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14 m.o. won't let us brush his teeth ~please help!

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

DS is 14 months and has 12 teeth. It used to be easy to brush, back when he only had three or four and was still a baby. We got him one of those banana baby brushes and he loved that, and his strawberry toothpaste. Fast forward to now, and it has become the typical toddler toothbrushing struggle. I have read several other threads here and tried some of those ideas:

 

Doing the "there are monsters in your teeth who want to eat them, let's brush them out of there ~Grrrr!" game....no dice. He's too young to 'get' that, I think.

 

DH and I simultaneously brushing our teeth, letting him brush our teeth, opening our mouths wide, checking out our mouths and then trying to look in his and brush ~he's not impressed and won't play along.

 

Just giving him the toothbrush to play with. Sometimes he'll grab it and run off with it, and occasionally this can lead to actual toothbrushing, but usually he's not into it (either the brush as a toy or the brushing).

 

I was thinking to get him an electric brush, which is what DH and I have. I think he's too young to make a big thing out of picking his own, which I know works for some older toddlers, but still just the novelty and the vibrations of it might interest him.

Other than that I'm out of ideas.

 

Please let me know how you do / did manage to brush your young toddler's teeth. I am desperate! Most nights it just doesn't work, or if it does we get maybe 50% of his teeth only 30% brushed. I know I should try in the morning too, but I rarely have the motivation as it just ends up a struggle, plus DH goes to work early, his mornings are rushed as it is and I don't think I could manage it alone.

 

I swear I am at the brink of giving up and saying ya know what? if he gets cavities then FINE! Getting a few cavities filled may actually be overall less traumatic than having a pin-down fighting torture scene to brush them every single night (which, if we were real sticklers about getting them thoroughly brushed it would have to be). I am not willing, at this stage, to do that ~I know some parents do but I feel that could break his trust in us (at least somewhat) and would just suck. OTOH, I know some kids get more than just cavities and have to have like all their friggin' milk teeth pulled, agh! Definitely want to avoid that!

 

Please share your tips and tricks and advice ~how can we get this kid's teeth brushed?! TIA!

post #2 of 27

Sorry you're struggling. Our 15 month old is fascinated by tooth brushes but won't actually let us brush his teeth. His dentist said not to worry at this point--as long as he's not eating lots of sugary food or going to bed with a bottle (he's not--to either) he should be fine. We let our little guy play with his own toothbrush when we brush our teeth so that he gets used to the sensation. Maybe if you deemphasize brushing your little one will be more interested? I know our son totally picks up on us wanting him to do something, and being the rebelious little monster he is, he will purposely not do it! They do make child size electric toothbrushes--maybe that would help. My advice would be to let your son play with his toothbrush for now without pressuring him to actually brush. Maybe try again in a couple of months to set up more of a brushing routine--he may have changed his mind by then. Good luck!

post #3 of 27

P.J.--You and I have parallel lives from time to time...I thought about posting this when I had time this coming weekend.  Same problem (even same strawberry paste!).  We go at it twice a day with about the same results as you.  Sometimes I get a decent "swipe" in when he is biting the toothbrush and I remove it, thereby scraping his teeth.  I have also tried (playfully, I swear) sort of tipping him upside down, which reflexively opens his mouth for about two seconds.  I agree that I an "I'm gonna hold you down and brush your teeth" approach a) wouldn't work, and b) would be wrong and mean.  DH is usually the one who is super playful with him and can kind of finagle him into doing stuff or distract him long enough to get by with unpleasantries (ie: poop wiping), but this toothbrush thing has us both stumped.  Some kids are into watching themselves brush in a mirror.  Mine's not one of them.  Can't wait to hear somebody's miracle suggestion, cause we're up a creek with this one!

post #4 of 27

Oh man... I think we are heading in this direction.  He used to let us, but not anymore.  I'm hoping it's because the next teeth are coming in (got #7 & 8 a month ago).  I've read so many horror stories about cavities (& even root canal!) under 2 yrs, especially with night nursers (who have started solids), which we still do.  I tried putting straight xylitol on the brush and that helped this morning, but not the 3 times before.  When he doesn't let me brush I go back to using a wash cloth, not sure how much longer that will work & I generally get a little bite doing that. I bought Xlear Spry Infant Tooth Gel with Xylitol but haven't tried it yet.  Hopefully if I can get some attempt in with that at least it will help.

post #5 of 27

Ds is almost 2 and doesn't get as much brushing as dd did at that age, just because I'm more relaxed about it.  I let him do it himself, he chews on it and maybe brushes a little.  A couple times a week I stand beside him, hold his head against my body, open his mouth and brush his teeth for about 15-20 seconds.  I ask him to open his mouth so I can brush, and sometimes he does, but I usually have to pry a bit to get a good quick swipe at every part.  I don't feel like it's particularly traumatic even though he doesn't like it.  Tooth brushing isn't really negotiable at our house.  Dd is 4.5 and I have to press her a bit to let me work on hers a couple times a week too.  Obviously she is much more cooperative now than she was at 2, but she still would rather I don't do it.  I think it is more of a breach of trust to neglect their teeth (I am NOT saying this is what any of you are doing) and wind up putting them under general anesthesia for dental work -- not okay with me.  Just my take on it.

post #6 of 27
One thing that we had a lot of success with for a while (we are always having to change things up with DS lol) is the toothbrush dance DH made up. It alternates between brushing, stomping, swaying side-to-side, etc. so it takes longer to actually BRUSH but DS was much more cooperative with it. He also does well if I sing the "Brush Your Teeth" song (Raffi). Basically anything that makes it more fun & helps distract him from the fact that we're brushing his teeth. And he STRONGLY prefers me to brush them, rather than DH.
post #7 of 27

I have a similar problem and here's what I do: I have a few different toothbrushes (one battery powered, one with a suction cup on the bottom, one Angel Brush) and he can play with them whenever he wants. He does like to chew on them so that makes it a little easier. He loves the one with the suction cup because he can stick and unstick it to the table. Usually twice a day but always before bedtime, I use a finger brush with baby tooth gel to really get his front teeth especially because I am beyond paranoid about his teeth rotting and falling out. He doesn't like it and I have to pretty much pin him in my lap but he's fine a few seconds later and  I don't think he's too traumatized by it. I get bitten quite a bit but at least I feel I am getting a good scrub at least once a day. Best of luck!

post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gitanamama View Post Maybe if you deemphasize brushing your little one will be more interested? I know our son totally picks up on us wanting him to do something, and being the rebelious little monster he is, he will purposely not do it!

I was thinking this as well. That he can probably pick up on our stress over it. DH hates dealing with this more than I do. Even though we put on our best fun-faces and try to make it a game, under the surface there is tension and stress there.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by caedenmomma View Post  I have also tried (playfully, I swear) sort of tipping him upside down, which reflexively opens his mouth for about two seconds. 

 

I tried this tonight, and it did help a little! I was able to brush, but not as long as I would've liked. I again got the feeling "okay, we brushed, but only about 50% of what we should've".

 

I know it's important to brush at night before bed, but DS is usually pretty grumpy and tired by then (obviously). I was thinking maybe I should try to brush during the day, like after lunch, when he's in a better mood. Also that way, if I only get to brush half his teeth or for half as long as I should in the evening, they won't be starting out as dirty as they would if I hadn't brushed earlier in the day.

 

Thanks for the ideas so far!

post #9 of 27

I never understood how the 'tricks' for these kinds of things worked until I had my daughter (my second).  For her you can cajole her into all kinds of things.  

 

But my son - no way.  For him when he went through his toothbrushing aversion phase I had to lie him on the ground on his back and tilt his head back and just force it.  I would say "I'd rather hold him down for toothbrushing than a root canal".  

post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by D_McG View Post

 

But my son - no way.  For him when he went through his toothbrushing aversion phase I had to lie him on the ground on his back and tilt his head back and just force it.  I would say "I'd rather hold him down for toothbrushing than a root canal".  



This is how I feel.  My son with this issue is now 3.5yo.  This problem started when he was... 2, maybe?  Even the dentist got nothing done when I took him in the last time.  I can see cavities in his molars, and I'm terrified at what it's going to take to fix them.  He just recently started letting us brush again (and even now, it takes a TON of convincing/bribing/etc.), but for the longest time it was a horrible, horrible battle.  I eventually resorted to pinning him down (with DH's help) to get them brushed, and even then, it was never a good brushing.... hence the cavities.  He would clamp his jaw shut, and I couldn't brush the back teeth very well at all.  I talked to his pediatrician and his dentist when this first started, and they both told me to do whatever I could.  His pedi (naturopath, very into GD) told me to keep reminding him that I loved him, and I didn't want him to have 'owies' in his mouth, even while I was holding him down to brush.  

 

I have a feeling that he will have to be knocked out at the dentist for them to even really get in there and assess the damage.  greensad.gif

post #11 of 27

My 2 yr old loves to hold her toothbrush while in the bath each night. She lets me start out by putting paste on it (infant toothpaste) and then brush myself and then she takes over. We have to do it the same way every night. I started a routine with her and just kept at it and now that she's older she remembers the routine and actually asks for it. I would try to get the tooth brushing mixed in with your usual bedtime routine. Maybe that will work. Good luck!

post #12 of 27

We had the worst problem with this for a long time. I attribute this to the cavities he has now. :( Miles is 2.5 years old and now allows us to brush his teeth. We make a game of it and tell him its "time to get the bugs out" he giggles and really gets into it with us. We tell him that after we eat, we get these bugs all over our mouths and we need to brush our teeth to get them out. He loves bugs and thinks its hilarious to clean his mouth. 

post #13 of 27

My dd gave me the hardest time about brushing her teeth until I started singing the ABC song while doing it.  I am not sure if she likes the singing part or that she knows eventually it will end, but she will gladly hold still for teeth brushing now.  I just keep repeating the song until everything is clean.. usually 3 or 4 times depending on how fast I sing it.

post #14 of 27

My infant toothpaste with xylitol came in.  First I put a tiny amount on the toothbrush and just let him chew on it to see it tasted good.  He'd let me start brushing, then jerk his head to the side, so it kind of worked.  Now our bedtime goes like this:  change diaper, change clothes, "drop" on the bed (he loves this), brush teeth.  While brushing teeth I sing "la la la la" to whatever tune I can think of at the moment.  When DP joins in the fun DS gets really distracted.  This works mostly.  When it's really not working I just try to focus on the top teeth because I've read that's where the problems are most frequently.

 

PJ - I would just try to brush after his last solid meal for the day, would that work?  Say, you eat dinner at 6, then brush teeth right after rather than waiting for bed.  In our house DS usually doesn't eat anything (other than nursing) after that.  At least for now ;)

post #15 of 27

Hi P.J.!  I got an idea from a PP's suggestion about toothbrushing in the bath.  I gave Caeden a toothbrush and a cup of water while he was in his highchair, and he really liked playing with it.  I figured something got brushed while he was playing, right?

 

Also, this is my latest strategy:  zooming in and out of his mouth with the toothbrush (literally a couple seconds) while saying "tickle tickle" in a oh-isn't-this-fun manner. Oh, it's really glad nobody has a hidden camera in my house.  The couple-seconds thing keeps him from biting the toothbrush so I can get it back in there.  At best, I feel that we are doing a barely-adequate job with brushing, but I expect that's better than nothing, right?

post #16 of 27

i need to be more consistent about doing it every day, but i'm in the hold 'em down camp. i think it's one of those non-negotiables, like cutting nails and changing diapers. so i sit on the toilet and have her stand in between my legs so i can pin her arms down a bit. then i brush brush while counting down or singing. she hates it, but it's over super quickly and then she's allowed to have more infant toothpaste (LOVES the flavour) and play around with the brush on her own, which she likes. i do the same thing for bath and diapers... get the unpleasant part over quickly so she can have the rest of the time to fart around. 

post #17 of 27

What works for us is to have ds brush his own teeth while I brush mine. Then it's my turn to do his. On the days he's resistant to me brushing I get him to roar like a dinosaur & get in there as quick as I can. It usually takes multiple roars but he thinks it's pretty fun to roar so that's ok.

post #18 of 27
When my DS was about 18 months we had this problem...out of desperation I grabbed a puppet and stuck the toothbrush in it. I said "chicken wants to brush your teeth!" .... Worked like a charm. We had 3 of those little hand puppets that we rotated through, making it fun- letting him choose who would brush... Maybe it will work for you too?!
post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeguard View Post

What works for us is to have ds brush his own teeth while I brush mine. Then it's my turn to do his. On the days he's resistant to me brushing I get him to roar like a dinosaur & get in there as quick as I can. It usually takes multiple roars but he thinks it's pretty fun to roar so that's ok.



Since starting this thread tooth brushing has devolved even further. I had sort of given up, and on many nights just ended up sort of pinning him on my lap and doing it while he cried (hey, at least his mouth is open then redface.gif). I hate that. It feels like I'm torturing him, and he cries as if I were. Even then, I still felt like I wasn't doing it well enough and he still was going to end up with cavities. The only "good" part was, it seemed he got over it real quick and went back to playing right away as if nothing had happened. But seeing those tears on his cheeks after made me feel just terrible.

 

Tonight DH helped me and he tried doing this roaring thing (on his own, not from my advice). It made DS laugh, and I got in there while his mouth was open. So I think next time I'll try roaring. He's starting to like roaring when we look at lions in books, so maybe this trick will work. Thanks!

post #20 of 27

Not to hijack the thread, but how important is toothpaste to the tooth brushing regimen? Is it just to flavor the toothbrush to lure the kid into believing that tooth brushing is tasty or does it have an actual purpose? I have some kind of orajel toothpaste, maybe strawberry flavored, and Daniel doesn't even seem to like it. I wonder if it's really necessary, since it doesn't have flouride.

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