15 answers

1 Year Old Refuses Teeth Brushing

Recently I've been having a horrible time trying to brush my 1 year old's teeth. We always do it during bath time, with just a little toothbrush and water. She screams, pushes the toothbrush away, moves her head away and even tries to stand up in her tub - anything she can do to not have her teeth brushed. She's never enjoyed it, but at least she used to tolerate it enough to get a good brushing in. Tonight just the sight of the toothbrush caused a great tantrum. It's become such a lost cause that I'm beginning to worry that I'm not brushing her teeth enough because of it. Any suggestions on how to get her more used to having her teeth brushed?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Is she possibly teething? My one year old hated anything in her mouth, even her bottle cup thingy, when she was teething. Now that they are popped thru, she is willing to brush again, just a suggestion.

More Answers

Let her watch you brush your teeth. We used to sign a song when it this time. It went like this:

Brush, brush, brush your teeth
Each and every way
Up and down and all around
Each and every day

This actually was a signing toothbush holder and we would make it fun by having the whole family do it at once.

Hope that helps.

1 mom found this helpful

well maybe try brushing your teeth with her, my son loves to immitate me...also, keep in mind that as long as your daughter hasn't eaten sugar that day the chances of her teeth rotting out are VERY slim (not to mention she doesn't even have her permanent teeth yet) so it's not necessarily a battle you have to fight...it takes 24 hours for any significant bacteria to even form in the mouth between brushings and if your child isn't getting much sugar that bacteria won't have much to feed on so I wouldn't push it too hard...another idea might be to find a fun book at the library or to purchase about brushing teeth, my son loves books and immitating things in books...my advice would be to make it more of a game than a chore because they can be very independent at that age.

My dental hygenist told me to expect this. She said that most kids will go through phases where they like it, and phases where they don't. She told me at this age, not to fight that battle and it doesn't make me a bad mom, just do it when I can. My 15 month old likes one of the following: I'll get a glass of water and fill it part way and set the toothbrush in it and he likes to take the toothbrush in and out of the water and along the way he'll put it in his mouth and let me move it around. OR I'll set him on the bathroom counter facing the mirror and let him turn on the water in the sink, I'll wet the toothbrush and then he wants to try it and then put the toothbrush in his mouth. OR I'll brush my teeth with him and he wants to mimic. I guess my main advice is I wouldn't push the issue with her at this point and just do the best you can. If you are really concerned about her teeth, maybe give her a little water in a sippy cup before bed and let her drink that to try to "rinse" her teeth off. Or let her chew on her washcloth in the bathtub.

My 2 yr old will sometimes ask me if he can brush his teeth, I think because it's like a treat for him. He loves the taste of the toothpaste. My children's Dr. said to get a childrens toothpaste because it tastes better. You will want to get one with floride in it because they need it for strong healthy teeth. But make sure she is only getting a teeny tiny bit, not much at all and it will be fine if she swollows it. To build up to this point I used to let him brush his own teeth, I didn't really make a big deal out of it untill he turned 2 and his teeth are as healthy as can be :0).

Try one of those electric toothbrushes. They have all the cool characters. My kids loved the way they feel in their mouth. Don't panic about brushing her teeth enough. You are doing fine. You could brush your teeth when she does and see who can brush the longest.

I don't over stress it at one, even though bad teeth run in the family especially with the baby teeth, what I have found with the little ones is that instead of brushing thier teeth I get those inexpensive motorized ones and let them " play" with them, while they have them in thier mouth i'll move it over the teeth and then let them wander the house with the tooth brush, it gets them used to the feeling but at the same time is fun and interesting, once they are ready for actuall brushing ( when most of the baby teeth are in) they are very accustomed to it.

I am a dental hygienist and get this question a lot. I tell parents to Let your daughter hold the toothbrush with you and watch in the mirror as you attempt to get a few clean-get what they can brushed with the toothbrush, then go back (at another time if your daughter is too upset) with either wet sterile gauze or a clean wet washcloth and wipe the teeth really well.


I have not had this problem but I do Daycare and I have a 1 year old that likes books and stickers. If your child likes stickers I would try a sticker book. Buy lots of colorful stickers and when your child brushes let the child pick out a sticker. My 3 year when he was little liked looking at his sticker book. He would get stickers for helping mom and he would carry it around. Good Luck!!!

My dentist said to use only my finger for my 15 month old and THEN work up to a toothbrush. She also suggested we introduce it like you would a fork. Obviously they have no clue what it is for but let them hold it and examine it while you brush your own teeth. Or even let her brush your teeth.

Let her know that you get to brush her teeth first and then she gets to try it. I did this with my son and it seemed to work. We also purchased a motorized one that really works with him. I might try brushing her teeth before or after he is acutally out of the bath. I hope you find something that works for you.

i have had the same problem with my 2-1/2 year old daughter and she to this day still fights it, but she has had to have a couple teeth pulled on top because of it, and so now i tell her that she will go to the dentist if she does not let me brush, and so she gives in to let me....and it stinks that i have to threaten her to get this job done, and now i am starting to have the same troubles with my 13 month old, but he likes to play with his tooth brush and chews on it for awhile which helps his bottom teeth, but the top ones we fight, and we sing or make sounds to get through it- which sometimes helps...i know what you are going through!!!!! we've even used the battery operated ones, and the lighted ones- no luck!! if this continues to be a problem, i may try the musical ones??
so i am anxious to see what other mothers had to say to your request as well. good luck!!

Try using some infant/toddler toothpaste. It doesn't contain flouride and comes in different flavors and my 21 mos old has always loved to brush his teeth. He'll even ask me if he can a lot of the time!

It's too important to stop brushing the teeth. I had to hold my kids down and brush. It seems cruel but it has to be done. Try giving her a brush of her own. That might make it better. Or, have her brush your teeth, with your own brush, at the same time. That worked for my ex husband.

I don't know if this will work for you or not, but I give my son a toothbrush to play with for a few minutes before I brush his teeth. Then I brush them, and again he gets to play. He LOVES to chew on the toothbrush and pretend like he is brushing. He tries to put the toothpaste on it to. and when I brush them, I let him help with that part. Hopefully this helps a bit. Good Luck

Is she possibly teething? My one year old hated anything in her mouth, even her bottle cup thingy, when she was teething. Now that they are popped thru, she is willing to brush again, just a suggestion.

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