Should Your Child Use an Electric Toothbrush?

There are so many different toothbrushes on the market today. Which one is best for your child? Hard or soft? Large or small? Batman or ballerina? Most adults figure out by trial and error which one they like best, but when it’s your child’s developing teeth we are talking about, that’s a different story. The first place you should start when choosing the right toothbrush for your child is your dentist. But when your toddler spots that spinbrush with the shiny handle in the grocery store, you’ve got just seconds to decide whether the gadget will help them brush better or if they’re better off with a manual model for now.

Dentists generally agree that when used properly and regularly, either style is effective at removing plaque and food particles from teeth. But if an electric version makes your child actually want to brush because it’s fun, so much the better. For some kids, there’s no cartoon superhero or glitter-embedded plastic handle that’s going to beat out an electronic gadget.

How to Choose the Perfect Toothbrush

Make sure you choose the right size. This should eliminate at least half of the overwhelming options in the toothbrush isle. The brush head should be small enough for your child to easily reach each and every tooth. Some of the electric options may have heads that are too large for younger children. If you find a size that is perfect for your little one’s smile make sure that it has soft bristles and displays the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. That seal means the product has been independently tested and proven to be effective and not dangerous.

Be aware of your child’s brushing habits. If they are having a hard time being consistent or brushing at all then an electric toothbrush might be a good option. Some models even play a song so your child knows how long to brush. With all of the different colors and characters featured on electrical toothbrushes it is a great choice to get kids excited about brushing. Involve them in the process and let them pick out the color. However, if your child tends to brush too hard it may be a good idea to stick with a standard manual version. They also come in fun colors and shapes which will get them excited to use them.

Your child’s age and physical development is an important consideration. Most electric toothbrush manufacturers recommend a child be at least three years old before using their product. If your child can’t properly grasp the toothbrush yet or you have to help them often then it might be best to go with a manual one. It may be hard to tell what pressure is appropriate or comfortable, and the last thing you want is to make your child uncomfortable. And the noise can be scary to very young kids. You don’t want brushing to be a negative experience or they will be less inclined to pick up this healthy habit.

Manual toothbrushes are less expensive, so if you suspect that your child will be going through a growth spurt soon it might be a good idea to hold off on the electric toothbrush. And if they have sensitive gums, it’s best to wait until all of their adult teeth are in. The vibrating bristles can be harsh on the bare sockets where new adult teeth are coming in.

“The important thing is that they are brushing, you need to help develop healthy brushing habits early to prevent gingivitis and cavities” says Dr. Takacs, a dentist in Lexington, Kentucky. The American Dental Association agrees. Their recommendation is simple “buy the one that you will use and one that displays the ADA Seal.”

So get your kids involved, if they want an electrical toothbrush or the cool manual with the carton on it, get it. With the right help and supervision either toothbrush will do the job just fine.

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About Rachel

I am a wife and stay-at-home mom to five children, ages 25 to 4. I am a freelance writer and the editor and publisher of

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