Daily Routines: Oral Care

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I wanted to start a series of posts (yeah, I know I have lots of series still in the works) about daily routines  like eating, sleeping, bathing and how we do them. I am always interested in seeing how other people do things so this will be a great series of posts  to remember when Lexi is all grown.

Proper tooth brushing is probably my most hated part of daily routines because Lexi fights me on it so much. All she wants to do is brush her teeth herself. Or brush my teeth. Or daddy’s teeth, but she almost never lets me brush hers. Obviously, she doesn’t do a great job brushing her own teeth, though I gotta say it’s getting better.

Growing up in Russia there was absolutely NO pressure on kids to brush their teeth in most families. It’s just not something parents cared about, which is pretty horrible if you ask me. So to me it’s important to instill a good habit of brushing teeth twice daily with Alexis.

How many teeth:

At this point, aside from all her front teeth, she has all four molars in, and 2 bottom incisors, so tooth brushing is crucial.

How we do it:

After literally not being able to help her brush her teeth (she’d grab the toothbrush and run away) Andrew came up with a “Tooth brushing Party” idea.

We make a party out of it.

We all get our toothbrushes, she gets a touch of fluoridated toothpaste and we dance around brushing and singing “Tooth brushing party, tooth brushing party, tooth brushing party, yay, yay, yay!”

Once we are done, I sit down with Alexis on my lap (and this is the ONLY way I can get to her teeth), I lean back a bit and press the back of her head lightly against my chest, so I can have access to her teeth from above while lightly restraining her. She complains, of course, but it has to be done. I talk to her through the whole process, asking her to give me her bottom teeth and then top teeth and back teeth, and again ( a little bit more, I say) bottom teeth. It’s a struggle, but eventually I get all the teeth clean enough (I can never get more than 1 minute).

The funny part is that she runs away from me and continues “brushing” her own teeth, so it’s not the brushing that she minds but the lack of control.


How she likes it

While she doesn’t like being restrained and having me brush her teeth, she absolutely adores being able to brush her own teeth.  You can see her with a toothbrush in her mouth on any given day, just hanging out pretending to brush. Just pretend brushing isn’t enough. She always goes into the bathroom and begs for the tube of toothpaste, so that she could be just like us. She then pretend “applies” the paste on her brush ( she doesn’t actually squeeze anything out) and goes on brushing.

Flouride or no flouride

There’s a big debate over the fact that we are over-fluoridated with fluoride being both  in our water supply and pastes and that is actually pretty bad for our bodies in those amounts because it accumulates. I firmly believe that fluoride IS important, however like with anything there’s gotta be a balance. The way we achieve that balance is having a RO filter on our water, but brushing our teeth with fluoride toothpaste. I have also started cooking things that we drain before serving ( like pasta) in non-filtered water for that reason, too. So I feel that between toothpaste and some cooking water, we aren’t going overboard on fluoridating.


Since Lexi doesn’t eat dairy products, there is a concern about enough calcium in her system for strong bones and teeth. I ensure she has plenty of that by nursing her often, cooking kale, spinach, broccoli, as well as ( and this is super nontraditional) sardines with bones –  they have crazy awesome amount of calcium and bones are very soft and get crushed with the fish in the meal.

Our almond milk has added calcium as well and she eats her cereal with that ( not enough to really count it, though). Once she weans off of breastmilk, I will take a closer look at her calcium consumption and possibly introduce yogurt. I’ve been hesitant about doing it (aside from the fact that we don’t regularly eat dairy ourselves), because it appears (not confirmed) that every time she’d eat a dairy product she’d break out in a little rash. It’s not a clear link, but that’s something I sort of noticed.

Tooth brushing Gear

Toothbrushes: I love MAM products when it comes to oral care. They have some great toothbrushes and really good teethers, especially for the older crowd. For Easter I got her a set of toothbrushes from MAM: a short toddler brush and one with a long handle for the parent and child to hold together for better control over toothbrush ( not that she even lets me do that yet). I would highly recommend these: great quality and last a long time without getting all nasty looking. She loved both of them so much, she wouldn’t let go of them the whole evening.


Silicone Brushes: These are more for fun than actual brushing, but we got some Kushies silicone brushes and they are actually better than the banana brush we used to have. The bristles are stronger and don’t fall off so easily. This is a perfect brush for smaller babies and toddlers who want something to chew on and it cleans their teeth in the meantime.

Toothpaste: I remember the day I found out that toothpastes have SLS in them. Whaaat? Since then we’ve been using nothing but Tom’s Clean & Gentle with Flouride. We actually have it on Subscribe and Save service on Amazon, so it comes automatically in a pack of 2 every few months (Love that service btw!)


That’s pretty much it.

Wondering which “routine” to go over next. Ideas?

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  • Reply
    July 1, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    Such adorable photos! Love!

    A few questions:

    How do you give the sardines to Lexi? Where can you find toddler friendly sardines?

    You mentioned that you give Lexi cereal, what kind? Have you given her things like strawberries yet, or egg whites (not just yolk)? My little one is six months younger so it is great to look ahead at the possibilities.

    Thank you for these amazing posts!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 2, 2013 at 10:37 PM

      Thank you, K!

      Sardines: I linked to the sardines we buy in this post. Theses are the only ones I buy because most others are either smoked or are in cans that are not BPA free. I also rinse them of oil before I give them to Lexi. I take out the liver, Then I crush them up (kind of like tuna) and add to her food or as a side. Sardines are really nutritious and have more flavor than tuna, and have very little mercury/pcbs/dioxins since they are tiny fish.

      Cereal: I can’t remember the name of it right now. I’ll be posting about what she eats soon ( a week worth of meals) and I’ll make sure to link that.
      Yes, she’s had strawberries from the beginning, egg white from about 11 months on. We have no allergies in the family, and recommendation is no longer to wait, so I did not wait for anything but honey, of course, and shell fish just because it’s SUCH a strong allergen. She hasn’t had peanut butter, but that’s just my personal preference- i don’t like it.

      If you’d like to get more ideas check out a few posts I wrote about food:
      Baby Solids: What we cook
      Introduction to solids: BLW
      Solids: gear

  • Reply
    July 1, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    I have a daughter just a few months younger than Lexi who also gets a funny little rash from contact with dairy – I’d love to hear more about what you’ve found! The only dairy she eats is full-fat, cream-top yogurt from a local source, and for whatever reason, it doesn’t cause any reaction like other dairy does.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 2, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      Yogurt isn’t as high in lactose due to its fermenting ( or whatever it’s called) process, so she could be sensitive to lactose specifically.

      I tried yogurt just a few days ago, she wouldn’t eat it, no matter how hard I tried.

  • Reply
    July 1, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    If you give her yogurt in regular intervals, the mild rash will go away.

  • Reply
    Rachell Edens (@RachNole20)
    July 1, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Brandon is the same way with his toothbrush. He loves to brush his own teeth but will fight me tooth and nail if I try to do it for him. He will sometimes let Daddy brush but not very often. We are using a non floride toothpaste right now until he learns to stop sucking all of the paste off of the brush.

  • Reply
    July 1, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    I love how big she is getting. Can’t wait for the rest of the series!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    Great post! My son is the same age as Lexi, and I haven’t yet started brushing his teeth, eeep! Literally EVERY NIGHT when we nurse before bed I realize “Crud I forgot to brush your teeth AGAIN.” I do wipe off his teeth after his last nursing session, but I know that’s not good enough anymore.

    Speaking of nursing, that’s the next post I’d like to see! I don’t know any other moms who are nursing as long as we are. I would love to know how often you’re nursing, how much milk you think she’s getting, is she polite about it (acrobatics, nipple twisting, slapping, etc..). Also, have any strangers, friends or family made rude comments about your continued nursing? My father is starting to grumble about it, it’s no fun. I would love to hear your thoughts.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 2, 2013 at 10:45 PM

      Yes, I used to do that all the time! Now I just make sure I brush it in her tub. Since she still nurses many times a night, there’s no point in brushing after her nursing session.

      I’ve had the breastfeeding post in my head for weeks now. I didn’t think about making it a part of this series, but that’s a great idea. I’ll make sure to copy your questions and mention them. Thank you, Elaine!

      • Reply
        July 3, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        Awesome, thanks! I can’t wait to read it. One last question, do you have a “deadline” in mind for when you want to be done nursing? My husband feels very strongly that we should be done by 2. I would like to let him wean in his own time, but my husband’s opinion is important too.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          July 3, 2013 at 5:41 PM

          No, I don’t have a deadline or limit. I’d like to let her wean herself. I am not opposed to bfing her to 3-4 years of age, but of course it will be based on how I feel then.

          • Alex
            July 4, 2013 at 5:55 AM

            I’m exclusively breastfeeding my 15mth old and I had initially thought to stop at 2yo but will decide when the time comes if it is right for her. My only dilemma at the moment is we’d love to have another child close in age to our daughter but I’m hesitant to breastfeed while pregnant – what if I have morning sickness / what if my milk supply drops / is this fair for my daughter etc. I’m looking forward to your post on breastfeeding as perhaps it will raise some interesting questions 🙂

  • Reply
    July 1, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    I’m never sure what to think about fluoride because all of the information I read is contradictory. Our pediatric dentist says to not use fluoride toothpaste unless they know how to spit (I’m assuming because we have the fluoride in our water). We’re planning on installing reverse osmosis once we purchase our home because we are currently renting and I don’t want to bother until we move at the end of the year.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 2, 2013 at 10:47 PM

      We use soooo little that there is nothing to spit. lol
      And actually, I can’t believe that I just realized that but Lexi knows how to spit. Whenever she puts something gross in her mouth, we tell her to spit and put our hand to her mouth and she does it. I bet she’d do the same with the toothpaste. For now though there’s no way she’ll let me get her mouth full of toothpaste.

  • Reply
    July 1, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    We have the same toothbrush 🙂 I was hesitant to use the tooth paste for the toddler in general, as all toothpastes are advertised for “children”, and state on the package that they can be used starting at 2. Our pediatrician did not think that toothpaste is very important, as long as we consistently brush every day to develop a habit. I think that dental health in general is based largely on genetics (my poor kid is not a winner there), regular dental check ups, and proper dental hygiene at home.

    …and dude, what is this about Russian parents not “caring” about dental hygiene…? I grew up brushing twice a day, so did my parents and everyone I know. I am quite a bit older, so I spent most of my childhood in the USSR (there was no “Russia” yet lol), and hygiene was a big deal. What was missing was check ups twice a year, regular dentist visits, braces and other corrective implements, etc. , so people did not stay on top of issues. That is true. For a little anecdotal comparison, half of the people I know here in the US do not floss ever … but everyone visits the dentist religiously and everyone had braces.
    There was an interesting article in Wall Street Journal about fluoride in the water in the US, and its effect on dental health and overall WSJ seemed to think that fluoride helps greatly, especially on “developing” teeth, but I just can not get over the dangerous aspects of it.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 2, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      Well, we must have had very different experiences, because I had to reprimand half of my relatives on their poor dental hygiene. And to use a floss, that’s just ridiculous for them. I do think flouridated water is beneficial, but the question is whether it’s overfluoridated when we think of our whole lives.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    Please dont let that child run around with a toothbrush. If she falls with it in her mouth it could go down her throat, get lodged in her throat, or worse. My 2 year old has a small stepstool in the bathroom and she sits on it when we brush our teeth (the best way to teach a child how to brush is to do with with them and direct them as you go and let them copy you)

  • Reply
    July 2, 2013 at 6:22 AM

    Great practical read! I have huge problems with brushing my daughters teeth. She is a couple months younger than Lexi and has 18 teeth now. It’s so difficult to clean them and I am going to try your Toothbrush party tomorrow !! And finally, I would have been very interested to see a video of you brushing Lexis teeth when you hold her.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 2, 2013 at 10:54 PM

      18 teeth???? Wow! That’s crazy! Lexi has 10 plus 2 coming out now. Where are you getting the extra 2? Lexi is only missing her 2nd year molars- i thought that was it. There’s more?

      Video: I am not sure that’s even possible lol Sorry 🙁

      • Reply
        July 3, 2013 at 2:18 AM

        Milk teeth are twenty in number. 4 central incisors, 4 lateral incisors, 4 canines, 4 first molars and 4 second molars.

      • Reply
        July 3, 2013 at 5:49 AM

        Oh god whoops!! I made a typo! She has 16 teeth lol sorry

      • Reply
        July 3, 2013 at 7:12 PM

        She has 10 teeth but she’s only missing her 2nd year molars? Wouldn’t that make it 16 teeth that she has? Or are you not counting her 1st year molars as teeth when you say 10?

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          July 3, 2013 at 7:41 PM

          I was completely confused. #mathproblems.
          She has all teeth but her 2nd year molars and her top two canine (that are now coming through). So 14 if you don’t count them. 16 if you do.
          Not sure why this was so difficult. Lol

          • Corinne
            July 3, 2013 at 9:03 PM

            Haha ok. I wasn’t sure if it was one of those ” every square is a rectangle but not every rectangle is a square” things with teeth vs molars for you.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    Just be cautious with Lexi running and dancing with a toothbrush in her mouth! When my son was two he tripped with a party blower in his mouth and tore open his soft palette. 🙁

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 2, 2013 at 10:54 PM

      Oh yikes! Yeah, We try to get her to slow down… doesn’t always work.

      • Reply
        July 3, 2013 at 10:48 AM

        It was BAD, Elena. He had to have 6 stitches! Please make sure she sits down to brush. It’s a rule that really shouldn’t be negotiable. I know toddlers like to do things their own way, but this is a matter of safety.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    My Henry is he exact same way! He loves tooth brushing time, but he wants to do it himself. I do pretty much exactly what you guys do, but we just use water. How do you keep Lexi from swallowing the toothpaste?

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 2, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      The amount that we put on the brush is so negligible there’s nothing to swallow. I simply touch the toothbrush to the end of the tube, so there’s a skin thin layer of the paste.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    I just wanted to say that fluoride toothpaste (or any toothpaste) for a child as young as Lexi is unnecessary, and the fluoride can be dangerous even given in small doses due to high concentration of fluoride in the toothpaste itself. I work with a pediatric dentist and can tell you that the action of the bristles Is what removes plaque and prevents cavities as well as flossing when she has more teeth! If you are concerned with Lexi getting fluoride, I suggest you buy a child’s fluoridated mouth wash (like ACT). The concentration of fluoride is less and therefore safer if (when) she swallows it. Just dip a q-tip in it and paint her teeth with a small amount instead of having her brush with a fluoridated toothpaste.

    • Reply
      July 11, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      I’m so glad you commented on this. I was going to comment that fluoride does no good if it doesn’t come in contact with the teeth. So if you think cooking with fluoridated water will give your kids that edge, it will not, unfortunately. Internally consuming fluoride is bad. This article has a good summary. http://www.naturalnews.com/030952_CDC_fluoride.html

  • Reply
    July 3, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    I enjoy so much reading your posts 🙂 I love Lexi she is so cute. I have also a baby girl. I am from Guatemala ( central america) and I can’t even remember how I found about your blog but since that day, I love reading it.

  • Reply
    July 3, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Great! Just when I needed some guidance on this whole tooth brushing stuff! Thank you for the tips and links to good products!

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