Baby Essentials

The Top 4 Toddler Toothbrushes & Tips On Making Brushing Fun For Your Little One

Updated on
toddler toothbrush

 

Overview: Do Toddlers Need A Toothbrush?

Did you know that as many as 28% of toddlers already have one or more cavities by age 3? (1)

While that seems “fine” because they’re baby teeth anyway, it’s not. Cavities (dental decay) can have a long-lasting impact on your child’s oral health. They may lead to future dental problems with your child’s permanent teeth. (1)

By developing habits for good oral hygiene, you can help save your toddler’s pearly whites from damage. That’s important because the stats get worse for young children: around 50% of kids may already have cavities (affecting one or more teeth) by age 5. (1)

The ADA (American Dental Association) recommends brushing when your baby’s first tooth comes out. This usually happens when your baby is around six months old. New teeth will continue to erupt in the coming months and years. (2)

Starting early helps protect your baby’s teeth, helping them avoid cavities as they grow older. (2)

How can you help protect your toddler’s teeth and sensitive gums from damage? What’s the best toothbrush for toddlers – manual or electric? Can a younger child (such as a 2-year-old) use a toothbrush for 3-year-olds? How can you tell when to change your toddler’s toothbrush?

We’ll discuss the answers to these toothbrushing questions below and provide some recommendations for the top 4 toddler toothbrushes.

We’ve also included tips on making brushing more fun to motivate your toddlers to do it regularly.

 

What Do Dentists Recommend: Manual Vs. Electric Toothbrushes?

The ADA considers powered (electric) and manual (traditional) toothbrushes as both “equally effective at removing plaque.” (2)

Currently, there aren’t any ADA-accepted electric toothbrushes for babies and toddlers, only for 3+ years old.

What’s more important is that your child learns how to properly brush their teeth as early as possible to prevent cavities. (2)(3)

Some dental professionals, such as US-based pediatric dentist Dr. Melissa Rozas (DDS), believe kids might be more enthusiastic about oral care with an electric toothbrush. It might make them brush their teeth longer and establish good oral habits. (3)

However, Dr. Rozas recommends waiting until your toddler is 2-3 years old before letting them use an electric toothbrush. (3)

Remember that electric toothbrushes are more powerful than traditional ones. Studies have shown that they’re more likely to damage teeth and gums than manual toothbrushes, using the same force for an extended period. (4)

 

Which One Is Better For My Toddler: A Sonic Or Rotating Electric Toothbrush?

A PLOS One (Public Library of Science) study (2017) showed that sonic toothbrushes can be more abrasive than oscillating-rotating toothbrushes. However, both are more abrasive and can cause more damage than manual ones. (4)

Still, power toothbrushes have also been shown to remove plaque and protect against gingivitis (gum inflammation) in recent (a 2021 International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry clinical trial) and older studies (a 1997 Journal of the American Dental Association clinical trial). (5)(6)

Dr. Rozas warns, however, that it’s important that your child wants to use an electric toothbrush. Forcing them to use one may create a lasting negative impact. It might even affect their dental hygiene and make them afraid or worried about brushing their own teeth. (3)

Other dental professionals, such as those from Illinois-based BRUSH Pediatric Dentistry, agree with Dr. Rozas. BRUSH Pediatric Dentistry especially warns against using certain power toothbrushes with kids who have sensory issues. The sound or vibrations from the toothbrush might scare them. (7) 

Below, we share tips on motivating your child to brush their teeth and learn good oral habits. 

 

Key Points: The Top 4 Toddler Toothbrushes

Manual & Traditional Toddler Toothbrushes

  • Dr. Brown’s Infant To Toddler Toothbrush (0-3 years old) – Cute design (giraffe and elephant) with super soft bristles and made of BPA-free plastic (without BPA or bisphenol-A); designed to be stored upright, with “ears” (for the elephant design only) preventing the bristles from coming in contact with surfaces


  • Radius Totz Toothbrush (18+ months) – Slim, shimmery toothbrush with extra soft, vegetable-derived bristles free from BPA, latex, phthalate, and synthetic dyes; FDA-approved and ADA-accepted toothbrush proven safe and effective in removing plaque and reducing gingivitis (gum inflammation) (2)(8)

 

Electric & Power Toddler Toothbrushes

  • Brush Baby BabySonic Infant & Toddler Electric Toothbrush (0-3 years old) – Sonic toothbrush with soft bristles; has two types of replaceable heads for 0-18 months and 18-36 months (each pack contains two brush heads)


  • Dada-Tech Baby Electric Toothbrush (0-36 months old) Sonic toothbrush with soft bristles, LED light, and a stout, anti-slip handle; with differently sized replacement heads (each pack contains four brush heads)

 

Continue reading to learn more about these toddler toothbrushes.

 

Manual & Traditional Toddler Toothbrushes

Dr. Brown’s Infant To Toddler Toothbrush

(source: drbrownsbaby.com)

 

Pros & Best Features

  • Brush Head Size & Style: Small, kid-sized
  • Bristles: Super-soft bristles
  • Material: BPA-free plastic
  • Handle Size & Features: Stout, soft, and shaped like an elephant or giraffe
  • Age Recommendations: 0-3 years old
  • Dimensions: ‎5.51 x 0.98 x 1.77 inches (according to Amazon)
  • Made in: USA 

 

The elephant design also features large “ears” that keep the bristles elevated (not touching the surface) when the toothbrush is flat.

(source: youtube.com)

 

Both designs have a flat base and are stout enough to be propped vertically (the giraffe has legs).

(source: youtube.com)

 

Recalls

  • None

 

Cons & Things To Consider

  • Some customer complaints about the bristles being very hard and sharp, easily becoming frayed or damaged, and the paint having a chemical smell
  • Doesn’t have the ADA Seal of Acceptance

 

What Customers Say

Positive Customer Reviews

Our 20 month old son loves this toothbrush because it’s easy for him to hold and it’s bristles are nice and soft. I love it because it stands up like our adult toothbrush, which is much more hygienic.” – Reviewer on Dr. Brown’s website

 

Negative Customer Reviews

“What surprised me was the bristles were very hard and thin – the combination made them even SHARPER than an adult’s toothbrush bristles.” – Reviewer on Amazon

 

Radius Totz Toothbrush

(source: madebyradius.com)

 

Pros & Best Features

  • Brush Head Size & Style: Small, kid-sized
  • Bristles: Extra soft, vegetable-derived bristles 
  • Material: Plastic free from BPA, latex, phthalate, and synthetic dyes
  • Handle Size & Features: Slim handle made for little hands; shimmery design available in different colors
  • Age Recommendations: 18+ months
  • Dimensions: 0.75 x 0.5 x 5.5 inches (according to Amazon)
  • Made in: USA

 

According to the company’s website, the Radius Totz Toothbrush is FDA-approved. It also has the ADA Seal of Acceptance given to oral care products that are safe and effective in removing plaque and reducing gingivitis (gum inflammation). (2)(8)

 

Recalls

  • None

 

Cons & Things To Consider

  • Some customer complaints about quality issues (e.g., the bristles easily became frayed even with just a month of use)

 

What Customers Say

Positive Customer Reviews

“…It’s very easy to hold, lightweight and comfortable in her little hand. The bristles are very soft and gentle on her gums and teeth. I like the shape and size of the brush head and the design allows me to really get all angles on her teeth and along her gum line.” – Reviewer on Radius’ website

 

Negative Customer Reviews

Have been using for a month and the bristles are already out of place.” – Reviewer on Amazon

 

Electric & Power Toddler Toothbrushes

Brush Baby BabySonic Infant & Toddler Electric Toothbrush

(source: us.brushbaby.com)

 

Pros & Best Features

  • Brush Head Size & Style: Small; replaceable heads for 0-18 months and 18-36 months (each pack contains two brush heads)
  • Bristles: Soft bristles
  • Material: Plastic
  • Handle Size & Features: Stout 
  • Age Recommendations: 0-3 years old
  • Dimensions: 0.79 x 1.18 x 5.31 inches (according to Amazon)

 

This sonic toothbrush uses gentle vibrations to clean teeth. It also has a light-up, 2-minute timer with 30-second pulses (guides brushing for the different quadrants of your child’s mouth).

 

Recalls

  • None

 

Cons & Things To Consider

  • Some customer complaints about quality concerns (e.g., the bristles easily become frayed, the top breaking off, the batteries draining too easily, etc.)
  • Doesn’t have the ADA Seal of Acceptance

 

What Customers Say

Positive Customer Reviews

Baby like the light and buzzing. Makes it more fun for her to “brush her teeth” on her own and the light makes it easier to see when I am brushing them.” – Reviewer on Amazon

 

Negative Customer Reviews

The toothbrush is perfect size for the toddler but the tops break off way too easily for it being a children’s tool. We plowed through 4 or 5 of these before we switched brands.” – Reviewer on Amazon

 

Dada-Tech Baby Electric Toothbrush

(source: dadatk.com)

 

Pros & Best Features

  • Brush Head Size & Style: Small, with differently sized replacement heads (each pack contains four brush heads)
  • Bristles: Soft, food-grade nylon bristles
  • Material: BPA-free plastic handle and high-quality silicone brush-head
  • Handle Size & Features: Stout, anti-slip handle
  • Age Recommendations: 0-36 months old
  • Dimensions: ‎8.27 x 3.03 x 1.5 inches (according to Amazon)
  • Made In: China (according to Amazon

 

This sonic toothbrush features an LED light that can make brushing more fun for babies and toddlers. It also has a 2-minute timer with 30-second pulses (quadrant cleaning guide).

 

Recalls

  • None

 

Cons & Things To Consider

  • Some customer complaints about quality issues (e.g., it easily broke, the bristles or replaceable heads fell off, etc.)
  • Doesn’t have the ADA Seal of Acceptance

 

What Customers Say

Positive Customer Reviews

I appreciate that the bristles are extra soft and the plastic handle is well constructed.” – Reviewer on Dada-Tech’s website

 

Negative Customer Reviews

Nothing more than normal toothbrush with light and vibration (doesn’t rotate). Broke after one unlucky fall. Definitely not worth the money.” – Reviewer on Dada-Tech’s website

 

Summary & Recommendations

These toothbrushes are designed to clean your toddler’s teeth. Choose one (manual or electric) that suits your child’s needs and your preferences. Here are our recommendations:

 

Manual & Traditional Toddler Toothbrushes

Choose Dr. Brown’s Infant To Toddler Toothbrush (0-3 years old) if you’re looking for:

  • A cute design (giraffe and elephant) with super soft bristles and made of BPA-free plastic
  • One that can stand stored upright
  • Design that keeps the bristles from coming in contact with surfaces (for the elephant design only)

 

 Choose Radius Totz Toothbrush (18+ months) if you prefer: 

  • Slim, shimmery toothbrush with extra soft, vegetable-derived bristles 
  • One that’s free from BPA, latex, phthalate, and synthetic dyes
  • FDA-approved and ADA-accepted toothbrush that has been proven safe and effective in removing plaque and reducing gingivitis (2)(8)

 

Electric & Power Toddler Toothbrushes

Choose Brush Baby BabySonic Infant & Toddler Electric Toothbrush (0-3 years old) if you want:

  • A sonic toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Having two types of replaceable heads for 0-18 months and 18-36 months

 

Choose Dada-Tech Baby Electric Toothbrush if you’re searching for a: 

  • Sonic toothbrush with soft bristles, LED light, and a stout, anti-slip handle
  • Product with differently sized replacement heads (each pack contains four brush heads)

 

How To Choose Your Toddler’s Toothbrush?

Smaller, Toddler-Sized Brush Head For Little Mouths

Toddlers have smaller mouths than adults. It makes sense that they use a toothbrush with a small head. This smaller brush head allows you (or your child) to reach teeth close to the back of their mouths (such as the back-most molars). (2)(3)

 

Easy-To-Grip Kid-Friendly Handle

A kid-sized toothbrush with a smaller and shorter handle can help promote independence, encouraging your child to brush their own teeth. Find one that fits their little hands. (2)

 

Safe Materials

Children are more sensitive to harsh and harmful chemicals that might affect their still-developing bodies. Check for food-grade, BPA-free toothbrushes.

 

Durable But Soft Bristles

Protect your child’s mouth, gums, and teeth from unnecessary damage from brushing by choosing a product with extra soft bristles. (2)(9)

The super-soft bristles might not “sweep” better than medium or hard bristles, but they can help protect your toddler’s gum line. (2)(9)

 

Colorful, Lively, & Kid-Friendly Designs & Prints

Many baby and toddler toothbrushes have colorful and lively prints, even cool shapes (such as giraffe designs). They can encourage your kids to brush their teeth because it’s “fun.”

 

Check The Age Recommendations: What Toothbrush Should A 2-Year-Old Use?

Toothbrush manufacturers market their products for different ages. Check the age recommendations on the packaging. (2)

However, these recommendations aren’t absolute. For example, when your child is three years old, you can still choose a toothbrush from the 2-3 age range instead of immediately moving to the 3-5 category. 

 

Can My 2-Year-Old Use A 3-Year-Old Toothbrush?

Possibly. The right toothbrush fits your child’s mouth. Trial and error can help you pick the right size. (2)

 

Customer Reviews

We recommend checking customer reviews for the quality and performance of these toothbrush products. For actual reviews, consider the brand’s website or check online shops such as Amazon, Target, and Walmart.

 

Price & Value For The Money

Most traditional toothbrushes for toddlers cost less than $10, though the prices can vary depending on the brand, features, and extras. 

Some products even come in sets with toothpaste and a finger puppet or stuffed toy that encourages brushing. These extras can add to the product’s overall cost. However, some parents think it’s still worth the money because they motivate kids to brush their own teeth

 

Storage & Cleaning Options

Some products come with a travel or storage case for keeping your child’s toothbrush while not in use. However, we recommend airing the toothbrush and cleaning the case regularly to reduce the risks of bacterial growth. (2)

Consider a toothbrush with a suction cup at the bottom. This allows your child’s toothbrush to stick to mirrors or tiled surfaces, keeping the bristles dry and clean.

Always clean and rinse the toothbrush after use to remove food particles stuck between the bristles.

 

Consider The Toothbrush Type To Buy

Teether Toothbrush

Teething babies and toddlers love to chew on things because this helps alleviate the irritation they feel on their gums before new teeth erupt. You can hit two birds using one stone by giving them a teether toothbrush to chew on. (10)

It helps with teething discomfort while also cleaning your child’s gums and new teeth.

 

Manual Or Traditional Toddler Toothbrush

A manual toothbrush with extra soft bristles can clean your toddler’s teeth with minimal risks of damage to their gums and mouth. It’s less likely to cause bleeding and abrasions on your child’s smaller, softer milk teeth. (4)

 

Toddler Electric Toothbrush 

Fewer products are available for toddlers because most are designed and recommended for children aged 3+. However, you can find a handful of toddler electric toothbrushes. They’re more expensive than traditional toothbrushes, but the replacement heads can cost about the same as the manual ones.

Sonic toothbrushes are quieter but might cause more damage to teeth in the long run. Check with your pediatric dentist for recommendations because these might vary depending on your child’s needs. (4)

 

U-Type Toothbrush

Studies have shown that the U-type automatic toothbrush may not be effective in removing plaque and cleaning teeth. (11)

We don’t recommend using U-shaped toothbrushes for your kids’ teeth.

 

Tips For Promoting Baby & Toddler Dental Care & Hygiene

When Should Toddlers Start Brushing Their Teeth?

Dentists recommend starting brushing as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts. (2)

 

How Often Must Toddlers Brush Their Teeth?

Brushing is recommended twice a day, even for babies and toddlers. (2)

 

Get The Right Toothbrush (You Can Choose Together)

The right toothbrush will not only clean your child’s teeth and prevent gum damage but also encourage your child to practice oral care. Consider involving your little one in the choosing process – they might prefer using a toothbrush they prefer themselves. (12)

 

Does My Toddler Need Toothpaste When Brushing?

The best baby and toddler toothpaste must be fluoride-free to avoid fluorosis, which can cause pits and permanent discoloration (stain) on your child’s teeth. (13)

Your toddler can start using a low fluoride toothpaste if you want (a smear on the bristles or around the size of a grain of rice) once they’re 2-3 years old. (13)

Once they turn three, they can use standard fluoride toothpaste. Dentists usually recommend using a pea-sized amount for kids 3 to 6 years old. (13)

Note that there are clean-ingredient (fluoride-free) toothpastes we recommend, such as Wellnesse. 

 

Follow Proper Brushing Techniques

Because they’re designed differently, electric and manual toothbrushes are also used in varied manners. The ADA clarifies that regardless of toothbrush type and brushing technique, what’s more important is that all teeth surfaces are cleaned. (2)

For best results, toothbrushing must be done for at least 2 minutes, covering each quadrant for approximately 30 seconds. (2)

The ADA suggests brushing teeth at a 45-degree angle. Use back-and-forth motion with a manual toothbrush. However, you (or your toddler) only need to put the electric toothbrush bristles on your child’s teeth. Don’t brush back and forth using an electric toothbrush – that can damage teeth. (2)(9)

Important: Read your toddler’s electric toothbrush instructions before using it. 

 

How Do You Brush A 2-Year-Old‘s Teeth?

Follow the brushing techniques above – they apply to all ages.

 

Regularly Replace Your Toddler’s Toothbrush

Always replace your child’s toothbrush (or get a replacement head) in any of these situations: (2)

  • Improper size (e.g., you got a bigger toothbrush than what fits your child’s mouth)
  • Frayed or damaged bristles
  • If your toddler got sick (to prevent recurring infections)

 

We recommend replacing all family member’s brush heads or toothbrushes monthly.

 

Regularly Visit Your Pediatric Dentist

A dentist can:

  • Check your toddler’s teeth for early signs of cavities or other problems
  • Provide prophylaxis (prevent tooth decay) by clearing plaque and tartar build-up
  • Teach your child the proper brushing techniques (if they’re doing it incorrectly)
  • Encourage your toddler to develop oral care habits

 

FAQs

Should I Hold My Toddler Down To Brush Their Teeth?

If your toddler resists toothbrushing, avoid forcing and holding them down against their will. Instead, dentists suggest creating a fun routine to make brushing less of a chore. (14)

 

Motivation: What If My Toddler Has Trouble Brushing? 

Some ways to encourage your toddler to brush their teeth (without a fight): (12)(15)

  • Choose a fun toothbrush
  • Let your child try and explore the toothbrush by themself
  • Consider a reward system
  • Support your child’s enthusiasm
  • Get a fun, kid-friendly toothpaste (flavored options are available)
  • Find a brushing stuffed animal or toy
  • Avoid making the two-minute timer a chore

 

Bonus: Baby Toothbrushes

Baby Gum Brush (Finger Toothbrush)

  • BabyBaus Finger Baby Toothbrush
  • FridaBaby SmileFrida The Finger Toothbrush
  • NUK Grins And Giggles Three-Sided Baby Finger Brush & Cleanser Set
  • The Brushies Toothbrush Set (Finger Puppet Toothbrush With Book) 

 

First Baby Toothbrush

  • Colgate My First Baby & Toddler Bubble Fruit Toothpaste & Toothbrush Set
  • Baby Banana Infant Teething Toothbrush
  • MAM Training Toothbrush for Babies
  • Nuby 4-Stage Oral Care Set System (set includes finger toothbrush, massaging brushes, and a bristle toothbrush)
  • Jordan Step 1 Baby Toothbrush

 

Wipes For Teeth Or Gums

  • ​​Spiffies Tooth Wipes
  • Dr. Brown’s Tooth and Gum Wipes

 

Bonus: Toothbrushes For Older Toddlers & Preschoolers

  • FridaBaby SmileFrida Triple-Angle ToothHugger Toothbrush
  • Philips Sonicare For Kids Electric Brush
  • Oral-B Disney Kids Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
  • Quip Kids Electric Toothbrush (ADA-Accepted)

 

Recent Baby Product Recalls & Safety Warnings

Stay informed with the latest news by signing up for our regular Motherhood Community recall alerts so you never miss an important recall.

Check these comprehensive lists of product recalls by category:

 

References

(1) https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/Teething-and-Dental-Hygiene.aspx

(2) https://www.ada.org/en/resources/ada-library/oral-health-topics/toothbrushes

(3) https://www.rozasdds.com/blog/2022/05/04/at-what-age-are-electric-toothbrushes-for-kids-appropriate/

(4) https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0172060

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10015989/

(6) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9103798/

(7) https://www.brushforkids.com/blog/2024/05/14/is-your-child-ready-for-their-first-electric-toothbrush/

(8) https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/ada-seal-of-acceptance/product-search#sort=%40productname%20ascending&f:@category=[Manual%20Toothbrushes]&f:@kids=[Kids]

(9) https://www.consumerreports.org/health/toothbrushes/electric-toothbrush-or-manual-a3193343159/

(10) https://www.nct.org.uk/baby-toddler/teething/brushing-baby-teeth-handy-hints-and-how-tos

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7370079/

(12) https://bigapplepediatricdentistry.com/should-kids-use-an-electric-toothbrush/

(13) https://health.clevelandclinic.org/parents-you-may-not-start-brushing-your-childs-teeth-as-soon-as-you-should-and-yes-its-a-big-problem

(14) https://childrens-dental.com/tips-for-brushing-your-toddlers-teeth-with-less-resistance/

(15) https://nap.nationalacademies.org/read/19401/chapter/8

 

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