Choosing the Best Children’s Toothbrush: Manual and Electric
Not all toothbrushes are created equal, and choosing the best children’s toothbrush means looking at more than what cartoon character is on the handle. And this is one place where size does indeed matter! Choosing the right brush for your child is important for their oral health, since children’s teeth are still developing. Below we cover the top considerations for both manual and electric toothbrushes, recommended by dentists, to help you choose wisely.
Best Manual Children’s Toothbrushes
We’re all familiar with these brushes. They are available at drug stores, department stores, and grocery stores. Though they all look similar on the outside, there are three things parents should consider–beyond price, color, and cartoon character–before choosing one:
Head Size Matters
The size of the bristle head needs to be the right size for children to brush effectively. Thus, make sure you’re choosing the correct size for your child’s age. If the brush head is too large, your child won’t be able to fit the brush into the farther, back corners of their mouth to brush the trickiest places. Also, a brush head that is too large is more likely to cause gagging in many children. The size of your child’s toothbrush should grow right along with them.
Bristle Hardness Matters
The bristles on a toothbrush are made of nylon, and they come in soft, medium, and hard. The best toothbrush choice for your child is soft bristles. Soft bristles effectively do their job of removing plaque and debris off of teeth, without harming gums or developing tooth enamel. Hard, and even medium, bristles are too harsh on teeth, and brushing with them can cause more harm than good. Brushing harder is not brushing better! Indeed, for infants under two and individuals who tend to brush with too much pressure, an extra soft bristle may be even better. Your pediatric dentist can help evaluate if your child is brushing too hard.
Kid Appeal Matters
The color and cartoon character are the last key to picking the best toothbrush for your child, but it’s still an important one! Once you’ve made sure the head size and bristle hardness are correct, make sure your child has a toothbrush he or she is excited about using. It may sound silly, but kids brush more eagerly when they like their toothbrush.
Best Electric Toothbrush for Kids
Parents who want to choose an electric toothbrush often find the prices and the number of options overwhelming. While it’s true that electric toothbrushes can help children brush more thoroughly, parents need to make sure the electric toothbrush is a quality brush. Here are the top three features your child’s electric toothbrush must have:
Replaceable Brushing Heads
Some lower-end electric toothbrushes available at grocery and department stores do not have replaceable heads. Parents should beware of such brushes since they cannot replace the brush head as needed every three months. Thus, even if the brush is still working, parents need to throw the entire brush away every three months. Not only is this wasteful, but it makes the cost of these “cheap” electric toothbrushes add up quickly! (Not to mention such an approach is hard on the environment.)
Different Sizes for Different Ages
Just as we said with manual toothbrushes, brush head size and hardness still matter! A quality electric toothbrush will have different sized and hardness replaceable brush heads. Children need to use a smaller brush head with soft bristles, just as they would with a manual brush. If the electric toothbrush you’re considering offers only a one-size fits all approach, pass it by.
Solid Safety Record
Poor quality electric toothbrushes can potentially harm your child and/or their teeth. Take, for example, the FDA warning about different Crest Spinbrush models. Replaceable heads have broken off while in use, causing cuts and near choking in individuals. In addition, in models without replaceable heads, bristles have come off during brushing and become lodged in children’s throats. Yikes!
That’s why we only recommend Sonicare electric toothbrushes. They have a solid safety record with plenty of clinical research to back up their benefits claims! We especially like how these brushes can time kids, so they brush the full two minutes, alert them if they are pressing too hard, and keep brushing fun with their phone brushing app!
You should discuss the brand of the electric toothbrush you’re considering for your child with your dentist. They will better know your child’s health and point you in the direction of the brush the believe offers the best fit.
Today’s electric toothbrushes appeal to kids in two major ways. First, they, too, can come with fun characters and colors your kids love. Second, some now come with brushing apps that work with a smartphone! These apps time how long kids brush, track where they’ve brushed, and give electronic awards for brushing streaks! Clearly, these high-tech brushes appeal to kids of all ages.
Of course, the best children’s toothbrush doesn’t do any good if kids don’t brush!
Starting with the best children’s toothbrush is a step in the right direction for your child’s oral health. But they still need to brush long enough and hit all areas of the mouth. Check out our earlier blog in which we offer some tips to keep brushing fun and effective!