Association canadienne de dentisterie en santé publique. Des représentants de l'Association dentaire canadienne, de l'Association canadienne des hygiénistes dentaires, de l'Association canadienne des assistants dentaires, de l'Association canadienne des thérapeutes dentaires, du Collège des médecins de famille du Canada, de la Fédération canadienne des autorités de réglementation dentaire et de l'Association des facultés de médecine dentaire du Canada étaient des observateurs. Il est à noter que l'Association des infirmières et infirmiers du Canada a été invitée à participer mais n'a pas pu y assister.
L’équipe du Dr Schroth a ensuite entrepris des tests de groupe de discussion sur le projet de l’outil canadien d'évaluation du risque de carie avec des fournisseurs de soins de santé primaires. Il a été testé dans des foires de bien-être, tandis que six groupes de discussion ont été menés avec 62 participants, dont des infirmières et des infirmières praticiennes, des médecins de famille, des pédiatres, des diététiciens, des travailleurs sociaux, des hygiénistes dentaires et des dentistes. Leurs commentaires ont éclairé le raffinement de l’outil canadien d'évaluation du risque de carie. Le BDCC a ensuite réuni à nouveau le groupe de parties prenantes d'origine en novembre 2018 pour examiner et discuter de la version finale proposée de l’outil canadien d'évaluation du risque de carie. Cet outil est maintenant approuvé par la Société canadienne de pédiatrie, l'Académie canadienne de dentisterie pédiatrique, l'Association canadienne de dentisterie en santé publique et l'Agence de la santé publique du Canada. Il est également envisagé de l'inclure dans le « Relevé postnatal Rourke, » un système que de nombreux médecins et autres professionnels canadiens de la santé utilisent pour les visites de nourrissons et d'enfants âgés d'une semaine à cinq ans. La recherche de validation sur l’outil canadien d'évaluation du risque de carie, financée par le Réseau canadien de recherche en santé buccodentaire, est actuellement menée par l'équipe du Dr Schroth; les résultats devraient être publiés d'ici l'automne 2021.
Research and development is one of Healthy Smile Happy Child’s fundamental guiding principles. Our team is always engaging in research to learn more about how to better the oral health of children in Manitoba and across Canada.
We conduct research to identify ways in which Healthy Smile Happy Child can serve Manitoba communities. Findings and outcomes learned through our collaborations, partnerships, and funding support, have led to several published works.
Feel free to get in touch if you're interested in copies of our published journal articles.
Participate in a study
We're always looking for parents and children who are interested in participating in research.
Current call for participants:
Help us fight early childhood tooth decay
Who we're looking for
- caregivers with children 18 months to 6 years
- children can have cavities or be cavity-free
How you'll participate
- parents will be asked to fill out a short survey
- children will get a free dental check-up
- dental plaque and spit samples will be collected
- at the UM Bannatyne Campus