Choosing the Right Toothbrush for Your Child – Is A Kids Electric Toothbrush Best?
Once again you find yourself in the Oral Health section of the grocery/pharmacy/superstore staring at row upon row of toothbrushes, feeling exasperated and overwhelmed. Which to choose for my child for Deep cleaning teeth? Manual or electric? Plug-in, rechargeable or battery operated? Soft or firm bristles? And of course which cartoon character or super hero?
The truth is that there are very few wrong choices here. Beyond the bristles it is all personal – read: your child’s preference. Toothbrush bristles should be soft. Anything harder, or firmer, or stiffer, than that is best reserved for cleaning the grout between the tiles and hard to reach places in your car.
There are however a few good tips that we can offer on choosing the right brush.
Your brush must have bristles.
That means those finger cover cloth brushes for infants are out. Soft bristles will not hurt an infant’s gums or new teeth. An infant chewing on a cloth with your finger in it, will hurt your finger and probably not make their teeth and gums any cleaner.
The head of the brush should fit comfortably behind the lower front teeth.
This is usually the narrowest and least accessible part of the mouth. If your brush can fit here it can fit anywhere else and therefore can clean everywhere.
Powered or manual?
You can just as good a job with a manual brush as you can with a powered brush – but it probably takes a good deal more effort. If a powered brush is in your budget and meets with the other criteria on this list you should definitely consider it.
Kids electric toothbrush – Rechargeable or Batteries?
As is true with most things in life, you get what you pay for. The battery operated brushes are usually $10- $20, the rechargeable or plug in ones start at $40 and go up to $200 or more. The battery ones do little more than vibrate and flash lights but if it makes your child happy it may be all you need and worth the few dollars. The rechargeable brushes tend to have much more power behind them and may be more effective with a similar amount of time and effort. Check out an electric toothbrush review to find the one to best suit your needs.
Sounds Lights and Characters.
Obviously gimmicks, but if they in any way encourage your child to brush, and let you brush, more often or longer or with less resistance then let gimmickry reign.
Probably my favourite and most useful part of any electric brush. Two minutes can seem like a long time when you have a brush in your mouth or to fight with a struggling child. These timers often with 4 x 30 second intervals to know when to switch corners help combat the “15 second brush” routine.
Brush head and neck size.
This is probably the biggest advantage of the manual brushes. While all power brushes have to have some components in the head and neck of the brush (some more than others), a manual brush is just bristles on a stick. The thickness of the neck and head (from the tips of the bristles to the “back” of the head) is probably the most over looked dimension of the brush yet it can be the most limiting in terms of place that you are comfortably able to reach. Kids don’t like when you have to move their tongue and cheeks out of the way to get to some tooth surfaces. A slimmer brush design means less pushing other mouth parts out of the way.
So don’t be overwhelmed and over budget. Any brush can do a perfectly good job keeping your child’s mouth healthy. Start with soft bristles and choose as you, or your child, wishes from there.
Evan is a pediatric dentist and owner of Durham Kids Dentistry in Whitby, the only pediatric dental office in the Whitby Oshawa Bowmanville area.