General Practice always involves teamwork – Your GP knows a fair bit about a lot, but there are always subject matter experts or specialists. We have Physiotherapy with Rod and Movement Theory, Specialist Urology Services with Dr Nick Brook and the team from EastWest Urology, and Podiatry with Rosie from Foot and Sole Podiatry onsite, but we know so many great practitioners offsite as well. One of these great experts is Danielle Newbery, BOH at Kensington Dental Care, and she has been kind enough (again) to share her expertise with us in this post. Take it away, Danielle!
Newborn oral health simplified for tired mums and dads.
When my twins were born, I had 3 babies under the age of 2. To suggest that I was tired was a massive understatement. I remember one night of severe sleep deprivation when I honestly thought my son’s penis had fallen off after mixing up my boy/girl twins in the middle of yet another sleepless night nappy change. New mums and dads experience a type of exhaustion that can only be truly understood by fellow parents.
With everything that is on your mind as a new parent, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the information given to you. If you’re anything like me, if it’s overwhelming to do something, I do nothing. So, today I hope to simplify a few things for you about caring for your new babies mouth and teeth when they emerge. Ok, ready for a quick lesson? Good, me too! Lets go!
Dummy or no dummy?
Ok, this one really annoys me as both a mum and an Oral Health Therapist. There seems to be this frequently recurring negative narrative about caregivers who give their babies dummies. For the record, all of my kids had dummies. My eldest boy, Alex, had his til he was 4 and the twins til they were 3 (I weaned them all at the same time). Babies are meant to suck. They suck to soothe, increase feeding strength, make them happy and to comfort them. In fact, suckling is one of the 5 womb sensations that trigger the baby’s innate calming reflex. Dummy use has even been shown to decrease the rate of SIDS, although the exact reason is still unknown. They can either suck on a breast, a bottle, a dummy or a thumb.
As much as I loved breastfeeding, I had no desire to sit for hours on end while the babies used my sore cracked, bleeding nipples as a pacifier. Bottles and formula can be expensive and can cause bottle decay in babies, so that’s not ideal either. Thumbs are attached to the baby (funnily enough), so trying to remove a thumb from a child to wean them is literally impossible. So that leaves us with a dummy. You can read more about what kind of dummy is best. But apart from that, if a dummy soothes your baby and lets you get a few extra hours sleep, let them have a dummy. Trust me, it’s not the end of the world, but sleep deprivation can be.
But a last word on dummies; please please please do not suck the dummy yourself or anyone else. Bacteria from your mouth can be transferred to the baby and it can have disastrous outcomes including decay, thrush, cold sores and even the common cold which you may not know you have. Carry spare clean dummies with you or rinse under cold running water if it gets dropped or soiled.
When to start brushing baby’s teeth?
Well, both of my boys were born with their lower front teeth present, called “natal teeth” so I started gently brushing their little teeth right from day 1, but what is best practice for others? Start when the baby is a few days old, good routines are established early. Cover your finger with a clean damp washcloth and gently wipe the inside of the baby’s mouth and gums. When baby teeth start to appear, around 6 months of age, start cleaning them using a very soft childrens toothbrush without any toothpaste. Bacteria starts to accumulate in babies’ mouths very soon after birth, so it’s important to start the daily habit of removing the oral bacteria early on. The bacteria that causes decay is transferred to the baby from caregivers, so regular dental check ups and daily good oral hygiene practices are a must for all caregivers too.
Your child’s first dental appointment should be before their first birthday.
This also establishes good rapport and familiarity to the dental setting for the child so that future dental appointments are carried out easily without fear. You can read more about my recommendations for a child’s first dental appointment. I’ll talk more about caring for children’s teeth next week, let’s stick with newborns this week. If you are concerned about your newborns gums, mouth or teeth, make an appointment with your Oral Health Therapist for some excellent knowledge and advice.
Points to remember
If your baby settles better suckling, a dummy is perfectly acceptable to use
Do not suck on the babies dummy yourself, rinse it clean under cold water
Start cleaning babies mouth early on with a clean damp cloth
Use a soft toothbrush once teeth start to appear
No toothpaste until the age of 2, then only use a children’s toothpaste with reduced fluoride
Adult strength toothpaste from age 6
First dental check before babies first birthday
Most of all do what works for you. Your Oral Health Therapist should be supportive, flexible and understanding of everyone’s needs. They are there to help you, not judge.
Good luck! Get some sleep!
Thanks Danielle! PartridgeGP works with you to help you make your best health decisions. , and that includes recommending other practitioners to you who care as much as we do. Thanks Danielle! Read more from Danielle right here.
We pride ourselves on great communication and we’re ready to share our professional skills and knowledge with you. This is only MORE important now, in the time of a global pandemic with a new vaccine on the horizon. The way forward is clear: make your appointment with us conveniently online right here – or call our friendly reception team on 82953200.
Better, for you.
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com
For everyone, we believe that having a usual GP or General Practice is central to each person’s care and recommend that people with any health issues that come to the attention of other health professionals should be advised to attend their usual GP or General Practice rather than a specialised service (ie a place not providing the holistic care a specialist GP would). If they say that they don’t have a usual GP or general practice, they should be helped to find one and to actually attend it. Call PartridgeGP on 82953200 or make an appointment online here.
(Hat tip: Dr Oliver Frank)
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com
If you’re employed, get a side hustle and get into business. If you’ve already got a business, get a network. Want to get started? Find your tribe here!
If you are a great GP or a great Allied Health Professional, and you want to serve your clients or patients to the best of your ability, without worrying about all the non clinical things that get in your way, lets talk. Call Mrs Hayley Roberts on 8295 3200 and have a coffee and chat with us as to how PartridgeGP can help you to help others.