At Coastal Dental Care, we love to provide dentistry for the whole family. Our dentist at Coastal Dental Care Redland Bay, Noopur Sharma, has just returned from maternity leave.
We caught up with Noopur and asked her how she is settling back into work, what’s changed and of course some tips and tricks to stay on top of your oral health.
Noopur, you’ve just come back from maternity leave. What has changed since your Redland Bay patients have last seen you?
I now have a toddler and a newborn! Double trouble :) I was blessed with another baby boy in January and have spent the last 6 months in a whirlwind of toddler tantrums and newborn cuddles!
It has been wonderful, exciting, exhausting and magical all at the same time. Having two kids of my own now, I can honestly say I have so much respect for ALL parents out there, it is a tough job and you are all incredible.
Now that you’re a mother of two, has your approach to dentistry changed in any way?
Definitely. I have a lot more empathy towards parents especially, so when I see a tired face walking through the door I understand so much of what they are going through.
Coming to the dentist isn’t easy in the first place, and tiredness can compound anxiety and make it even more difficult to cope. Having two kids under two, I have learnt to have a lot of patience, which reflects in my style of dentistry.
I have all the time in the world to make sure that my patients are comfortable, relaxed and know that I get it! I am completely okay with spending lots of time before treatment, making sure my patients are at ease, and I often use humour or tell stories to diffuse nervousness.
I also know first-hand how much new parents neglect their own oral health. So much of our day is centred around the kids that we forget to look after ourselves, and two minutes to brush our teeth can seem unmanageable at times. I can’t stress enough how important self-care is for new parents though, and sometimes the simple task of brushing your teeth and showering can give you the confidence to take on the day ahead.
What tooth brush and tooth paste do you recommend for young children?
For ages 0-8 months while your infant just has gums, it is best to clean the gums with just a damp clean cloth or gauze.
As soon as teeth erupt, up to about 3 years of age, use a small toothbrush or finger brush to clean them with just a smear of toothpaste. From 3-6 years, help your child to learn brushing under supervision but make sure they use a fluoridated toothpaste made for kids (containing 500ppm).
For ages 6+, use regular toothpaste and ensure they are spitting out any excess. Up until about 18 months, I used an organic non-fluoridated toothpaste by the brand Jack n Jill as my son had no concept of spitting out. They do a delicious blackberry flavour that got him excited about tooth brushing, and it didn’t matter how much he swallowed!
Then I swapped to just a smear of Colgate kids toothpaste twice a day once he got the hang of spitting out. My 6 month old has no teeth yet so I am just enjoying the adorable gummy smile for now :)
As a dentist you know how important it is to look after your children’s first teeth. Do you have any tips or tricks to help parents if their child does not want to brush his or her teeth?
Start early! There is a Training Toothbrush Set by the brand Pigeon sold in pharmacies
and chemists across Australia that have 3 tooth brushes in them that gradually introduce a bristled brush for infants.
It is brilliant, the first brush (for 6-8 month olds) is much like a teething toy, the second brush (for 8-12 months old) has some silicone bristles on it, and the third brush (for 12 months+) mimics a very soft adult toothbrush. Often kids will just chew on them to start with, but it is a great way to encourage healthy oral habits and soothe sore gums.
For older kids, there are a number of fun tooth brushes available with Disney characters or colourful pictures on them that are always a hit. My older son has a toothbrush that lights up, and he loves it (we stock them at our surgery so come in and just ask me for one!).
When we went through a period of tooth brushing resistance, we discovered a two-minute free tooth brushing app by The Wiggles available via the App Store or Play Store – and now it’s hard to get him to STOP tooth brushing! :)
Nutrition has a major influence on your overall oral health. Is there anything you would recommend to other mums? Are there any Do’s and Don’ts in your household?
Frequency of sugar intake is an enormous contributor to tooth decay. Often busy mums will snack all day on little bits of sugary foods that keep their mouth in a very acidic state, without much time for saliva to buffer back to neutral.
New parents are also notorious for not drinking enough water, eating particularly well, or brushing adequately and all this contributes to decay and gum disease.
So many mums come in to our practice and say, “ever since I had kids my teeth have become terrible!” The truth is, it probably has little to do with your kids but more to do with your lack time to look after yourself.
My biggest tip is to be organised, make sure you have YOUR snacks and food prepared for the next day and not just your kids’ food! Low sugar snacks like cheese, veggies and yogurts are great alternatives to binge eating chocolate – and will keep you fuller for longer. I know it’s hard, and I too am guilty of reaching for the cookie jar – but try not to make it a regular occurrence :)
Think of eating well as a way of looking after yourself, you deserve it and if you are not at your 100% you simply don’t have the energy to do all the tasks that parenthood demands.
Will you tell your children about the tooth fairy? What will you say?
Definitely! I love how innocent toddlers are and how much fun you can have with that sort of thing! It’s amazing how using your imagination a little can make things like losing a tooth seem a little less scary to our little ones.
I remember when I was a kid I used to get 10c for a tooth, which bought me a lolly from the tuckshop. Ironic, really, to get lollies for losing a tooth, but it was so much fun! I wonder if I can get away with leaving 10c for my kids now… I’ll let you know in a few years!