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Lately I have been struggling over tooth-brushing with my 2 1/2 year old. I used to be able to get him to let me brush his teeth. Then we had a few nights where he resisted and because it was late I gave in. Now, he has been resisting every night. He won't open his mouth and if I try to force it he cries and I feel terrible. My old trick aren't working. Does anyone have tips for brushing toddlers teeth? Please Help!
 

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Every dentist I've spoken to on the matter, which is three, plus a few moms who have had to confront this, have said brush at all costs. Not doing so has been shown to contribute GREATLY to Early Childhood Tooth Decay.<br><br>
I have to put DD in some pretty creative holds! j/k <not really, so it seems sometimes. !<br><br>
My dentist, a sweet man who has a gentle touch, actually went so far as to say to hold her down if I had to, even if she doesn't like it.... Something I too GREATLY DISLIKE.<br><br>
It takes 2 min, and it's unpleasant, but then it's over, we nurse and sing/meditate/say a prayer... and she's down for the night. I let her be more in charge of the day-time brushing. This way, I know she's getting at least 1 good brushing out of three.<br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/bag.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Bag">:
 

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In desperation, I intended to hold him down. I chased him all over the bedroom and finally cornered him in the closet. He fell on top of a pile of laundry, giggling madly, and I brushed. Since then it's been a fun game, and it's easier to brush while they are laughing since their mouths are open. Good luck, I've seen the results of not brushing and it's worth the struggle.
 

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I still can't figure out this one. Actually, I got the opposite advice -- don't force toothbrushing. So I didn't, and indeed, my daughter's resistance waned and she was brushing, and somehow I was able to persuade her once every few days to let me brush so that I knew it was being done thoroughly. This pattern seemed to be all right and on the days she refused to brush I just didn't press it. However, lately, again, I seem to observe that her teeth are not as clean as I would like them to be and I have been more frequent with my toothbrushing pep rallies. Yes they can get tiresome. but they are also fun in their own way -- we play dentist, we talk about the bugs coming after the food on her teeth, we talk about grandma who has had a tooth taken out ... One thing that has worked for us every time is when we contemplate eating anything sweet, I always say that she will have to brush her teeth afterwards. So that's the deal that we make and she sticks to it. in spite of all this, I'm not entirely satisfied with our toothbrushing regularity and I think that we need to improve.
 

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DD went through a phase where she didn't want to brush and didn't allow us to brush for her.<br><br>
What would help is letting her brush our mouths first. We had to put up with a couple of jabs to the gums, but it worked.<br><br>
We also didn't force the issue. If all she would do is brush our teeth, then we let it go. Granted, that only lasted a couple of days and then she would let us do hers after she did ours.<br><br>
Now, she brushes twice a day and does a pretty good job but on the occasion where she doens't want to, I don't push it becasue I don't want it to become a bad experience in her head.<br><br>
Oh, we also took her toothbrush shopping and let her pick out the one she wanted to use - that seemed to help.<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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I'm telling you - brush at all costs. My son has major problems with his teeth, and it has cost us $$$$, and I think it's partially because I wasnt great about brushing his teeth before he was a year old. In my opinion, it is not something that is negotiable. I have tried many, many techniques to try to get my son to let me brush his teeth, and sometimes I have had to resort to holding him down..... It's not pleasent, but it just has to be done.<br><br>
Melanie
 

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Well, I took the track that I wasn't going to make it a major battle because I think that just sets you up for more resistance. I try to keep it fun though. The kiddo doesn't want brushed and I say things like ok, I'm going to brush your....knees (fake brushing), your....ears....leads to laughing and fun and you get to teeth. (a laughing child has an open mouth by the way!) Or Mommy first and then it is your turn. That sort of thing--trying to keep it positive. Along those lines, when we hit resistance I got kids electric toothbrushes--that can go a long way to making it more fun.
 

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my new trick which is working for now with my 3yo is story telling while brushing his teeth.<br><br>
i make up a story which i ask him to join in with at key points, for example,<br><br>
once upon a time there was a farmer who lived on a farm with lots of animals, there were goats, chickens and sheep. but the farmer had a problem the sheep were very noisy and kept the other animals awake. every night all you could hear on the farm was BAAAAAAAAA, BAAAAAAA,<br><br>
when he is saying 'BAAAAAAA" we get the back teeth brushed, i then try to work in to the story and opportunity to get him to say a word that ends in 'eeeee' so we can do what we call his 'smile teeth'<br><br>
it works for now - but who knows how long it wil continue to work for!
 

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it takes major creativity on my part, and i also need to be consistent and firm. for example, some nights he will be a baby chipmunk and lay on his "chipmunk nest"- ie the bathmat- and letme brush the acorns out of his mouth. other nights i tell a story about the animals trying to make cavities in his mouth, and i am trying to brush them out. other nights we play the biting game, where he tries to bite the toothbrush while i brush his teeth. i just have to try and make it fun. on the flip side of that, he has to do it. if he isnt up for the games, i just tell him we cant do books until your teeth are brushed. most nights he will let me do it. if it is a huge struggle, i get in one or two cursory brushes and let it be.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>melanie83103</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6472783"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I'm telling you - brush at all costs. My son has major problems with his teeth, and it has cost us $$$$, and I think it's partially because I wasnt great about brushing his teeth before he was a year old. In my opinion, it is not something that is negotiable. I have tried many, many techniques to try to get my son to let me brush his teeth, and sometimes I have had to resort to holding him down..... It's not pleasent, but it just has to be done.<br><br>
Melanie</div>
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I personally think that some children are predisposed to get cavities.. For instace, I have had ONE tiny cavity my entire life, as a kid (and a teen) I didn't brush that much. I just didn't care to do so.. still I never had a cavity until I was much older (last year, actually). My sister, on the other hand, always brushed three times a day, and flossed twice a day.. she hated the dentist and wanted to make sure she didn't have any cavities. BUT, she had a cavity almost every time we went to the dentist. I think it all depends...<br><br>
I don't force my kids to brush their teeth. I don't make a big deal of it, and neither do they. And I believe that because I don't force it they actually like to do it. I think holding a child down and forcing them to brush their teeth is going to lead to.. well.. more forcing later.
 

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we've had our fair share of struggles too. we have at least 6 toothbrushes in the drawer right now and have used all of the creative play too. I don't like the idea of forcing it either. What has been working lately - call us crazy - my dh showed my son the inside of the toilet & now if he brushes his teeth he can look/play in there & he likes to see how it works. it's working...he's very fascinated by it!
 

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I don't have much in the way of actual advice. But my now 4yo was a bad brusher as a toddler, and I was "too tired" to fight her, or get creative, or whatever, and so she went unbrushed more than was good for her. She had her first cavity, in her back teeth, at age three. Getting it filled was no big deal, in that it didn't hurt her, but she HATED the numb feeling. HATED it to the point that now she insists on brushing twice a day, even when I feel we "don't have time" - the experience really drove home the importance of brushing for her. Not helpful for getting someone to brush, but I promise they'd rather do that than deal with the consequences. If I'd known how hard the filling would be for her, I'd have pushed MUCH harder for regular brushing when she was 2.
 

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This thread is making me feel ill. I have totally been struggling with my dd (turns 2 next week) for the past couple of months. We are only getting in one or two good brushings each week, and one of us has to hold her hands and the other has to hold her jaw -- while she screams. I swore I would never do this (our ped dentist told us to do this twice a day if necessary) -- preferring "mental health" over "dental health."<br><br>
She tries to brush her own teeth -- but she just doesn't do a good job. Her breath can really stink at times, and I just know that she could have big problems stirring.<br><br>
I hate this so much. My dh is traveling alot on business these days (away for nine days right now), so it is really hard on me. At night time she isn't that peachy to begin with, let alone trying to brush her teeth single handedly. Why is this so hard!?!?!<br><br>
Oy.<br><br>
Anyway, while I kind of agree with both approaches (forcing them to brush, or not worrying about it too much), but this has been going on so long I think I need to get more forceful. My only hope... is that we have two families visiting us this weekend (for her birthday) with a 2.5 year old and a 3 year old. If my dd can watch them get their teeth brushed, maybe she will catch on.<br><br>
Didn't mean to co-opt this thread. This is just hitting me where I live right now!
 

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I've seen a few threads like this and what I have learned from them is thus: brush the friggin teeth.<br><br>
While I totally agree that anything you make an issue becomes an issue, one of the few things I stand firm on is the nighttime toothbrushing. Since she knows it's nonnegotiable, she'll deal, even though she HATED it and kicked n screamed at first. I let her know I would do it whether or not she was freaking out. At those times I took special pains to be gentle and neutral instead of angry like I felt inside. I wanted her to be okay with it.<br><br>
Additionally, I think much depends on a) child's temperament and b) genetics. Some kids have bad teeth despite care, and some kids have great teeth despite neglect!<br><br><br>
note to miss juice: stalking you!
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>carolhagan</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6475076"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I personally think that some children are predisposed to get cavities...<br><br><span>Whether you personally think it or not, it's actually true.</span><br><br>
I don't force my kids to brush their teeth. I don't make a big deal of it, and neither do they. And I believe that because I don't force it they actually like to do it. I think holding a child down and forcing them to brush their teeth is going to lead to.. well.. more forcing later.</div>
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<span style="color:#000000;">I find that offensive on some level, and I think it's because it sounds as if you're implying that by having to be more creative, or down-right stern (physical) about dental hygiene, in some cases, a parent is going to later <i>force</i> their children into other things too. Is that what you're <i>intending</i> to say, because that's how it came across to me...?</span><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Shell</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6477127"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">This thread is making me feel ill...<br><br>
...Why is this so hard!?!?!<br><br>
Oy.<br><br>
...I kind of agree with both approaches (forcing them to brush, or not worrying about it too much), but this has been going on so long I think I need to get more forceful.<br>
...Didn't mean to co-opt this thread. This is just hitting me where I live right now!</div>
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Ditto to ALL of that... I was seriously about to post my own on this topic. I HATE the way it feels to have to, well... restrain dd, in order to get one good brushing in a day. Actually tonight, I let her brush my teeth (with MY toothbrush; <span>a lot of folks don't know but you can PASS tooth decay in bacteria from your mouth to your child's, so don't let them put THEIRs in your mouth, nor yours in theirs</span>) for a good long while and afterward, she brushed her own a bit, but, like usual, it deteriorated rapidly in just wanting to suck the toothbrush. (this goes on for 20-45min, regularly) So, I did it quickly, and she was VERY upset. But I DO find that this is the best way, for US... let her have a field day with it all day, 2-4 times a day, and 1 good one by mama at night...
 

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I do the (excited/fun tone of voice) "heeeey! wait a second! did i just see a sugarbug jumping around in there! open! open! i think i see him at the back! let me get him for you!" she opens her mouth i brush brush brush.then she needs to spit. i tell her "hurry! spit those sugarbugs out! we gotta get them out of ur mouth!"<br><br>
she spits and rinses and then I go again, telling her i gotta get the sugarbugs on top, bottom, sides and even her tongue...<br><br>
brushing our teeth is actually fun now<br><br>
HTH
 

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I had a lot of struggles with my son at that age, too. It was impossible to hold him down to do it (unless I wanted to team up with my dh to have someone pry his mouth open too and I wanted him to learn to like brushing (getting into a power struggle with him is a sure fire path to failure as I learned with potty stuff). Some techniques we used: playing dentist (he would lie with his head on my lap while I sat on the floor), character toothbrushes (I would make up stories like Pooh is looking for honey from the honey tree...his mouth would be the honey tree...or the butterfly is looking for nectar from the flower...etc). If all else failed I did use his book reading time as a bribe (or a threat as the case may be) by saying that if we didn't brush his teeth then we couldn't read any books that night (and he LOVES books at bed). Other nights it worked well to give him a choice of whether he did the majority of the brushing or I did...now he actually prefers having me brush them.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>PrennaMama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6477863"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;"><span style="color:#000000;">I find that offensive on some level, and I think it's because it sounds as if you're implying that by having to be more creative, or down-right stern (physical) about dental hygiene, in some cases, a parent is going to later <i>force</i> their children into other things too. Is that what you're <i>intending</i> to say, because that's how it came across to me...?</span><br><br><br><br>
Ditto to ALL of that... I was seriously about to post my own on this topic. I HATE the way it feels to have to, well... restrain dd, in order to get one good brushing in a day. Actually tonight, I let her brush my teeth (with MY toothbrush; <span>a lot of folks don't know but you can PASS tooth decay in bacteria from your mouth to your child's, so don't let them put THEIRs in your mouth, nor yours in theirs</span>) for a good long while and afterward, she brushed her own a bit, but, like usual, it deteriorated rapidly in just wanting to suck the toothbrush. (this goes on for 20-45min, regularly) So, I did it quickly, and she was VERY upset. But I DO find that this is the best way, for US... let her have a field day with it all day, 2-4 times a day, and 1 good one by mama at night...</div>
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I think this post DID insinuate that forcing tooth brushing could later lead to more forcing....maybe the OP meant that, maybe not, but I think the statement is not always true.<br><br>
Second, I do NOT think that physicaly forcing a child to do anything against their will is healthy. I would never shame and humiliate my children by holding them against their will for any reason, unless it was to literaly save their life or a piece of their body.<br><br>
As far as dental health, some of it IS pre-determined, but i would argue that what goes IN to your child's mouth, besides the toothbrush leads to more dental problems, then NOT brushing teeth well.<br><br>
Anyone is entitled to their opinion, but from a medical standpoint, brushing teeth alone will not prevent cavities. And furthermore, there is no actual need for toothpaste. It is just a chemical abrasive to actually brush things off of your teeth. You can actually damage your tooth enamel from too much hard brushing/toothpaste.<br><br>
But yes, I do agree that toothbrushing is important. DS loves to spit at us in the bath (where we brush teeth too), as we have a very large tub that fits us 4..or 3 or 2, whoever feels like a bath at the time.<br><br>
Also I think it's a misconseption that you need to brush for a certain amount of time. If you can even swipe around a couple times that is really all you need.<br><br>
I am very saddened that anyone would use any kind of physical force on a child for any reason at all. But then again, I don't even do that for poopy diapers. Yes, DS has walked around with a poopy one for even 15 minutes, and no he has never had diaper rash.
 

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I would also like to know from where to you learn that you can 'pass tooth decay?' This doesn't even sound logical to me....maybe I'm wrong
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>425lisamarie</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6478282"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">but from a medical standpoint, brushing teeth alone will not prevent cavities.</div>
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Whose medical standpoint??<br><br>
You're a medical expert on tooth decay, yet you don't know how it's caused?<br><br>
Decay is caused by bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. Children don't have them in their mouths when they are born. They acquire them as they get older. And most of the time, they acquire them from their mothers.<br><br>
So in essence, yes, you CAN pass decay to your children. If they don't have S. mutans in their mouths they will not get tooth decay. If they do have the bacteria, they CAN get decay but it doesn't mean they WILL.<br><br>
Frequent brushing will help prevent decay, because the brushing gets rid of food particles (food for the bacteria) and plaque (clumps of bacteria, including the decay-causing ones). Sure, you can still get tooth decay if you brush, but proper brushing will go a LONG way in helping to avoid it.<br><br>
Toothpaste is not necessary, but if you use a toothpaste with fluoride or xylitol, you can improve your child's chances of having healthy teeth. Both of these substances help prevent decay. And you can dis fluoride all you want; it's natural, it's in the Earth's crust and plenty of foods already, and it does help prevent decay. Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that's also been shown to prevent decay.<br><br>
As for the forcing -- there were times when we had to force toothbrushing with my older daughter. She had her first cavity at 17 months and that cured any illusions I had about not forcing the issue. She's now 4 and shows no ill effects of this forcing, other than having teeth that are healthier than they would have been otherwise. Today, she "brushes" her own teeth as long as she wants to, and then either DH or I brushes them too.<br><br>
We use lots of tricks BEFORE we force, however:<br><br>
- let the child brush your teeth first, or at the same time<br>
- sing a song while you do it<br>
- use a timer<br>
- open your mouth really wide (this works with my younger one, sometimes)<br>
- just generally be silly - look in the mouth and say "Oh my gosh there are TEETH in there! I must clean them! Please, please let me clean them!"<br>
- let the child pick out their own toothbrush<br><br>
For awhile my daughter liked to lie on the floor and have us brush her teeth while she was upside down. Whatever works!<br><br>
Powered toothbrushes also are great. For my younger DD I just try to get her 1-year molars clean, as there are crevices in them that bacteria and food can sit in. With a powered brush, I just set it on each molar for 4-5 seconds, then try to get the other teeth and then we're done.
 
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