As a parent, we know to pick our battles when it comes to fighting with our children. And while brushing their teeth is one of those, “because I said so / not an option” argument, electric vs manual tooth brushes might make a difference in who wins the war.
For children, inexpensive spinbrushes and electric toothbrushes offer a level of dexterity that most younger children don’t possess. Although electric toothbrushes are not viable for children under the age of three, it is advised that kids up to age 7 still have adult supervision while brushing. It has been reported that children use a powered toothbrush 90% longer than a manual one.
Some warn that allowing children to use a powered toothbrush may stop children from developing the motor skills necessary for manual brushing. However, opinions vary and a vast majority of dental organizations feel that the features that come with the newest models provide a novelty value that encourages children to brush with enthusiasm. Many brands play music, have flashing “disco” lights or have timers to help make sure kids brush long enough (because we all amazed at how fast a child can say their A-B-Cs or hum Happy Birthday to You when they are told to do so as a measure of how long to brush!)
Electric toothbrushes now come in a variety of colors, styles and character-themed designs which can entice a young user. Let your kiddo pick the one they like best to empower them…another battle you won’t have to fight! Some smart parents like to have a few different brushes to select from for each brushing session. Make it fun and your reluctant brusher might just surprise you!
But the brush can’t do all the work – it needs your help. Be sure and look for these important options/features before buying an electric toothbrush for your child:
1. Be sure to select an powered brush with a child-sized head
2. Get soft bristles
3. Make sure the handle fits young hands
Also important is to teach your young brusher how to place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gumline. Kids will have to be watched and trained to move the brush back and forth against the teeth and gums using soft, gentle strokes. Make sure they hit every tooth, every time.
Other things to do as a parent:
When first used, the vibration the brush makes may be foreign to a child. Start by first “brushing” a hand or arm to introduce this new feeling.
Many kids tend to chew on their toothbrushes. Watch for bent or worn brushes and replace immediately when either damage is noticed.
Make it clear that using an electric brush is a grown-up thing to do – it is not a toy but a privilege they get to use twice a day. Lead by example.
Make sure the power brush is rinsed and air dried after every brushing session.
Keep batteries strong for the best brushing effectiveness. Many parents chose to invest in rechargeable power toothbrushes.
Replace every three months or immediately after a cold, sore throat, flu or other infection.