Now that Chase has six teeth and eats a mostly regular diet I've become concerned about his dental hygiene. Since his first little tooth came in I would use a wash rag to clean that tooth and his gums but now I feel like I should be doing way more to prevent plaque from building. The problem is that he is so independent, and he doesn't want mommy brushing his teeth for him – he wants to do it all by himself.
I received a training toothbrush from MAM when I went to The Baby Show NYC last year and, according to the accompanying brochure, I should be brushing Chase's teeth at least twice daily. *Yikes* He refuses to let me brush his teeth and, these days, he barely lets me clean his teeth with a rag.
He'll clench his teeth together or bite down on my wash cloth-covered finger. We've tried brushing our teeth together, as a family, to model it for him. I'll then give him the toothbrush to let him do it himself. He is so independent and he loves to hold the toothbrush, but when he gets it he really isn't brushing his teeth.
I've tried numerous things. I let him chew on the toothbrush for a while, but then when I try to take it to brush his teeth, he throws a major fit.
So I sing silly teethbrushing songs (which he loves) but it doesn't make him want to let mommy brush his teeth. I once waited until he was in the bath, then I explained that we needed to brush everyone's teeth in the tub. Turning the bristles away, I brushed the "teeth" of all his bath toys. He watched with great interest. After I brushed their teeth, I brushed his teeth next. He enjoyed that game a lot. Since he was laughing, that made it easier to brush his teeth. However, he hasn't let me do that since.
On another occasion, after his bath, I dried him off with a big towel and then wrapped him up in it so his arms were contained. I sat him on my lap and tried to brush his teeth that way. When he yelled in protest I slipped the toothbrush in. I sang the toothbrush song, which calmed him a little, but I didn't like doing it in such a forceful way. So I abandoned this method as well.
These days I've tried to just make it routine to bring Chase into the bathroom when I brush my teeth. I sit him on the toilet and hand him his toothbrush. I brush my teeth, happily smiling in the mirror and at Chase, and using big, exaggerated strokes. He watches me curiously as he "brushes" (i.e., chews) his own. However, out of the corner of my eye, I sometimes see him trying to copy my up-and-down movements. After I finish brushing my own teeth, I bring out the old, trusty wash cloth and clean his teeth and gums. Then I gently take his toothbrush from him (that's another struggle, as he hates to relinquish it) and we leave the bathroom (yet another fight).
Where is my sweet little baby who used to let me do anything I liked with him? Long gone are those days! I realize now its best to pick and choose my battles with Chase. I figured when he is developmentally ready he'll become more receptive to getting his teeth brushed. At this point I'm just happy it's become a part of our daily routine, and I'm glad that he has so much fun doing it.