Should we buy our child an electric toothbrush?
To ensure strong healthy teeth and to develop good lifelong dental habits it is important to brush a child’s teeth as soon as they appear in the mouth.
Electric toothbrushes, however, are not suitable for babies and very small children, i.e. under the age of three.
To ensure that they receive the best possible oral care you should brush with a specially designed toothbrush, such as the Oral B Stages 1 toothbrush which has a rounded head and soft bristles, with a small amount of toothpaste.
For babies of three months and over it may also be beneficial to use teeth wipes to prevent ‘baby bottle tooth decay’.
For older children, manufacturers including Braun Oral B and Phillips have developed a range of child friendly electric brushes. The Oral B brush is easy for small hands to hold with a ‘squish grip’ handle, it has a smaller head and comes with a choice of appealing Disney graphics including Mickey Mouse and Snow White.
The Phillips Sonicare for Kids has two power options for different stages of oral development and two handle grips suitable for the use of either parent or child. Whether using a manual or electric brush, it is recommended that until the age of seven you should help children brush their teeth in order to develop good technique and ensure a thorough clean.
Electric brushes can be beneficial as they help children, who have less manual dexterity than adults, clean hard to reach places such as the backs of the teeth.
Watch tasks such as your child tying their shoelaces to measure their level of dexterity.
Many brushes also have built in timers to ensure that they brush for the recommended two minutes and musical tones and pictures which make brushing a fun activity. The novelty of using an electric toothbrush can be better for children as they may be more inclined to brush regularly.
Children under 10 should be supervised when using an electric toothbrush. Avoid mashing the tufts against your teeth in an effort to clean them. Use light force and slow movements, and allow the electric bristle action to do its job.
Electric rechargeable brushes are more effective than battery toothbrushes, as the batteries don’t run down. They have more power and directional movement. Brushes using rotation oscillation movement have been found to be more effective at removing plaque bacteria.
Always use a children’s power brush for younger children. As they grow it is acceptable to use an adult brush but on reduced low power, before moving onto full power.