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Thunder Bay, ON
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Put Your Best Face Forward

Watch the Video:
Thunder Bay high school students promoting oral health in a 30-second commercial.

Oral health is the health of your mouth. It includes your teeth, gums, jaw bone, palate (roof of the mouth), tongue, lips, and the inside of your cheeks.

Having a healthy mouth is just as important for your overall health as exercising, eating a balanced diet and not using tobacco products. It affects how you eat, speak, and influences our mental, social and physical well-being. It is very important to develop and maintain good oral hygiene habits.



Do 2 for 2!

Every day a sticky film called plaque forms on the teeth. Plaque is made up of bacteria and food. It must be removed daily by brushing and flossing.

Brush for two minutes twice a day; 2 for 2 is what you do!
Brushing after breakfast and before bedtime is best.

  • Use a soft toothbrush.
  • Place your toothbrush where your teeth and gums meet.
  • Brush in short strokes down on the upper teeth and up on the lower teeth.
  • Work in a pattern:
    - Brush the outside
    - Brush the inside
    - Brush the chewing surfaces
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue to freshen your breath.

Learn The Best Way to Brush Every Day!


  • Do not share your toothbrush or use someone else’s toothbrush.
  • After brushing, rinse your toothbrush well with water and air-dry.
  • Store standing upright and without touching other toothbrushes.
  • Do not store in closed containers.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months; when the bristles look worn and bent; and after a cold or illness.

Floss your teeth every day - before bedtime is best.
If you don’t floss, you're missing more than a third of the tooth surface.

How to floss:
Use an arm’s length of floss.
2.  Wind the floss around your middle fingers.
3.  Using the thumb and index finger, gently ease the floss between two teeth.
4.  Once through, wrap the floss around the tooth forming a ‘C’ shape.
5.  Gently slide the floss up and down cleaning along the tooth and under the gum

6.  Move from one tooth to the next using a clean section of floss.
7.  Don’t forget to floss the back of the last tooth.

Learn the best way to Floss Every Day!

Mouthwash will temporarily freshen your breath, but does not replace brushing and flossing.

Teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean and can make smiling, speaking and eating more difficult. A dentist or orthodontist can tell you if you need braces. If you already have braces, it is important to take good care of them and your teeth.

  • Follow the instructions from your orthodontist.
  • Visit your dental office for regular checkups and cleanings.
  • Brush after every meal, cleaning thoroughly around the brackets.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Avoid foods that are hard, crunchy, sticky and high in sugar.
  • Stop the pop (and other sugary drinks).
  • Do not chew on pens, pencils or your fingernails.

Wisdom teeth are also referred to as third molars.  They are the last permanent teeth to come in the mouth.  Some people never grow wisdom teeth.  Many people do not have enough room in their mouth for them.  They usually come in between 16 and 20 years of age.  They may grow sideways, come in only part way or remain trapped under the bone and gums (impacted).   Your dentist may recommend removing them because they may cause infection, pain and damage to other teeth.

Clenching happens when you hold your top and bottom back teeth tightly together.
Bruxism is grinding your teeth together. These habits often occur at night and put pressure on the teeth, muscles and the structures around your jaw.

Causes of clenching and grinding include anxiety, stress and tension.

To relieve symptoms of clenching and grinding, find healthy ways to relieve stress through exercise, nutritious eating habits and maintaining a positive mental attitude.

See your dentist for advice. Your dentist might also suggest an acrylic bite plate to help control your clenching and grinding habit.

Click here to learn more about oral health.



Be Tobacco-free!

Tobacco is a plant that is grown in many different parts of the world, with many different uses.  First Nations people often offer traditional tobacco as a gift as it is one of their four sacred plants.  However, even naturally, tobacco contains a highly-addictive substance called nicotine.  Commercial tobacco is different from traditional tobacco and includes cigarettes, chew tobacco, cigarillos, and snus.  They contain many different chemicals that make the products more addictive.


  • 90% of smokers begin before the age of 19.  Only 17% of Canadians smoke, a significant drop from 10 years ago when closer to 25% of Canadians smoked. 
  • Chemicals are added to cigarettes to allow the nicotine to rush to your brain faster.  After one puff of smoke, nicotine reaches your head only 7 seconds after your first drag.
  • ¾ of students who say they will quit after high school continue to smoke.


  • Chewing an average sized dip of tobacco for 30 minutes gives you roughly the same amount of nicotine as smoking 4 cigarettes. 
  • Chew tobacco is often flavoured with strawberry, mint, or apple to entice youth to try using the product, but the same chemicals are still in the product, even though it might taste better. 
  • It contains abrasives like fiberglass and sand to cut open your gums to allow the nicotine into your blood system faster. 
  • It can cause receding gums, tooth decay, and hairy tongue - Not very appealing!!!


  • Smoking will help reduce stress.  NOT!! 
    After you finish a cigarette, your brain starts to crave more nicotine and you become stressed and grouchy until you have another.  The satisfaction from a cigarette is short, and once it’s gone, your brain craves another, turning it into a never ending circle of cravings.
  • Chewing tobacco will help my athletic performance.  NOT!!
    A study of professional baseball and hockey players found no connection between chew tobacco use and player performance.  Using chew tobacco increases your heart rate and blood pressure within a few minutes which puts strain on your heart and ultimately could reduce your overall performance.
  • Chewing tobacco is safer to use than cigarettes.  NOT!!
    Chew tobacco and cigarettes have many similarities that are harmful to your health.  Both contain over 3000 chemicals and over 28 carcinogens that have been proven to cause many forms of cancer!  Some of these chemicals include lead, ammonia, and formaldehyde.  Using cigarettes or chew tobacco can lead to gum, teeth and other mouth problems, many of which can’t be reversed.  
  • I can share my tobacco products with my friends without getting in trouble.  NOT!!
    If you share a cigarette with a friend, or give someone a dip of chew, you can be fined $365 for supplying a minor with tobacco.  It doesn’t matter if you are off school property, walking around town, or on a baseball diamond, you will still have to pay.  Think of what you could do with $365!

Click here to learn more about tobacco-free living.


Wear Gear!

The high level of competitiveness and increasing popularity of organized and extreme sports has resulted in a growing number of dental and facial injuries to children and youth.  All sports activities have some degree of risk for dental or facial injuries due to falls, collisions or contact with hard surfaces. 

Because avoiding injury is always best, everyone who takes part in particular sports should use protective mouth guards and appropriate masks and helmets.

Mouth guards work as shock absorbers to reduce the number and severity of sport-related injuries.  They are an important piece of athletic gear that can protect against serious dental injury.


ready-made or stock mouth guards
2.  mouth-formed or “boil and bite” mouth guards
3.  custom-made mouth guard made by a dentist

For a mouth guard to work properly, it must be properly fitted.  Mouth-formed or custom-made mouth guards are recommended over the stock mouth guards.

Mouth guards are available through stores that sell athletic equipment and come in various levels of quality and price.  Follow the manufacturer’s directions to properly fit the mouth guard.  Getting help from an adult is recommended.

Mouth guards made by a dentist provide the best fit.  They are less bulky and more comfortable than mouth-formed or stock mouth guards so it's more likely that they'll be worn consistently. Remember though that any mouth guard is better than no mouth guard.

If you play the following sports, include the appropriate safety gear as part of your standard athletic equipment:

  • Football: Mouth guards and helmets with face guards
  • Baseball:  Catcher should wear a mask.  Batting helmets with a clear molded plastic face guard are now available.
  • Ice Hockey:  Wear a cage-like or plastic face guard attached to your helmet. Wear a mouth guard.
  • Wrestling:  Wear head gear with a strap and chin cup to hold it in place. Wear mouth guard and face masks are also available.
  • Boxing:  Mouth guards are mandatory.
  • Lacrosse: Manufactured specifically for this sport, hard plastic helmets resembling baseball batting helmets include a wire cage face mask.
  • Field Hockey: Wear mouth guards.  Goalies can get extra protection by wearing a lacrosse helmet.
  • Soccer: Wear mouth guards.  Goalies should also wear helmets.
  • Cycling:  Cyclists under the age of 18 years must wear an approved properly-fitted cycling helmet with the strap done up. 
  • Skateboarding: Wear a helmet specifically designed for skateboarding.  When practicing new tricks, wear a mouth guard to protect you when you fall.
  • Skiing: Wear a ski helmet.  It will protect you from injury and keep you warm too.
  • Horseback riding:  Helmet and mouth guards are recommended, especially if you are riding cross country or plan to jump the horse.
  • Basketball, handball and gymnastics: Participants should be fitted with mouth guards.

Wear the Gear so you can always Put Your Best Face Forward!

Click here to learn more about preventing injuries.



Drink Water!

Water is always the best choice for staying hydrated and quenching thirst throughout the day.

Roughly 55 to 70% of an adult’s body is made up of water. Water dissolves more substances than any other liquid. Wherever it travels, water carries chemicals, minerals, and nutrients with it.

By the time a person feels thirsty, his or her body has lost over 1% of its total water.

Sports drinks are products like Gatorade and Powerade.  They are designed for adult athletes who require extra electrolytes and energy during or after an intense workout longer than one hour and who have lost a lot of fluids and salt through sweat.  They are not made for children or teens, and especially not as an everyday beverage.  



  • It helps circulate your blood, which brings oxygen and energy to your muscles.
  • It replaces fluid lost through sweat.
  • It helps maintain body temperature to prevent overheating.
  • It transports nutrients and oxygen into your cells.
  • It moisturizes the air in your lungs.
  • It helps break down and use the energy from food.
  • It helps protect vital organs, like your brain, heart and lungs.
  • It helps your organs absorb nutrients better.
  • It detoxifies your body.
  • It protects and moisturizes your joints, like your knees, hips, elbows and shoulders.

Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit for a splash of flavour.



If it's cold outside, drink water if you are active for less than one hour.
Drink water plus carbs if you are active for more than one hour.

If it's hot outside, drink water if you are active for less than one hour.
Drink water plus carbs plus a pinch of salt if you are active for more than one hour.


The best carbohydrates are the natural ones.  Those found in fruit and 100% pure fruit juices are great choices. 

Make your own sports drink with this optimal performance formula:

500 mL (2 cups) water
500 mL (2 cups) fruit juice or blend (apple, orange, grape, pineapple, cranberry)
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) salt



Whether it’s hot or cold outside, it’s important to drink water and other fluids throughout the day.  During physical activity, the process that makes us feel thirsty doesn’t work as well, so we can’t rely on our thirst to tell us when to drink.  So drink up, and then drink some more!



Within a half hour of your exercise, your muscles are craving what they used up – carbs and protein.  Chocolate milk delivers a high quality complete protein to help repair muscles.  It also provides natural and added sugars to replace muscle energy stores.  Finally, it helps replenish the minerals you lost through sweat. 

Click here to learn more about energy drinks.



Last Updated: 8/7/2012