As a pediatric dental office, we get a lot of questions from parents about all kinds of issues and concerns related to their children’s teeth, brushing and flossing habits, diets, and nutrition. One of the questions that has frequently come up in recent years is “can I use an electric toothbrush for my toddler?” An excellent question! We’re going to answer that question in a round-about fashion because it presents a great learning opportunity.
To begin, we’ll mention that teaching your children good oral hygiene habits is a benefit that will last them a lifetime – perhaps even something that they turn around and teach to their children someday. Yet, some parents are genuinely perplexed about how best to teach their kids about caring for their teeth and how to go about it.
Did you know? Even though children are expected to lose their baby teeth as they age, a loss of a baby tooth before it is naturally supposed to occur can cause issues with permanent teeth crowding.
The takeaway from this is that children need to learn and adapt to proper brushing and flossing habits at the earliest ages. Having said this, it’s also no surprise to many parents that some kids just don’t like to brush. So, anything that helps put some fun into the act of brushing and caring for their teeth is a bonus. Electric toothbrushes? Sure! Fun-flavored toothpaste or mint-flavored floss? Okay! Sugar-free gum between meals? No problem.
We think that many parents are bringing up the idea of an electric toothbrush for their children because so many parents have switched to electric toothbrushes themselves. We can easily tell them YES electric toothbrushes are just fine for kids – as long as the parents keep a few things in mind.
First – If your child is young enough that they don’t have the patience or motor skills to handle a manual toothbrush, you will have to help them brush their teeth with an electric one as well.
Second – There is a distinct difference between an adult toothbrush and one specifically designed for a child’s mouth. Each of the major electric toothbrush manufacturers (Oral-B, Sonicare, Philips) have a number of models for children. Go to their websites and check the Parent Guide for selecting one that’s right for your child.
Third – Electric toothbrushes are just like any other oral care device on the market. If you’re confused about what product might be most beneficial for your child, seek out the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval on the package. You can even go to the ADA.org website and do some information gathering before you buy.
Lastly – Some toothbrushes make noises and play songs as they operate. As stated before, anything that puts some fun into the act of brushing is a bonus. If you find one that they just love to use – go for it!
And remember! Dr. Cobb always says: good oral hygiene habits, combined with healthy food choices and bi-annual checkups, are the best ways to prevent tooth decay.