Skip to main content
"A great blog that is fun, interesting and informative. Packed full of information on a range of topics. I love their sense of humor while they are providing well informed and thought out answers to your questions. All in all a great read for any parent!"--Christine Howard.

Proud affiliate of Montessori Services!

A Mom's Battle of The Toothbrush With Her Tot

Photo by Lisa Nolan
What should you do when your little one no longer wants you to brush her teeth and gums! A concerned parent emailed the following issue with her young child:

"My only child is 19 months old and has recently begun resisting getting her teeth brushed. She used to put the brush in her mouth on her own at first, then I'd brush her teeth before we were "'done'". Now she doesn't want to hold the brush and will turn her head, push her tongue out, and press her lips down. I try making funny sounds (she'll laugh and open her mouth but it's short lived) or finally pin her down and get it done. Am wondering if you have any thoughts about my only child."

When my son started to resist getting his teeth and gums brushed, I stopped. I let it go. I gave up the fight. Why? I wanted him to LOVE brushing teeth, not hate it!

My husband was oh-so-concerned about this decision. But I felt like pushing the issue (of cleaning his teeth) could turn my son off to the whole ideal of brushing his teeth forever and ever and ever, and then where would we be? In the dentist office with problems galore!

So I let him do it himself, I gave him fun flavors of toothpaste including non-fluoride. I had a score of toothbrushes to hand him after each mealtime, but I did not interfere. Over time my son began to LOVE brushing his teeth! It was his job, not mine, even though he was not actually brushing his teeth but sucking and chewing on the toothbrush.

I chose to fight OTHER battles instead, like keeping my son's glasses on! I felt like that was more important at the time. (He's been wearing glasses since he was six months old; and not until age four did he finally give up the fight and keep his darn glasses on all the time.)

(Please note how important it is to get regular check ups from your dentist, which is what we did at the time of my son's resistance to me brushing his teeth, and that it was an issue of control and not 'sensory', and that our dentist was aware of the situation. And what I sometimes did was try to brush my son's teeth when he was asleep! It did not always work!)

So what's happened with teeth brushing when he got older (like age four)? He let me brush his teeth, once a day, at bedtime. And it was not a battle! (It helped that I counted to twenty because he was really into numbers.)

When he got older, he STILL did it himself, and he still loved it, so much so that he used to sneak into the bathroom to... no, not flush the potty over and over. No, not pull all the paper off the toilet paper roll. No, not dump the trash on the floor. He snuck in there to brush his teeth when no one was watching!

As parents, we have to decide which battles to fight. I chose not to fight this one. It took a few years of letting go, however, but I was confident we would both win in the end!

Footnote: our dentist appointments were very helpful! Our son did not have any issues with his gums or his teeth. However, I knew there would come a day when the dentist would tell me to get in there and brush my son's teeth, I put off that day for a long time. And now that I take a turn to brush his teeth once a day, it is not an issue.

So what's the moral of the story? Give up a battle today to win a war tomorrow (and check in with your child's dentist!).

{This post is updated from my archives.}

Will work for comments! You can leave your comments and questions on my Facebook page! Make sure to include your blog link or Facebook page URL so I can comment back! {}

You may also be interested in my recommended Montessori and homeschool books for parents and teachers on or my Montessori and homeschool programs at Montessori for the Earth.

Linking up with Montessori Monday!

Montessori Monday

Popular posts from this blog

Montessori Printables & PDFs

Montessori printables,downloads, and PDFs are an inexpensive to make your own, DIY materials for your homeschool or day care setting! Well I have some terrific resources to share with you from the Montessori mom bloggers of the Montessori Bloggers Network. Want to PIN for later?

Montessori Language & Outline for Ages 3 to 9

I am sharing my Montessori training lecture notes on language, an introduction and outline, for ages three to nine. The most important concept in early language development is that the child has to become aware that language and words are made of sounds. We achieve this with the help of the I Spy Game. The next step is to introduce the symbols that represent these sounds with the help of the Sandpaper Letters.

A Montessori Infant and Toddler Home Environment

I get a lot of questions about how to do Montessori at home with infants and their toddler siblings. So I created a Montessori Infant and Sibling Series. This is part one.
"How do I organize the work room areas (where all the Montessori-related materials are going to be) including a two-year-old area (such as art section, math section, etc.) and an 11-month-old area of the room?"
"What about their bedrooms and the living room? Which room should I start with first? It's just overwhelming."
"Should I make up a daily schedule first, or organize (plan, shop, and display) all the materials first? And how do I decide what I should put on the shelves for each of my children?"
Want to PIN for later?

DIY Bedtime Box With Day and Night Matching and Sorting: A Guest Post by Carolyn Wilhelm of Wise Owl Factory

I recently purchased Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness: Mom Stories from theTrenches, Lisa Nolan's mom lit parent humor anthology with forty contributing mom bloggers. Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness is very funny and poignant while describing the experiences of the sleep deprived mothers who contributed the chapters. Any young parents needing some comedic relief about their situations would feel less alone and more understood by reading this book. I've already sent it to a young mom who I know will enjoy the writing. The writers are all very talented and many have written other books and/or blogs. They are introduced at the end of the book with links for future reading and enjoyment.
I smiled for days remembering some of the lines in the book such as, "I hear a doggy barking!" spoken by a child trying to delay bedtime. The teacher mom I could so relate with, as both jobs can be exhausting. There are poems and stories, and it is the perfect bed stand book to help parent…

Best Montessori Books I Own

Welcome to my Best Montessori Books I Own Series: I highlight four Montessori books including Teach Me to do it Myself, Montessori activities for you and your child  by Maja Pitamic; How to Raise an Amazing Child The Montessori Way by Tim Seldin; The Essential Montessori Updated Edition: an Introduction to the Woman, the Writings, the Method, and the Movement  by Elizabeth Hainstock; and Awakening Your Toddler's Love of Learning by Jan Katzen-Luchenta. Some of these books are available at your local library, as an ebook on Kindle, and or used and new on where you can add them to your wish list or purchase them on the spot. Want to PIN for later?
CLICK to subscribe for my 37-page Montessori FAQs PDF