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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.

breatheslowly Sat 25-May-13 15:23:11

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

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