Teeth cleaning time in our house is, without a doubt, one of he most testing times of our morning and evening routines. You may think it would get easier, that my 2 year old would realise that this is going to happen every day so he might as well just accept it, but no, absolutely not! We always get the ‘lips clenched tightly shut’ ‘shaking head from side to side’ ‘opening mouth for just long enough to shout ‘NO TEETH!’. It is during these 3 second intervals of shouting that I have had to develop lightning speed teeth cleaning skills, toothbrush in, scrub teeth like crazy before mouth clamps shut again, and repeat when mouth next opens to shout.
I keep telling myself that maybe once his final teeth have come through, that it will become easier, that this behaviour is partly due to his gums being sensitive (as well as in part due to the fact he is 2 and rather skilled in stubbornness).
It has recently come to light that my daily battle of wills is not an uncommon problem. In fact, while chatting to a group of mums at playgroup, at least half were currently or had previously experienced this problem. Some of the tactics used by mums really made me smile, some I had already tried, some I have attempted since. So, in the spirit of Topmums, I thought I would share some of these with you
- “What animals can we find in your mouth today” Ask little one to open wide while the toothbrush goes on an animal hunt inside their mouth! And when the animal is found, of course you both need to make the animal noise (which, if you choose your animal wisely can give you even more ‘open mouth’ time.
- “You brush my teeth while I brush yours” I have tried this one myself, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If you let little one brush your teeth at the same time you are brushing theirs, the focus is off them, which can make them a little more compliant. However, I have ended up with the toothbrush poked up my nose on several occasions…..the things we put up with in the name of clean teeth!
- “Choice” Letting little one have some control over the whole process can work fantastically well. Buy a choice of 2 or 3 toothbrushes and 2 or 3 toothpastes, different flavours if possible. Let them have a choice of which they would like to use each time. This can take a tediously long time to make the initial choice, but time saved by not having to fight makes it worthwhile.
- “Lets brush Dinosaurs teeth first” this one has lead to some success for us. Bring a favourite toy into the bathroom to have their teeth cleaned first. By the time we have gone through the process of cleaning dinosaurs teeth and my little boy has been laughing hysterically, he is more relaxed and in a far better frame of mind to comply with having his teeth done (although still not for as long as I would ideally like)
So, how long should we be aiming to brush our children’s teeth for? NHS Choices advises to brush your child’s teeth for about 2 minutes twice a day , once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day.
For a lot of us though, it seems this is very difficult, if not impossible to achieve. It’s really a question of balance. Of course we all want to ensure our little ones teeth get a good clean, twice a day if possible. After all, we have gone through a lot in the process of getting the teeth, we want to take care of them. On the other hand, how much are we really prepared to battle on a daily basis in the name of clean teeth?