Tooth decay is a very common problem that affects many children. The number of cases of tooth decay in children has risen in recent years, with this especially noticed in Eastern Ontario, Canada. But what has caused this recent surge? Moreover, what can be done about the problem? These findings have proven concerning for dentists.

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Unfortunately, Tooth decay is a very common problem facing children. In recent years, tooth decay has become a growing problem, resulting in children contending with emergency hospital visits, severe pain, and requiring the use of painkillers.

In Eastern Ontario, tooth decay levels have recently surged, resulting in dentists having significant concerns for children [1]. Now, dental professionals have looked into what is causing this issue.

Looking after oral health in childhood is crucial. Having strong oral health habits in childhood can help a child to have good oral hygiene throughout their life.

Tooth decay in children

Tooth decay is caused by acids that are produced by bacteria. Bacteria breaks down food debris or sugar, which ends up forming acid. This acid erodes enamel, resulting in tooth decay.

Over time, this will result in a cavity forming, which then requires a filling. While many people associate cavities with adults, children can also develop them.

As mentioned, tooth decay is a growing problem in children. Research shows that across Canada, approximately 57% of children aged 6-11 years old have dental cavities due to tooth decay [2].

Tooth decay often causes children to suffer from pain, struggle to sleep, have low school attendance and have difficulty in eating and speaking [3].

Problems in Eastern Ontario

In Eastern Ontario, dentists have raised concerns over rising tooth decay levels, with recent years seeing a surge in cases.

Recent data from the areas of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) have shown a 60% increase in tooth decay among senior kindergarten children since 2019 [1].

This amounts to 40% of children in Eastern Ontario being affected by tooth decay [1]. This is a huge number, which underlines the number of children facing problems.

KFL&A public health provides dental screening for approximately 6,000 elementary school students in the Kingston region [1]. This provides dental professionals with knowledge on the oral health of children.

At these screening sessions, dental professionals pass on advice and information to the students, including the importance of brushing their teeth, limiting sugar consumption and visiting the dentist regularly.

Fortunately, with the Canadian Dental Care Plan being unveiled, the children in Eastern Ontario will hopefully be able to seek dental care on a more regular basis in years to come.

What has caused the rise in cases?

Several potential factors have been identified to explain what has caused this surge in cases of tooth decay. These problems tend to be nationwide, rather than limited to Eastern Ontario.

A lack of healthy eating habits and over-consumption of sugary foods and drink have been cited as contributing factors.

Many have pointed to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic disrupted the routines of children and changed their eating habits. Moreover, with routine dentistry paused, many children were unable to receive dental care.

Moreover, concerns over the cost of living has resulted in people avoiding seeking dental care. Overall, these various issues have all contributed to the issue.

Concerns from dentists

Dentists are the ones that are seeing these problems first-hand. The cases have been consistently rising since 2019, with dentists noticing the surge.

Dr. Gordon Roberts is a Pediatric dentist in the area. He has commented on the events. He has said that there is not purely one cause, instead, it is a “multifactorial issue” [1].

Roberts always urges the parents he sees to seek preventive care for their children from a young age [1]. Furthermore, he says that “come at a very young age before we see problems”, as this can help children to avoid the problems [1].

These findings are certainly concerning. It is important for children to look after their teeth. Therefore, this can help them to build up strong oral health and contribute to overall health.

Thinking points…

1) Are you a parent? If so, there are many things that you can do to help your children with their oral health. For example, showing an interest in their oral health, helping them brush their teeth, and taking them to regular dental appointments can all help! You could even attend a dental appointment alongside your child! We recommend booking an appointment now!

2) While it is important to look after your children’s oral health, make sure you don’t neglect yours! You can set a good example by brushing your teeth regularly, flossing, and generally eating and drinking healthily. As mentioned above, a key part of looking after your oral health is to attend regular check-ups, as this will provide a dentist with a chance to look at your oral health, and organize treatment if needed. Therefore, remember to attend appointments regularly!

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a range of treatment options and advice, with the aim of improving oral health and boosting overall wellbeing!

We advise our patients to attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a dental check-up. If any problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals. To try and prevent problems, it is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly.

Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, tooth whitening and Invisalign™! Our patients find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.

In addition, the fees of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are set in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide.

We would love you to visit our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website


[1] Charbonneau, D. (2023). Surge in tooth decay among young children in eastern Ontario raises concerns. Available: Last accessed: 11th January 2024.

[2] Ogenchuk, M., Graham, J., Uswak, G., Graham, H., Weiler, R., & Ramsden, V. R. (2022). Pediatric oral health: community-based participatory research. BMC Pediatrics. 22 (1): 93. DOI:

[3] Jackson, S. L., VannWilliam, F. Jr., Kotch, J. B., Pahel, B. T., & Lee, J. Y. (2011). Impact of Poor Oral Health on Children’s School Attendance and Performance. American Journal of Public Health. 101 (10): p1900-1906. DOI: