My Autisic son wont brush his teeth

Kristy - posted on 06/03/2011 ( 15 moms have responded )

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My four year old autistic son is going to be five in August and he wont brush his teeth. Up until now we let it slide as we were focusing on other areas such as potty training. As a result his oral care is pretty bad. He's going to going to Kindergarten in the fall and its long past time for him to learn. We've only recently tried to get him to start brushing his teeth, but he has fought our efforts over the last four months tooth and nail. It seems like if we want his teeth brushed we need to pin him down and brush them for him. We've tried letting him pick out his own tooth brush and letting him explore his mouth on his own. On occasion he will even go through the motions of brushing them but never when we want him too. If we try to gently show him how to do it by trying to put the tooth brush in his mouth he simply refuses to open his mouth. Any suggestions out there?

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Susan - posted on 06/08/2011

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My son has sensory issues, so teeth brushing is a fight! We tried all different tooth brushes without any luck, until we tried the electric toothbrush! He enjoyed the vibration that came from the brush. We started by touching his hand and then his face...after about 10 mins we were able to get the brush into his mouth. We still have to keep it to a quick 30 seconds...but anything is better than nothing. GOOD LUCK!.

SomeRandomMother - posted on 06/03/2011

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It may be a sensory thing ... he might not like the feel of the bristles. You could try the one use foam swabs that hospitals use. You can order them from just about any medical supply company. You could also try using baby faceclothes and your/his finger. Infant faceclothes are smaller and softer.

We have a rule based Aspergian in our house so making something a rule and writing it down makes life easier ... we made a rule that he has to brush his teeth before bed. Seeing it posted on the rule list made it non-negotiable so he does it once a day without a fight ... and that's something at least!

Brandy May - posted on 04/07/2014

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I am haveing the. Same problem with my ten yr old who has ADHD and asburger a He. Has not had problem with his teeth until now when I noticed a brown tooth and. He just won't. Let me. Or his dad brush them so what can I do

Anne - posted on 06/08/2011

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apart from not liking the toohbrush bristles it might also be the toothpaste you may need to use a natural toothpaste that doesnt have floride as part of the ingredients nelsons essentials do a very good alternative paste doesnt sting etc like the more commercial brands

Frances - posted on 06/08/2011

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One more thing...

Brushing teeth usually happens at bath-time... when everything else gets cleaned as well.

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Coralie - posted on 06/09/2011

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My son is now a teenager but we also had these issues when he was younger( to the point he had two fillings b4 starting school!) I dnt kno if u hav tried an electric toothbrush but this worked for us. We used one with a timer and he knows he has to use it til the timer goes off. We started off just letting him chew on it and then showing him how to do it properly later. Give it a try if u haven't tried it already a lot of our kids enjoy the vibration!!

Debora - posted on 06/08/2011

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this is tough with a younger child. the typical dental hygienist would tell you to just hold him down and brush his teeth for him, but that would be the exactly wrong tack to take with a child on the spectrum. I have found what works best with my son is to find out what the glitch is that is holding him back. this is more difficult with younger children or children who aren't as verbal. Maybe a reward of a sticker or some other small thing he likes when he does as you ask? You might have to start by rewarding him any time he brushes his teeth at all, and then move very slowly to rewarding only for correct brushing technique and brushing on request. Obviously, a candy wouldn't be an optimal reward. LOL. Good luck! It was easier to motivate my son to brush his teeth regularly when he started caring about what girls thought of him.

Kelly - posted on 06/08/2011

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I too very much agree with Susan!! We did the same thing with our son and he now will do it briefly on his own. I get him started and then let him finish up. I got him a tigger vibrating toothbrush and he likes it. :) No more fighting unless he is very tired.

Alexandra - posted on 06/08/2011

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Try massaging his gum with your finger or a very soft cloth before brushing his teeth. Buy a baby tooth brush, the softer you can find and, if possible, with some attractive character or blinking light. Take him to buy the tooth brush. Buy 2 of the same. This might help somewhat. While you are brushing his teeth, he can be holding the other tooth brush. You can be talking to him, telling, for example: "Winnie the Pooh is looking at all your teeth and cleaning them. Winnie the Pooh loves clean teeth. Or singing some songs about Winnie the Pooh. Also buy a fruity or bubble gum flavor tooth paste. Crest is the best. Massaging the gums will help you a great deal. This is a sensory problem. Part of the massage purpose is to desensitize him. Patient and good luck!

Sarah - posted on 06/08/2011

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My son is now 17 and it can still be a battle to get him to do this. He also loves chocolate and this used to worry me very much but despite all of this he has never had to have any dental treatment. I would agree with the others suggestions re showing him but we found forcing him to do anything just made life worse.

Benzie - posted on 06/07/2011

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I'd suggest reading him a social story about brushing teeth. keep it simple with lots of fun pictures of teeth, bacteria etc. reward him with something he really likes - edible stuff, stickers, favourite toy that he normally does not have access to. It will be great if you could keep the brushing time at a consistent time. for example, first and then pictures for him to see. first, we eat breakfast (dinner at night) next brush teeth time and then reward time with favourite activity or something that will reinforce and motivate him to hopefully want to brush his teeth again. Hope that helps somewhat. Good luck!.

Melisa - posted on 06/07/2011

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a wet/damp facecloth will work also see about getting floride varnish on his teeth this will help slow decay...if he will let someone paint his teeth they use a small brush and sometimes a gloved finger....also care home have brushes made out of spounge on a stick this would be close to a toothbrush without the feel of bristles..talking to a dental hygenist today

Tegan - posted on 06/07/2011

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Try using a soft cloth. My two boys both have sensory issues and fight like demons when we try to get them to brush.
Also, try seeing a speech therapist, or an occupational therapist who can help with oral sensory issues.
Good luck.

Frances - posted on 06/07/2011

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Mine did the same thing (and sometimes still does it-hehe). What works for us: Mommy brushes her teeth in front of both the boys so they can see what a toothbrush is meant for. Before teeth will be brushed, I smear the toothpaste into the bristles, otherwise he licks the toothpaste off and swallows it!!! I then give the toothbrush in his hand and show him what he is supposed to do by brushing my own teeth.

He sometimes start to try and do it, but usually I have to tell him to open his mouth wide so the toothbrush can reach everywhere.

Apparantly the mentally disabled have a lot of problems with hygiene. In some homes they make use of a product called "Orochlor". It is a very strong, red medicine-like substance that is sprayed in the mouth to help "disinfect" the mouth from time-to-time. Luckily we have never had to try this route. Probably my son won't even open his mouth for something to get sprayed in there?

Christine - posted on 06/04/2011

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I would brush his teeth everynight yourself. Most children at age 5 do not brush their teeth adequately to prevent cavities. In a few years when he is 7 or 8 I would let him do it himself.

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