February is National Children’s Dental Month, which means now is the best time to find a toothbrush that helps eliminate bedtime battles and makes brushing an activity your kids will actually do willingly. Don’t worry, they’ll find something else to argue about instead. Purple socks instead of yellow? The list of atrocities committed by parents continues to pile up.
Dental cavities are the most common chronic disease among young children and tooth decay among teens is now four times more common than asthma. Good dental health practice is an important foundation to instill in children as soon as their first set of chompers start sprouting through (prayer hands for all parents currently dealing with teething). Parents can use a damp washcloth to remove food from their infant’s teeth but should begin introducing a toothbrush once their child has four or more teeth.
Around the age of two or three, toddlers can move on to age-appropriate toothbrushes to help clean their baby teeth and develop a daily oral hygiene routine. There are several fluoride-free kinds of toothpaste available for children that are safe for swallowing. In most areas, kids are still receiving the protection of fluoride on their teeth through their drinking water. Once kids are able to spit, which typically happens around age three, parents can consider switching them to fluoride toothpaste.
For toddlers, toothbrushes with easy-to-grip handles and soft bristles are best. Young children who have the hand strength to hold a regular toothbrush can upgrade to designs that are more in line with adult toothbrushes. Like adult toothbrushes, toddler and kids toothbrushes and toothbrush heads should be replaced every three to four months. Running bristles under warm water for a few seconds before brushing is a good idea for any age since it helps to soften the bristles even further and prevent damage along the gum line from over-brushing.
As for how to actually get your kids to brush their teeth, we recommend toothbrushes with fun designs and bribes (stickers, bedtime book choice, you know the drill). My dental hygienist recommended that I let my toddler lay with her head in my lap while I brush her teeth, which has been a huge success and is much easier than holding a squirming two-year-old still while brushing their teeth.
For more on which toothbrush is best for every milestone, check out our top picks below.
1. Nuby Nananubs Banana Massaging Toothbrush
BEST FOR BABIES
When baby’s first teeth begin to poke through their delicate gums, parents rejoice at the start of yet another exciting milestone for their little one. JK, it’s awful for everyone. The Nuby Nananubs Banana Massaging Toothbrush is an excellent teething product that gives babies something soft to chew on and helps ease the pain of their aching gums while also gently cleaning their newly exposed tiny teeth. The extra-soft silicone massages the gums, cleans teeth and can be cleaned in the dishwasher, which is great news because no one has the energy for handwashing when it’s teething time.
2. Fridababy Grow-with-Me Training Toothbrush Set
BEST TRANSITION SET
For a set that goes with little ones from infancy to toddlerhood, we like the Fridababy Grow-with-Me Training Toothbrush Set. Parents can start with the triple angled silicone brush that gently massages a baby’s gums and cleans their teeth before moving on to the toddler brush. Featuring the same patented design, the toddler brush has soft bristles to be used with fluoride-free toothpaste. Both bright yellow toothbrushes have a hook design that is easy for babies and toddlers to grip onto. The BPA-free silicone toothbrush for toddlers also includes an indicator that lets parents know when it’s time to replace the brush.
3. Brusheez Kid’s Electric Toothbrush Set
BEST FIRST ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH
Brusheez has been helping kids develop good oral hygiene practices for years and recently came out with two new fun animal friends to help little ones clean their teeth. Luna the Llama and Shadow the Shark join the other characters from Brusheez, who have created an electric toothbrush that is affordable and has the bells and whistles kids will love. The battery-powered toothbrush removes twice as much plaque as a manual brush and uses soft bristles that are safe for kids ages three and up. The set includes a fun animal-themed toothbrush, a toothbrush cover, a replacement head, a small cup for rinsing and a sand timer to let kids know how long they should be brushing (no screen or app required). SPY received a sample of the Brusheez and we were impressed by the design of the kit, which will excite even the most reluctant brushers.
4. Philips Sonicare for Kids Bluetooth Connected Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
It’s 2021, which means everything has an app, including your kid’s toothbrush. Should we be relying on technology to keep kids entertained and motivated to brush their teeth? No, but for every parent who would like to actually get their kid out the door to school on time and into bed without a war at the sink, there is the Philips Sonicare for Kids Bluetooth Connected Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush. Pick your battles. The rechargeable electric toothbrush comes with its own base and has a music pacer app that lets kids know how long they should be brushing. The Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush works with the interactive Sonicare app that educates kids on oral health and provides fun stats on their brushing pattern. Is it an expensive way to get your kid to brush their teeth? Yes. Is it worth it? Also yes.
5. Oral-B Kids Electric Toothbrush
BEST CHARACTER OPTIONS
Will your kid only use a product if it has characters from Frozen, Star Wars, Toy Story, or feature a Disney princess? Then Oral-B has you covered. The company has partnered with Disney to create a line of character toothbrushes for their rechargeable electric toothbrush that removes plaque using a gentle oscillating head. Like Sonicare, Oral B also has a companion app that includes a timer to help kids know how long they should be brushing in the morning and at night.
6. Solimo Kids Battery Powered Toothbrush
If your little one wants to use a grown-up electric toothbrush but you don’t want to pay grown-up prices, there’s the Solimo Kids Battery Powered Toothbrush. The battery-powered toothbrush has a small, oscillating brush head that helps to remove 70% more plaque than a manual toothbrush. Designed for kids ages four and up and sold in a two-pack with a blue and yellow model, making it easy for siblings to tell their toothbrushes apart, the battery-powered toothbrush has soft bristles that are gentle on teeth and gums.
7. Dr. Brown’s Infant-to-Toddler Toothbrush
BEST TRAINING TOOTHBRUSH
When toddlers are ready to use their first real toothbrush and squeeze out a pea-size helping of toothpaste, Dr. Brown’s Infant-to-Toddler Toothbrush is a great introductory model. The soft, comfortable grip of the giraffe body toothpaste is easy for little hands to hold and inviting for small children. The brush has super soft bristles that are gentle on a toddler’s teeth and gums and the BPA-free toothbrush has a wide base that makes it easy to stand up when not in use.
8. Colgate PJ Masks Toothbrush
BEST MANUAL FOR KIDS
Even though there’s been an increase in the availability of electric toothbrushes for kids, there are still plenty of great manual options available. Whether children have sensory issues that make a manual to brush unpleasant to use or parents simply prefer a more traditional toothbrush, Colgate offers several great manual options for toddlers and kids, including their PJ Mask toothbrush. Designed with soft bristles that are appropriate for kids ages two and up, the brightly colored toothbrush has a small head that makes it easy to maneuver in little mouths and reach all the way to the back to clean molars. We also like that the toothbrush has a suction bottom to keep it from rolling off bathroom vanities.
9. Kids Electric Toothbrush by Quip
BEST FOR PRETEENS
For kids who want a toothbrush that will make them look like the mini-adults they are, we like the minimalist design by Quip. The company’s kid brush has a three-month battery life so kids don’t have to remember to recharge their toothbrushes every few days. The electric brush has a slim rubber handle that’s easy to grip and a small head that makes it easy for kids to maneuver inside their mouth. The Quip has a two-minute timer to help kids know how long they should be brushing and it’s also one of the quietest models available, which makes it a great option for kids with sensory sensitivities. Quip includes a mirror mount with each brush for convenient storage and parents can set up an automatic brush head replacement schedule for a small fee and added convenience.