26 June 2007

Brush toddlers' teeth with two toothbrushes

Here's how Becky avoids toothbrushing battles:

I use two toothbrushes.  One I give to my son so he can brush his teeth while I take the other one and brush his teeth at the same time.  I used to let him brush his teeth first and then take the toothbrush and brush his teeth myself.  This didn't always work out because he wouldn't always open his mouth for me. With the two toothbrushes I can be brushing his bottom teeth while he brushes the top ones and there's no problem.

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I can't imagine that it's easy to maneuver a toothbrush in a toddler mouth that already has a toothbrush in it.

My almost-2-year-old is very routine-oriented, so I was able to get him used to a routine:
- I wash the brush and put on the paste, and we both say "brush" and "paste."
- We sit down. He says "Aaaa."
- I say "Top, inner, gumline!" sometimes he repeats "Pop, ennn, Ga!" (or part of that phrase), and I proceed to brush that part.
- Repeat with top outer gumline, bottom outer gumine, bottom inner gumline, bottom chewing surface, and top chewing surface.
- I say "Ad hoc," he says "Akhak!" and he gets to brush as he likes.
- While he's focused on brushing, he is less likely to fight while I put him in a diaper and pajamas.

Because he's into the routine, he knows that his turn will come, so he doesn't have to fight for it. Because his turn is at the end, I don't have to take the toothbrush away from him to get my turn.

Occasionally, he refuses to open his mouth. I say "All done!" and put the brush aside. He says "Akhak!" and reaches for the brush. I list the remaining surfaces to cover and say "and then, you can do Ad Hoc." This usually works.

We used to brush our kids' teeth after they had "brushed" them, but we ran into the same resistance where they didn't want us to and would keep their mouths closed.

What we've been doing is brushing their teeth first and telling them that they need to "brush" the parts we miss. It seems to go smoother and they just love the idea of doing something that Mommy and Daddy couldn't.

I get lucky with my son, he'll do his own for about 30 seconds or so, says "Done!" and I tell him to do it for about 30 more seconds. By that time he's tired of it and I come in as the ringer and do any spots he misses.

As a health bonus, also consider doing your teeth at the same time. Not only will you be doing something together...the huge bowl of ice cream you were going to eat after they go to bed will taste like muck with your clean mouth.

Gotta add one thing - my family would always add a song you can hum while brushing, to make sure you brush long enough. To this day, I mentally hum "turkey in the straw" twice through before I finish my teeth:) This works for anything (washing hands, taking turns etc) that should be done for longer than kids tend to do naturally.

This worked great on my two-year-old. Thanks for the tip! She never used to let me brush her teeth. She was happy enough just to hold on to her own brush--we didn't even have to have two in her mouth at the same time.

That's funny. Doesn't it get a little crowded in there, though?

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