Young boy with curly hair brushes his teeth in a mirror - his father stands behind him supervising.

If you require any of our resource materials, reports or tools in an alternate accessible format, please contact hshcinfo@chrim.ca.

Who we are

Healthy Smile Happy Child 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.

  • 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 is guided by three fundamental principles:

    1. relationship building and community development
    2. oral health promotion
    3. 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 Métis Federation, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, and the Regional Health Authorities in Manitoba.

  • A researcher showing a child seating in an exam chair an infographic on oral health, a smiling caregiver is seen in the background.

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’s important for expectant mothers to take of their teeth during pregnancy. This helps prevent spread of cavity-causing bacteria to the baby once baby is born.

It’s safe to visit the dentist during pregnancy. Check-ups and preventive treatments (such as cleanings) can be done at any time during pregnancy.

Baby teeth begin to form at six weeks of pregnancy. Baby’s teeth have the best chance of developing well if mothers take prenatal vitamins and follows their health care provider’s recommendations during pregnancy.

Expectant mothers should eat a well-balanced diet, making sure to include calcium and vitamin D-rich foods that will help with the healthy development of baby’s 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 as 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 mealtimes.

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 mealtimes.

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.

Outreach resources

All of our resources, including those listed below, are helpful tools for parents, caregivers, and those working in community outreach initiatives.

Posters and flipcharts

Pediatric dental surgery support and information for families

WRHA Where to go for dental care

Healthy smile happy child flipchart

Contact us for Cree and German versions

Taking care of children’s teeth flipchart

Large poster series

Posters also available in French and Cree.
Please contact us if you would like printed versions of any of the posters.

Dental games and activities

Dental bingo for adults

Dental bingo for preschool

Bingo cards

Calling cards

Dental Bingo for elementary school

Bingo cards

Calling cards

Additional activities

Videos

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.

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.

Research

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.

  • Published research

    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.

    Request a journal article

  • Healthy Smile Happy Child team photo

Get involved

First Nations and Métis participants are currently needed for a study that will help us fight early childhood tooth decay.

  • Smiling child with missing front teeth.
  • 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
    • we will collect dental plaque and spit samples

    Where

    • University of Manitoba, Bannatyne Campus

    Compensation

    • Participants will receive a gift card

For more information or to get involved, call us at 204-480-1351 or email bmittermuller@chrim.ca or 
ddemare@chrim.ca.

Contact us

Healthy Smile Happy Child
Room 510 — 715 McDermot Avenue
John Buhler Research Centre
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3E 3P4 Canada

204-789-3500