From looking after your teeth during pregnancy to teaching your little one good dental habits, mums and dads share their top tried-and-tested tips
Whether you’re struggling with irritated gums in pregnancy, or your little one has just hit the teething stage, it’s important to look after your family’s teeth. But we know it’s not always plain sailing. Try these parent-tested tips for happy and healthy smiles.
How do I look after my teeth during pregnancy?
Gently does it
“I really struggled with irritable gums during pregnancy and it felt like they were inflamed all the time. What helped the most was switching to a gentler toothpaste. I found that Colgate’s Sensitive with Sensifoam was gentle on my teeth and my gums. I also used an extra soft toothbrush and stopped brushing so hard.”
Elena, mum to Jackson
Rinse and repeat
“I suffered with morning sickness throughout my pregnancy which wasn’t ideal when it came to dental care. My dentist advised me to rinse my mouth with plain water whenever I was sick to make sure the acid didn’t harm my teeth, and then wait about an hour before brushing my teeth again.”
Sinead, mum to Sophie
Top tip: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque and bacteria, and more likely to bleed. Dental care is free during pregnancy and until one year after your due date so make sure you apply for a maternity exemption certificate. Ask your doctor, nurse or midwife for a form.
How do I look after my baby’s first teeth?
Start them early
“When Grace started teething, we gave her a silicone tooth brush to chew on. Not only was it great for soothing her gums, it got her used to holding a toothbrush herself.”
Conor, dad to Grace
Top tip: Make sure your baby’s first toothbrush has soft bristles and a small head. For toothpaste, the NHS recommends that for children under the age of three, you should use only a smear of toothpaste containing no less than 1000ppm fluoride.
“Mia loves copying everything we do, so before she could even hold a toothbrush, I would sit her in front of me while I brushed my teeth. It wasn’t long before she was grabbing anything she could find and mimicking the actions I was making.”
Becky, mum to Mia
Top tip: Babies and toddlers love copying games, so it’s no wonder that something as simple as brushing their teeth is easier when then can see other people doing it. Turn it into a game, make funny faces as you brush your teeth and they’ll soon copy you.
How do I get my toddler to brush their own teeth?
Fun comes first
“It’s worth buying a fun, colourful toothbrush with their favourite character on it. As soon as we gave Jack a Paw Patrol toothbrush he couldn’t wait to brush his teeth. Now every time we go to the supermarket, he begs me for a new toothbrush, because suddenly Paw Patrol is so last month.”
Julia, mum to Jack
Top tip: Whether their favourite thing this month is Minions or Spider Man, there’s bound to be a toothbrush for it. It may be a simple swap but not only will it get them engaged with brushing their own teeth, it’ll teach them the importance of replacing their tooth brush on a regular basis.
Make it a family affair
“It was a real struggle to get Tommy to even pick up a tooth brush, but as soon as he saw Mum, Dad and his older sister brushing their teeth together, he wanted to be involved. It’s not always possible in the morning, but we try to follow a routine in the evening and it’s now something Tommy asks us to do.”
Omari, dad to Tommy and Asha
“Like many toddlers, Leo and Oscar hated having their teeth brushed, because they love to do things by themselves. We found that the more control we gave them, the more willing they were to have a go. From opening and squeezing the toothpaste (not always a success!), to turning the tap on and rinsing the toothbrush, small actions had a big impact.”
Melanie, mum to twins Leo and Oscar
“We know that we all need to brush our teeth for two minutes but that’s a lifetime to a toddler, so we play a teeth brushing nursery rhyme to keep Alaia interested. She often tries to sing with her toothbrush in her mouth, which can get very messy, but it definitely helps make it a fun activity and not a chore.”
Tamara, mum to Alaia
For more expert advice, tailored to you and your baby, don’t forget to sign up to Tesco Baby Club.