Q&A: Do I need to clean my baby’s gums?

That gummy baby grin is the sweetest smile you’ll ever see, but do you need to take extra care of those gums before the first pearly white pops through?

Do we need to clean baby’s gums? My bub is mostly breastfed with occasional formula top up.

Kiera, Mum's Grapevine Group Member

Dr Giulia D’Anna, founder of iDental, explained to Mum’s Grapevine that while baby’s gums don’t need cleaning, there is something parents need to be aware of to keep bub’s mouth healthy.

“Before bubs have teeth, there is no real need to clean their gums. The most important thing at this stage is to limit sharing cutlery like spoons, or sharing the dummy (yes I have seen parents do this). Babies and our kids need to establish their own oral bacteria. Oral bacteria is important as it is the beginning of digestion and is part of the first processes of taste and food breakdown.

“This bacteria can be picked up from parents, which is great if you have your gums and teeth healthy. What normally happens during pregnancy is that mums forget about their oral hygiene due to nausea or bleeding gums which is really common with all the hormone swings. With the decreased oral hygiene and usually also less dental visits in this critical time, the early stages of gum disease or even tooth decay can set in. This spike in harmful bacteria can then be passed onto the baby, setting them up to be at higher risk of bleeding gums or decay later on.

“So the take-home message is, if it has been in the parent’s mouth, it does not go in baby’s mouth next.”

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