Monday, December 3, 2012

New routine: teeth brushing

Well, not actually new at all for Allie at this point, but just a couple words for those who are about to enter the teeth brushing days. Our dentist told us right away that we need to start brushing Allie's teeth as soon as she starts eating solids, so we started pretty early, at about 5 or 6 months. At first it wasn't brushing in the sense that most people understand it, but rather cleaning Allie's gums. We would just take a washcloth and wipe Allie's gums. She wasn't a big fan of that at first, but like with everything, once we started doing it every night, it became a routine and Allie didn't mind it all. She actually started liking it, as I imagine it felt good to her gums when she started teething.

When she got her first couple teeth, we switched to an actual tooth brush. A baby tooth brush, of course. That was a novelty to Allie and she didn't have any problems adjusting to it, especially when we started using those toddlers' toothpastes that don't contain any fluoride and taste great. And yes, a lot of times, she would just chew on the brush and enjoy the taste of the tooth paste instead of brushing, but I think it was ok, since it was just important to get her used to the feeling of a toothbrush in her mouth (my dentist did not agree. She said that was not cool to just let her chew on it). Anyway, little by little she is learning how to brush and I have to say she does it really well now. She has almost a full mouth of teeth and brushing her teeth is an essential part of her bath time routine.

With this very long introduction, what I really wanted to write about is a small challenge we once faced. Once upon a time Allie has decided she no longer wants to brush her teeth. She didn't let me or MJ do it and she refused to do anything with that toothbrush. That behavior was going on for about a week and I tried to brush through tears and screaming, but this, of course, was neither very productive, not enjoyable for anybody. 

So one night when we were fighting about brushing her teeth, I had Allie open her mouth and said "Oh my god, you have a fly in there!" (Now, if anyone is curious, this fly thing wasn't really a product of my imagination or creativity. When I was little and went to a dentist, I remember him telling me at the end of the appointment that he got a fly out of my tooth. That was pretty scarring and I actually thought this was true until I was 20 or so). So I guess with this whole teeth drama we were going through with Allie, the "fun" memory of a fly in my tooth came flushing. As soon as Allie heard about the fly in her mouth, she immediately got all curious and still and let me get it out (aka brush her teeth). Same thing happened the following night and the night after that.... 

For the last month or so Allie brushes her teeth without any protesting because that's how she gets a fly out of there and when she's done I do some final "fly removal" and we end up with brushed teeth every night. Clearly, that little trick worked for us, and I hope this inspires some ideas with your little ones if you face a similar problem :).

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