According to the American Dental Association (ADA), people of all ages should brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day. Many parents wonder what’s better for their children – a manual toothbrush or a powered (electric) toothbrush. When used correctly, both types of toothbrushes are vital tools in establishing maintaining good dental health.
Manual toothbrushes are widely recognized as an effective and affordable way to keep teeth and gums healthy. With some help from parents or caregivers, children can easily learn how to use manual toothbrushes from a very early age. The ADA states that brushing should touch on all surfaces of the teeth and gums – inner, outer and chewing surfaces. Manual toothbrushes with soft bristles tend to put less pressure on teeth and gums than their electric counterparts. Placing too much pressure on teeth can wear away at tooth enamel, leading to pain, sensitivity and decay.
Electric toothbrushes, while more expensive than manual toothbrushes, have several advantages. Models that have bristles that rotate together in one direction and then switch to rotate in the opposite direction (rotating-oscillating) are typically the most effective toothbrushes. In addition, electric toothbrushes may be a good option for those who have braces, or other dental appliances, and those who have dexterity problems, including the elderly and those with arthritis.
Whenever the bristles become visibly matted or frayed, it’s time for a new toothbrush (or new bristles if using an electric toothbrush). Every three months is the general rule of thumb for toothbrush/bristle replacement.
Most important of all, remember that good brushing habits should be established early, and children should know how important their oral health is to their overall health and well-being. Brush on!