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jca's avatar

How do i get my 2 year old to allow me to brush her teeth?

Asked by jca (35979points) June 17th, 2009

my daughter just turned 2. for a while she was letting me brush her teeth. for the last two weeks she has been turning away, closing her mouth. then it becomes a power struggle, and guess who loses? me. so i give up and her teeth go unbrushed. i’ve tried telling her everyone brushes their teeth, but i don’t know if she really comprehends. suggestions, please.

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25 Answers

Bobbydavid's avatar

Let her brush them herself

Darwin's avatar

As @Bobbydavid says, let her brush them herself. Two-year-olds are just realizing that they can choose what happens in their world, so the best way to deal with such things is give them a choice but limit it to things you would accept. An example: “It’s time to brush your teeth. Do you want to do it or do you want me to do it?” When she does it praise her, even though it won’t be as good a job as if you had done it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Let me tell ya, it’s not easy
Mine is 3 now and is finally brushing it himself but I still help him a lot with the back teeth and keeping him on track in terms of how long it should be – once they get teeth, any teeth, it’s time to brush but my babies hate it – it helps to buy new toothbrushes every 2–3 months (you should be doing that anyway) and vary where and how you do it – I try to make sure he brushes his teeth twice if not 3x a day…in the morning, after preschool and at night…his favorite time is at night because we do it while we take a shower together and i let him take water from the shower to use for spit up…sometimes yes he just closes his mouth or has a tantrum…I worry about it, yes, because I know how important it is and I don’t want him to go through terrible dentist pain…

Bobbydavid's avatar

As @Darwin says, children love choices and giving her that choice will make her feel in control and more “grown up”.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

There are rubber finger sleeves with soft bristles on the ends sold for people to brush the teeth of their pets, you could start out with those to familiarize your toddler with the sensation of the brushing, small bits of paste and get a feel for the amount of pressure they’re comfortable with for when you move to introducing a small toothbrush.

cookieman's avatar

Also agreeing with @Darwin. Worked well with my daughter.

casheroo's avatar

I have two toothbrushes for my son. One for him to brush his own teeth, to distract him, and one for me to do the actual brushing. It seems to work most days, but there are some days he fights more.

Bri_L's avatar

I always played the growl like a dog game. then what did the doggy eat to look into their mouth.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@casheroo lol, i hear ya
not a bad plan

robmandu's avatar

Let your kid brush your teeth. Paint your faces with toothpaste. Find a flavor the kid likes (there are a lot!) Above all, make it fun… and don’t let the frustration show.

Once you’ve gotten the kid to successfully brush teeth several times, then the expectation is set and over time, you shouldn’t have to put so much effort into it. You’ll be trying to fix other behaviors then. ;-)

robmandu's avatar

Oh and I also reiterate @Darwin‘s quip. Let the kid make a choice – they like it! – but you stack the deck so either choice is a win for you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@robmandu hey that’s not a bad idea, thanks!

ubersiren's avatar

YYYESSS!!! I’m not the only one! I think I asked this a few months back. Well, we had been trying since he was 1 and he’s now just over 2 years old and he’s finally giving in. During the day, I let him brush his own teeth. Then at night, his dad lets him brush his own teeth for a while, then says, “Ok, now daddy has to get the ones in the back.” He’s still not completely tolerant of it and likes to bite the toothbrush. It was a lot of hard work to get to this point, but be persistent! Just do it twice a day, every day. Get a fun toothbrush (like with her favorite Disney character) and don’t give up! They even make yummy toothpastes for kids that are safe to swallow in small amounts. It will come eventually.

nebule's avatar

everything robmandu and darwin said… I have the same troubles…

two toothbrushes,
flavoured toothpaste,
choices left right and centre…

and there’s always bribery!!!

Supacase's avatar

It’s normal. I would venture to guess almost all kids go through this phase. The biting the toothbrush used to drive me crazy! Is she cutting her 2 year molars, by any chance?

We had a toothbrushing song her daddy or I would sing and she new we would stop when the song was over. I think it helps them to know there is a specific period of time it will last. She doesn’t mind now (3 1/2). In fact, she will often go in during the day and practice on her own.

I got her a Dora toothbrush set with a holder and spit cup for $5 – excellent investment. (I replace the brush frequently.) Making it fun helps.

Judi's avatar

Maybe she doesn’t like the sharp mint taste. Have you tried some of the fruit flavored tooth pastes?

casheroo's avatar

@Judi You can’t use a fluoride toothpaste on a 2 year old.

We use this: http://www.jason-natural.com/products/earths_best.php no chemicals.

Judi's avatar

@casheroo ; that’s what I get for having my kids 25 years ago :-)
At least yours is strawberry banana! Yum! When can they start using floride?

casheroo's avatar

@Judi I believe until the child is old enough to not swallow the toothpaste. That toothpaste we use goes up to 3 years old, so I guess thats when they believe children know better and don’t swallow the “yummy” toothpaste. You can give fluoride drops though.

robmandu's avatar

Yah, usually kids like to spit… so that’s not something you usually should expect a fight on when they get old enough where you trust ‘em.

I have to get mine to stop spitting so much.

MissAusten's avatar

My boys go through phases where they don’t want to brush their teeth. I have a slew of games up my sleeve to get them to cooperate. Being boys, they like to be grossed out, so a lot of my tricks center around that fun boyish trait. I’ll say, “Open up big and let me see what’s stuck in your teeth.” Then, I pretend to be horrified to find bug legs, snail goo, frog eyes, etc. stuck in their teeth. Each time I “see” something nasty, I brush it away. They crack up the whole time.

They also like to have the toothbrush “talk” to them. One of my boys likes the Evil Toothbrush, who gives a monologue about making all the teeth evil while he brushes them. That speech includes a description of all the things evil teeth can do, like bite through walls and chomp the bumpers off cars.

I can usually get them to open wide by asking them to make their mouths as big as a T Rex’s mouth. I’ll brush the front teeth by having them growl at me. If I growl back, they hold that pose longer.

Choices are great, like others have said. Let your daughter pick out her own toothbrush, let her choose which of you has a turn brushing first, and let her choose the toothpaste. There are so many flavors based on popular characters that she’s sure to find one she likes.

If all else fails, tell her she can either get her teeth brushed like a big girl, or like a baby. Babies sit on Mom’s lap and have their teeth brushed while they cry. It’s not fun (and not easy to do with a toddler). When my boys are feeling particularly anti-dental-care, I remind them that we can have fun or we can do it the hard way. Doing it the hard way is a ticket straight to bed, by the way, so they haven’t chosen the hard way for a really long time now (they are 4 and 5, just so you know).

Just make it fun and silly, and it won’t be such a chore!

brettvdb's avatar

Instead of toothpaste, use chocolate pudding.

sakura's avatar

My little girl hated brushing her teeth at this stage at still does (shes 10!!) We let her have her own toothbrush and we have got a special tooth egg timer so she knew how long to brush for. Over here in the uk you can buy brushes that play a tune in your head whilst you brush!! You can get HSM and bands etc…
Good luck and try not to get into a battle of wills, once a day is better than not at all, so try not to force the issue.

YARNLADY's avatar

My grandson brushes his teeth when I brush mine. We sometimes have teeth brushing contests to see who can brush the most. I count his teeth, and then he takes his turn, and he doesn’t know how to count in order yet, so it’s l, 2, 4, 7, 5, 9 ,3…..

whitenoise's avatar

We have twins that went through this phase as well.

We gave them the choice in the store of which toothbrush they wanted and what toothpaste (of course one with a reduced fluoride content that they did not need to rinse.)

Then we gave them the choice of being the ones brushing first or brushing last (we would then be the other alternative). While we did the brushing they could make high pitched noices for their front theeth lowe hums for their molars.

Basically it went pretty smooth that way after the initial push back.

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