I have a two-year-old son who is extremely mild-mannered but hates having his teeth brushed. He cries, squirms, clamps his mouth shut, sticks out his tongue to block the toothbrush, etc. He's been getting better about this lately, but I still don't get a lot of time to brush his teeth before he starts making it very difficult.

My wife and I have noticed that he seems to have a significant amount of... something... built up on his bottom teeth around his gums. Even when he allows me to brush his teeth vigorously for a minute, I can't get the buildup off. What is this stuff? Is this dangerous to his oral health? How can I get it off?

At this point we still haven't brought him to a dentist. I can't imagine any possible way will allow a stranger to stick his hands in my son's mouth for any extended period of time to clean his teeth.

  • 3
    If there is something on the teeth you cannot remove then you will have to see someone to assess the significance of what it is. They are well trained to deal with even the most reluctant children, so no worries they won't be able to. They are used to small kids & such things. This will not be anything new to them. My own dentist doesn't want to scree until 3, unless you can see something that looks amiss, then he wants them in as soon as possible. This would warrant a visit. No one here can tell you what is there as no one can see it, so even a dentist on the site cannot. – threetimes Jul 13 '17 at 17:36
  • I second this - take him to a dentist. However it sounds like you're also looking for ways to get him to let you brush his teeth more, and you still may be able to get help with that... – MAA Jul 14 '17 at 4:53
  • What kind of toothbrush are you using? Maybe he is just very sensitive and doesn't find it soft enough. – stommestack Jul 15 '17 at 23:07
  • We had a similar issue, and there was a lot of crying at bedtime when we wanted his teeth brushed. In the end we tried not to make a massive issue about it. After a long time... between 3 and 6 months, he started taking an interest in having his teeth brushed. So you could put this down to a phase. – user28544 Jul 18 '17 at 9:53
  • I have closed as a duplicate, as the core question on getting teeth brushed is a dupe, and the rest is off topic (go to a dentist) – Rory Alsop Jul 19 '17 at 10:36

I don't know how logical your two-year-old is, but here's what worked for my son: I explained to him that some foods make your teeth sick, and if we don't scrub them off then your teeth will eventually fall out. I told him that if he couldn't be a good helper and let mama brush his teeth, then we wouldn't be able to eat those foods anymore. Then I told him what those foods were: candy, ice cream, cookies, crackers, juice, bread, milk... for about a day, he said, "it's ok, mama, I won't eat those," but that turned around REALLY quick. He can only be patient enough for me me to brush 1/4 of his teeth at a time, but he only needs a break for maybe 10 seconds in between, so the whole thing still only takes 2 mins or so.

That said, as mentioned in the comments, if you can SEE build-up, he needs to go to a dentist. There are a lot of dentists who specialize in kids if you're worried about his behavior.

  • Well those teeth will fall off eventually even if they are brushed thoroughly... You might want to explain your children that not doing it damages their gums also – wip Jul 15 '17 at 9:06
  • Is there any kind of food that doesn't require you to brush your teeth? – stommestack Jul 15 '17 at 23:08
  • As I understand it, tooth decay is a reaction to sugar in the mouth. So the worst foods would be those with added sugars, then those which are quickly converted to sugar (e.g. Foods made with white flour), then those with naturally occurring sugars (like milk and fruit). I wouldn't recommend EVER choosing not to brush your teeth, but you could probably argue that if you eat nothing but lean meat, green veggies, and nuts, you could get away with brushing less (as long as you floss out any pieces that get stuck in there). Don't know that that relates to what you'd tell a child though... – MAA Jul 15 '17 at 23:42

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.