For all children, oral hygiene should be a priority starting with very early ages. Dentists suggest encouraging your child to brush their teeth as soon as they can tie their own shoes. Even if they will not be able to brush their own teeth until around the age of 6, that doesn’t mean a parent should neglect this aspect.
Some children might have the tendency to play with the toothbrush as early as two or three years old. In this case, the parents should always supervise and encourage them to do it in the right way. But what type of toothbrush should you get for your child and at what age? Here is a guide that will help you make the best choice for your child’s health!
Everything you need to know about the Manual Toothbrushes
Manual toothbrushes have an important role in the oral hygiene of a child. First of all, you will have to brush their teeth before they can do it and this is the phase where manual toothbrushes are very useful. You can start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear, even if they are primary and temporary teeth. There are special manual toothbrushes to use on such young babies as well as special toothpaste.
Your dentist and pediatrician should guide you in this decision. Generally, manual toothbrushes for young babies should be formed of three rows of bristles at most. They should also be very soft in order to not hurt your baby’s gums which are also very sensitive. Also, it is important to replace your baby’s toothbrush between two and four months after starting to use it. With these general aspects in mind, here are the main advantages that a manual toothbrush brings to oral hygiene!
Pros of a manual toothbrush
You can start using manual toothbrush even when your child starts brushing their own teeth. As a matter of fact it is recommended to have them use such a toothbrush at least until they get used to the entire process. Oral hygiene is not something that comes natural and it should be learned from early ages.
- By using a manual toothbrush, your child will have to learn and understand how to brush their teeth properly. They control the pressure and the movement of the brushing process and this works to their advantage. You can show them how to clean their teeth properly and don’t forget about their gums. All these things are harder to achieve if you use an electric toothbrush from early ages.
- Manual toothbrushes are safer for young children. Besides the fact that your child will get used to cleaning their teeth properly, manual toothbrushes are also a lot more secure. First of all, there are no electronics involved. Second, you don’t have to worry about the high speed of brushing since your child will control it manually.
- These toothbrushes tend to be inexpensive. Unless you have some fancy expectations from your child’s manual toothbrush, you can purchase them rather cheap. They come in a variety of shapes, styles, and colors and the prices are very friendly. Even better, if you go to the dentist with your child you will get one of these for free! This makes for a great start in the oral hygiene journey.
- Manual toothbrushes are perfect for traveling. When you are traveling with your child, there are many aspects to consider. Having a manual toothbrush takes some worries off your head. For instance, you won’t have to be concerned about having a battery or an outlet to charge the toothbrush. Second, they are usually smaller than the electric ones and easier to carry. You can incorporate the toothbrush into their little personal purse so they have it always with them.
Cons of a manual toothbrush
As recommended as these toothbrushes are for young children, they do come with certain inconveniences that you should keep in mind:
- There is no timer on a manual toothbrush. Since there will be no brushing timer, you might need to supervise your child while they are brushing their teeth and make sure they don’t rush it.
- They are not so efficient as the electric toothbrushes. We discussed how easy to use manual toothbrushes are for children. But that doesn’t mean they are efficient as well. As a matter of fact, manual toothbrushes are trickier in terms of efficiency. You need to make sure that your child is brushing their teeth and cleaning their gums properly. Observe how they move the toothbrush and guide them along the way. They should brush up and down and not from left to right for a better result.
How to choose the best manual toothbrush for your child?
- Make it fun. Manual toothbrushes can come in unique and entertaining designs for children. You can choose one that has their favorite cartoon character on the handle. Or one that comes in their favorite color. In general, the younger the child is, the more entertaining the design of the toothbrush should be.
- Check for soft bristles. Soft bristles are a must when you pick a toothbrush for your child. If they don’t feel comfortable using the toothbrush, they will not brush consistently and that can be hard to fix over time. Make sure the bristles are soft or extra soft depending on the age of your child and the head is small enough to fit comfortably in their little mouth.
- Check the age box. As obvious as this aspect seems to be, it is still worth mentioning it. By checking the age box you make sure that your child gets the best manual toothbrush for their needs. These toothbrushes differ significantly from one age to another. And it is useless to buy one that is not meant to be used by your kid’s age as you will have to buy another one later. Manual toothbrushes also have to be replaced at least in a couple of months.
Everything you need to know about Electric Toothbrushes
When it comes to electric toothbrushes, the options you can find are almost endless. But that doesn’t mean they are all recommended for children. Most companies make separate lines of electric toothbrushes for kids, different from those made for adults. Usually, such toothbrushes are recommended by the manufacturer for children older than 3 years of age. However, most dentists and paediatricians will suggest you to purchase one when your child is older than 6 years.
There are two big categories of electric toothbrushes on the market: the oscillating and the sonic toothbrushes. The oscillating ones have a small head made to turn from one direction to another. The speed of these ones is around 2,500-7,000 strokes per minute, depending on the brand you are getting. On the other hand, the sonic toothbrushes work on vibrations. This technology makes the toothbrush vibrate with 30,000-40,000 strokes per minute, again depending on the brand. At the end of the day, choosing between oscillating and sonic toothbrushes is a personal preference. Studies showed that both types are efficient in cleaning teeth as long as they are used correctly.
Pros of an electric toothbrush
The benefits of these toothbrushes seem to be many and new studies discover even more than we already knew. But you need to remember that they are age sensitive. This means you can’t have your child start using them too early and they should come as an “upgrade” phase after they are used to the manual toothbrush.
- They are more fun for children. Let’s face it, kids are not big fans of brushing their own teeth. They need a little stimulation in the right direction in order to do it right and in a constant way. And electric toothbrushes make the entire process more fun for children. If they are having fun brushing their teeth, they are most likely to do it daily. Some kids will actually look forward to brushing their teeth if they fall in love with their toothbrush and see it as a fun toy!
- They have a timer. Another great advantage of electric toothbrushes is that they come with a built in timer. Not all of them have this feature but if you choose the one that do, you can only win! That way your child will be able to enjoy cleaning their teeth without counting the minutes. And you can relax knowing that you can do the same as well.
- Electric toothbrushes are more effective when it comes to removing plaque and preventing periodontal disease. These are health benefits that you want to keep an eye on because they have long term effects for your child. If they start using the right electric toothbrush as a child, chances are they will have less dental problems as adults.
Cons of an electric toothbrush
If everything seemed too good to be true in terms of electric toothbrushes, here are some cons to balance everything out!
- They can get pricey. Unlike manual toothbrushes that can be fairly cheap or even free, electric ones can range from 20 dollars to even a few hundreds. The price depends on the brand but usually, you can find a good quality toothbrush at a decent price. The other financial aspect is maintenance. You will have to replace the head of the toothbrush once every couple of months and these can be pricey as well.
- They can break easily. Another disadvantage of electric toothbrushes is that they can break fairly easy. And if your child drops it, you may need to replace it. Considering that kids like to play a lot, the chances of breaking the toothbrush are as high as the chances of breaking any other toy. You can watch them as they are using it to make sure the risk of damaging is decreased. In time, they will get used to the electric toothbrush and pay more attention. So this is not necessarily a deal breaker.
- As we discussed at the beginning of the article, you can’t use an electric toothbrush to clean your younger toddlers teeth. At first, you will need to try a manual one and eventually use an electric toothbrush. This means that if your child is younger than 3 years old, you can’t use an electric toothbrush.
- They don’t come in a variety of styles or options. While manual toothbrushes can look very attractive to kids, electric ones are pretty standard. You might be able to pick between different colors but the style of the head and the options will be limited.
How to choose the best electric toothbrush for your child?
When you are shopping for an electric toothbrush for your child, make sure to take these aspects into consideration!
- Check the age box. You can find electric toothbrushes for children as young as 3 years old. Toothbrushes for that age are smaller and with heads that can fit little teeth and gums. As well as you can find electric toothbrushes for kids between 8 and 12 years old. It is crucial to buy an electric toothbrush that is age appropriate so your child can use it to its fullest.
- Try to find those with ergonomic handles. Ergonomic handles are great because they are made of a special material that offer a non-slip grip. This feature helps your child to not drop the toothbrush and use it in a more comfortable way. Ergonomic handles are great for little hands so you should definitely consider these!
- Check the bristles. In order to take care of your child’s teeth and gums in the best way possible, check that the bristles of the toothbrush are soft enough. This is especially important for young children. You can find soft bristles and small toothbrush heads made especially for little mouths!
- Check out the interactive and fun elements. Your child will most likely appreciate the new toothbrush if it comes with certain fun elements. Some have songs while others make funny noises to entertain the kids. Again, you have to think what is more exciting for their age before purchasing.
Bottom line, you are the one to decide when your child is ready to start brushing their own teeth and what toothbrush they can use. Understanding the different aspects when it comes to manual and electric toothbrushes is essential for all parents. If you start off on the wrong foot, it will be harder to fix the mistakes so try making the best choices from the beginning! Hopefully, this guide will help you make the best decision for your child’s health.
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