DD chipped a tooth and got a cavity by 10 months old. I'm terrified of her having to go under general anesthesia. From what I've learned, diet makes the most difference, so if you're concerned, check out the traditional foods forum or at least make sure that your kids are getting lots of Vitamin D and minerals (and you too).
I just do it. Three times a day. She hates it. I hate it. She screams. I hold her down and hold her mouth open. Wow, just admiting this is making me cry. When DH is here, he holds her, and that's a little better. I try singing with her. I try empathizing with her. I let her hold another toothbrush. We've tried 2 kinds of toothpaste and 2 toothbrushes plus a cloth. I use the one with the smallest head and the vanilla ice cream flavored toothpaste since they have the best results. I let her play with the toothbrush afterwards. I keep her safe, laying her on a soft surface and making sure that I restrain her in a way that won't hurt her. I keep looking for a better way...
Before she got the cavity, we just looked at mirrors and smiled and sang songs, and I got what I could, trying to keep things positive. I think that is the best approach for somebody who does not have high risk factors for cavities. I wish I could still be doing that, but I have to do it, and I have to do it well. I feel like this is necessary medical care, and she doesn't like it, but I have to do it.
Thanks for the ideas from other mammas. I'd love to hear more ideas on how to make this a more positive experience. She's just not old enough to understand when I explain to her why we're doing this. One idea has come to my mind... Can almost 1 year olds use electronic toothbrushes? I really think that could help since she loves putting it in her mouth. That way, she could do most of it. Does anybody have any experience with this?