Brushing a toddler’s teeth is bad times. In fact, about the only thing I can think of that’s worse is toddler dentistry. Since I’ll do just about anything to avoid the latter, I have to do quite a bit of the former.
I’ll never forget the time E walked in to find me holding a wailing Zoe in one arm while forcibly brushing her teeth with the other hand. He was completely horrified when I said grimly, ”It actually makes it easier to brush when she cries – she opens up her mouth wider as she screams.”
It’s awful, but it was our nightly reality because I never again want to undergo the parental stress, toddler trauma and subsequent financial nightmare of neverending medical, dental and anesthesia bills that result from putting a toddler under for necessary dental procedures. One of my favorite dad bloggers has written multiple times about the horrors of toddler dentistry.
Trust me, you want to brush those little teeth – no matter what. Twice daily is ideal, but at the VERY least once.
That’s why I’m so happy to introduce you to our household’s new best friend, the Crocodile Dentist. Even though it’s a misnomer as he’s not a dentist at all (he’s actually the dental patient), it’s still one of the best new toys I’ve seen in a long time. I first read about it on one of my favorite mom blogs when she described it as a perfect travel toy for toddlers. That was enough to get me to click through to the Amazon link, and when I did, I wondered if it could also be a fun tooth-brushing toy. Priced at under $10, I figured it was worth a shot. And voila – it works!
Zoe loves the Crocodile Dentist, and she loves to play with it (she calls it alligator – close enough). The catch is that she ONLY gets to play with him during and after teethbrushing. She holds him while I brush her teeth, and together we open his mouth wide - then we get Zoe to open her mouth just as wide as the crocodile. So far it’s working like a charm but the catch is you can’t let them play with it any other time. Only during teethbrushing, so the novelty doesn’t wear off.
The Crocodile Dentist has been such a huge hit in our house and has made a huge difference in our nightly routine. Now, Zoe opens her mouth wide and keeps it open – no more yelling, screams or tears. It’s like a miracle toy and well worth the $9 we spent on it. I will grant you that there are some nights this still doesn’t happen – if she falls asleep early, before we get to it, then she stays asleep. I’m no dummy. But if she’s awake and reasonably happy, then we brush our teeth along with the Crocodile Dentist – and what a difference it’s made.
I hope some other parents and toddlers can benefit from this inexpensive, fun and helpful toy.
Got any other secret tips for making life with toddlers easier for everyone? I’m all ears – let me know in the comments!