How do you get your little one to brush their teeth?

Terri - posted on 01/18/2009 ( 38 moms have responded )

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My 20 month-old son loves brushing his teeth, but he doesn't so much brush his teeth as just chew on the toothbrush. He won't let me do it, AT ALL. So, short of holding him down and prying his mouth open, he won't get a very good brushing. I'm worried about his teeth. How do other moms get their toddlers to do a good job brushing?

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Katie - posted on 02/11/2009

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MY dentist told me to just let my son, do it himself. As long as we have the tooth paste for infants. My dentist said at this point it is just teaching them to get into the habit of proper dental care every morning and night. Hope it helps

Maria - posted on 02/10/2009

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My little boy has always loved having his teeth brushed, but as he gets older and more independent it definitely gets harder.  He wants to told the toothbrush himself, and although he tries to do the brushing motion, he mostly ends up chewing on the toothbrush also.  One thing we do that is fun is I will tickle him and make him laugh, and when he laughs his mouth is wide open and I can get several good brushes in.  He thinks it is funny, too. :) For some reason he seems to take dad more seriously than me, and will sit still for him longer than I to get a good brushing in.  So perhaps your husband can try and see if he has better luck.  :)   Oh and we use the toothpaste with no flouride.  And the dentist told us that it is very important that we brush his teeth every night because he is drinking so much milk at this age.  So I would say keep it up, even if you just get a few good brushes in every night its better than not doing it at all. :)  Blessings to you and your baby.

MINDIE - posted on 02/10/2009

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I ALSO HAD THIS SAME PROBLEM... I ACTUALLY MADE IT A "GAME" I LET HIM BRUSH MY TEETH AND THEN I DO HIS.. ALL WHILE MAKING FUNNY NOISES AND FACES...HEY WHAT EVER WORKS!!! ( I ALSO USE THE BABY TOOTHPASTE)

Kelli - posted on 02/10/2009

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I also use the toothpaste that is ok to be swallowed.  I let her do it herself, and she does chew on it and suck the toothpaste off to.  After she finishes, I ask if I can brush them,  sometimes she lets me and sometimes she doesn't.  We brush our teeth in the morning and before bed.  Therefore, generally one of those times she allows me to brush them.  At this point I figure it is a good start.  My dentist said to bring her in next time I go in, and let her sit on my lap and let her try to get use to the sounds of the dentist office.  Its a lot of patience and trial and error at this age I think! LOL

Christa - posted on 02/04/2009

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We sing the Raffi song..."when you wake up in the morning and it's quarter to one, and you want to have a little fun, you brush your teeth - chh-chh-chh-chh....", etc.



I started off by sitting in front of a full length mirror with her on my lap and showing her how to brush, and now she does like all the others; she chews on the brush and then I try to brush as much as possible afterward.  We brush our teeth at the same time as each other, and usually when I reach for my brush she asks for hers.  "Teef! Teef!"  LOL

Natalie - posted on 02/01/2009

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Quoting Terri:

Really? I got this special baby toothpaste with no flouride that isn't bad for them if swallowed. IMy doctor told me he SHOULD be brushing his teeth. Don't you hate it when pediatricians give conflicting advice?



My pediatric dentist said the non-flouride baby paste is just fine to be swallowed.  It is just there to get them used to the sensation and texture of paste and the whole brushing thing.  I also have the very same problem.  I just give my daughter the toothbrush all the time!  When she is playing, when she is bathing, when she is potty training, when I brush.  I even let her brush my teeth with my tooth brush to lessen the anxiety. 



Also, in my opinion, limiting juice and candy as well as sweets is good.  I only put a little juice in my daughter's water.  I have been giving her herbal tea watered down and she likes it.  Chamomile tastes like apples.  I only give her water a few hours before bed for two reasons.  If her mouth is well hydrated, then bacteria won't stick to the teeth as well and it washes off food residue. 



Be persistant, be funny, and eventually he will get more used to it.  Just remember that your attitude about it and your confidence in your mothering is noticed by him.  He'll trust a little more each day as you lovingly try over and over to do this.  And praise him for the little cooperation he does give you.  Tell him how well he is learning to brush his teeth.  It really does help, in my opinion.  It seems to be working with my girl.  Although when I get lazy about it for a day or two it takes a week to make up for it!

Maleeni - posted on 01/31/2009

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Have you tried getting 2 toothbrushes, one for him and one for you or take turns brushing his teeth.  I give my son his toothbrush and he "brushes" his then it's Mama's turn and I brush.  He now allows me to brush his tongue.



I use the toddler  toothpaste that's safe to swallow.

Yolanda - posted on 01/31/2009

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I try to make it fun for my 20 month old son by brushing my teeth at the same time. It usually works well since at this age they love to copy what you are doing, so he gets the back teeth and everything. I know they do not let us do it for them cause they can do it themselves LOL! hope this helped

Meghan - posted on 01/31/2009

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I have been told the no flouride toothpaste is a thing of the past and that kids should use regular toothpaste just a pea six amount.

Claire - posted on 01/31/2009

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I give my daughter a toothbrush and let her brush my teeth for me as I am doing hers. She loves it.

Josi - posted on 01/27/2009

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I use the non-flouride paste to brush my 20 month olds teeth. I've taught him how to say "ahh" and I brush his teeth for him. When I'm done he knows he gets to brush his own teeth. Part of our routine is that after we brush teeth we read a book and since he loves to read books I usually don't have a problem.

Michelle - posted on 01/27/2009

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Yes, we also give him floride free toothpaste and he actually likes the taste.

Michelle - posted on 01/27/2009

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we bought a battery operated toothbrush. We brush his teeth first and then hand him the brush and he "brushes" for about 5 mins. I checked with my dentist and he it was okay as long as we were actually brushing his teeth first.

Kimberly - posted on 01/27/2009

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Declan is 20 months as well. He loves to brush his 10 teeth, but like the others, he doesn't do a good job by himself. Our rule over here is that Mommy helps brush his teeth first and then he can brush them as long as he wants after. Once we hit the 5 minute mark of him brushing, I take it away from him. He screams at me, but he gets over it quickly.

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My Abby used to fight me about tooth brushing...she didn't like it at ALL when I tried to do it for her.  I got her a purple Hello Kitty electric toothbrush and that was the end of all my troubles.  The electric toothbrush does a better job than she does by herself, and she loves it.  Now EVERY time I go into the bathroom she is begging to brush her teeth!  I use the Oragel tooth and gum cleanser (with Elmo on the tube) and it doesn't have any flouride in it so it is safe to swallow and she likes the taste.  And it helps that every time she brushes her teeth, I do too, because she likes to copy me.  If I brush my upper teeth, she does too, same for the back and the bottom...whatever I do, she mimics.  

Heather - posted on 01/26/2009

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My daughter brushes in the bath.  We brush first and then bathe.  Just once a day right now but the pediatrician says that is okay for right now.

Sunshine - posted on 01/26/2009

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We also "tickle" his teeth...it works great sometime. Other times we just let him chew on the toothbrush, brush our teeth with him (so he will mimic us), or take a clean wash cloth and wipe his teeth off when he is done chewing on the tooth brush. It gets more off than doing nothing. We don't use floride toothpaste, our dentist isn't concerned. My son wants toothpaste, so we give him the floride free training paste.

Erica - posted on 01/26/2009

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I let my son hold one toothbrush and then I use another toothbrush with the toddler safe, flouride free toothpaste (so it is safe for swallowing) and we both open up and say AH and he brushes mine and I brush his.  We make brushing noises and make it fun. I also hold him up on the counter and let him watch in the mirror so he sees what we are doing.  He loves it.  Some days he prefers to chew the brush, but most days he lets me actually brush.  We also let him watch us brush in our bathroom daily so he sees that this is something that everyone in the family does.  Also, my pediatrician told us back at his 18month checkup that not only should we be brushing but he should go see a peds dentist by his 2nd birthday.

Mia - posted on 01/23/2009

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my son is the same way, he wont let me touch his toothbrush if its in his mouth and I would (but I don't) have to hold him down to do it! so I bought him an electric deigo toothbrush (from walmart) he loves it... it makes me feel a little better because at least it is moving around more in there... lol



ps I was also told after 12 months their teeth should be brushed with fluoride

Tara - posted on 01/22/2009

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I was having the same problems with my 20month old daughter, she would just chew the brush or suck the fluoride free toothpaste off. A friend told me to get her an electric toothbrush & that seems to be helping. She also watches me in the mirror. So she grabs her "Dora" toothbrush everynight & brushes with me. I also have her watch an "Elmo" dvd on brushing...its called Head to Toe with Elmo

User - posted on 01/22/2009

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I've actually taken my daughter to the dentist already. They do make fluoride free toothpaste for their age, but the dentist said just water is fine. They way the dentist showed us to do it is pretty much what you are doing. He said to sit on the floor with her head in your lap, push her lips apart with your fingers (pointer finger pushing the top one up and middle finger pushing the bottom one down), and brush. He said after a while they get used to it and will let you do it without a fight. I usually let her brush her teeth (chew on the brush) first and then do it the way the dentist said. It does seem to be getting a little easier.

Kristy - posted on 01/22/2009

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My daughter loves to imitate as well!! I give her time while I'm brushing mine, to chew, and sort of brush lol, and then afterwards she gives me her brush, and I go over them once...Now she tries to spit, lol...I've just made it sort of routine, and have been doing it since she's had teeth!

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Go with him to choose a funky, appropriate electric toothbrush and then brush your teeth with him in front of the mirror... at this age, mine is trying to imitate us. 

Elizabeth - posted on 01/21/2009

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Scott likes to chew on his toothbrush also. I let him chew on it for a few minutes, then go back and brush after that. He seems to think it's ok as long as I do it this way.

Mandy - posted on 01/20/2009

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My son is 20 months & has been brushing his teeth in the bath for a couple of months. I started giving him a toothbrush when he was teething. He loved it as it helped his teeth cut through & I loved it as he was comfortable with the brush. When it came to him learning to brush his own teeth he was already happy to do it. I brush properly first, then he actually brushes after. Admittedly, it is only once a day in the bath in the evenings, but at his age I'm not too worried.

Leslie - posted on 01/20/2009

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Love the tickling idea ladies... clever.



We have a deal and my 20 month old understands that. We brush first and if she doens't fight it, then we hand her the brush and she can "chew" on it. Otherwise if she throws a fit (which is hardly ever) she doesn't get to brush.



We say... TEEEEEETHHHHHHH really silly and she runs and gets her toothbrush. Its a fun game. But I love the tickling... too cute! And in the bath is genious!

Traci - posted on 01/20/2009

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Oh yeah....my son does it in the bath at night and then in the morning he thinks its the coolest thing to step up on his stool to the sink!

Traci - posted on 01/20/2009

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I do the tickle too.  My son is 20 months and he chews on it and then I tell him its mommys turn.  My dentist however told me that even the chewing is good for now - it is teaching him plus it will get in his teeth.  I use the non-flouride toothpaste.

Linda - posted on 01/20/2009

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I put the toothbrushes in the bath and make a game out of it with my twin boys.i pretend to do it and then they want to.They mostly chew the brushes too but will let me tickle their teeth.I think its just perserverence.Mine hated it at first but you can't make it a big deal to them.Pretend she can't have the brush (that its yours) and pretend to brush and laugh.In time she will want to copy mummy and let mummy tickle her as well.Good luck with it:)

Jenna - posted on 01/19/2009

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Try giving him his own toothbrush and then sneak another toothbrush in while he is playing with his toothbrush.  Our pediatrician says that it is normal for them to fight with you for a while.  My daughter did, but we persisted and now she doesn't mind it at all.  Just be consistent brushing every day and he'll get the hang of it.  Have your pediatrician look at his teeth.  If they aren't worried you probably don't need to worry either.

Heather - posted on 01/19/2009

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I've been brushing my son's teeth since he got enough to brush (~1 year). I had a dental hygienist speak at my moms and tots group and she gave good tips.

She said that by 12 months their teeth should be brushed with fluoride, but just a tiny smudge on the brush, incase of swallowing. She also gave us different positions, laying them down is handy when younger and it worked for me for a while. For a while he liked watching himself in the mirror. Now, I have him sit on the counter and ask him to show me his tongue, then to show me his teeth so I can get the front ones.

My son has a play tooth brush that he can chew all he wants, and his real one, that he's not allowed to chew on, cuz it ruins the bristles.

Stephanie - posted on 01/19/2009

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I let my daughter "brush" and then I tell her to say "cheese" like she is smiling for the camera and I get a quick brush in that way. I also brush my teeth in front of her so she can copy me, rather than just chewing on the brush.

Carissa - posted on 01/19/2009

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I brush my 20 month old daughter's teeth. I use Oral B kids toothpaste. It has no flouride and is completely safe to swallow. If I let her brush, all she does is chew on the toothbrush. So in the bathtub, I brush her teeth, then I let her chew on the toothbrush afterwards. It's the best of both worlds, or at least I would like to think so!

Jenn - posted on 01/19/2009

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My twins let me "tickle their teeth". We make a big deal about letting them have special tooth brushes and the baby tooth paste but if they sit still for Mommy or Daddy to tickle their teeth they can then hold onto their tooth brush until bedtime. It took a while for us to find something that worked, and I was not going to stick my finger in their mouth with a finger tooth brush. At first we said "tickle their teeth" because we could get them to laugh and open their mouth, so we laughed hysterically until they opened thier mouth and then we kept laughing and giggling until all their teeth were tickled clean. Hope that helps a little.

Amanda - posted on 01/18/2009

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I brush my daughters teeth! She's 20 months also. I have for a while actually since she's had enough to brush. I also have the special baby tooth paste. I actually let her brush her teeth she's not brushing them well mainly chewing on the toothbrush and sucking off the toothpaste and then when she's done I brush them as decent as I can I mean it depends on the day how well she'll let me brush them. And I've been doing that for months and it works for us:) She just started trying to copy me and really started brushing them pretty good!!

Terri - posted on 01/18/2009

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Really? I got this special baby toothpaste with no flouride that isn't bad for them if swallowed. IMy doctor told me he SHOULD be brushing his teeth. Don't you hate it when pediatricians give conflicting advice?

Peggy - posted on 01/18/2009

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my daughter is 20 month-old too and the doctor told us that it's a little bit early to wash her teeth because she might swallow the toothpaste.we will try in a few months.

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