Do Kids Need Electric Toothbrushes?

electric toothbrush for kidsAre electric toothbrushes better for kids than manual toothbrushes? I’m prepared to get into it, but first understand that either can be part of an effective dental hygiene routine. I’d like to help parents understand more about each so that you can make the best decision for your child.

Manual Toothbrush vs. Electric Toothbrush

First things first — manual toothbrushes are as effective as their electric counterparts, at least in theory. Their bristles can clean tooth surfaces, remove plaque and food deposits, and often incorporate efficient designs to make them excellent tools if they are deployed effectively. Some kids (and adults) may even prefer manual brushes because they don’t like the vibration or motion of an electric toothbrush.

But there is the linchpin — a manual toothbrush is more reliant on good technique. Kids often don’t use their toothbrushes as effectively as they could. Perhaps they don’t brush long enough, or they pay little attention to those hard-to-see molars.

We’ve seen a number of patients over the years who just don’t do a good job of getting their gums and teeth clean. Cavities and gum damage can usually be avoided by doing nothing more than cleaning your mouth thoroughly and regularly, and electric toothbrushes can help facilitate this by reducing user error. They often include features like timers, sensors, and multiple modes to create a tailor-made brushing experience.

They are the equalizers that transform OK brushers into great brushers.

With an electric toothbrush, of course, children will still need to brush twice a day for two minutes and make sure they cover all their teeth and gums.

But electric toothbrushes aren’t just for children who struggle with technique. Even experts such as yours truly prefer the effectiveness of an electric brush over manual versions. Multiple studies have shown they can be more effective than manual brushes at removing plaque. That’s because they produce hundreds or even thousands of cleaning motions per minute, a feat that can’t be replicated manually.

Many kids also find electric toothbrushes a lot of fun, which can make them more enthusiastic about brushing their teeth. Anything that encourages children to brush gets a thumbs-up from us!

Dr. Duffy’s Favorite Electric Toothbrush for Kids

There’s a wide range of electric toothbrushes out there, so how is a parent to choose? All toothbrushes are not created equal, and making the right choice from the start will help you save in the long run. Our office recommends the same line that we choose for our own families.

Philips Sonicare for Kids
This brush uses sonic waves to clean rather than the oscillating motion that other brushes use, and we think it’s one of the best choices out there. The built-in KidPacer alarm tells your child when it’s time to move to the next quadrant of their mouth and lets them know when they are all done.

Sonicare electric toothbrush for kids


  • Rechargeable
  • #1 Recommended power toothbrush brand by dental professionals
  • Interactive free app educates and gets kids excited about brushing. Kids are rewarded for each successful brushing session, while parents can track and monitor progress.
  • Stickers!


Whether you settle on a manual or electric toothbrush for your child, we recommend you stick with one that has a seal of acceptance from the American Dental Association. Dental products marked with the ADA seal have been studied thoroughly and tested for safety and effectiveness.

If you’d like to try incorporating an electric toothbrush into your child’s dental hygiene routine but aren’t sure where to start, our team would be happy to recommend one for you personally based on your child’s needs.

Helping Kids Love Dentistry!
~Dr. Duffy

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