Dental Health Services

NOTE: The Ottawa Public Health Dental Clinics will be closed on Wednesday July 17 and Friday July 19.
Staff will be in training to use a new electronic clinical record system.

Find a Dentist

If you have access to private dental insurance or you can afford paying for the dental health services, Visit the Ottawa Dental Society website to find a dentist near you or call 613-523-3876.

Need Help Accessing Dental Care?

For Children

Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO)

Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) is a free dental program that covers regular and emergency dental care for children 17 and under.

Who is Eligible?

Children and youth 17 and under may be eligible if:

  • They are residents of Ontario; and
  • They are members of a household that meets the income eligibility requirements.

Note: If your family is covered by Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program, your children 17 and under are automatically enrolled in the Healthy Smiles Ontario program. You will receive a Healthy Smiles Ontario dental card in the mail. The dental card must be presented to your dental provider at each dental visit.

What Services are Covered?

  • Regular visits to a licensed dental provider, such as a dentist or dental hygienist
  • Dental services including check-ups, tooth cleaning, fillings and extractions

How do I Enroll?

  • Go to
  • Call ServiceOntario INFOline toll-free at 1-844-296-6306 (TTY toll-free at 1-800-387-5559)

Once enrollment has been confirmed you will receive a Healthy Smiles Ontario dental card. The dental card must be presented to your dental provider at each visit to receive dental care under the program.

How do I Access Urgent or Emergency Dental Care?

  • If your child is already enrolled in the HSO program, contact your dentist.
  • If your child is not already enrolled in the HSO program, call your dentist to find out if they participate in Healthy Smiles Ontario and book an emergency dental appointment.
  • If you don't have a dentist or your dentist does not participate in the HSO program, you can:
    • visit the Ottawa Dental Society webpage or call 613-523-3876 to find a list of dentists who participate in the HSO program.
    • call the Ottawa Public Health Dental Information Line at 613-580-2424, ext. 23510

Canada Dental Benefit

The interim Canada Dental Benefit is intended to help lower dental costs for eligible families.  Parents and guardians can apply if the child receiving dental care is under 12 years old and does not have access to a private dental insurance plan. 

For more information and to apply for Canada Dental Benefit, visit Canada Dental Benefit or call 1-800-715-8836

For Adults

Ontario Work (OW)

Urgent dental care is provided for Ontario Works recipients. Call the Ottawa Public Health Dental information line at 613-580-2424 ext. 23510 for more information.

Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)

The Ontario Disability Support Program covers the cost of dental health services. Visit the Ottawa Dental Society webpage or call 613-523-3876 to find a list of dentists who participate in this program.

Essential Health and Social Supports (EHSS)

Limited emergency dental care may be available for low-income adults and older adults who qualify for the Essential Health and Social Supports (EHSS) Program. For more information and how to apply, Call the Community and Social Services Department at 3-1-1 or 613-580-2400.

*These programs cover denture benefits for adults and older adults under certain conditions.

For Seniors

Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP)

The Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program is a government-funded dental care program. It provides free, routine dental services for low-income seniors who are 65 years of age or older. To learn more about this program and how to apply, visit


Free Dental Screenings at Neighbourhood Health and Wellness Hubs

Neighborhood Health and Wellness Hubs are easily accessible places offering free drop-in services to all residents across the City of Ottawa. These hubs provide the opportunity to speak in person with Ottawa Public Health and City of Ottawa staff about vaccination, mental health and wellbeing, parenting, dental health, and financial assistance. Please see below for the list of clinics and services provided.

Neighbourhood Health and Wellness Hubs

Dental Screenings in Schools

Did you know? 

In elementary schools in Ottawa, close to 10% of children screened present with urgent dental needs (such as, cavities, signs of infection, pain).  

What is a dental screening? 

The dental screening is a no-touch technique. The registered dental hygienist uses a disposable tongue depressor and a flashlight to look at your child’s mouth. This short visual assessment helps identify the need for dental care.  

The 34 public health units across Ontario, including Ottawa Public Health are mandated under the School Health Requirement #5 of the Ontario Public Health Standards to conduct dental screenings in schools.  

Why are school dental screenings important? 

  • To identify oral health problems early 

  • To identify children with oral pain 

  • To identify oral problems that require urgent dental treatment. 

  • To notify parents/guardians/caretakers of dental needs 

  • To support low-income families in applying for the Healthy Smiles Ontario program, if eligible 

  • To support families with dental referral  

How can cavities affect your children? 

  • Difficulty sleeping 

  • Poor concentration 

  • Learning difficulties 

  • Limited choice of food because of the inability to chew properly 

  • Troubled speech 

  • Premature loss of teeth 

  • Lower self esteem 

  • Widespread infection for the severe cases. 

  • Absenteeism 

If your children received a Parent Notification Form (yellow paper), please complete, sign, and return this form electronically.  

Oral Health Resources

Factsheets in printable format (PDF) are available on the Print Resources web page

For All Age Groups
Brushing Method 

Helpful suggestions on how to brush your teeth

  1. Place the bristles of the toothbrush where the gums and teeth meet. Gently brush in small circles, and then sweep away from the gum. Repeat method to all outside (cheek side) surfaces. 
  2. Brush the inside (tongue side) surfaces using the same method.
  3. To clean the inside surface of the front teeth, tilt the toothbrush vertically and sweep away from the gum.
  4. Scrub the top (chewing) surfaces back and forth.
  5. Brush your tongue gently from back to front.

Helpful suggestions

  • Use a small, soft bristled toothbrush to easily move around your mouth
  • Use no more than a pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste
  • Brush twice a day (in the morning and before bedtime)
  • Gently brush for 2 to 3 minutes, no hard scrubbing
  • Rinse toothbrush after use and let air-dry
  • Change toothbrush every 3 months. Replace it sooner if you are sick or if bristles are worn
  • Floss once a day
  • Visit your dentist or hygienist regularly

Flossing Method

Helpful steps on how to floss your teeth

  1. Measure and cut a piece of floss equal to the distance of your hand to your elbow. Wrap the floss three times around the tip of the middle finger and the remaining floss around the opposite middle finger.
  2. Use the index finger or the thumb to guide and slide the floss between your teeth.
  3. Gently insert the floss between the teeth by moving it back and forth in a see-saw motion. Do not press down hard since you may cut the gum.
  4. Wrap the tooth with floss in a “C” shape. Move the floss up and down the side of the tooth surface and gently under the gumline. Repeat on the next tooth.

Tips for Good Dental Health

Learn tips and trick for a good oral health.

Snacking and Dental Health

Sugar and plaque are the main causes of dental cavities. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on your teeth every day. It contains germs (or bacteria) that stick to your teeth. When sugar found in food and drinks combines with plaque, it produces an acid that damages the tooth’s hard outer layer (enamel). When the damage is severe and a hole is made in the enamel, a cavity is created.

Some Factors to Consider when Snacking

  • Choose snacks that are nutritious and unsweetened. Healthy food is good for both your dental and general health.
  • Read the ingredients list when choosing snacks. Note that raw cane sugar, honey, molasses, corn or maple syrup, glucose and fructose are all types of sugar.
  • Limit sweets to special occasions and only serve them at mealtime. The increased flow of saliva during a meal helps wash away and dilute sugars.
  • Reduce the length of time that sweet food stays in contact with your teeth. Avoid sipping sweet drinks for a long period of time, sucking on a candy or chewing sugared gum.
  • Avoid sticky foods, such as cereal bars and dried fruits, because they stay on the surface of the teeth longer.
  • Rinse your mouth with water, eat a piece of cheese or chew sugar free gum when brushing is not possible

Some Healthy Snack Ideas

Cheese, Cottage cheese, Yogurt, White milk, Fresh fruits, Vegetables with dip, Unsweetened fruit sauce, Sodium reduced vegetable juice, Bread sticks, Melba toast, Rice cakes, Half bagel, Hard boiled egg, Homemade muffin, Pita bread with Hummus, Half sandwich (cheese, egg,ham, salmon, tuna), Nut and seeds (for older children)

Tooth Injury: What should you do?
An avulsed tooth is one that has been completely knocked out of its place.

This is a time dependent injury. The best outcome requires quick action.

  1. Find the tooth.
  2. Pick up the tooth by the crown. It is the part that is used to chew your food.
  3. Gently rinse the tooth with distilled water or milk for a few seconds. Do not scrub the tooth. Only use chlorinated tap water as a last choice, because it may damage the root.
    • Adult teeth should be immediately replaced into its hole whenever possible. Hold the tooth by the crown and put it back firmly into the hole, root first. The root will usually “click” into place. Then ask the child to bite down gently on a gauze or cloth.Take the child to the dentist as soon as possible. If the tooth cannot be replaced in its hole, it should be stored in cold milk or saliva until transferred to the dentist.
    • Baby teeth should not be replanted as it could damage the adult tooth formation. The child should see the dentist as soon as possible.

Note: If a child shows any sign of a head injury such as unconsciousness, nausea or headache, call 911.

Athletic Mouthguard

A mouthguard is a piece of equipment that fits over the upper teeth to reduce the risk of injury to the teeth when you play sports and recreational activities (hockey, soccer, football, martial arts, basketball, baseball and many more).

Did you know?

A simple action like wearing a mouthguard could mean the difference between a minor injury and severe trauma to your teeth, which could be very painful and expensive to treat.

Important features:

  • Should be at least 3mm thick to keep the jaws separated
  • Should be comfortable
  • Person should be able to breathe and speak easily
  • Should stay in place by itself



Created by a dental professional from an impression of the person’s teeth. It provides the best protection due to their close comfort fit and shock reducing effect.


Purchased in stores and molded at home. The material is softened inboiling water and then formed directly on the upper teeth. Can be uncomfortable if not properly fitted. It provides limited protection.

3.Stock or ready-to-wear:

Purchased in sporting stores. It comes ready-made and provides the least amount of protection, fit and comfort.

Maintenance and care of the mouthguard:

  • Rinse with cold water or mouthwash after each use and occasionally clean with mild soap under cold water
  • Store in a ventilated and rigid container
  • Wear correctly and do not chew or share
  • Replace every 2 or 3 years or sooner if torn, loose or if child looses baby teeth
  • Take it to your dental visits
For Babies and Toddlers
Baby teeth are important. Visit the Parenting in Ottawa page for information about dental health for babies and toddlers and how to care for your baby's teeth.
For Children 
Good Dental Habits
  • Brush your child’s teeth and tongue in the morning and before bedtime.
  • Use a small soft toothbrush with no more than a pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Make sure your child does not swallow the toothpaste.
  • Remind your child to brush the large back teeth (molars); they are meant to last a lifetime.
  • Help with brushing until child is 8 years old.
  • Floss your child’s teeth before bed. They will not be able to floss effectively until approximately 10 years of age.
  • Do not let your child share a spoon, cup, or toothbrush; this will pass the bacteria that cause cavities.
  • Have your child wear a mouth guard when playing a sport or recreational activity (hockey, soccer, football and many more).
  • Take your child to the dentist regularly or when you have any concerns.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water, soil and in some foods.

Why is fluoride important?

Fluoride hardens and protects tooth enamel against cavities.

Where can I find fluoride?

Fluoride can be found in toothpaste, mouth rinse, treatments from your dentist or hygienist and tap water. The City of Ottawa monitors and adjusts the fluoride level in the drinking water supply to a concentration of 0.7 mg/L in tap water. This level has been determined to provide optimal dental health benefits, in accordance with the Health Canada recommendations. Water fluoridation is endorsed by reputable health organizations throughout the world including the World Health Organization, Health Canada and the Ontario Medical Association.

The City of Ottawa does not adjust the fluoride level of the six communal well systems (Carp, Munster,Kings Park, Richmond, Shadow Ridge and Vars).

Most disposable water filters do not remove fluoride from drinking water. Check the label or contact the manufacturer for fluoride levels in bottled water.

Well and spring water

Free testing of water fluoride levels is available if you are on well water or spring water. Call 3-1-1 for a free water test bottle and instructions.

How do I get the right amount of fluoride?

Birth to 3 years old

Do not use toothpaste. Wipe gums or brush teeth with tap water after feedings and before bed.
If the child is determined to be at risk of developing tooth decay by a dental professional, use no more than a grain of rice size amount of fluoridated toothpaste twice per day.

3 to 6 years old

Use no more than a green pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste twice per day. 


  • Toothpaste should never be swallowed
  • All products containing fluoride such as toothpaste, rinses, and gels must be stored out of reach of children
  • Supervise children when they are using theseproducts
What is a Fluoride Varnish

Fluoride varnish is a fluoride applied to teeth by a dental professional. It strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent, stop and reverse cavities. Painted on the tooth, this high fluoride concentration product helps strengthen the outer enamel (outer layer of the tooth).

Fluoride varnish application:

  • Takes a few minutes to apply and dries quickly
  • Does not taste bad
  • Can temporarily reduce tooth sensitivity

After the fluoride varnish application:

  • Teeth will have a white appearance and feel sticky for 24 hours
  • Do not eat hot, hard or sticky foods for the rest of the day
  • Do not brush your teeth until the next morning

How long does fluoride varnish last?

  • The fluoride keeps working for several months to protect and strengthen teeth
  • Works best if applied at least 2 times a year
Pit and Fissure Sealant

Sealants are a preventive dental treatment. A coating is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to help prevent cavities.

What is a pit and fissure sealant?

  • Sealants act as barriers to protect the tooth enamel by keeping germs and food out of pits and fissures
  • They are easily painted on to the tooth and require no drilling or freezing
  • Sealants are effective in preventing decay in teeth with deep pits and fissures
  • They can last for several years

When is the best time to get sealants?

  • Children between 5 and 7 years of age (after first permanent molar appears)
  • Children between 11 and 14 years of age (after second permanent molar appears)
For Youth
Good Dental Habits
  • Brush your teeth in the morning and before bedtime
  • Use a soft toothbrush with no more than a pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste
  • Floss daily before bedtime
  • Wear a mouth guard when playing a sport or recreational activity (hockey, soccer, football and many more).
  • When wisdom teeth erupt they can cause pain if they do not have enough space. Talk to your dentist for more information
  • Vomiting associated with an eating disorder will increase the risk of cavities and gum disease
  • Oral piercing and tooth jewels can produce inflammation, infection, and bleeding. They can also cause teeth and nerve damage
  • Avoid tobacco products. They will stain your teeth and tongue, cause bad breath, and increase your risk of developing oral cancer
  • Visit the dentist regularly or when you have any concerns
Oral Piercing

Oral piercing may be trendy, but there are risks. Be safe and follow proper oral care to avoid complications.

Be a smart consumer

  • Talk to a dentist, dental hygienist, doctor or nurse before making your decision
  • Have the piercing studio provide verbal and written instructions on after-care
  • Ask about the studio’s sterilization methods
  • Make sure the piercer practices proper hand washing and wears single-use gloves

Risks with oral piercing

  • Teeth problem - oral jewellery may damage teeth or fillings
  • Nerve damage - to the facial or tongue muscles
  • Infection - too much or long-lasting swelling and pain. Pus around the site
  • Potential for disease transmission - hepatitis, HIV, herpes, if proper sterilization methods are not used, or if you have oral sex during the healing process
  • Allergic reactions - to nickel or other metals
  • Other - accidental swallowing, limited tongue movement (speech problems) and loss of taste or sensation

Caring for your piercing

  • Always wash your hands before you touch or clean the piercing
  • Don’t remove the jewellery if it seems to be infected. Consult your physician.

The first weeks:

  • Carefully brush your teeth with a new, soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Sucking on ice chips may help reduce swelling
  • Rinse with warm salt water, or an alcohol-free, antibacterial mouthwash
  • Avoid smoking, spicy and hard food and alcoholic beverages
  • Don’t remove or change the original jewellery until the piercing is fully healed (up to eight weeks)

Ongoing care:

  • Continue to practice good oral hygiene
  • Remove oral jewellery and clean it well with a mild antibacterial soap
  • Remove oral jewellery during sports to prevent mouth injury and possible choking
  • A night guard may be needed to protect teeth
  • Change metal stud to plastic after the healing
  • Avoid playing with stud
HPV and Oral Cancer

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world.

A person's immune system usually fights off an HPV infection on its own. When the immune system cannot get rid of the virus, it can cause cancers. This includes cancer of the mouth, cervix, penis, anus, as well as genital warts.

Your youth can prevent oral cancer by:

  • Getting the HPV vaccine. It protects you from over 90% of oral cancers that result from an HPV infection. For more information on the HPV vaccine, please see our immunization section.
  • Seeing a dental professional for a regular dental check-up and cleaning
  • Quitting or reducing smoking and using tobacco products of any kind
  • Not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Using a condom if they are sexually active
  • Using lip balm that contains UV protection when they are outside
For Adults

Bacteria in your mouth from oral disease may contribute to other health problems such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Pregnant women who have gum disease are at higher risk of delivering pre-term and low birth weight babies.

Good Dental Habits
  • Brush your teeth and tongue after breakfast and before bedtime
  • Use a soft toothbrush with no more than a pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste
  • Floss daily before bedtime
  • Check your mouth regularly for signs of gum disease such as red, swollen and bleeding gums
  • Check your mouth regularly for signs of oral cancer such as any abnormal growth or lesion that lasts for more than 2 weeks
  • Avoid tobacco products. They will stain your teeth and tongue, cause bad breath, and increase your risk of developing oral cancer
  • If you have dentures, brush them after each meal and remove them at night to let the tissues breathe
  • If your mouth is often dry we recommend you talk to a dentist about ways to help keep your mouth moist
  • Visit the dentist regularly and when you have any concerns
Gum Disease and Diabetes
Gum disease is an inflammation (swelling) of the gums that damages soft tissues and destroys bone. This can cause teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.

How does diabetes affect your mouth?

  • Increases the amount of plaque (sticky film that forms on your teeth every day)
  • Causes your gums to bleed more easily
  • Makes it easier to get an infection and harder to heal
  • Leads to dry mouth that causes sores inyour mouth
  • Causes bad breath

How does gum disease affect your diabetes?

  • Raises your blood sugar which can make it more difficult to control your diabetes
  • Puts you at risk for other problems related to diabetes, such as in your heart, eyes, or kidneys

What can you do?

  • Keep your blood sugar at the target levels set by your health care provider
  • Avoid tobacco (smoking, chewing, vaping, etc.) because this can make diabetes and gum disease worse
  • Limit sugars and alcohol, and follow the Canada’s Food Guide or the specific advice of your health care provider
  • Brush twice a day using toothpaste with fluoride and floss once a day
  • Watch for changes in your mouth
  • Visit your dental health care provider regularly and talk to them about your diabetes
  • Drink tap water because it contains fluoride
Pregnancy and Oral Health

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy has many benefits for you and your baby.

Did you know…

  • Morning sickness can leave stomach acids in your mouth that can damage the surfaces of your teeth and promote tooth decay
  • Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can cause swollen gums that bleed during brushing and flossing, often known as “pregnancy gingivitis”
  • Pregnant mothers with poor oral health have a risk of developing periodontitis (infection of bone holding the teeth inplace). This type of infection has been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes such as:
    • delivering a pre-term baby
    • delivering a baby with a low birth

Visiting the dentist and the hygienist

  • Regular dental cleanings and check-ups are important before, during, and after pregnancy
  • Be sure to tell them that you are pregnant
  • You may want to postpone routine dental radiograph until after your baby is born
  • Should your dentist recommend an emergency radiograph, the dental office will provide a leaded apron to shield you and your baby from this low dose

What can you do to help?

  • Brush your teeth and your gums with a soft toothbrush twice a day, using a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste. Also, gently brush your tongue
  • Gently floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and gums. If your gums bleed, keep on flossing
  • Eat healthy nutritious food and avoid sweets
  • If you gag, use a small, child-size toothbrush and lean your head down and over the sink while brushing. It helps relax the throat and allows the saliva to flow out

Morning sickness

  • Nausea and vomiting can happen during pregnancy. Causes of morning sickness include changes in hormone levels, tension, worry or fatigue.
  • Try eating unsalted crackers or dry toast before getting out of bed in the morning
  • Rinse your mouth with tap water, or a fluoride mouth rinse after vomiting, which will protect your teeth from the damaging stomach acids
  • If vomiting persists, notify your doctor

Visit the Parenting in Ottawa page for information how to stay healthy during pregnacy. 

Factsheets in printable format (PDF) are available 

For more information, please call the Dental Information Line at 613-580-6744 at extension 23510. 

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