Nightly battle over brushing teeth - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 05-26-2008, 01:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok. We need help. Getting Jade to let us brush her teeth at night has become a real battle. I started with letting her brush them herself and then we do it. She's never liked it and has always fought it and it's getting worse and really traumatic for her. We've tried everything...singing to her, silly games, letting her brush our teeth while we brush hers, letting her brush them herself in the morning so that not every time is bad. We've bought all different kinds of toothbrushes to make it fun. Currently she has one that spins that she likes as long as she's doing it herself.

A month or two ago I read on a message board somewhere a post by a dentist who was attachment parenting that said it would take 2 people to do their kid's teeth. They would lightly restrain the kid figuring that this would be less traumatic than restraints for dental work. Made sense to me so we tried it. It has only made the problem worse. Jade is truly traumatized, clamps her mouth shut, bites the toothbrush, cries and tries to wiggle free. Tonight I had to pry her mouth open to get the toothbrush in and I'm not willing to do that again.

I'm afraid that she's never going to like dental hygene at this point. I also don't like the idea of physically overpowering her and sending the message that it's ok for an adult to do that. I want her to feel that it's her right to say "all done" or let us know in another way that she doesn't like what someone is doing to her physically so that if it ever does happen she'll know it's wrong and stand up for herself and tell me.

So what do I do now? It's too important to let go, but I don't know how to get her to let us brush her teeth in a less traumatizing way. She's only 22 mos, so she's too young to do even a bad job by herself. Any suggestions?

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#2 of 14 Old 05-26-2008, 06:44 PM
 
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I wish I had some advise. I have to hold my 2 year old down. I have to lay him on the bed hold his head with my two feet, arms with my hand and brush with my free hand. I have tried a lot of things too. Nothing works. He screams and cries but once we are done its like nothing happened.

 

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#3 of 14 Old 05-30-2008, 12:52 PM
 
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We finally found a way that works. We brush 2x per day using a Sonicare electric toothbrush with an ultracompact head - that makes it faster and more efficient. I lie dd down on the bed and I sit down with my legs in a "V", her head goes between my legs and I pin her arms under my legs - this is a gentle way of getting the job done as quickly as possible. We use Spry Infant Tooth Gel - sweet and kind to teeth. I mostly have to force dd. She has horrible tooth decay and I wish I had started forcing her *much* sooner. This should be a non-negotiable area IMO. I know it's hard, but once they know that it is non-negotiable, it does get easier. Watch a cartoon afterwards to create a positive association.

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#4 of 14 Old 06-03-2008, 03:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I do restrain her. Unfortunately, that has only made the problem worse. Right now I think I'd rather her have tooth decay than think it's ok for an adult to overpower her physically and that she doesn't have control over her body and telling an adult no. Also, at this point I don't see it getting better if I keep restraining her. She's getting a negative association with dental care that might be hard to overcome if we continue.

On another local board I belong to many moms mentioned that they just restrict sugary foods, make sure the kids eat crunchy foods like apples at the end of the day, let them do their best and only do it for them once or twice a week and give xylitol. I think that's what I'm going to try. At least unless a dentist tells me she's having problems.

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#5 of 14 Old 06-04-2008, 09:47 PM
 
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CHEESE! It has anti-cariogenic properties.

My opinion is that there are times restraint is necessary. We don't like it, they don't like it, but it has to happen. You wouldn't drive with your DD out of her carseat, right? And if you had to lightly restrain her to get her into her seat, would you do it? Brushing teeth falls into the same category IMO.

My DS doesn't like getting his teeth brushed, but he has developed caries (within the last month) and so it is no longer an option. I brush his teeth first, while restraining him - I lay him down across my lap and hold his mouth open with one hand while brushing with the other. His size and lack of canine teeth make this possible at the moment. When I feel like I've gotten to all his teeth satisfactorily (less than a minute, usually), I sit him up and let him brush his teeth himself.

The entire time, I talk to him, saying things like, "I know you don't like this, sweetie, but Mama HAS to brush your teeth to keep them strong. I just need to get to the fronts...and the backs...Can you GRRR! like a tiger? Thank you! Now ROAR! like a lion! All right! OK, just a little more...almost done. There. All done. You want to brush a little yourself?" I give him a kiss and we are done. It sucks sometimes. But I hope he can see that I am doing my best to be respectful while also doing my job as his parent to keep him healthy.

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#6 of 14 Old 06-04-2008, 09:54 PM
 
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My opinion is that there is a whole child's health and well being to be considered. That includes emotional health. Teeth brushing are one part of being healthy but some people never brush and have healthy teeth. I was never willing to hold down my children to force a brush into their mouthes at the expense of their mental heath and well being. My children would most certainly be traumatized if I physically forced them down and stuck a brush in their mouth. I can't even imagine doing it.
FWIW my kids are almost 4 and 7yo and brush their own teeth. When they went through phases during which they refused to brush I let it go. It passed. They both have never had cavities and see a dentist regularly.
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#7 of 14 Old 06-05-2008, 01:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jazzharmony View Post
My opinion is that there is a whole child's health and well being to be considered. That includes emotional health. Teeth brushing are one part of being healthy but some people never brush and have healthy teeth. I was never willing to hold down my children to force a brush into their mouthes at the expense of their mental heath and well being. My children would most certainly be traumatized if I physically forced them down and stuck a brush in their mouth. I can't even imagine doing it.
FWIW my kids are almost 4 and 7yo and brush their own teeth. When they went through phases during which they refused to brush I let it go. It passed. They both have never had cavities and see a dentist regularly.
Yeah, I probably wouldn't be as "forceful" (not quite the right word) if DS didn't have ECC. But because he does, I feel it is very necessary to brush his teeth...for his WHOLE health. He isn't SUPER resistant, and he does usually open his mouth for me to put in the brush. I hold his mouth open to stop him chewing on the brush and allow me to move the brush to all parts of his teeth. And he's only 15 months old.

Karen love.gif James -- DS drum.gif (2/07) DD baby.gif (11/05/10) angel1.gif (9/05) (10/09)
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#8 of 14 Old 06-05-2008, 02:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Restraining in a car seat is not the same thing. I don't think you understand just how traumatizing this is for her. She doesn't just dislike it. Her whole body is writhing, her mouth is clamped shut and she is bawling and hyperventilating. This is more than just mild dislike. I honestly think it's having negative emotional repercussions that will be long lasting. She is learning not to trust me and that she can't say no when an adult is hurting her. I don't think this is the same thing as what you have with your child. It's not something I can justify anymore for any reason. My heart and my gut tell me it's wrong. If I can find a way to get her to cooperate without restraint I will try it but I will not restrain her. Please folks, please don't tell me I need to. I won't do it. If that's what works in your families, that's fine. It doesn't work in mine. I'm not looking for justification for restraining her. I'm looking for alternatives. If you have alternatives, or ways you've been able to get your kids to cooperate I'd love to hear them. But please, enough implying that I'm irresponsible if I don't restrain her to brush her teeth.

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#9 of 14 Old 06-05-2008, 07:50 AM
 
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You may have tried all of these but it's worth a shot...

Bring her to the store to pick out a brush.
Tell her you're going to do funny brushing like "upside down"
Ask her if she wants you to brush her teeth "super fast" or "in slow motion"
Make it a game of finding funny things in her mouth "let's look for monkeys"

You may have to gain her trust back when it comes to looking inside her mouth so maybe start with some fun games of just "open mouth, look inside for elephants" She may not want to brush for a while and I would let that be. There is a bigger picture.
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#10 of 14 Old 06-05-2008, 11:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jade's Mom View Post
Please folks, please don't tell me I need to. I won't do it. If that's what works in your families, that's fine. It doesn't work in mine. I'm not looking for justification for restraining her. I'm looking for alternatives. If you have alternatives, or ways you've been able to get your kids to cooperate I'd love to hear them. But please, enough implying that I'm irresponsible if I don't restrain her to brush her teeth.
You're right, it sounds much more intense than what we go through! Wow. I can see where you would not want to continue.

Alternatives:
xylitol - wipes, candies, added to smoothies, whatever. This will help control bacteria. My DS actually likes to chew on the apple-flavored Spiffies, so sometimes I will just give him one rather than try to actually wipe out his mouth.

Angel brush - if she likes to chew the toothbrush, or chew other things, this might help scrape some of the food, etc. off her teeth.

For what it's worth, our dentist said it is probably more important to get fluoride into DS's mouth than to brush his teeth. If you are fluoride-averse, then I would say the same thing about xylitol.

I hope you find something that works.

Karen love.gif James -- DS drum.gif (2/07) DD baby.gif (11/05/10) angel1.gif (9/05) (10/09)
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#11 of 14 Old 06-12-2008, 04:06 PM
 
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Hi, we were having this issue, too. I did a couple of things that really worked:
1. use "Corbin's" head on "Mommy's" toothbrush (electric Sonicare)
2. explain that we're going to brush teeth and then read her two favorite books - she gets really excited about that
3. sing the same song every single time ("one little, two little, three little teeth..." for bottom row and then for the top row)
4. a kiss for finishing
5. books

My kid is just over two now and it took at least a year to get into that groove. She still tries to cover her mouth, but, like you, I'm not restraining her and inflicting bad feelings to her dental health.

Also, I'm on a really close-knit mommy board. My kid has seen a ton of pictures of those kids and knows some by name (of course, she's met all the local ones). Anyway, I asked them all to have their kids take really positive pictures of brushing their teeth, smiling with their brush, etc. Kids from infancy to 18+ all hammed it up...I turned it into a book for Corbin and that really helped her see that other kids do it, too.

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#12 of 14 Old 06-12-2008, 06:13 PM
 
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With ds, I didn't force him to have his teeth brushed because I didn't want to traumatize him and he has perfect teeth. Dd developed ECC before the age of 2 even though we did do some (non-coercive therefore less effective) teeth brushing . There's not much rhyme or reason to this. Every parent has to make their own decision about whether or not to force teeth brushing. But I do want to challenge the idea that lack of teeth brushing will avoid coercion. If cavities develop, there can be a lot of emotional trauma involved in dealing with that -- for the parent and child. If a child doesn't like having a toothbrush in their mouth, then they are unlikely to enjoy dentist visits, having their teeth drilled, getting surgery under GA, etc.

Here are the non-coercive things that we have done/are doing for dd's dental health:

Professionals:
--------------
* searched for child-friendly dentists in the local Find Your Tribe thread on Mothering.com and in the alternativekidsteeth and veryyoungkidsteeth yahoogroups - we have found dentists who have made it fun and secure for dd

Remineralizing:
---------------
* frequent cheese
* frequent nori seaweed as a snack

Xylitol:
--------
* the whole family is getting 2 Spry Mints (Berryblast) 5x per day for a total of 10 per day (they do not taste like mint)

Diet:
-----
* stopped all dried fruit (dh was feeding it to her regularly before)
* cut back sugar treats (they were occasional before)
* reduced refined carbs (haven't stopped completely because sometimes we just need her to eat)
* increased meat and cheese (we had reduced our intake because of a serious health condition that dh has)
* increasing frequency of bone stock
* dd almost never had juice and still doesn't

Supplements:
------------
* high vitamin cod liver oil - dd takes 2 Natural Factors Super Cod Liver Oil capsules (400 IU of Vitamin D) -- we've cut back on this during the summer though and we're using salmon oil instead
* X-Factor Gold High Vitamin Butter Oil supplements (I am taking 3 capsules per day and hoping she is getting it via my breastmilk)

Hygiene
-------
* we watch a fun video after brushing

Good luck with this.

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#13 of 14 Old 06-16-2008, 03:09 AM
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Wow. I'd apologize to her for ever having restrained her. (I understand the sentiment but yeah, sounds traumatizing!)

My ds fought me about tooth-brushing until:

I let him pick out the toothbrush, and we found Tom's of Maine Silly Strawberry toothpaste! (It's the only stuff he can stand.)

I also make up games when necessary, like he has "books" in his mouth and I'm going to "dust" the books with the toothbrush.

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#14 of 14 Old 06-16-2008, 04:14 AM
 
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I had the same problems with ds..............he still will fight the brush, but he's actually ok with those Spiffies Xylitol wipes..........I figure that's better than nothing
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