Toddlers: 24 Months+

Help me brush DS teeth!!!!!!!

PLEASE tell me that brushing my sons teeth will get easier!!!!! He is 2 and a half and it is a nightmare, we've tried it all!!
We literally have to hold him down and restrain him to get to his teeth. He then bites down so we can't move the toothbrush, so it even takes longer and makes him cry more.
Last night I put him in a time out afterwards and explained that it is bad to act that way when we brush his teeth. He said sorry mommy and then did it again this morning. He is not teething either...he has been doing this since day 1. Don't know what else to do, but DH and I hate those 2x of the day.
PPD/PPA has been super hard, but I'm making it! Slow steps...
DS born August 5, 2010...can't believe he is 4!
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Re: Help me brush DS teeth!!!!!!!

  • Have you tried giving him a turn first?  We started to have this problem with DS several months ago, so now he gets a turn and when he's finished (or after 1-2 minutes), it's mommy's turn.
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  • Have you let him brush his own teeth? Let him play around with the toothbrush. Get a toothpaste and toothbrush with a character he likes. My DS doesn't love getting his teeth brushed but from day 1, I made him hold the toothbrush and brush his own teeth for "his turn" and then I brushed them for "Mommy's turn". DS is 2 and a half and now he asks to brush his teeth and sometimes won't let me do it! I usually brush his teeth right after his bath and right after he washes his hands after going on the potty in the morning.
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  • We always brush DD1's teeth first, then give her a turn. If she fights us, she loses her turn. The other night she was really fighting, so I told her she could brush my teeth while I brushed hers. I gave her my toothbrush and sat her on my lap so she could reach my teeth and as soon as I opened up to let her brush, she opened up to let me brush hers. It's worked a handful of times :)
    Mama to two sweet girls
    DD1 Feb 2010
    DD2 Sept 2011

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  • We used to have that nightmare and now it is so much better. A cool blinking toothbrush helped, plus Dora toothpaste. He gets to go first, then when the blinking stops, it's my turn.  I praise him like crazy when he's good and "brag" to MH about how good he did.  

    When times were tough, we tried to brush our own teeth in front of him a lot, explain how everyone does it, and let him hold our toothbrushes and brush our teeth (he got a kick out of that).  We also got a couple book from the library on teeth brushing.


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    •  let them pick out their own toothbrush (even for some a mechanical one is awesome)
    • let them pick out their tooth paste (and place it on the brush)
    • try some games like "let's find the alligator in your mouth today"--and every time pick a different animal and you search around with the toothbrush and say "nope, not there...let me look over here....nope, not there....oh wait....(as you keep moving the brush)--works so great with both of my kids.
    • I found getting some picks on amazon that actually have them brushing different characters teeth--we've done animals and sesame street
    • print out a picture of a tooth online, laminate it and let them draw on it with dry/erase marker.  Then let them brush it off.  Show them how that is what they are doing with their own teeth when they brush like a "big boy".
    • We brush his teeth and then give him the tooth brush. We've never had a problem though.
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    • Agree with PP's. I let DD have the brush first, because otherwise after .2 seconds all I hear is Tessa's turn. I was having some struggles so we started playing a game of fuzzy yellow teeth (in mean teeth voice) and magic toothbrush that wants to make them sparkle.

      Or, I just let DH do it, she justs opens up for him...grrr.

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    • I tell my kids that they have Food Monsters in their teeth and we need to brush them away to keep their teeth healthy. Sometimes I pretend that I see one as I move around their mouths, then play it up: "Omygosh, there's a food monster! We better get him! Whew, he's gone, your teeth are safe." 

      That works really well for us. Another tactic is singing a song (like the ABCs, or a made-up toothbrushing song) -- it seems to help them be less impatient because they know when it's done, the brushing is done. 

      They also get first turn at brushing and then I get to double-check.  


      DD1, 1/5/2008 ~~~ DD2, 3/17/2010
    • I make up songs about tooth brushing and sing them. That seems to help. I have also gone to finding and showing a you tube kids song about tooth brushing on my phone while we brush the teeth. It's distracting, and works.


    • Emma goes through stages like this too. I actually bought a spin brush for the next time, but right now she is happy when we let her turn on the water and put the tooth paste on herself. It's working for now
    • We let my son brush first for 10 minutes or so while we read stories, it mainly consists of him chewing on the toothbrush, but he's getting better about brushing a little.

      Then we say it's our turn and we either need to look for fire trucks or school buses in his mouth or lately if I choose items from dinner saying I see some corn on the back of your tooth, or let me get that chicken he'll cooperate.  He only cooperates 50% of the time, the other 50% we have to hold him down and brush while he screams and clamps down on his teeth. 

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    • There was a mom on the Parenting board for a while that was a pediatric dentist.  We tried the process she mentioned and it's much more effective, I think.  My DS also bites the toothbrush so hard it's almost impossible to brush anything more than just the front. 

      She called it the knee-lap technique and ideally you can have two adults involved.  So, my DH places C on his lap, facing him likes he's giving him a hug.  Then we lean C back so his hand is in my lap and I do the brushing.  For some reason, C thinks this is super-fun but in the rare case he clamps down, you can gently and carefully put your finger back on their gums, behind the molars to get them to open.  We've even successfully flossed in this position, seriously, a miracle!

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    • My son is a bear too. I let him brush first and then do it since he obviously doesn't do a good job but he flips out.
      Most of the time my husband needs to hold him down while I brush. I hope he becomes more cooperative with age because I hate holding him down but I don't know of any other option to prevent cavities.
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    • DS is good about this now (thankfully) but we went through many, many rough patches. Some things that helped were like pp mentioned, telling him all the stuff we could see on his teeth from dinner (he would usually participate by mentioning other things he ate through the day too lol), keeping him in his booster after dinner and just brushing them there since he doesn't eat again and only drinks water before bed, telling him to listen for the squeak of the toothbrush because that means we're getting things really clean, using a spinbrush, and telling him to "beat" one of us at brushing our teeth (aka, one of us would brush his teeth while the other brushed their own and he would sit still because he wanted to finish first).
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      Zachary (4/2/10) and Ian (3/20/13)

    • We have tried: letting him go first, singing, watching us all the time, showing him books, letting him brush ours, bribing him, "you can play with the iPad if you let mommy/daddy brush your teeth." Just don't know where else to turn.
      Guess my last option is the spin brush?! Ty ladies :
      PPD/PPA has been super hard, but I'm making it! Slow steps...
      DS born August 5, 2010...can't believe he is 4!
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    • my dd got an electric (battery operated) toothbrush for xmas and now LOVES brushing her teeth!! worth a try :)

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    • Definitely get a spin brush we've had that for a year now.  Download talking Ginger application on your ipad, that's what finally made a breakthrough and DD started to brush her teeth.  I also tell her there are bugs in her teeth and we need to brush them out otherwise, bugs will eat the teeth and we'll have to go to the doctor to pull them out.  Seems to work :-)
      imageNicole Hanna 11-23-2010
    • Haven't read the responses but my DS was the same... it might have gotten a little better by 2 1/2, I don't remember but we definitely had to pin him between 2 & 2 1/2 and we tried all the things- giving him a turn, spinny brush thing, singing, etc etc etc. He just hated it. Then suddenly he turned a corner and things got better & now I really don't have much problem.   I'm sure they will for you too, just keep at it. GL! (antoher thing we do now is brush at the kitchen sink right after bfast & right after dinner...some ppl might think that is gross I guess but we started that between 2 1/2 and 3, with 2 kids that age it was just easier than trying to fight them into the bathroom every morning & night to do it.
    • Same way - absolutely a nightmare - lots of yelling and crying every...single...time we brushed teeth!  Until this happened (just this week)...we were at the grocery store and she saw a "cool" toothbrush with Ariel on it (it is one of those $6.00 spin brush kinds that I've never wanted to splurge for because I figured if she was going to fight to brush teeth I didn't want to spend the extra money on toothbrushes!).  We brought it home and turned it on and she put it in her mouth.  Ever since then she has been brushing twice a day with her "special" toothbrush and we haven't had a single argument!

      The other thing that worked (the last night that we had just a regular toothbrush) was this...she was having a tantrum and not wanting to brush her teeth.  Dad was skyping with a friend and she came into the room and sat on Dad's lap (instead of brushing her teeth...uugh!).  I followed right behind her and handed her the toothbrush.  She immediately started brushing and brushed for a really long time once she noticed that she could watch herself brush on the video screen.  I don't know what the difference is between watching herself brush in the mirror and watching herself brush on the tv on the computer screen, but it truly made a difference.

      Good luck!

    • How about a spinbrush in his favorite character and then let him have a turn before/after you do it.
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    • we have a toothbrush he likes

       tell him open wide to show us his dinosaur teeth and we "roar" with him.

      or we do "ahhhs": in different pitches that he tries to match.

      he gets a turn after i (or DH) do it if he asks for it.

      we also floss his teeth and i'd say most days he's pretty good..


      good luck tho! 

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