Brushing teeth

by Marilia Di Cesare on August 14, 2012

As I mentioned in The worst apointement at the dentist, my story with helping my 5-year old with bushing teeth is not great. I couldn´t make it fun, or a simple thing we just do or anything pleasant.

After the horror story at the dentist, my daughter was doing it quite frequently twice a day. It helped a lot that at the time, we were sharing a house with another single mom and her 5-year old, because the girls would do it together most of the time.

However, after we took off from Costa Rica and were going from house to house for a month, something happened and Luísa started skipping it the more that she could again.

I navigate between the ways of helping her with it. Sometimes I´m nice, sometimes I´m ugly, meaning I make a big scene over how important it is and how she is not doing it.

Here is a link full of gentle suggestions to try with your kid (my next move is to buy an electric tooth brush, which I did in the past and worked).

Yelling at your kid for it just makes it worse. I know it well. I had my last yelling about it with my daughter. I got so pissed off that she wasn´t brushing and I tried to force it on her.

I yelled, I tried opening her mouth, I squeezed her cheecks so hard that later she told me they still hurt. It didn’t work. My daughter only cried and looked really scared.

Nothing was making her brush her teeth (damn, she could be a spy one day, she would never reveal any secret, not even under torture, I tested her will myself).

I came to my senses, I left the room, then I came back recovered and apologized and told her I was sorry I scared her and I promised I would never try to make her brush her teeth scaring her like that again.

I felt so bad. that I made her a I´m sorry note. She was plased to find this in the morning:

Then I started a new calendar with a 30-day challenge, this time it´s about not committing any kind of aggression (while the first challenge was about not yelling).

I thought about it and decided that the best thing to do would be to drop the subject completely for at least a week. It was hard to make her brush her teeth, but after my anger attack, it was probably harder.

Now we had to heal from this episode and I had to heal from my anxiety about it (lots of reading on this forum helps). A good thing was that in a few days we were going to receive one of my best friends to stay over for 3 weeks and I asked my friend to help me with this and more. I specifically asked her to be the one in charge of tooth brushing while she was here.

The morning after my attack, I went with Luísa to a grocery store and she came to me with this tooth paste asking if we could buy it. It´s been 6 months that we don´t use commercial tooth paste. We either use baking soda or just water because of the things I read about fluoride (go and research it if you are curious).

So I read ¨no fluoride¨, and I said that it was ok to buy that.

To my astonishment, as soon as we entered our house, she ran to brush her teeth with the new tooth paste. Was this a present from above?

The next 3 days she was happily using her new tooth paste by herself. I think that she sensed my sincerity in telling her I wouldn´t bother her anymore. She was happy with her new thing and didn´t have to worry about me (moms can be such a pain).

She even came running after me one morning when I was brushing my teeth and said all cheerful: ¨Me too!¨

Then, my friend came and since then, they have been brushing their teeth together every day. It´s been like a vacation from the topic for me. And it´s been 12 days in my new calendar of no aggression of any kind. It´s sure easier with someone else in the house. I just hope this lasts. I don´t want to regress on how to deal with this.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cristina August 17, 2012 at 5:37 am

I’m also a mom of a 15-month old baby boy. I started brushing his teeth when he was seven(ish) months young. Well, it wasn’t exactly a breeze, especially because he was more interested in biting the other stout end of his toothbrush than letting me brush his (then, two upper) teeth.

You got it right when you said not to try screaming or anything of that sort. What I did was I kinda let him discover the toothpaste himself. I was using Oral-B Stage 1 toothpaste. And soon enough, he started paying attention to the correct end of his toothbrush! It’s my own personal joy every time he makes kind of fish-mouth after every stroke, im guessing it could be the coz of the cool sensation.

There’s an interesting piece I’ve read about fluoride that I’d want to share with you:

Regards to your daughter!


mila June 6, 2013 at 9:32 am

So true. I recall my son’s insistence on no showers that nearly drove me mad…among other things. Bravo! I a starting today as well on a no yelling 30 day challenge. I read another mom’s success with it & appreciate your opennrss to talk on this easily judged issue. Obrigado!


Maria January 26, 2016 at 8:48 am

I must say you are a very good Mom, being a Mom means getting new challenges everyday. Making a timetable same like you did is a very good approach and being a Mom i am sure you have been very dedicated to it.
Good article.


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