Are Electric Toothbrushes a Better Option For Autistic Children?

Autistic kids often find it hard to get into an effective toothbrushing routine. Some may not like having to brush their teeth twice a day; others, while willing to brush, find it hard to do a consistently good job. If your child has problems with a regular toothbrush, then switching to an electric model might help. What are the advantages of electric toothbrushes?

Fixed Timings

Most dentists recommend that toothbrushing sessions should last around two minutes and should cover all the teeth. This is a problem for some kids with autism who may find it hard to work out how long and where to brush.

Most electric toothbrushes have built-in timers. The brush vibrates, buzzes or makes a sound when you have hit your time target, so your child will know exactly how long to brush for. Plus, some children's toothbrushes have an additional timer that splits the two-minute base time into smaller sections to encourage kids to clean all their teeth in turn.

Less Effort

If your child finds it hard to manipulate a manual toothbrush, then an electric toothbrush may make brushing easier. Electric brushes do a lot of the work for you, and your child may prefer being able to simply guide the brush on to their teeth and then letting its heads do the cleaning work.

More Engaging

Some electric toothbrushes come with additional bells and whistles that make them more attractive to kids – if children like their toothbrush, then they are more likely to use it. For example, you can get electric toothbrushes based on popular cartoon and film characters; some come with stickers and wall charts to reward good brushing behaviour.

Some electric toothbrushes also have with app-connectivity. Here, you use an app on your phone or tablet that plays music for an optimum brushing time – this may be useful if your child doesn't like vibrate alerts. Apps may also have reward systems that unlock fun stuff whenever your child brushes for the right amount of time.

Tip: If your child starts off liking an electric toothbrush but then seems to buy out of using it, check to see if it is fully charged. Autistic kids can be very sensitive to change and may notice when the brush starts to run slower. Recharging the battery could get things on track again. 

If you aren't sure if an electric toothbrush will be a good fit for your child, then ask a family dentist for advice. Your dentist can also help you choose the right kind of toothbrush to best suit your child's abilities and needs.