Two minutes, twice a day. What could be simpler, right? The ADA recommends we all brush our teeth for two minutes twice a day, but for kids, this simple task isn’t always so simple. Little hands can struggle to work a toothbrush well enough to reach every nook and cranny on every tooth. Also, a million distractions can keep kids from standing still for those couple of minutes. Worry not! We’re here to help.
If your child’s brushing habits could use some help, consider these 5 benefits of using an electric toothbrush for kids.
1. Electric toothbrushes remove plaque more effectively than manual toothbrushes.
Plaque is the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on our teeth. When kids brush, we want them to brush away all the plaque! Electric toothbrushes are more efficient for plaque removal than manual toothbrushes. Why? They all use some form of oscillating or vibrating bristles. Depending on the brand and model, an electric toothbrush delivers 8,000 to 25,000 strokes per minute to teeth! A human hand just can’t compete with that many strokes! Each stroke is a chance to scrape away plaque that can cause bad breath and lead to tartar and decay.
2. Electric toothbrushes can stop kids from brushing too hard.
Brushing your teeth takes fine-motor control. Kids have to place the toothbrush at the right angle and move it while applying the right amount of pressure. Many kids 7 years and younger don’t have the coordination needed to put this all together. Also, older kids often believe that brushing harder means brushing better. In reality, brushing too hard can damage tooth enamel. Many quality electric toothbrushes come with pressure alerts. If your child brushes too hard, they stop working! In addition, kids can brush with more of a slide-n-glide motion with the brush which takes less fine motor control.
4. Kids are more likely to brush the full two minutes with an electric toothbrush.
Two minutes can seem like an eternity to kids. With so many toys and screens around, it’s easy to get distracted. Some electronic toothbrushes turn brushing into a game. Consider Sonicare’s brush for kids, for example. The toothbrush connects to a tablet via Bluetooth. Then the app tracks how long your child brushes and rewards them with points when they brush the full two minutes. They can use these points to feed or customize their online brushing pet, Sparkly. Kids love this app so much that some parents complain that kids like playing with Sparkly a little too much
4. An electric toothbrush can encourage kids to brush those hard-to-reach places.
When brushing, it’s easy to miss some of those hard-to-reach places. First, they help by doing a better job in a shorter amount of time in those spots (see point 1 above). Second, once again, many brushes come with Bluetooth apps that track WHERE kids brush. The app lights up and shows kids where they brushed and where they missed! Once kids are aware they missed a spot, they can move their brush to fix it.
5. Many kids find brushing with an electric brush more fun than using a manual brush.
A manual toothbrush, even when it comes with a child’s favorite character, doesn’t seem exciting in today’s high-tech world. Many electric toothbrushes, even ones for teens and adults, come with high-tech options. Personalized 3-D brushing models, for instance, track where you brush. Timers remind you how long to stay in one spot. Pressure sensors keep you from brushing too hard. Add fun online pets to the mix who keep you company while you brush and kids can’t wait to brush. In short, many kids associate high-tech with “fun” and “better.” If your child finds brushing fun, they are much likely to brush without any fights!
When Can My Child Use an Electric Toothbrush?
Now that you know the benefits, let’s cover the when and which brush. Generally, it’s a good idea to use a manual toothbrush with your child when they’re under three years old. You’re your child is ready, make sure to pick a quality, age-appropriate brush.
How do I Pick the Right Electric Toothbrush for My Child?
There are many different brands of electric toothbrushes out there, but Sonicare and Oral-B are the most popular with dentists. Both brands of toothbrushes have their merits. However, research suggests that Sonicare toothbrushes do a better job of removing plaque. Also, their toothbrushes have longer battery life than Oral-B brushes. As dentists, we find Sonicare’s slide-n-glide brushing approach easier for kids to master, too. For these reasons, we recommend Sonicare toothbrushes at Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry.
Which Sonicare Toothbrush is Right for My Child?
Sonicare brushes come in different sizes with different pulse rates. Thus, it’s important to pick the right brush for your child’s age.
- 3 to 7 years old: Sonicare For Kids sonic toothbrush. It’s long-lasting, reasonably priced, and has two different sizes of replaceable heads. Plus, it’s got a fantastic toothbrush app for kids that shows them where to brush. It also notifies them if they’re brushing too hard. It uses a lower vibration rate than other brushes, so kids have an easier time adjusting to the sensation.
- 8 to 12 Years Old: Sonicare Easy Clean has stronger vibrations than Sonicare for Kids brush. It’s simpler to use than the FlexCare Platinum, too, because it only has an on and off button. This no-bells, no-whistles model keeps the price low while offering superior cleaning!
- Over 7 Years Old and Kids with Braces: Sonicare FlexCare Platinum sonic toothbrush. Older kids can typically up the vibration rate for even more cleaning power. This electric toothbrush model has a Smart Sensor and personalized 3-D Mouth Map. We believe this brush is a must, too, for kids with braces. The sonic action help clean those tight places brackets and wires can form.
- Teens and Adults: Sonicare DiamondClean sonic toothbrush. This electric toothbrush offers five unique cleaning modes. Think of this toothbrush as the Cadillac of brushes!
No matter your child’s age, you should talk to your dentist about the toothbrush you’re considering. They know your child’s mouth and dental needs well, so they’ll likely have some helpful insight on the matter.
Are drug store spin toothbrushes a good alternative for my child?
The short answer is no. Here are three good reasons to avoid the battery-operated toothbrushes at your local pharmacy:
1. They don’t have the same safety record as quality brushes do.
For example, the FDA issued a warning against Crest Spinbrush models. In some cases, replaceable heads and bristles came off while the toothbrush was in use. Of course, this presents a choking hazard!
2. We can’t say they will give the same results.
These brushes haven’t had the same clinical testing that Sonicare brushes have. As a result, we can’t say for sure that they give the same level of results.
3. They are more expensive and wasteful in the long run.
Many of these “inexpensive” brushes eat batteries faster than Cookie Monster eats cookies! The cost and waste of replacement batteries will add up! You can’t change the head on some models, either, so you have to buy a whole new brush every few months. In short, we suggest you steer clear of them.
Before selecting an electric toothbrush for your child, consult with your pediatric dentist or orthodontist.
Your child’s dentist knows their oral health and hygiene needs best. Consult with them to select the best brush that fits your child’s needs.
If you’d like to discuss your child’s brushing habits with Dr. Laura Adelman or Dr. Rachel Rosen, they are accepting new patients under the age of 12.
If you’ve been searching for quality dental care near the Solon, Bainbridge, and Aurora areas, we hope you’ll consider giving Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry a call.