Electric Toothbrushes: To Buy or Not to Buy?


Considering the purchase of an electric toothbrush for your child?  Then you may find the answers to these frequently asked questions especially helpful!

How is it different from a manual toothbrush?

In general, a toothbrush only works as good as it’s operator (and condition of the bristles).  That’s why technique is so important to effective brushing!  During the course of brushing, you often change speeds as you brush your teeth, brushing some areas faster and others slower.  An electric toothbrush is designed to provide consistency to the movement (or speed) of the brush head and allows you to guide the toothbrush, using gentle pressure (two fingers worth), along the surfaces of the tooth.

What is the benefit?  How does it work?

Because of the dynamic motion design of the brush head, an electric toothbrush tends to be more powerful in the removal of plaque and extrinsic staining.  It It is especially beneficial to those that quickly develop plaque and calculus build-up. The cleaning action of an electric toothbrush is also designed to force fluid between teeth and reach along the gum lines (a commonly missed spot!).

Another benefit to an electric toothbrush is they are often equipped with timers that help young kids pace themselves when brushing to reach the desired, dentist-recommended 2 minutes of brushing time.

Some electric toothbrush designs allow for the exchange of brush heads.  For families with multiple kids, this is a great feature as a single handle could be used with separate brush heads for each child, making it a more cost-effective purchase!

What age is it recommended to start using an electric toothbrush?

You can begin introducing an electric toothbrush as soon as your child is able to tolerate the new sensations, typically around age 4, as long as you’re still doing their brushing (Remember, kids usually need your help until around age 8).  Some kids, however, may be slower to warm up to the idea.  You can start by giving them a choice between a manual or an electric toothbrush during their brushing routine.  You can also gradually move to doing one brushing session with a manual toothbrush and another with an electric toothbrush to help them get used to it!

What does it cost?

A kid’s electric toothbrush, like a Philips Kid’s Sonicare, retails for around $50.00.  Just like regular toothbrushes, it’s recommended to replace the brush head after 3 months of use.

 Can I use it on my child’s braces?

Absolutely.  Just visually monitor the bristles on the brush head, as they may show signs of needing replacement a little sooner.

A word of caution.  Using an electric toothbrush still requires you, the operator, to control the amount of pressure.  Applying too much pressure can fray the bristles on the brush head and can wear away the enamel on the teeth.  Be cautious to use only gentle pressure, letting the toothbrush do the work!