As soon as she saw me pull out the toothbrush, she broke into a wide smile and ran towards me. Then without any cajoling, she opened her mouth wide to accommodate the approaching brush.

Ordinarily, I should have been happy. After all, my toddler appeared eager to brush her teeth.

But knowing better I kept my emotions in check and instead, braced myself for what was to follow.

Now, let me explain what was happening here –

It was time to brush my daughter’s teeth and in order to get her co-operation, I animatedly clenched my own teeth together in a ‘show-and-tell’ demonstration . In response my giggling, lil miss (or should I say ‘madam’) rolled her tongue around, in order to keep the brush away from its intending target. She succeeded when instead of landing on her teeth, the brush comfortably landed on her tongue, causing us to quickly get into our tiring but very familiar struggle.

You see, all my daughter wanted to do was to carefully suck out the paste from the brush.

Then as soon as she succeeded in taking ALL the paste out, she would next work at pushing the brush out of her mouth and then use her little but strong hands to firmly cover her lips in defiant defense.

That was her plan! But unfortunately for her, I was having none of it. So what I did was scream for her daddy, who happened to be my backup for the morning.

As in, I needed him to come hold her down while I took the brush in again; only this time power for power!

To be honest, there had been countless times in the past when I had attempted making brushing fun with popular sing-along songs like ‘This is the way we brush our teeth’. But time and time again, all my daughter did willingly was dance, sing and suck out the toothpaste. The actual brushing of the teeth was always a challenge; a battle which we were both always in a hurry to win and a battle which neither of us ever really won.

So to avoid the struggle, on many days I purposely chose to forget to brush her teeth. And even on days when I did remember, I often convinced myself that brushing once a day (instead of the dentally recommended twice) was fine. After all, we were dealing with the milk teeth which will one day fall off.

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Do you know that no matter how challenging caring for your infant or toddler’s teeth may be, you must dedicatedly keep at it because…

  • They are place holders for your child’s permanent teeth
  • They will help form your child’s face
  • They will enable your child talk more clearly and prevent problems associated with speech development
  • They will make chewing easier
  • They will eliminate the discomfort and infections which accompany tooth decay
  • They will eliminate the poor self image that could accompany bad dentition

So learning these facts and repenting of my ways…

  • I worked at being consistent where brushing my daughter’s teeth was concerned
  • Whenever I saw cartoon or book characters brushing their teeth, I tried pointed them out to my daughter 
  • I tried to schedule brushing for relaxing periods (when I was not in a hurry) so that I could patiently ‘execute’ it playfully and with fun
  • I tried to brush when she brushed so that she could have fun imitating mommy (Alternatively, thinking about it now, I could have actually also given her the honors of brushing my own teeth as well)
  • I tried to give her some level of control by allowing her hold her toothbrush herself before later taking over to get it done properly
  • I tried to introduce the mouth rinsing concept which she found absolutely hilarious and funny

And so after all these tries, the battle suddenly and surprisingly came to end. As in, the day my daughter clenched her teeth in my face (as an invitation for me to brush her teeth), I almost fainted.

Really, this was too good to be true. ‘Was she playing me?’, I wondered.

But when without any fuss, she not only let the brush in, but also allowed it get to all the right corners, I knew that this was no joke. Indeed, the battle was finally over!

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*For more on dental care, check out http://mommymomentsng.com/dental-care/

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