Seriously. HOW do you get your toddler's teeth clean enough?

(43 Posts)
FaddyPeony Fri 24-May-13 22:37:04

This is the part of parenting I hate most, the only thing I get stressed about really sad DD is 16months and I can't get her teeth clean with a toothbrush. She flails madly, kicks, screams, gets really upset. Me and Dp always do our teeth at the same time as we're getting her to hers, but she just turns the toothbrush the other way round and sucks on the handle. We do hold her down eventually but I hate doing it - and there's no way that us aiming scrubs at her teeth is actually getting them clean.

My current tactic is to clean them with a damp muslin - she hates this too but I feel like I can actually clean them this way - and then let her piss about with the toothbrush afterwards. I know she's probably picking up on my anxiety, but how do you actually get those little teeth <clean> ?

clabsyqueen Fri 24-May-13 22:41:58

At 16 months I used a headlock and now at 22 months I play the episode of Peppa brushing her teeth frequently and we use a peppa toothbrush ( not ideal but she lets me do it). I don't try to brush for more than 30 seconds or so though ill be honest as she is only just starting to cooperate and I figure I don't want to put her off. Good luck!

Tincletoes Fri 24-May-13 22:42:49

I felt better after reading that childrens' teeth are pretty much self cleaning till they're 2. With my 19 month old, I let her chew on her brush for a while, and then insist she let's me clean them for literally 10 seconds - I do top and bottom a tiny bit and then give up. I am happy doing that in the knowledge her brothers were the same, but about 2ish were content to let me give them a proper brush.

Incidentally her brothers are now pretty good at cleaning their teeth, are happy to let me finish off, and have no fillings. So try not to stress to much (easier said than done I know)

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 24-May-13 22:44:42

well I was quite lax really...I just avoided fruit juice and sweets as a result!

Best juice and no sweets! My 5 year old still needs help and the only way I can get her to stay still is to pretend she's a crocodile hmm and narrate the bloody tooth I'm David Bellamy!

"Here we have a young crocodile. I've caught it a minute ago and as you can see, she's very, very, cross." cue DD growling....I then tempt the croc with an imaginary crocodile sweetie and it opens it's mouth and lets me brush, as long as I "narrate" the whole scenario.

So obviously, I'm of not use to you whatsoever! grin

FaddyPeony Fri 24-May-13 22:54:02

OK, self-cleaning until 2, well that makes me feel slightly better! She doesn't drink juice or eat sweets, but she does eat a lot of fruit.

I guess I just find it heartbreaking to see those pure white little teeth and to think they could be rotting slowly because I'm not being diligent enough!

I am so going to look up that episode of Peppa brushing her teeth -narration is also good, thank you smile

lycheemartini Fri 24-May-13 23:04:11

Something that worked for me aged 1-2 was pretending role playing that various teddies wanted to brush dd's teeth, and they would 'hold' the toothbrush, worth a try?

FaddyPeony Fri 24-May-13 23:14:15

ooh good idea, lychee. I will enlist the favourite bear smile

Lioninthesun Fri 24-May-13 23:20:48

You can get a set on ebay that they can chew and one that is a plastic type of finger brush. DD lets me use this (but bites my finger too so be warned) but we also have some character brushes from Poundland with suckers on the bottom. Because she can play with it, sticking it on the bath and wotnot, she does chew on it too and try to brush although half heartedly
YouTube has a good song here that helps too and I always see people pretending that things/people/toys are in there and they need to get them out with the brush (in a jokey make them giggle way) which seems to work on occasion too.
I deploy all of the above as and when they are needed grin

memphis83 Fri 24-May-13 23:32:45

I used to let ds clean my teeth while I cleaned his, he was so engrossed in cleaning mine I get to clean his, then we swapped and did our own.
It sounds odd but really worked for us (apart from the odd time he made me gag) now he lets me clean his then he takes over and finishes his.

ReeBee Fri 24-May-13 23:39:16

We did (do) a lot of pretending there were various animals / trains / whatever in DC's mouth, all very dirty, which needed to be cleaned and kept running away from the brush. Complete with excited commentary. Still requested now and he's 4 next week.

I think it was an MN tip actually - it's worked brilliantly for us.

Beatrixpotty Sat 25-May-13 10:19:43

I buy novelty toothbrushes with pictures that they like,and flashing ones,and toothpaste with pictures on too.
Who want to brush their teeth with Thomas?Who wants Peppa Pig toothpaste?
I also let them do it themselves chew for a bit then they are happy for me to do rest properly.

MiaSparrow Sat 25-May-13 14:32:24

I do DD's after her milk while she's flat in bed - that might help. Less likely to run away. It's a game for her now, getting her teeth 'tickled'. Also, when Daddy does it, she likes to copy his funny mouth shapes, which helps him get in there.

Also, Dora (DD's hero) has a 'goes to the dentist' type book, which has turned out yo be a godsend. Brush your teeth like Dora, DD!

It gets easier the closer they are to bribability age. Good luck!

MiaSparrow Sat 25-May-13 14:32:57


hazeyjane Sat 25-May-13 14:41:43

Ds (nearly 3) has sn, and has no enamel on his back teeth, so is already suffering signs of decay, we use a toothbrush like this which helps get to all sides of the teeth quickly. I have to wrap him in a towel, and just get in there, sometimes he is ok, sometimes he screams, but it has to be done, and I try to do it 3 times a day.

LeBFG Sat 25-May-13 14:49:30

I decided I would try and instill cleaning behaviour early on, even if the benefit was only small, as I had terrible teeth as a child (thanks mum hmm).

It was a battle at first snd I was very physical with DS. But once he knew I meant business he soon got into a routine and of course he likes it now. If you like stress-free parenting this is probably not the approach for you. For me it was a battle I wanted to fight.

aloysiusflyte Sat 25-May-13 15:02:00

Definitely agree with getting it to be part of the daily routine, for a long while my ds just used to chew on the toothbrush and we'd try and do a bit of scrubbing too. So we got him a brush baby (you can get them in boots) it's a little plastic/rubbery thing shaped a bit like a gum shield so when the child chews on it it brushes their teeth. We use it as well as the toothbrush to make sure the teeth are getting as clean as possible smile

BibbityBotBot Sat 25-May-13 15:02:01

We went down the softly softly approach at first (around the age of your dd). When I realised it had been a couple of months since she'd had her teeth brushed properly, I realised it wasn't working so it was down to buisiness I'm afraid and I'd have to pin her down. Not nice but as another poster said, it was a battle I was prepared to fight.

Once she got a bit older we did role play and made up a silly song which worked well. It hasn't caused her any trauma and she now brushes her teeth beautifully at aged 6.

hazeyjane Sat 25-May-13 15:09:43

Also can I recommend disclosing tablets for older dcs, where the plaque is stained purple (red for older plaque), so they have to brush it off. I use them a couple of times a week with dds (6 and 7), it reminds them how well they have to brush to get them really clean.

elfycat Sat 25-May-13 15:15:59

We do 'Tickle Monster' with DDs (4 and 2.5). I catch them, carefully trip them over, lie over them pinning legs, use one arm to pin their arms down and then TICKLE.

I find rubbing a bit of toothpaste on their nose and chin in addition to the mouth makes tham laugh more thereby opening thier mouths and it'll all need a wipe down. This is mainly DD2 now as DD1 is beginning to open her mouth while I do the 4 corners and then front and backs of the front teeth.

DD2 has been role playing with a bunny. A washable bunny that mainly smells of mint.

DD is 2.5 and we have used a mixture of pinning her down and more recently bribery. She only gets to play with certain toys before bed if she has brushed her teeth nicely. That wouldn't have worked a while ago. I have a heart of stone when it comes to brushing teeth. If she cried it made it easier to get the brush in. She doesn't seem permanently traumatised by that approach.

chocolatemartini Sat 25-May-13 15:36:38

Great tips. Brushing a toddler's teeth is a nightmare! <resolves to develop a heart of stone and a range of crocodile/ peppa pig games>

FaddyPeony Sat 25-May-13 19:14:43

Thanks a million all. Yes I agree that this is one thing worth being mean/strict about. It feels horrible being so physical with a tiny tot but I'm not prepared to be lax about teeth. The baby brush thing sounds like It's worth a go for sure. Going to buy a book with pictures too.

flipflump Sat 25-May-13 20:05:21

I made up a daft tooth brushing song, they love it now and sing along. I find singing calms lots of situations, distracts children and saves me getting cross.

Splatt34 Sat 25-May-13 23:05:22

it was a nightmare for ages but now at 2.5 she happily lets us do them. What seemed to work for us was going through everything she'd eaten that day and saying we could see some on each tooth. ie "there's the beans and toast from lunch, let me get that off. oh & i can see some yogurt too"

mrsyattering Sat 25-May-13 23:13:41

Self cleaning teeth, really??? Dentist told us to start brushing as soon as a tooth appeared. Pinning down as a toddler works best, no traumatised children herewink

MrsPennyapple Sat 25-May-13 23:26:37

Excellent thread, I've been wondering about this myself as I do brush my 22mo DD's teeth but probably only for 30 seconds. She doesn't struggle or fight, but she's not terribly co-operative in terms of being able to make her mouth into helpful shapes.

At the moment I think anything's better than nothing, so although it's not as thorough a job as I'd like, as she gets bigger we can work on it.

notso Sat 25-May-13 23:38:13

With DS1 I used to make an animal noise and say there was an [insert animal] in his mouth and we had to brush it away.

DS2 has been more of a challenge. He just said "No aminals" when I tried the animal trick hmm I've progressed from no brushing to about a minute of brushing using a mirror, a timer and counting his teeth slowly.

SoTiredAgain Sun 26-May-13 08:31:17

DS was a nightmare and wouldn't go anywhere near a toothbrush until he was three. I'm afraid his teeth are not the best but not as bad as they were. Luckily, the dentist doesn't seem concerned (felt really guilty for ages). What eventually worked was letting him look at a mirror when we brushed his teeth and using the battery powered toothbrush. TBH, he still does not enjoy the experience.

cakesonatrain Tue 28-May-13 15:00:53

DS is quite good at letting us brush his teeth (teeth is one of his limited number of words) but I find it hard to get the angle of the brush right so that I am actually brushing, rather than just rubbing the brush around his mouth!

TiredyCustards Tue 28-May-13 15:04:20

Dd used a brush baby gummy toothbrush until she was 2.4. It's a bit like a teething toy you put toothpaste on.

Dentist said her teeth were perfect.

TiredyCustards Tue 28-May-13 15:05:06

Now I play the brush your teeth song on YouTube if she's resistant.

MaMattoo Tue 28-May-13 23:42:14

I am still struggling with DS who is nearly 3. He hates it. Songs, actions, peppa, nice brushes. Nothing. Each day, twice - we have a tantrum. and this has been going on since the past 2 years now..
i take comfort in the fact that these are milk teeth..which is not a good way of looking at it.

NapaCab Wed 29-May-13 05:57:36

We get by with a 30 second scrub in the evenings after DS's bath (he's 19 months) and then he always grabs the brush afterwards and wants to chew on it. I let him because I delude myself into thinking that it might do him some good. It's better than nothing!

This evening I enlisted the help of Mr Turtle, his bath toy, to show how we could brush the turtle's teeth as well as my DS's. He liked that. In general though I make sure he has as little sugar as possible in his diet and hope that that will stave off problems until he's old enough to brush properly.

Lulybelle Thu 30-May-13 19:24:56

Just wanted to say that I have a 2.9 DS who has had to be pinned down screaming morning and night for toothbrushing for a good year or so. I used the brushing animals from his teeth trick that a few people have mentioned and its a revelation! Honestly not only has he let me brush them but was asking for more, amazing! Thank you so much mumsnet ladies!

MaMattoo Fri 31-May-13 07:43:49

After reading this I went to you tube and searched for toddler brushing. There is a video of a mum singing 'gotta brush gotta brush your teeth' song. DS got completed sucked into it and day 3 today that we have properly scrubbed his teeth on demand twice a day!
Thank you all for your ideas!

Zoomania Wed 05-Jun-13 22:18:30

I make silly noises for my toddler eg squeaky noises, donkey noises, motorbikes etc as the brush goes back and forth. I say 'I wonder what noise your teeth make today? ' then act all surprised at the silly noises!

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 05-Jun-13 22:21:01

I do Eeeeeee (big grin) for the front teeth and ahhhhhhh (big wide mouth) for the back ones. DS2 has had his cleaned this way for years and he is 3. But he always did like having his teeth cleaned.

rumbelina Wed 05-Jun-13 22:34:00

Spiderman electric toothbrush and lots of talk of baby lions needing to have shiny clean sharp teeth to scare off hyenas.

FattyMcChubster Wed 05-Jun-13 22:41:30

Shamelessly marking place as dd (1) is getting worse and worse at this.
I've tried all sorts, she just wants to lick off the toothpaste then there's not a hope in hell of getting in her gob hmm
Of all the things she will chew on, brush baby remains dry and gathering dust in the corner. Not interested.

Thurlow Thu 06-Jun-13 14:08:14

Does anyone know how long you need to clean their teeth for? 16mo lets me do it and I can actually brush them, but like someone else says it is for about 30 seconds. Anything longer would probably require pinning down! (Though I do agree it's a battle that needs to be fought)

umiaisha Sun 09-Jun-13 21:23:35

I swaddle DS (2) in a big towel so he can't move!

FaddyPeony Sun 09-Jun-13 21:50:33

DD would seriously freak if I swaddled, she goes insane when her arms are trapped because she sucks her finger and panics if she can't get to it! Some improvement to report, I've done the whole 'there are frogs in your teeth we have to brush them out' random blathering, and it seems to intrigue her. She's also just got loads of teeth so maybe sore gums were part of the problem. I still do worry that even if she lets me it's still technically difficult to get the teeth clean enough! So I do use the muslin approach still, before the toothbrush comes out.

mylilangel2 Fri 14-Jun-13 23:37:11

My son asks to brush his teeth and he wants to do it so that's where the problem really is because he doesn't brush he chews on the toothbrush.
I was fine with that when his teeth first came out as I wanted him to get used to the toothbrush, but now I wont allow him to chew on it and insist that I brush them which he doesn't like it and makes it really difficult sad. The only way he will let me brush them is if he is distracted by something else. I usually just let him sit on my lap while he watches Thomas on the computer that will give me a few seconds of a good brush before he starts turning his head again. And I understand what you mean because this issue stresses me too knowing his teeth are so beautiful and white , I literally used to dream about his teeth that's how obsessed I was with cleaning them but I just decided not to worry and just do what I can for now.

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