Teeth I Don’t Get Paid to Clean

Teeth I Don’t Get Paid to Clean

“Open big.….open…..open big…..no, open…come on, open big”

This is the sound of me brushing my child’s teeth.  My oldest son thinks it’s the funniest thing when he bites on the toothbrush.  And that is fine with me. As long as he lets me clean his teeth, I am one happy momma.


It is not like this every night though.  I think back to some of the advice I gave to parents about how to care for their children’s teeth when I did not yet have kids and I just laugh.  

Sometimes I see the look of dread in a parent’s face when I tell them they should not be letting their baby go to sleep with a milk bottle.  Now that I too am a sleep deprived parent, I understand that look. They know they shouldn’t be giving their baby a milk bottle but they also JUST. NEED. SLEEP.

I also talked about wiping baby’s gums before they start teething.  That seemed like great advice until my baby bit me when I first tried it.  Even without teeth it hurt. And it happened every time for a long time.  

But it does get easier with repetition.

With my two year old now, there is an established routine when we brush.  It is not a very rigid routine but enough that he knows what to expect. Mom or dad gets to brush his teeth first, then he can have a turn if he wants.  Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes we brush during bath time, other nights we brush right before bed. He is familiar with both routines so he knows it’s coming and even asks for the toothbrush.


We were lucky that he didn’t need a bottle to go to bed every night but he did on occasion.  I started diluting his milk with water at night until he was just drinking water in bed. That seemed to work well.

Some nights, my husband and I forget to brush his teeth altogether.  I will feel guilty about this all night while my husband thinks, “better luck tomorrow”.    

Next step: flossing….we will see how that goes.

My youngest baby hasn’t started teething, but we wipe his gums and tongue even though he bites sometimes.  Now that he knows it’s coming, he only bites down when we take longer than usual. Small victories and baby steps.

There are lots of resources online if you’re struggling to get your children’s oral health under control.  I like this article because there are some practical tips and it addresses some important behavioural considerations.  

For more background information on why we must we persevere in establishing these hygiene habits in our children, follow this link.

Phuong Luu, DDS