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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
Sonicare brushes come in different sizes with different pulse rates. Thus, it’s important to pick the right brush for your child’s age.
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.
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.
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