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4 Bumps

The fight to brush teeth...

I have a 5 year old who refuses to brush her teeth. No reason, I ask her why she won't brush them and she just screams 'uh uh' and stomps around. She used to be so good about it! Now it's a battle every morning and night. She'll try to trick me too, put toothpaste in her mouth for the smell but you can obviously tell if someone's brushed or not.

I guess I'm kind of at wits end to be asking for parenting advice, but I've exhausted all other forms of punishment and incentive. I take away her important toys, I stopped buying treats or going out for treats, we don't even go to McDonalds anymore. I tried giving her incentive to brush like 2 times a day brushing for 1 week = a day at her favorite indoor playground.

I tried showing her pictures online of people's teeth who don't brush and are decayed and she was phased for a whole day or two, then it's right back to the usual.

I don't want her to end up with a mouthful of cavities. She already had to have a filling done but obviously that wasn't a wake up call.

Ugh! Any suggestions are welcome, criticism, not so much.


Asked by Nanixh at 3:05 PM on Jan. 10, 2011 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

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Answers (12)
  • She has to brush her teeth, even if you have to sit there and watch her do it every morning and night. Would it help to let her pick out a toothbrush (electric?) and toothpaste? My kids have a timer for their brushing and we make it like a "game" to see if they can get their teeth clean by the time it's up. We've gotten some of those tablets you chew after brushing that show where the "germs" still are, so they could see how much they missed - or more recently we've gotten some of that kids mouthwash (there's a prerinse [you spit it in the sink and see how much yuck came out just from rinsing] or a postrinse depending on which she likes).

    Answer by missanc at 3:09 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • This may be stupid, but I don't think you mentioned whether you'd tried this...why don't YOU brush them? Make her stand there with her mouth open while you brush them for her. If she's not going to do them herself (which personally I think 5 years old is a little young to be trusted to do a great job anyway) then tell her YOU are going to make sure they get done, period. Otherwise, she's going to run up a fortune in dental bills for you :-(

    Answer by vicesix at 3:09 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • Take her to the store and let her pick out a new toothbrush and toothpaste. they make some really cute ones. Get a spin brush. Stand there and sing a silly song until she's done.

    Answer by mompam at 3:08 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • It's not that she doesn't like brushing.
    She just enjoys telling you NO more.

    Answer by jewjewbee at 9:10 AM on Jan. 11, 2011

  • I've tried that too =( She's picked out like 3 different toothbrushes (1 electronic, 2 regular), her own toothpaste, and mouthwash.

    Comment by Nanixh (original poster) at 3:11 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • when my son used to argue with me i told him that 1. he will get bugs in his teeth if he doesn't brush, and 2. he will have to go to the doctor and get a shot. yes, i lied. but in worked. he doesn't argue with me about brushing anymore. i also then got him a spin brush so he can start brushing on his own.
    good luck!

    Answer by boobarandbell at 3:12 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • Ours is 7 and we still do them most nights for him with a battery-powered toothbrush. He does mornings/before we go out/after lunch himself with a manual.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:15 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • The timer suggestion is something I haven't done and will try. Oh and we have the Inspector Hector plaque detector (I think that's the same of it) where you rinse and it shows where the dirty spots are on your teeth.

    Oh I've tried to get her to let me brush her teeth and what a fight that was! Crying and screaming and all sorts of drama. It's just weird though because she's had great hygiene habits since her first tooth popped through, and in the last few months she's just turned into this monster! She had a dental check-up about a month and a half ago, and the dentist said her gums/teeth are fine so I don't know what the deal is.

    Appreciate the comments ladies.

    Comment by Nanixh (original poster) at 3:33 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • I'm keeping my eye on this 2.5 year old is stubborn about brushing her teeth too!!!

    Answer by Fallaya at 3:35 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • When my son was about that age he was pretending to brush. What a war, I wish they'd just understand that actually doing the job would take less of their time than fighting about not doing it. lol Anyhow, I put this concerned look on my face one morning while looking in his mouth. I acted like I was all worried about his toothpaste not doing a good job. I told him he'd have to use mine. I use a regular no frills, no fancy flavor baking soda paste. I brushed his teeth myself with that for a few days.

    Are you arguing back with her and feeding into the drama over it? If I were you I wouldn't say a word. Tell her to do it, when she refuses then say that you're going to have to do it yourself then. Do it quietly and walk away. Take the attention factor out of it and see if that helps. Good luck! :)

    Answer by Jessica157 at 3:42 PM on Jan. 10, 2011