Electric or manual toothbrush - which is best for your little one? Oral hygiene can be a tricky habit to cement in kids. Even if they don't necessarily enjoy the process, proper dental care is crucial in preventing cavities from a young age. In this instance, you'll be surprised to find that a powered toothbrush is an excellent motivator.
Is it okay for a child to use an electric toothbrush?
If the toothbrush vibrates, comes in colourful cartoon patterns, and does most of the work, kids are more likely to keep up with their oral health. Children as small as age three can use an electric toothbrush - those younger should stick to manual to avoid tooth sensitivity and gum recession.
"Electric toothbrush is easier to use and way more fun, which is why children like it more than the manual ones. It gives them the motivation to brush their teeth," said Dr Yasmeen Al Bashatli, a cosmetic dentistry specialist with Medcare Medical Centre, Dubai.
Since the electric heads move on their own, food bits dislodge easily without much chore-like effort on the child's part. "The brush rotates by itself and delivers a good number of vibrations per minute, so more food particles are eliminated. This can help in further prevention of dental problems," added Dr Al Bashatli.
Which electric toothbrush is the best for kids?
In your search, you'll come across two kinds of electric toothbrushes: sonic and rotary. Our dental expert tells us that the side-to-side vibration of sonic toothbrushes is much safer on the teeth and gums than the rotating circular heads. Parents should also make sure the bristles are soft.
Other added features, depending on the manufacturer, can offer a guided brushing routine via the app. "The toothbrush can be connected to the phone, and it can show us the proper way to brush, such as starting from the upper-right quadrant and moving to the upper left, and how long should you spend in each quadrant," said Dr Al Bashatli.
These advanced functions do come at a cost; however, an electric toothbrush can be a worthwhile investment for the entire family. Usually, a single electric body can be shared among siblings, for instance, as long as they swap the heads out before brushing.
Much like manual toothbrushes, brushing with an electric model should be a two-minute affair. And, movements must be made in small, tight circles. Dr Al Bashatli does urge parents to exercise caution when washing electric toothbrushes. Only the head must be removed and rinsed.
We've gathered highly rated electric toothbrushes for kids on Amazon, starting with our expert's best pick. Our selection includes both rotary and sonic models for variety. Remember to shop with a Prime membership to get free, fast delivery.
1. Best Overall: Philips Sonicare for Kids Electric Toothbrush
- Interactive Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush
- Two power modes
- Two weeks of battery life
- 10 stickers for customisation
- App paces kids' oral hygiene habits
- Sonicare Kids app is not available in the UAE
Dr Al Bashatli recommends the Philips electric toothbrush, for its wide variety and price range. The Sonicare for Kids model is a Bluetooth-enabled tool that uses the sonic technique to effectively reach all hard-to-reach places between teeth. With speeds of up to 62,000 movements per minute, the brush features two child-friendly modes for gentler cleaning. What seals the deal for kids is the paired interactive app that acts like a coach and teaches them to build a solid oral care routine. Filled with fun animations and a rewards scheme, the Sonicare Kids app gradually increases brushing time to two minutes and paces them through the four quadrants. It'll be two weeks before the toothbrush needs recharging. Kids will have the exciting opportunity to personalise their own brush, using the included 10 stickers. Delighted parents in the reviews say there's no more complaining about brushing, with Sonicare, and their child's dental care has noticeably improved. However, the Sonicare app for kids is unavailable for download in the UAE, note reviewers.
2. Best Rotary Head: Oral-B Kids Electric Toothbrush
- Built-in timer for 30-second intervals and two minutes
- Extra-soft bristles to protect teeth and gums
- One-week battery life
- Doesn't need an app for the timer
- Takes long to recharge
Oral-B's junior electric toothbrush works independently of a mobile app. It has a small rotary head with extra-soft bristles, suitable for kids aged six and up, including teens. The round head oscillates, rotates and pulsates, removing more plaque than a manual toothbrush. After every 30 seconds, it alerts children to move on to the next quadrant, till the required two minutes are completed. A full charge will last them seven days, shorter than our best overall pick. Reviewers love that the toothbrush vibrates when it's time to brush a different part of the teeth. The only qualm is the long 24-hour recharge time, they add.
3. Best Battery-Powered: Quip Kids Electric Toothbrush
- Adult toothbrush design with rubber grip
- Small sonic head
- Runs on batteries
- Self-timed for two minutes
- Quiet vibrations
- Can be too gentle for some
If you're concerned about the longevity of a rechargeable model, consider battery-powered toothbrushes, where all you have to do is swap the AAA cells inside for a new batch. The Quip Kids Electric Toothbrush is a great option for beginners. It uses gentle, timed sonic vibrations to complete a two-minute session, together with 30-second pulses. The small brush head has soft round-tipped nylon bristles. Unlike other kid-friendly toothbrushes, the Quip model is closer to adult brushes in design, with a rubber grip and slim body. It even packs easily, thanks to the travel cover. Mums and dads in the reviews recommend it for kids with braces, and others appreciate that it works quietly. But, do note that the Quip toothbrush is best suited for sensitive teeth as it's gentler than most.
4. Best for Young Kids: Brush-Baby WildOnes Kids Electric Toothbrush
- Fun toothbrush handle grip
- Two-speed sonic vibration
- Two-minute timer with flashing lights
- USB recharging
- Brush head can be fragile
Brush-Baby's sonic toothbrush comes in a fun penguin design for little ones. Small hands will have an easier time gripping the brush handle, while the vibrating head cleans thoroughly, using up to 32,000 strokes per minute. To keep kids entertained during the two-minute timer, the brush lights up in fun disco lights. The pack comes with two spare brush heads and a USB cable for convenient charging, no matter what the power source. If it's put to use for four minutes every day, the charge can last for a whopping month. Rave reviews by parents attest to quiet brushing for younger children who are sensitive to sounds. They also find no trouble with the battery life.
5. Best with Pressure Sensor: Oral-B Kids Electric Toothbrush Sparkle & Shine
- Pressure sensor lights up when brushing too hard
- Gentle mode for sensitive teeth
- Two-minute timer
- Two brush heads
- Can get loud
- Needs a voltage converter or voltage-compatible charger
This Oral-B toothbrush offers an additional feature that teaches children to apply just the right pressure on their teeth and gums. The built-in pressure sensor lights up every time they brush too hard, instilling safe and healthy oral hygiene habits. Complete with the in-handle two-minute timer, your little one is going to excel at mastering their brushing routine. The pack includes two brush heads and a two-pin charger, which may need a voltage converter in the UAE. Kids who tend to over-brush use the pressure sensor as a guide, say parents in the reviews. They do add that it can get loud.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.