Good oral health habits should start early. Dentists recommend that you start brushing your child's teeth as soon as the first ones appear, using a toothbrush specially designed for their age group and moving up to bigger brushes as they grow.

One of the most common questions parents ask is whether electric toothbrushes are better for their children than manual ones. The short answer is: sometimes.

Both types of toothbrushes can work just as well for keeping your child's teeth free from plaque and decay – as long as they're used properly. But electric toothbrushes with attractive features could motivate more reluctant young brushers and help to keep their teeth healthy.

Do electric toothbrushes clean kids’ teeth better?

There is no clinical evidence that electric brushes are necessarily better at removing plaque or trapped food from children's teeth. But in many cases, this depends on the individual child.

Some children (and even adults) don't clean their teeth efficiently using a manual toothbrush, even with guidance from their dentist. An electric toothbrush can make this easier by performing the brushing action for you and is usually recommended by dentists for children whose teeth show signs of poor brushing.

If your child prefers a manual toothbrush, make sure it has an angled head to clean those hard-to-reach areas. Don't forget to replace their toothbrush or swap the head of their electric toothbrush every three months or after an illness.

Which is easier to use?

One of the advantages of electric toothbrushes is that they can make brushing easier and more convenient, especially for kids. Their rotation and stroke action mean the toothbrush is cleaning all the time, with the right speed and power. So as long as it cleans every tooth, parents don't need to worry that their child isn't brushing properly.

Both types of toothbrushes are available with ergonomically-designed handles that are easy for kids to grip and comfortable to hold. Toothbrushes for young children have wider handles that are easier for small hands to control.

Which do kids prefer?

If your child is happy to use their toothbrush, they're more likely to use it properly. Trying out both electric and manual brushes should give you an idea of which one your child is more comfortable with.

Some kids find electric toothbrushes appealing, while others may find them uncomfortable or even scary, although this usually changes as they get used to it. Some may prefer the motion of electric toothbrushes that clean their teeth one by one, while others may prefer the back and forth, up and down action of traditional brushing.

Which toothbrush should you choose?

The best way to find a toothbrush that your child will be happy to use is to let them choose it for themselves. Take them to the supermarket, chemist or your local dental clinic so they can browse the full range of options and pick out the one they'll be happiest to use every day.

Some electric toothbrushes have features designed to make them even more appealing, such as lights, music and sound effects. As well as encouraging your child to brush, this can also help them brush for the recommended amount of time (two minutes, twice a day).

Manual toothbrushes may have fewer bells and whistles, but both types of toothbrushes are available in a wide range of colourful and attractive designs to appeal to kids of all ages. This includes brushes with handles sculpted to look like their favourite characters.

When your child finds their favourite toothbrush, they're more likely to develop good oral hygiene habits that could stay with them for life. Keeping up with your dental appointments every six months will give your child's dentist the chance to inspect their teeth and to give you any feedback on their brushing technique.

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