Removing plaque is especially important in the prevention of cavity formation for children and adults. Most people today have thick plaque layers that sit on top of the “biofilm,” which is the protective layer referred to as “the skin of our teeth.” The biofilm is what nourishes the tooth, keeping it moist and supplied with calcium. With too much plaque on top of the biofilm, the tooth struggles to access the nutrients it needs, thus leading to cavities and decay. The key job of any toothbrush is to remove plaque from teeth and gums, and a high-quality toothbrush will remove plaque consistently and from all areas of the mouth. Children don’t understand the importance of brushing, and they cannot visualize the whole area inside their mouth, let alone try to reach all of it. So, if you want to establish good brushing habits, an electric toothbrush can help, because kids just aren’t great brushers. Kids also lack the coordination of proper brushing, so an electric toothbrush can help them reach more areas of their mouth with less effort.
A child can start an electric toothbrush at age 2—without toothpaste, but with supervision. In reality, toothpaste is only 10 percent of the equation when it comes to brushing teeth. In fact, the time spent brushing, the quality of the brush stroke and toothbrush head, and the ability of the child to brush all areas of the teeth and gums are each just as important as toothpaste—if not more so. For most families, however, a child is ready for an electric toothbrush when he or she asks for it—when he sees a parent using one and asks for his own, for example. You will need small heads and large handles with soft grips that are easy for small hands to hold and powered toothbrushes engaging and fun for children to use.
Kids look to their parents for direction: display to your child what you do, and he will want to mimic it. Turning brushing into a family activity can certainly facilitate this process. Even before a parent sticks a toothbrush in a kid’s mouth, that child should see his mom or dad exhibiting good brushing habits, especially if the parent decides to introduce an electric toothbrush. Keep the brushing experience positive and be prepared to introduce different aspects of brushing at a slower pace to ensure your child enjoys the process and actually wants to do it. Even parents who brush their child’s teeth should keep this in mind: An electric toothbrush can get more done in less time, making the most of the few moments a child is receptive to brushing and actually allows the brush to remain in his/her mouth.