Smart dental care: electric toothbrushes for children: three current models in practical tests

Dentists recommend parents to regularly brush their children's teeth from the first tooth onwards.

Smart dental care: electric toothbrushes for children: three current models in practical tests

Dentists recommend parents to regularly brush their children's teeth from the first tooth onwards. From the age of about three years, most slowly get used to cleaning themselves. As a rule, the little ones start with manual toothbrushes, which is also recommended by dentists such as Dr. Thomas Breyer, Chairman of the State Dental Association of Saxony. (Read an interview with Dr. Breyer about brushing teeth with children here.) But electric toothbrushes can also help children with their dental care. Some manufacturers offer special models for children from the age of three or six. The stern editors Mareike Fangmann and Jan Sägert tested three devices with smart functions with their children (four and five years old).

Oral-B Junior Smart

Playbrush Smart Sonic

Philips Sonicare For Kids

scope of delivery

Weight (handpiece with brush head)

126 grams

114 grams

134 grams

Battery life (according to manufacturer)

more than 2 weeks

14 Roofs

14 Roofs

Colours

White

Blue, Pink

Turquoise (can be customized with stickers)

age recommendation

from 6 years

from 3 years (special recommendation from 6 years)

from 3 years

Price

that. 45 euros

that. 30 euros

that. 40 euros

This toothbrush promises even the youngest fun when brushing teeth - and it actually looks very much like it: The Playbrush Smart Sonic is an electric sonic toothbrush for children from the age of three. However, it is only recommended from the age of six. stern editor Mareike Fangmann tested it with her four-and-a-half-year-old son.

The first thing you notice visually is that the brush head is larger than that of other electric children's toothbrushes. Overall, the design is very appealing: colorful, but still clear, so that my son knew straight away how to use the toothbrush: press the button and off you go. Charging works as usual via a charger that the Playbrush has to be plugged into. The first use is self-explanatory. The electric toothbrush for children also fits well in the hand thanks to the small knobs on the holder and the low weight and can be used by my four-year-old alone without any problems. Despite the comparatively larger brush head, it gets to all teeth. The brush head is soft and therefore not uncomfortable when cleaning.

If you want, you can unpack the sonic toothbrush, charge it and then start brushing it with your child. What is special about the toothbrush, however, is what its name already reveals: the playful aspect. In order to be able to use this, you cannot avoid the Playbrush Kids App. It is compatible with iOS and Android. To do this, parents have to search for the Playbrush Kids app on their tablet or smartphone, download it (initially free of charge) and connect the sonic toothbrush via Bluetooth. Basically, no instructions are necessary for this. This step also worked without any problems and the app provides good instructions on how to connect the electric toothbrush for children to the app. You have access to four interactive tooth brushing games and the tooth brushing coach. An optional subscription upgrade to more features is available in the app at an additional cost. With a bonus program you can still secure practical extras with such a subscription and save costs with diligent cleaning.

There is currently only one free game available for my son that is suitable for his age: "Utoothia Paint", in which a picture is only colored in if all teeth have really been thoroughly brushed with the toothbrush. We had to load an extra app for this, which makes things a bit cumbersome because you have to switch back and forth between apps. In addition, our test sometimes got stuck, and no matter how thoroughly my son cleaned under my supervision, the picture sometimes didn't fill in completely. And: The game app sometimes does not recognize whether the toothbrush is really in contact with the teeth or whether he is simply turning the brush to paint the picture. This does not necessarily guarantee that he really cleans his teeth thoroughly - only if I'm there and checking it.

Apart from that, the handling of this children's toothbrush with app is easy and fun. Theoretically, you can track exactly where you are brushing (this works well with the teeth brushing coach) and where there is still a need for practice. If necessary, you can download and try out new games (for a small fee) so that you don't get bored. In addition, the Playbrush Smart Sonic is equipped with two cleaning modes (gentle and stronger), which can be controlled via the app and with the help of which the care service can be adapted to the needs of the children. A pressure sensor and evaluations of cleaning performance (accuracy, time, regularity) via app also help to optimize daily oral hygiene.

The Playbrush Smart Sonic keeps what it promises: It makes brushing his teeth fun and made sure that my son brushed more thoroughly and longer and that he enjoyed going to the bathroom in the morning and in the evening. Playing encouraged him to really clean everywhere and not forget anything. Handling is simple and the games are easy to understand. It didn't bother my son that the game occasionally got stuck. And the information about the passage of time and the cleaning result is actually helpful.

However, my son could not yet use the electric children's toothbrush including the app on his own, as he occasionally needed a little help while playing. Therefore, the recommendation from the age of six is ​​understandable for us. The selection of free games for kids his age is a bit poor. But we will definitely continue to use the Playbrush Smart Sonic - it will certainly work for my son soon all by himself and with even more games to choose from. And the fact that brushing your teeth works so easily makes everyday life actually easier.

Oral-B entered the Junior Smart model. As with the devices for adults, the junior model uses a round oscillating brush head. It is recommended for children over the age of six. The tester was the five-and-a-half-year-old son of stern editor Jan Sägert.

At first glance, the Junior Smart model differs only marginally from the Oral-B toothbrushes for adults. It comes in plain white. The designers have at least given the front a little childish touch with a funny tooth monster comic. Otherwise, the brush is just as big and heavy as the mum and dad version. The first cleaning wasn't too much of a challenge for my five-year-old son. Put the brush head with the colored ring on the handpiece, done. The start button is also quickly found and off you go. The brush is quite noisy when in use. This should look familiar to users of brushes with an oscillating brush head. The first two minutes of cleaning just flew by. A good sign.

As with the Playbrush, the Oral-B Junior Smart is equipped with a Bluetooth function. In order to be able to use the device to its full extent, downloading the (free) Oral B Fun Zone app is mandatory. These are equally available for iOS and Android devices. It is installed quickly. Then it can go. When you press the start button, a timer counts down the preset cleaning time of two minutes, provided the smartphone is within Bluetooth range of the brush. An acoustic signal every 30 seconds tells you to move the brush up, down, left or right. The little cleaning devil can watch himself brushing his teeth via the smartphone camera. Small gag and motivational aid (or distraction from the essentials?): the app's fun filter. Similar to Snapchat, kids get manga hero messy hair, a cute unicorn face, or mirrored sunglasses. A short cleaning sequence is automatically recorded by the app and can later be shared on social media. A function that is superfluous from my point of view, but is probably part of it these days.

In addition, a cleaning account is credited with 500 points for each successful session (125 points per cleaning section). If you reach certain limits, new theme worlds with additional fun filters are unlocked. The automatic pressure control monitors whether too much pressure is being applied to the teeth. In this case, a red LED flashes and the display turns red with the message "too much pressure". Basically, this is a useful feature. However, the device did not sound an alarm once during our test. My theory: Kindergarten and elementary school children are not yet physically able to exert so much pressure that could endanger their teeth and gums.

Parents and children do not receive direct feedback from the app as to whether they have brushed correctly in all areas of their mouth. The pictures are funny and at least motivated my son to brush his teeth for two minutes in the morning and evening for two weeks without major protests. This was by no means a matter of course otherwise. However, the entertaining app does not relieve parents of checking the cleaning success and cleaning again themselves. The rule of thumb is: only when children have mastered cursive handwriting are they able to reach all parts of the mouth with a toothbrush and clean them accordingly. After two minutes, the Oral-B Junior Smart turns itself off. The app provides a short summary. I had to read the motivating words to our five and a half year old son.

The Oral-B Junior Smart does what it's supposed to do: brush your teeth. The round and small brush head, which is typical for oscillating brushes, rotates a little too loudly for my taste, which can probably not be solved technically otherwise. My son easily reached the furthest corners of his mouth. Whether he actually brushed every tooth and space remains unclear. Unfortunately, this response is missing. On the other hand, the Fun Zone app is great fun and, in our test, meant that the motivation didn't fizzle out after just three days. Otherwise, the app is slim and easy to understand, even for children. Nevertheless, I think the recommended age of six years is absolutely appropriate. From my point of view, it's a bit of a shame that the Smart version, in contrast to the two models without Bluetooth function (with a Star Wars motif for boys and Minnie Mouse for girls), comes in plain white. Here I would have wished for something more child-friendly.

"Interactive fun for better brushing" is written in English on the packaging of the Philips Sonicare For Kids. Here, too, a suitable app should make dental care palatable for children. From the age of three, children should clean their teeth with this sonic toothbrush. That's what it says on the packaging. stern editor Jan Sägert and his six-year-old son tested the device with the little monster.

A fluffy monster with big wide eyes laughed at our junior while unpacking the Philips Sonicare For Kids. Here it is immediately clear: This sonic toothbrush was developed for children. In addition to the handpiece in turquoise, two brush heads fall out of the box. One small and one much larger. A protective cap for each. Also the charging station and two sticker sheets. The handset made of rubberized plastic is a bit clumsy, is comparatively heavy, but makes a valuable impression. It collects the first plus point with our son immediately. He quickly sticks one of the numerous stickers on the front. A nice idea from the designers. Otherwise, the two controls are immediately noticeable. The generously dimensioned power button and another switch with a selection function. More on that later.

After the children's toothbrush had been colorfully pasted, the first brushing session with our junior was twice as much fun. Especially when the little monster from the packaging on the smartphone app grinned at him. This must be downloaded and installed as usual in the appropriate store (Apple or Google). First you have to choose between two brushing modes with the Philips Sonicare For Kids. Mode one: "normal" with a cleaning time of two minutes. Mode two: "gentle" with a cleaning time of one minute. With a little skill, the cleaning times can be adjusted. To switch between the modes, the lower button on the front must be pressed. A green LED then bounces from left (gentle mode) to right in "normal" mode and vice versa. The cleaning mode must be decided before the start of the session. Our son tried both modes but didn't notice any noticeable difference. Possibly also because he was distracted by the little monster jumping around in his virtual bathroom. During cleaning, the display shows a mouth from the inside. In addition, a toothbrush that works its way from tooth to tooth while chasing away other fluffy monsters. It was unclear to me whether my son's cleaning behavior was shown here 1:1. After successfully cleaning the monster, a small present will fall into its arms, which can be unwrapped with a tap of the finger. In addition to sweet treats, there are spray cans and fashionable accessories with which the tooth monster can be fed, sprayed or changed. A funny idea that was very well received by my son and led to him bickering with his little brother in the morning and in the evening over who is allowed to unwrap the present.

The Philips Sonicare For Kids also fulfills what is promised on the packaging and in the instructions. It shines with a colorful design that can be made even more colorful with stickers. The fact that it is a bit bulky could possibly be a problem for children with small hands. Due to the rubberized surface, the handpiece is basically very easy to grip. In my opinion, the buttons could be a bit more sensitive so that children can switch on the device or switch cleaning modes without any problems. The app is funny and entertaining. Our son's cleaning friendship also received small gifts. Small weak point and minus point: The brush attachment sits extremely firmly on the handpiece and is impossible for a child to loosen. The attachment itself also requires skill and strength that three to six-year-olds do not have.

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