Experts agree electronic toothbrushes aren't necessarily best but may be a life-saving tool for some families. Check out the pros and cons as well as recommended models, then decide if an electric toothbrush is right for your child.
What to Expect parenting experts suggest soft, rounded bristles on small toothbrush heads are best for kids because they easily fit in a child's mouth and won't be too harsh on gums. Look for options made with a child's size in mind and that carry the ADA seal of approval.
Philips Sonicare for Kids
The Philips Sonicare for Kids Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush has all the features to satisfy kids and parents. The toothbrush comes with one head, a charging stand, and eight interchangeable face plates with fun characters on each. It comes standard with Bluetooth capability so you can link it to the free, downloadable app that features a graphic timer and keeps track of your child's brushing habits. One of the best features is the built-in timer and pacing capability where the brush automatically starts out slow and gets more vigorous as your child brushes. At around $40, the price might seem high for a toothbrush, but the rechargeable nature makes it last longer than a manual toothbrush. While the company suggests kids over age four can use the toothbrush, customers feel the handle is a bit big for little hands. Reviewers give this nearly five out of five stars and Dental Dorks picked it as their top choice thanks to the fun, free, interactive app and customizable handle.
Oral-B Pro-Health for Me
If budget is a concern, the Oral-B Pro-Health for Me Rechargeable Toothbrush is a great option at only $20. You'll get the handle, charging base, and two heads with this white and blue toothbrush. It comes with a built-in two-minute timer to help kids brush for the recommended time. One of the best features setting this option apart from the rest are the indicator bristles which start to lose their color when it's time to get a new head. Recommended for kids ages eight and older, the heads can be replaced with any other Oral-B heads so it can grow with your child. Best Electric Toothbrush Lab says this is one of the best electric toothbrushes because it is inexpensive and gentle, yet still has modern features like a timer.
Brusheez Children's Electric Toothbrush
Sales and high customer reviews land the Brusheez Children's Electric Toothbrush Set in Amazon's Top 10 best-selling electric toothbrushes. Suggested for kids, ages three and older, this set comes with an animal-shaped toothbrush cover, matching cup, sand timer, and extra head all gathered on a handy stand. This battery-powered toothbrush comes in a pink/purple pony, blue/orange bear, green/purple crocodile, or yellow/orange giraffe theme for just under $20. Like a favorite toy, your kids will become attached to their adorable, named animal character. Mom Loves Best puts this set in its top five and says the toothbrush is best for difficult children who don't like brushing teeth because it brings fun to the daily task.
Effectiveness of Electronic Toothbrushes
After an in-depth analysis of recent research, Consumer Reports says electric toothbrushes do get rid of more plaque and reduce gingivitis than manual brushes. However, their dental adviser claims it doesn't matter which kind you use if you don't currently have gingivitis because the slight difference in plaque removal isn't significant. The American Dental Association adds "it's not about the brush, it's about the brusher."
Dental experts from Oral-B suggest kids hold off on using an electric toothbrush until around age three. For babies and toddlers, caregivers will do most of the brushing, so manual brushes get the job done and are soft and gentle in the child's mouth. Preschoolers and older kids who have learned the basics of brushing and have good hand control can try brushing with an electric brush. Experts agree parents should help kids brush their teeth until about age seven or eight with either electric or manual toothbrushes.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people who have arthritis or other conditions that make brushing difficult, like children with developing motor skills, benefit most from electric toothbrushes. Since the head is spinning or pulsing, it does some scrubbing for these people who may not be able to put pressure on every tooth in their mouth manually. Other advantages include:
- Experts from Colgate suggest electric toothbrushes can make brushing more fun for kids who don't like to brush their teeth. Features like favorite characters, lights and songs make the toothbrush seem more exciting.
- Clears more plaque when used properly according to research from Consumer Reports.
- Rechargeable options with replaceable heads may be more cost-effective in the long run because you don't have to buy a whole new toothbrush every three months, just a headpiece.
While electric toothbrushes come with many benefits, there are also a few concerns to consider. Some disadvantages are:
- As with any electronic device, there's room for malfunctions that can cause injury such as a broken mechanical piece that causes the head to pop off. In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration had to issue a warning about specific toothbrush models because of these issues.
- Cost can be more expensive, says Dentaly.org, if you are buying a new battery-operated unit every three months, which is the recommended life span of a toothbrush head.
- Kids using electric brushes may not learn the valuable motor skills they get from manual brushing says Dentaly.
- Since they use a motor there is potential for the toothbrush to be loud or scary sounding for some children.
Make Brushing Fun
Kids love to play and often dislike daily tasks and self-care routines because they don't always feel like fun. Keeping teeth clean and healthy is an important part of child development, so help your child find the fun in brushing with an electric toothbrush.