At the end of a dental visit, many pediatric dentists provide kids with a helpful bag of goodies that can help kids stay on top of their oral health. This includes toothpaste, floss, toothbrushes, and sometimes stickers that kids can use to keep track of their daily brushing and flossing habits. As dentists, we often hear questions about toothbrushes. Should kids use manual toothbrushes vs electric, do different toothbrush heads really impact oral health, and when should toothbrushes be replaced? Here is our guide to toothbrushes.
Before we even talk about what toothbrush to buy or what toothpaste is best for your kids, the most important element is their consistency. It doesn’t matter what toothbrush your child owns if they aren’t brushing daily and brushing correctly. When we brush our teeth we should brush for at least two full minutes. Some families use a timer on their phones, or an hourglass that times a full minute, and some even play music so they can ensure that teeth get brushed long enough. Additionally, a good technique is also very important. A common mistake made by both adults and kids is assuming that an electric toothbrush will make-up for bad habits or bad techniques. Your dentist can help show you and your kids how to brush better.
When choosing a toothbrush there are many options. Almost every toothpaste company makes toothbrushes and makes claims that 9 out of 10 dentists recommend their toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes can help younger kids who struggle with brushing their teeth. Some brushes have built-in timers to make sure your kids brush long enough as well as vibrating heads that can help improve brushing. Remember that electric brushes do not replace flossing and that you can get just as much benefit from a manual toothbrush if you use it correctly.
There are many different shapes and sizes of toothbrush heads. In fact, many toothbrush manufacturers brag about how many bristles their brush has or the shape of the bristle head and how it cleans better or more effectively. Similar to the difference between electric and manual, your brushing techniques and habits can make up for any features your toothbrush is missing. But the features of your toothbrush will not make up for not brushing frequently. Bristle count or the shape of the toothbrush might make brushing more efficient but more bristles don’t mean fewer cavities. If you or your child has good dental habits and is still having issues with cavities or floss, upgrading their toothbrush might be a good solution, but its even more important to replace the brush.
If you have great dental habits but you still get cavities it might be your toothbrush. That’s not to say your toothbrush is too basic and you need a more expensive one. The fact is, frequent brushing wears down your toothbrush head over time. You should be replacing your toothbrush every month. Monthly toothbrush replacement is the best way to avoid ineffective brushing.
If your kids need to see a dentist, we would be happy to see them. Even with perfect brushing and flossing, your kids need to see a dentist twice a year to ensure that their teeth are healthy and protected. Contact us for more information.