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Tooth-brushing: the twice daily battleground

(17 Posts)
scarecrow22 Sat 17-Aug-13 20:15:54

A few weeks ago DD (2.7yo)?had what we think was an

scarecrow22 Sat 17-Aug-13 20:21:56

Sorry about miss post:

A couple of weeks ago DD (2.7yo) had what we think was a mouth ulcer and didn't want her teeth brushed. I think she clocked that this was something we were desperately keen for her to do, in a way we have so far avoided letting food or other issues become a power game.

Since then she has flatly resisted every attempt to cajole or bribe or persuade or encourage or trick her into having them brushed. Instead she hides her face, cries and even screams in protest.

After about three days I went against read-wisdom and force brushed them - holding her hands down and reducing the scope to twist her head, but as gently as possible. We now have to do this most days once a day in desperation, but DH and I both find it very upsetting.

Can anybody advise us how long is "safe" to leave them unbrushed? And do you have any suggestions?

runawaysimba Sat 17-Aug-13 20:27:37

Hi Scarecrow, I don't have any advice I'm afraid, as we're in the same boat. Everything I read just tends to say something along the lines of it's difficult, but must be done. Well, thanks. I put a tooth-brushing app on my phone and DD will brush her own teeth with that, but doesn't do it thoroughly so we still have to go in afterwards.

Makinglists Sat 17-Aug-13 20:30:21

We have the same prob with ds2 - we just wrestle and hold him down. Sometimes we do the tooth cleaning song which we made up (here we go round the mulberry bush - this is the way we clean our teeth etc etc - this sometimes calms him down and distracts him enough for a scrub). If she really wouldn't let you near her would she let you wipe her teeth with a clean damp flannel with some toothpaste - not ideal but might be a bit more gentle if she is still upset after the ulcer and better than nothing. Just wanted you to know that your not the only one who has to force the issue. Good luck.

PolyesterBride Sat 17-Aug-13 20:35:08

I have had this with my DDs too. For the older one i go all passive aggressive and say 'ok if you want to have dirty teeth that's fine by me' and I've made her so paranoid about germs she always brushed them. But that doesn't work with the younger one. I'd probably reserve the bedtime story till after teeth. Or, but a super special toothbrush like one with Winnie the Pooh on or something. Or perhaps a sticker chart for doing it nicely without having to be pinned down. Or a trip to the dentist with the dentist saying you must let mummy brush your teeth!

PolyesterBride Sat 17-Aug-13 20:36:52

Or no sweeties (if she has them) unless she does teeth nicely? I am all about manipulation

TheHuffAndPuffALot Sat 17-Aug-13 20:38:30

I found that by counting to ten, it gives them something to focus their attention on and soften the struggle.
After a couple of days my dd relaxed a bit, then you can lengthen the gap between numbers so you brush for a little longer.
Now, at 2.8, dd is happy enough to do her own.

spicegirl13 Sat 17-Aug-13 20:47:09

When DD was about this age we had the same battle so we had the 'easy' way or the 'hard' way & she chose each morning & night which way she wanted. The easy was was by singing (to the tune of row your boat)

"brush, brush, brush your teeth
Brush them 'till they're clean
Brush, brush, brush your teeth
So you can eat ice cream"

The hard way was for me to physically hold her arms down & brush them quickly (I shudder at the thought of this now, but she more often than not chose the easy way!)

Then when she got a bit older, I let her clean them herself in the morning & I insisted on doing them at night. Now at 4.5 she is happy for me to do them all the time! Good luck!

hawkeye21 Sun 18-Aug-13 21:02:24

My dd used to be very bad at having her teeth cleaned.

Two things that worked for her (or have worked so far) are:
1) me talking about what is in her teeth, e.g. oooh, look, a piece of broccoli; ah, is that a bit of chicken? etc. It sounds gross but she likes it
2) setting a timer and telling her that her teeth must be brushed before it goes off else there will be no time for a bedtime story (or similar). And following through if it does go off. I found this more effective than my arbitrary time limits and dd took it better as it was the timer's 'fault' when she missed out, not mummy's.

Also, she gets to put the toothpaste on the brush and start the brushing - then I take over for the proper task. Giving her a bit of control at the beginning gets the whole process started.

riojabotherer Sun 18-Aug-13 22:59:31

My 21 month old very recently had a phase where he went absolutely nuts when we cleaned his teeth, but I found pretending to be a character from a favourite book helped. He now actually smiles through it (I, however, look and sound like a fool assuming the character of the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk...)

All together now - 'Fee, Fie, Foe, Fum...'

hazeyjane Mon 19-Aug-13 05:34:51

At the moment with ds (3) the best way we have found is to lie him upside down on dh's lap, whilst I get in there with the brush!

Otherwise it is just a matter of getting on with it, we do it 3 times a day, for the middle brush, obviously dh isn't here, so I wrap ds in a towel on my lap, watching something on the tv, and brush.

Personally I wouldn't let dc do it themselves until they were a lot older (unless you are going in afterwards to do a finish off), as I don't think they would be doing it properly.

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 19-Aug-13 05:47:19

DD loves TV so she gets them brushed in front of the hell that is Bubble Guppies and it goes off if she won't let me. She brushes them first, then I get a turn.

kw13 Mon 19-Aug-13 11:56:01

I found actually visiting a dentist to be helpful. Not much that they actually do, but dentist looked at DS's teeth, explained about importance of teethbrushing, and gave a demonstration; and then a sticker! Other things - moving to an electric toothbrush (not sure how old you have to be). But otherwise, as most others have done, it was just brute force. Good luck!

DomesticGoddess31 Mon 19-Aug-13 12:21:21

I had great success the other night by getting her hand puppet monkey to brush her teeth. The quickest most painless toothbrushing session yet.

Bumpsadaisie Mon 19-Aug-13 12:22:40

I find mine respond much better if I clean mine at the same time and talk through which teeth I'm cleaning at which particular moment. Its tedious but effective. My little one likes to copy me and my older one relaxes a bit as she knows I am not going to try and wrest control of her toothbrush as I am too busy cleaning mine.

scarecrow22 Tue 20-Aug-13 20:33:50


Had first successful teeth brushing this morning. Gave up with the "earning treats" system as toddlers (obviously!) don't do deferred pleasure and somehow giving her chocolate button after brushing didn't seem consistent with the attempt to link them!

Resorted to with holding the iPad (our only "TV) until she was up, dressed, had breakfast and had <drum roll> Brushed Teeth. Se looked about to capitulate and I remembered the "count to ten" advice. Worked a treat. Followed by a binge of Fireman Sam and Ben and Holly. He to renegotiate at "five" but was able to say she was half way there.

Back to a failed stand off tonight so tomorrow no iPad before supper and teeth in the evening too (don't normally do iPad before bed, but I'll sort that later!) Brushing in the character of Elvis (from F Sam) also nearly worked tonight so I'm going to work on that too as she loves me making up stories and "playing" with imaginary characters <wonders off to practice her Welsh accent>

Thank you all so much for reading and taking the trouble to reply. I was really grateful for the quality of the ideas. Friendly waves winethanks

lilian3 Wed 21-Aug-13 21:07:56

see what fun tooth brush you can buy her and take her with you to choose it. and then let her choose the toothpaste what ever it is. if not quite suitable (too adult) let her have it but only use a teeny speck on the brush. should work.

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