DD is 19 months, and HATES having her teeth brushed. Things I've tried already: letting her play and chew the toothbrush to get used to the feeling, letting her brush herself, showing her how we brush our teeth, making a game of it, songs on YouTube, a soft squishy brush from BrushBaby, fruity toothpaste, distracting her with toys/TV, holding her on our laps. She just won't have it, she screams and cries like we're sawing her arm off and I hate seeing her so distressed but I've noticed two of her top front teeth looking yellow and can't let them just rot out. What should we do????
I sympathise. We had similar struggles. What worked for us was to make it fun. One day we wore our sunglasses while toothbrushing. Another time we did it to the beat of her favourite music. Once I let her brush mine while I brushed hers (don't be dressed ready for work when you do this!). Or I do hers as well as mine, one in each hand (tricky and funny).
You could tell her what food you find on her teeth - reciting what she's eaten during the day.
But in the end you just have to brush her teeth. I remember pinning DD1 down to do it and if she screamed then at least her mouth was open.
If you have read any of the threads about tooth extractions in children then you can see the alternative to brushing. Though not all decay is down to not brushing - some children have deficient enamel.
We used to wrap ds in a towel to brush (didn't stop the screaming, but helped us get the job done - it hasn't had any long lasting effects - he is now a lot better about getting his teeth brushed. Sometimes it helped to sort of tip him upside down (the dentist did this too, to see he teeth better!) We use a special brush called a Collis Curve, that has 3 sets of bristles to cover more tooth in less time.
It's awful but if you have no choice and you've tried everything, you can't just let their teeth rot so you have to pin them and do it properly. Give them a good brush, it isn't enough to let them play with the toothbrush.
I bet you have, but I thought I'd ask since you didn't mention it - have you let her brush your teeth?
It passes. I know it's no help now, but honestly it does.
Thanks for the replies, we brought her a kids electric toothbrush yesterday which she was happy to put in her mouth until I switched it on then she wouldn't go near it. So it was back to pinning her down screaming but at least with the electric toothbrush it feels like her teeth are getting a better clean (or as clean as I can get them)
Put her in a bed or changing mat - stand behind her (gives you better access) and tip her head back and get on with it. If needs be, wrap her in a towel and have other parent beside changing table to hold on to her.
This is the she will wail - but that helps as her mouth is open to clean.
This is the ultimate option if all else fails or you're not sure she's getting a proper clean using other ways. My DH is a dentist and in his experience teeth cleaning refusal just gets worse and worse if not dealt with kindly but firmly at first sign. It's a bit like bum wiping - mandatory
Another one here who tried to view the screaming as "well at least her mouth is open". Both my two did it, but it doesn't last forever once they realise it is non-negotiable. Definitely try songs/distractions but the most important thing is that the brushing gets done.