Help! My toddler will not let me brush her teeth. I have tried several things such as making a game of it, letting her brush them herself, letting her brush mine, having her dad help, nothing works. I try to get the back teeth brushed when she is crying, but she won't open up enough. I have even tried using a wash cloth with the Gerber gum cleaner that tastes like fruit. We are very frustrated and getting nowhere.
My daughter still takes a bottle before going to bed, though she doesn't sleep with it. I've been giving her water right after her bottle hoping this will help prevent tooth decay.
I am really concerned, so if you can offer any advice, it would be much appreciated.
Well, you are right in setting a priority for your daughter's teeth to be brushed well. It's important not only for preventing decay in the teeth she has now, but in establishing good habits for later.
Here are some tips that will hopefully help:
1. Make sure you have a soft, nylon-bristled brush in a toddler/child size. In fact, try two brushes, one for her to brush on one side, the other for you to clean the other, switching sides, of course.
2. Set a timer—a plain kitchen one will do—and brush only as it's ticking, stopping as soon as it rings. Toddlers don't have a good sense of time, but she can anticipate the ring. Ideally, you want to brush her teeth for two minutes, but you may need to work up to that level.
3. Remember who's in charge, and that brushing isn't optional or negotiable. However, there are things your daughter can control. She can pick out the toothbrush, both the color and style, or decide what song can be played on a tape during brushing.
4. It isn't too early for her first trip to a pediatric dentist, where the emphasis will be on teaching cleaning techniques. You may pick up some effective tips from the hygienist on how to get the job done without a struggle.