Are Electric Toothbrushes the right choice for your child?

Are Electric Toothbrushes the right choice for your child?

Wondering if an electric toothbrush would work better for your little one versus a manual one? Our dentist shares the facts, advantages, and tips on proper maintenance!

7 min read

Anything that boosts your child's interest in oral care can be helpful in preventing plaque and cavities. An electric toothbrush for kids may be the answer for a child who doesn't like to brush their teeth. Dentist’s tip: Even if you’ve made up your mind about one kind of brush or another, it’s still best to discuss it with your dentist first. 

Both manual and electric toothbrushes are effective at fighting plaque and gum disease. However, for children who are reluctant brushers or have difficulty brushing with a manual brush, an electric toothbrush may be easier or more comfortable to use. 

In addition to keeping your child's teeth clean, an electric toothbrush designed for kids has some fun perks. Many powered brushes come in a variety of character-themed styles which can entice children to practice good oral health care.

Advantages of an Electric Toothbrush

According to the American Dental Association manual, there are many reasons you may want to choose to use an electric toothbrush:
●    They are easier to use.
●    They provide more brushing power.
●    The powerful motion provides excellent plaque removal.
●    Many of them offer engaging technology, including timers and even app connectivity for fun and games.

Disadvantages of an Electric Toothbrush

Because they are a bit more fun than the old stand-by manual brushes, electric toothbrushes are certainly a hit with kids.

They do have a few drawbacks, though:
●    They are more expensive.
●    The toothbrush head still needs to be replaced periodically, like standard toothbrushes.
●    They need to be charged or have the batteries replaced regularly.

How to Choose an Electric Toothbrush

If you’ve decided on an electric toothbrush or been recommended one by your dentist for your child, the next step would be to select the right size and style. Be sure to select an electric toothbrush with a child-sized head so that it fits properly in your child's mouth and can reach all the way to the back teeth comfortably. Look for handles that are easy to grip and soft bristles that won’t be too abrasive on their teeth. 

For younger children and toddlers, be sure to select soft bristles, which are gentler on gums and especially recommended if your little one is still growing new teeth.

Reluctant brushers often enjoy being able to pick out their own toothbrush. This will help empower them in the process, and gives them a sense of ownership. For many children, this is an important step in starting a new healthy habit. You may even want to keep more than one toothbrush available at home so that they can decide between the two for each brushing session.

If you have a child who doesn’t seem interested in brushing, find a toothbrush that will play to his or her apprehensions. If it’s a short attention span, find one with a timer or that plays music for the two minutes they should be brushing. If boredom keeps kicking in or they would rather keep playing than brush their teeth, find one that connects to an app on a smart device and make brushing a game. Some even make it a competition, and what kid doesn’t enjoy a little healthy sibling rivalry?

Proper Technique and Maintenance is Key

Remember that an electric toothbrush cannot do all the work on its own. 

You will still need to help your child practice proper brushing technique to prevent cavities. 
Show your child how to place the brush at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline. Even with the movement of the powered brush, your child will still need to move the brush back and forth against the teeth and gums using short, gentle strokes.

Proper maintenance of a manual and an electric toothbrush is identical except for the need to charge the latter.

Rinse your child's brush well after each use and store it upright. 

Replace toothbrushes or brush heads every three months. After a cold, flu, or other infections, throw that toothbrush out immediately. 

A child's toothbrush often needs to be replaced more frequently than an adult's brush, especially if your child tends to chew on the brush. 

As adults, we often hear those electric toothbrushes are better for our teeth than manual ones. As parents, we should know that manual or electric, whatever toothbrush you choose to use in your child’s oral care routine is merely a tool. The most important thing is to brush our children’s teeth regularly, keeping them just as clean and healthy as we do our own. 


American Pedodontics Journal, August 2015 
Colgate Articles on how to train toddlers and kids to brush their teeth 



About The Writer



Dr. Esguerra is the dental and oral healthcare expert of Wyeth Nutrition parenTeam. Having run a private clinic for more than 20 years now, Dr. Joycelyn Esguerra has developed an expertise in orthodontics, TMJ orthopedics, cosmetic dentistry, and biological dentistry. As a dentist, her work has included educating patients on oral care, assessing teeth and diagnosing patients' dental conditions, evaluating treatment options and providing treatment plans to patients, and carrying out clinical treatments such as restoring teeth affected by decay and treating gum disease.

Dr. Esguerra received her degree of Doctor of Dental of Medicine from the College of Dentistry at the University of the East in Manila. She also completed a 6-month long comprehensive preceptorship program on Functional Jaw Orthopedics and TMJ Dentistry at the TMJ Integrative Dentistry Academy of the Philippines.

An active member of the medical community, she has served the Mandaluyong City Dental Chapter in various roles, including President, Executive Vice President, and Board of Director. Dr. Esguerra is also part of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) and the TMJ Integrative Academy of the Philippines.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.


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