While choosing your own toothbrush can be relatively straightforward, figuring out what model is best for your children is an altogether more daunting task — especially as you need to encourage your child to actually use the toothbrush. “Brushing should always be supervised by an adult until the child is 6 to 7 years of age,” says Dr Chaw-Su Kyi. “Good oral hygiene and tooth brushing are important skills for your children’s health.”
Generally speaking, children’s toothbrushes feature smaller heads and much softer bristles than those for adults, according to Mayur N Pandya, Dentist and Chief Clinical Officer of Together Dental. It’s also worth noting that Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, says to look for the oral-health foundation logo on the label of any toothbrush you buy in the U.K. This logo means that “the product’s claims have been robustly examined and tested by our independent panel of scientific experts [and] that the product is not only safe to use, but that it can also live up to its claims,” he says.
But whether you’re buying a first toothbrush for a toddler or you’re looking for your child’s first electric toothbrush, the dentists we spoke to were all in agreement about one thing. “Sometimes the best brush is the one that gets them to open their mouth,” says Dr. Jaz Gulati, a dentist and host of the Protrusive Dental Podcast. We spoke to four experts to find out the best children’s toothbrushes, including manual and electric options, for toddlers and young children, as well as an option for kids with braces.
Best toothbrush for toddlers
“At this stage, you just want the child to have fun cleaning their teeth — and get them used to having their teeth brushed twice a day,” says Kyi. Both she and Pandya recommended Brush Baby as a good starter toothbrush. “I chose this because I have first-hand experience — my three children all used Brush Baby’s Chewable Toothbrush and Teether set,” says Kyi. “It’s so difficult to use a normal toothbrush on a baby’s teeth, but with this brush, they can just chew on the soft, tiny bristles and it will gently clean their teeth.” The chewable toothbrush can be chilled in the fridge to ease sore gums, and is also dishwasher and steam steriliser safe up to 180 degrees.
As well as the combo set, they sell an individual chewable toothbrush, too.
Gulati recommended this chewable teething toothbrush by Silivo. “This was the most successful one in getting my toddler to brush — once he’s a little more settled with brushing, we’ll move onto something more ‘traditional’,” he said. There is a suction cup on the base, and it comes with two “finger toothbrushes” so adults can gently brush any areas that the toddler may have missed.
Best toothbrush for children aged 3+ years
“Following on from this, Brush Baby’s Floss Brush is great,” says Kyi. “It’s easy for the parent to use in the mouth, and it’s fun for the child to hold while brushing.” Kyi says the combination of both short and long bristles is particularly effective cleaning between the teeth and gums.
Best electric toothbrushes for children aged 3+ years
Pandya, meanwhile, says that at 3+ years, parents can consider an electric toothbrush specifically designed for children. “Colgate Kids and Oral-B have some great ones, like this Trolls toothbrush, which turn brushing your teeth into a game.” The battery-powered toothbrush has a gentle oscillating action, and lies flat, which can help kids learn to put the toothpaste on by themselves. Pandya says these “beginner” electric toothbrushes “makes it easy to start healthy brushing habits.”
Contributor Molly McGuigan wrote an ode to this Fairywill electric toothbrush, which she bought for her 4- and 6-year-old boys after brushing time became a twice daily battle. “Not only were the brushes cute, the soft bristles were capable of standing up to the boisterous brushing of young children, and the waterproof casing meant they could dunk them in the bath without reproach,” she wrote. She said each toothbrush comes with a spare head, and the battery, which charges via USB, lasts about 21 days.
Best (manual) toothbrush for children aged 6+
While there are both electric and manual toothbrushes available for kids, Kyi says she prefers young children to use manual toothbrushes. “They should learn how to brush their teeth effectively, and manual brushing improves their dexterity skills”.
She adds that at this age, “kids will have a mixture of milk teeth and new adult teeth erupting,” meaning that the best toothbrush will have a mixture of soft short and long bristles. She recommends this option from Aquafresh, because “the large handle is easy to grip, and the ‘suckers’ on the end of the handle are highly practical — kids can clean then place on the sink basin afterwards.”
Best (electric) toothbrush for children aged 6+
However, if you are considering an electric toothbrush, Pandya says to look for one with ‘soft’ settings, such as gum care or pressure sensors. “Built-in features, like gum pressure control and a timer help kids develop great oral care habits, and help them learn to brush independently, too.”
Best toothbrush for braces
Kyi told us that the Philips Sonicare Daily Clean was her pick for older children, but specifically mentioned the Intercare Brush Heads, which are “perfect for cleaning around fixed braces. The bristles are of different heights, so it cleans effectively around the teeth.” However, these are difficult to source online (Phillips say the line has been discontinued), so we found an alternative in the form of the Genuine Sonicare Pro brush heads. Though the bristles are the same length, these heads feature a contoured design which allows them to reach hard-to-brush areas.
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