Ontario Dental Association

Ontario Dental Association

November 18, 2008 10:00 ET

Ontario Dental Association Says Tooth Decay Is Infectious Disease

ODA Special Report and education campaign calls on parents and government to act immediately

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 18, 2008) -

Editors Note: A photo for this release will be available via Marketwire on the picture wire of The Canadian Press.

Tooth decay is an infectious disease that parents and government must prevent at the earliest stage announced the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) at a press conference today.

"Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, one of the leading causes of absences from school and only nine percent of Ontarians know that it's an infectious disease," said ODA President Dr. Larry Levin. "That's why the ODA has prepared a Special Report and is launching an education campaign to reach the public and the government - we have to do something about tooth decay today. Every single person should know that it's entirely preventable and even reversible when diagnosed early enough - the time to act is now."

The ODA's Special Report "Tooth Decay in Ontario's Children: An Ounce of Prevention - A Pound of Cure," calls on parents to take responsibility in their homes to help prevent the disease. The Report provides 10 recommendations that parents can implement immediately:

1. Before your baby has teeth, wipe the gums gently with a clean wet cloth after each feeding.

2. If your baby sleeps with a bottle or sippy cup at naptime or bedtime, fill it with water only.

3. If your baby normally falls asleep while feeding, brush his or her teeth before feeding.

4. Lift your baby's lip and watch for changes in colour, lines or spots on your child's teeth as these may be signs of potential problems.

5. As soon as the first tooth appears, start brushing your baby's teeth with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before bedtime. Fluoride is a mineral that protects teeth.

6. Put a small dab of toothpaste across a small soft brush. Wipe off excess toothpaste until the child can spit it out. Begin flossing at least once a day when your child's teeth are touching.

7. Change your child's toothbrush every one to three months or immediately after an illness.

8. Let your child watch you brushing your teeth and assist with your child's tooth brushing.

9. To prevent spreading germs that cause tooth decay, do not put anything in your child's mouth if it has been in your mouth. Don't share spoons, cups, food, toothbrushes, etc.

10. Visit your dentist by the age of one year, or when the first teeth appear. Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups to make sure there are no problems.

"I never would have thought of tooth decay as an infectious disease," said Catherine Arcand-Pinette, a Mississauga resident and mother of 16-month-old Jonathan. "It's really a mind shift for me but this information is going to be extremely useful. The tips will definitely help us at home. And I'm going to start talking to other mothers about this. I think every parent needs to have this information - our kids need us to help them prevent this problem."

The ODA Special Report also calls urgently on the government to help by focusing on higher-risk children with the following recommendations:

- Improve Access to Publicly Funded Programs and Services

- Application of Fluoride Varnish

- Community Water Fluoridation

- Adopt a Sensitive, Reliable Screening Tool

- The Ministry of Health Promotion Should Promote Oral Health Awareness

"The system we have here in Ontario clearly isn't working to provide good care - but let's start with the kids who need it the most - high-risk children," said ODA Past-President and Pediatric Specialist Dr. Ian McConnachie. "We have done our homework, consulted with international experts and these recommendations are our first steps to fixing the problem. But we need to act now -- there is no more time to waste."

The Special Report is available on the ODA website and has been delivered to government. The radio awareness campaign will run for three weeks across the province.

"Everyone is at risk for tooth decay," said Dr. Levin. "We have to protect all those kids who cannot protect themselves. The ODA is laying down this challenge today - and we look forward to working with our patients and the government in the months to come."

For more information, visit www.youroralhealth.ca today.

Contact Information

  • Ontario Dental Association
    Kari Cuss
    Public Affairs & Communications
    (416) 355-2278 or Cell: (647) 294-7613
    Email: kcuss@oda.ca
    Ontario Dental Association
    Bonnie Dean
    Public Affairs & Communications
    (416) 922-3900, extension 3305
    Email: bdean@oda.ca