While we continue to be in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing is normal, especially dental care. Most dental practices have been closed for everything but emergencies, and patients were asked to manage their own dental health and that of their families at home.
New government measures now require practices to reopen with the ‘highest possible levels of activity’, but some parents, particularly of young children, may be reluctant to visit dental surgeries for so-called ‘non-essential’ appointments. This includes new parents, who are having to get to grips with everything that a baby requires, from feeding to sleeping – currently without many of the support networks that many new parents depend on.
In the early weeks and months, when tiredness overtakes you, it’s easy to forget about your own needs, especially your dental health. And although the baby may not have teeth yet, it’s never too soon to start taking care of their mouth too.
Here’s Bino’s guide for new parents and babies:
- Nursing mothers need to continue to take good care of themselves. When you’re exhausted it’s easy to reach for the wrong things to eat and drink, but try to continue the good eating habits started in pregnancy, and drink lots of water
- Avoid fizzy drinks and sugary snacks, which will increase the acidity in your mouth and therefore the risk of caries
- Keep up the scrupulous oral hygiene. Clean twice daily with an electric toothbrush, using a protective fluoride toothpaste like BioMin® F, proven to remineralise and strengthen tooth enamel, and reduce the symptoms of tooth sensitivity
- As practices reopen, make sure to book your dentist and hygienist appointments regularly – this is more than just making ‘me time’ when you hardly have a moment to yourself – it’s essential to make sure your dental health is monitored and any problems identified and dealt with quickly
- Before your baby’s first teeth appear, wipe their gums with an infant gum massager or clean damp gauze
- Let your baby see you clean your teeth and, as soon as they get their first tooth, give them a baby toothbrush to hold and play with, in the morning and at bath-time. It doesn’t matter what they do with it – they just need to get used to it. They will invariably put it in their mouths and chew on it. At about six months put a bead of baby toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) on it and let them get used to that and start forming a routine. Make it fun, so they don’t feel they are being forced into it
- Take them along to the dentist when you go so that they get used to the sights and sounds
- Weaning is a big event for all parents and babies, and most mums and dads read up a lot about this. Bear in mind that although raisins and other dried fruits are nutritionally rich, they are also full of concentrated sugar and very sticky – not so good for the baby’s teeth. Fruit smoothies are also high in sugar – it’s better to give cut up fruit, or vegetables like cucumber and carrot
- Read labels. Many items, like cheesy biscuits, might not seem to be sugary but actually have a high sugar content
- Once the baby is weaned, milk and water are the best drinks for them. Don’t let them suck on drinks for a long time
- Avoid saliva exchange – bacteria from a family member’s mouth can be harmful to the baby’s teeth, and may even cause early childhood caries. Do not test the baby’s bottle by sucking it and never, ever, pick up a dummy (pacifier) and pop it in your own mouth to clean it before giving it back to the baby
- BioMin® F for Kids is now available in child-friendly melon and strawberry flavours to appeal to children’s taste, but with all the protective effects of BioMin F. It is recommended for children aged 3-6 years. BioMin F for Kids has, however, has met all the necessary safety standards, and toxicology reports confirm that it is safe for children weighing over 10kg - so parents may brush a smear of BioMin F for Kids toothpaste on the teeth of some children younger than 3 years old.
We are living through strange times, and with often reduced access to dentist’s surgeries, the public need to try to take the best possible care of their own oral health and that of their children.
For effective home care, BioMin F and BioMin F for Kids will help you to protect and strengthen your family's teeth.
With acknowledgments to Dr Stefano Daniele, dentist, and Faye Donald, dental hygienist.
For further information on similar topics, you may like to read:
Bino's guide for mothers-to-be; how to maintain optimum oral health during pregnancy, and Make brushing fun; how to engage and encourage children to brush their teeth.