Is anyone successful at brushing their 3-yr-old's teeth?! Please help. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 6 Old 04-13-2012, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It has always been a struggle with my son, now 37 months. We had about 4 months recently where it was slightly less of a struggle because he became interested in a calendar/sticker reward system (the reward was just placing a sticker on his calendar). But he grew bored with that, and we're now back in toothbrush hell.

 

We brush twice a day. The routine doesn't vary, and it's not like I spring this task on him out of the blue, but he still fights it tooth and nail every.single.time. He has five different kinds of toothbrushes, three kinds of toothpaste, books about brushing, etc. We might spend 30+ minutes each time negotiating, threatening, discussing, trying to somehow convince him it's better to do it the 'easy' way, meaning cooperatively. (And honestly, at this age and size, the 'hard' way isn't really an option anymore because while I *may* be able to restrain him (something I completely loathe in concept and practice), I've found that you cannot make them actually open their mouths.)

 

We often now resort to taking away privileges like his one cartoon/show a day, threaten to remove toys, etc. I dislike this punishment approach, but we've simply run out of ways to handle the situation and we grow pretty frustrated with him, honestly. Please help. I don't want to punish, be forceful, or manipulative, etc. But he has some decay on his two front teeth...not that this task would be any less important otherwise, but that's always in my mind as well.

 

 

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#2 of 6 Old 04-13-2012, 10:04 PM
 
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With ds, I tell him that we are "chasing the plaque bugs out" with the toothbrush.   I used to have to be all dramatic and "find" plaque bugs on his teeth, tell him they are trying to eat his teeth and that we need to chase them out by scrubbing them so he can spit them out.  

 

I've also shown him pictures of really nasty teeth, and told him that's what happens if you let the plaque bugs stay!

 

Also, if he doesn't brush, then he gets NO sweets of any kind (we only do healthy 'sweets', but to him they are 'treats'), I just tell him "sorry, sweets bring more plaque bugs, so if you can't brush properly, then you cant have them.

 

And I tell him he "gets to floss" if he brushes.  He really likes to floss (no idea why), so he will brush just to get to floss.  Also works with mouth wash, he gets to use some after he brushes. 

 

He always brushes first, often while I brush my teeth, and then I go over everything after ("checking if he got them all")

 

Another thing he likes is the electric toothbrush

 

 

He was weird about teeth brushing when he was around 3, but now he is totally fine with teeth brushing. 

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#3 of 6 Old 04-13-2012, 10:13 PM
 
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My husband started playing "dentist" with our daughter (3 years).  He arranges a bunch of pillows at the edge of the bed for her to recline on, pretends he's welcoming her to the dentist's office, asks what she's been eating and if she's brushing, etc.  It sounds cheesey, but its been working....brushing is no longer a battle and we are able to do a way better job because she lets us spend more time in there and can be thorough.  At the end of every "appointment" she gets a pretend balloon and will remind us if we forget.


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Mama to F (3/09) and S (3/11); and never forgetting my babe gone too soon angel1.gif(4/10).

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#4 of 6 Old 04-15-2012, 10:41 AM
 
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We struggled with this for months before we found the magic ticket. I let her use my iphone to play with toddler puzzle apps while i wish her teeth. She doesn't know how to spit yet (only 26 months and can't figure it out haha) so she just sits on the chair and plays games while i brush for 2 mins. In the mornings i just let her do it herself...which is really just her chewing on the toothbrush for a half a second while looking in the mirror. It works and has worked for about 6 months now! Other then during tooth brushing time she only gets to use the iphone out to eat or at random times when we need to get be contented (think long car ride) so it is a special treat at the end of the day and she could care less if i am brushing her teeth so long as she can play on her beloved iphone. Another thing that worked for a while was pretending that her stuffed animals were brushing her teeth and having her decide who was going to brush her teeth tonight.

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#5 of 6 Old 04-15-2012, 07:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Leighi, I took note of your idea of using a visual and sat my son down with me in front of the computer yesterday afternoon while we looked at some bottle mouth pictures. I thought this might help him visualize what could happen to his teeth without proper care. Then we switched to some fun toothbrush videos -  there was a Barney one, and the Charlie Brown one where Snoopy uses Lucy's toothbrush. lol. Well apparently that did help because that night he willingly picked out a toothpaste and brushed his own teeth! Of course I had to do a quick spot check, but...wow. Today was pretty easy too. I'm sure it won't last, but it's a good tool for the moment. We see his dentist this week so that will help get him back in the groove too.
 

Crayfish girl, that is a clever idea! I will enlist my husband in that new role as soon as he returns from his business trip!
 

Kelly - another great idea! He does love the iPad and iPhone.

 

Thank you all.

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#6 of 6 Old 04-15-2012, 07:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crayfishgirl View Post

My husband started playing "dentist" with our daughter (3 years).  He arranges a bunch of pillows at the edge of the bed for her to recline on, pretends he's welcoming her to the dentist's office, asks what she's been eating and if she's brushing, etc.  It sounds cheesey, but its been working....brushing is no longer a battle and we are able to do a way better job because she lets us spend more time in there and can be thorough.  At the end of every "appointment" she gets a pretend balloon and will remind us if we forget.


This is so cute! We did a much simpler version of this right after DS's first dentist appointment -- I put a washcloth over his chest like the little paper bib they put on his at the dentist's office. I was useful since he drools a lot while I brush.

 

OP, we've definitely gone through our battles -- It's back & forth & I'm always trying to think of something new (& I admit that a few times when he was crying about it I thought "Fine, cry, at least your mouth is open & I can brush!" ... but those days are far & few between, thankfully).

 

A couple things we do: I always let him brush first (he gets practice that way & feels like he's doing it himself) & then I "finish up" for him; I get very animated looking for food we recently ate or his favorite Thomas trains; we make up silly songs while I brush.

 

It's just something that's non-negotiable & never has been... I don't set many firm limits but this is one of them & he understands that I will brush his teeth one way or another. It's become a habit now & the battles are less & less (though now he's feeling more independent & doesn't want my help but I know he's not brushing well enough... ah well.)

 

Good luck, mama!


Mama to my little busy bee. 

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