I recently posted a question on babyhuddle, asking other parents how they get their toddlers to brush their teeth. I had been having trouble with Mushroom lately, who was point blank refusing to let a toothbrush anywhere near his mouth. I did get some useful answers but as with most of these things that seem insurmountable problems at the time, eventually Mushroom started to brush his teeth again and now he even lets me do it probably about every other day. A massive improvement.

Once he started brushing his teeth again and I was no longer concerned about it, I remembered that my brother had a similar issue when he was young (but older than Mushroom – he was about 7). I did nothing about it at the time, but later, when I wrote a series of children’s stories with ‘morals’ – see Do As You’re Told (or The Story of Julia and The Marmalade Monster for a previous example – during my university years, I remembered this and decided to write a cautionary tale especially aimed at little boys who won’t brush their teeth. If you have a toothbrush resistant child, you could try reading them this little story and seeing if it makes a difference – I would love to know if it does!

For Best Results Brush Twice Daily (or The Story of Adam and The Tooth Fairy)

Adam White was a very interesting little (or not so little) nine-year old boy. He had short blond hair and he wore glasses with big metal frames, which emphasised his beautiful big brown eyes. Adam was a very clever child who usually did as he was told. He collected used envelopes (because everyone collects stamps and Adam liked to be original), which he kept in a big photo album on top of the tank where his pet lizard lived. Adam thought it was ridiculous to name a creature you couldn’t talk to, so he just called it ‘Lizard’. Despite being a very clever boy, Adam hated brushing his teeth. In fact, since he could talk, he had refused to brush them. Adam’s parents, being rather simple people, thought that Adam was a genius and that therefore he probably knew best so they left him to it.

On Sunday night after his bath (for Adam was a clean boy in all other respects), Adam got into bed with a good book, and eventually he fell asleep. At around the hour that strange things happen (midnight, of course), Adam felt a tickle on his cheek. He woke up, rubbed his eyes and reached over to his bedside table for his glasses. When he could see, Adam saw the most beautiful woman in the world. She had dark eyes (they appeared to be purple), a pink, smiling mouth and long, wavy brown hair. Adam thought she must be an angel. Then she spoke. “I’m Esmerelda” she said. “I’m a tooth fairy” and then she smiled. A big, open smile that showed all her teeth. All three of them. Adam blinked. This woman’s teeth were disgusting. The three she did have were black, and small, and her gums appeared to be bleeding. Adam changed his mind about wanting to marry her when he grew up (for this is what he had been thinking). “If you’re a tooth fairy” he said, matter-of-factly, “Then why have you got such horrible teeth?” (Adam was a very honest little boy). Esmarelda laughed “You’re a very honest little boy aren’t you?” Adam sighed. Why do grown-ups always have to state the obvious? “I’m in charge of the rejects” she continued “Come with me”. So Adam went (a thought about not being supposed to go with strangers did briefly cross his mind but he quickly dismissed it). Esmerelda took Adam to a castle. A very old, run-down castle with a rusty gate, but a castle nevertheless. There were about 20 children playing in the courtyard. “I don’t understand.,” said Adam “Why aren’t these children at home in bed?” Esmerelda sighed. She was still beautiful as long as she kept her mouth shut. “These children…..” she said, with a sad look in her eyes “…never brush their teeth.” That was the only explanation she gave and then she disappeared. One of the children turned to smile at Adam, and a fly flew out of his mouth, cockroaches and beetles crawled out of another child’s mouth and a third child, who looked just like Adam, laughed. He had no teeth at all, just black gums that were covered in scabs. Adam screamed and found himself sitting bolt upright in bed, his pyjamas damp with sweat.

As soon as he woke up, Adam rushed straight to the bathroom mirror and when he saw that he still had all his teeth and that they weren’t black, or scabby, or gone altogether (although they were very yellow), he brushed them. He brushed his teeth five times and called to his mother to make a dentist’s appointment. When Adam turned back to the mirror, Esmerelda was smiling back at him…. And she had a perfect set of sparkling pearly white teeth.