I am terrified of the dentist and it stems from bad experiences I had at the dentist as a kid. That’s why oral hygiene is so important to me and my kids. I don’t want them to have the same bad experiences so clean teeth is a non-negotiable in my house.
Unfortunately, both of my kids went through a phase of hating to have their teeth brushed. My daughter grew out of it but, my son has never been a fan of getting his teeth brushed. He absolutely hates brushing his teeth!
When both of my kids were little I would let them chew on the toothbrush because to me that was better than nothing at all. This worked for my daughter because she would happily chew on it for a little while and when she was old enough I was able to get in there and brush them even if she protested.
My son is a different story…He wants nothing to do with the whole process. The second I grab the toothbrush he starts to run away and scream. I was at my wits end because he would clamp his mouth shut and I couldn’t get the toothbrush in his mouth! Or he would keep turning his head so the toothbrush would fly out. Not to mention he would flail everywhere and by the end of it his teeth still weren’t brushed and I was frustrated to say the least.
Using the ‘T’ Method to Brush Your Toddler’s Teeth
I finally came across a maneuver I had never heard of before, I tried it, and it works!!! My son is still not a fan of the process but at least his teeth are getting clean which to me is worth the fuss he puts up!
You have to lay your child on their back in between your legs, (their face will be upright in between your thighs and their feet will be by your feet). You will place their arms in a ‘T’ position and put your leg over each arm near their armpit (to prevent them being able to flail or move their head).
With them in this position you easily have access to their mouth and you can quickly brush their teeth. Your child may not like this if they don’t like brushing their teeth, but again oral hygiene is a must in my house so I had to figure out a way to get the job done.
Things to be Mindful of When Using the ‘T’ Method
Although this method does work in order to brush their teeth, you will want to be mindful of some things.
Your child may kick up their legs so if they do that you can place your legs over theirs to prevent getting kicked in the face.
Your child may spit out the toothpaste. There isn’t a whole lot you can do about this part. My son spits out the toothpaste in a way that it drips down his face, not so that it shoots in my face. So I grab a rag and place it on his chest near his chin so I can quickly wipe away any toothpaste he spits out.
You don’t need to use a lot of pressure or force when holding them in the ‘T’ position! The slight pressure of your legs over their arms will be enough to prevent their bodies from moving.
Your child may clamp their mouth closed and you may have to move their lips with your fingers to get the toothbrush in.
They may scream in protest. My son usually protests in some way, (although there are times he doesn’t protest at all since he knows we do this everyday) but he also screamed when I tried any other way to brush his teeth too. Speaking in a soothing voice and reassuring them of what you are doing may help. After you are finished, soothing cuddles may be required. I always hold my son afterward and he calms down very quickly.
What I have begun doing is now that my son is nearing 2 years old, I give him a choice. I ask him if he will open his mouth to let me brush his teeth and if he tells me ‘no’, I let him know that I will have to lay him down and brush his teeth then. He says no to that too but again, his teeth have to get brushed somehow. So eventually he will learn that he has the choice and if he doesn’t want to be laid down in the ‘T’ position, he will have to brush his own teeth or open his mouth and let me do it that way.
Now this method may not be a big issue for your kid! There are people I have suggested this to who say initially their kid resisted, but eventually they came to expect it and would lay down compliantly and it was easy for those parents.
The bottom line is if you are struggling with brushing your toddler’s teeth and you’re at your wits end, this is worth trying! You will be able to get your kid’s teeth brushed this way! Keep in mind the tips to do the ‘T’ method safely and the more you do it, the more your child will come to expect that brushing their teeth is something they have to do.
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