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Tooth Brushing With a Preschooler

I am delighted to be one of twenty bloggers featured in Arm & Hammer’s Switch & Save Challenge. During the next five months, I’ll be testing several Arm & Hammer products and sharing my experiences with you.

A few weeks ago, Grace decided that she was scared of brushing her teeth.

I’m pretty sure that I’m scared of brushing my teeth! is a euphemism for I don’t want to, and you can’t make me! but I could be wrong.

I’m not, but I could be.

It doesn’t matter, really. The result is the same.

She doesn’t want to brush her teeth.

Not in the morning.

Not after lunch.toothbrushing

Not at bedtime.

As soon as she sees the toothbrush, she clenches and purses her lips and shakes her head. Usually, she also runs away screaming, leaving me to chase her with a tiny toothbrush covered in pink goo.

To say it’s a struggle would be an understatement.

I have tried everything I could think of to get Grace to brush her teeth (except for actually sitting on her and forcing the toothbrush into her mouth).

  • I bought a variety of fancy toothbrushes with different shapes, sizes, and character decorations – including a fancy Spinbrush that she could decorate with stickers. She was into the stickers and the decorating, but not the actual use of the brush to clean her teeth.
  • I bought a couple of different kinds of toothpaste with different flavors and colors. She likes to taste them, but she doesn’t want to waste them on her toothbrush.
  • I made a sticker chart.
  • I set a timer. Unfortunately, timers only work once the toothbrush is making contact with the teeth. Children think they are finished if the time goes off, whether the toothbrush has entered their mouths or not.
  • I explained the consequences of not brushing. Cavities and fillings and trips to the dentist did not make an impression.
  • I took her to the dentist for a cleaning. She sat in the hygienist’s chair, eager to ride up and down. But then the hygienist asked Grace to open her mouth and have her teeth counted and that was the end of the cooperation. She cried and screamed and shrieked and refused to have her teeth counted. She acted like counting teeth involved removing a few. It was embarrassing.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, the key to successfully convincing a preschooler to brush her teeth is cheerful persistence.

I am cheerful, and I am persistent, but most days, Grace’s teeth do not get brushed adequately.

It is my daily dose of frustration and futility, so I’m going to plead for your help.

How do you convince a reluctant preschooler to brush her teeth?

Church & Dwight Co., Inc provided me with a $25 Visa gift card to give away to one lucky Feels Like Home reader. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with a suggestion for convincing Grace to brush.

For extra entries:

  • Like Feels Like Home on Facebook and leave a comment about it
  • Subscribe to Feels Like Home via RSS or email and leave a comment about it
  • Follow Feels Like Home on Google Friend Connect and leave a comment about it

Good luck! I’ll choose a winner randomly from the comments after noon on June 15.

This is a sponsored post for Church & Dwight Co., Inc, the maker of Arm & Hammer branded products. Church & Dwight Co., Inc is compensating me to try different products. All opinions are my own (and that of my dental hygienist, Jenn).

Get a $4.00 coupon for Arm & Hammer Spinbrush then head over to The Switch & Save Challenge where you can enter to win $25,000.

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© 2011 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

32 thoughts on “Tooth Brushing With a Preschooler”

  1. When my son was skittish about brushing his teeth, I would pretend there was an animal inside his mouth we had to chase/brush out.  It got very dramatic with me ‘searching’ for the animal with a flashlight and making a variety of sounds and I used the brush to chase around his teeth.  It took a lot of starting and stopping as the drama of getting that silly animal out but it eventually worked.  Sometimes he still asks, “Mommy, do you think there is a frog/duck/purple cow/T-Rex/tiny doggy/etc in my mouth tonight?”

  2. I have been known to let my children brush my teeth while they let me brush theirs. It’s a bit messy, and often ends with toothpaste in my eyes and hair, but they do enjoy it!

  3. I have been known to let my children brush my teeth while they let me brush theirs. It’s a bit messy, and often ends with toothpaste in my eyes and hair, but they do enjoy it!

  4. We are terrible about getting the kids to brush their teeth.  In fact, I rarely insist.  But when I do and they don’t want to, I pin them down and just do it.  Or I appeal to their independent nature (Shall I do it or do you want to do it?  No!  I do it!) and that typically gets them going.  Good luck!

  5. I was thinking perhaps getting one of the new toothbrushes that allow the child to decorate it and personalize the toothbrush with stickers and such…but you already tried that, lol!
    gina.m.maddox (at) gmail (dot) com

  6. I get toothbrushes with cartoon characters on and use stickers reward system in the house. It works pretty well !

  7. I love that, Lauren! I’m going to get some of that mouthwash. I bet it would help if she could see where she needs to brush. I know that always made me do a better job when I was little. 🙂 We had red tablets, but the effect was the same.

  8. What worked with my foster son is giving him the option to either join us in our evening brushing routine or sitting quietly while we brushed. He was not allowed to play with his video games, watch tv, or be on the computer if he chose not to participate. Eventually, he became so fidgety he joined in!

    runningmatey at hotmail dot com


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