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Choosing An Autistic Toothbrush: Which One Is Best For Your Child?

autistic child brushing his teeth with three-sided toothbrush

Last Updated on

May 3rd, 2024 12:01 pm

Dental care can be a huge issue for Autistic children and adults alike. The sensory displeasure that comes with a mouth full of toothpaste or the uncomfortable sensation of brushing on gums is too much for many. As a result, poor dental habits result in bad oral hygiene and tooth decay.

But there’s another option – A dedicated autistic toothbrush. But what is it exactly, and how do they encourage independent brushing? Let’s take a look in more detail.

What Is an Autistic Toothbrush?

An autistic toothbrush is specially designed to accommodate for autistic sensory issues by providing softer bristles and a softer brush. It also has a different shape so that your child doesn’t have to hold it as long before they get used to using it.

The best thing about these brushes is that they are specifically designed to suit the sensory needs of Autistic people. They are made from soft materials, which means that they won’t hurt your child’s teeth when you use them, making those good dental habits more manageable.

They also come in various sizes and shapes depending on your child’s age and size. For kids with motor skill issues, many autistic toothbrushes are designed to be user-friendly for those with oral motor issues and challenges.

How do Autistic Toothbrushes work?

Autistic toothbrushes work by providing a sensory experience that is calming and helps to focus the user. The bristles are soft, and the handle is textured, offering a tactile experience that is calming and helps the user to focus with daily tooth brushing.

There are many autistic toothbrushes on the market, and they all work a little differently. Some have soft bristles that won’t cause sensory overload, while others use flexible bristles that reduce oral sensitivity. There are also autistic toothbrushes with expansion pleats that allow the bristles to reach all of your child’s teeth without causing them discomfort.

Additionally, many autistic toothbrushes come with ergonomic handles that make them very easy for children to hold. This is important, because it can be difficult for kids with autism to brush their teeth on their own.

Some autistic toothbrushes don’t use bristles at all! Instead, they rely on ultrasound technology for cleaning of plaque, bad breath, and cavities. This is a great option for kids who find a regular tooth brush too overwhelming or uncomfortable, or have dexterity issues that stop them using proper technique.

What are the Benefits of Using Toothbrushes for Autistic Children?

There are many benefits to using an autistic toothbrush over a traditional toothbrush. Some are more obvious, while others you may not have thought about before. These include:

Establish Routine in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

For one, it can help kids who crave a daily routine. Having a regular time-set routine benefits many Autistic individuals. By using a toothbrush designed for Autistic children, it allows for a smoother transition into the next part of their day – especially bed time brushing. For the eco-conscious, consider toddler size bamboo toothbrushes!

Reduce Plaque Levels and Improve Oral Care

Like any toothbrush, good dental care provides many benefits to personal hygiene. In turn, good dental hygiene can ease the pain of sensitive teeth and reduce the chances of tooth decay.

If you’re struggling to brush your child’s teeth, take it easy at first. Steps that may be taken when tooth brushing are to place the toothbrush just inside their mouth without toothpaste, asking them to “open wide,” and then use gentle brushing strokes for a quick back-and-forth movement.

Improving Dental Hygiene Means Fewer Trips to the Dentist

Dentist visits can be stressful, but they are necessary for dental health. But finding a toothbrush that your Autistic child wants to use and enjoys using is life-changing, and less stressful than frequent trips to the dentist.

If you do have to visit a pediatric dentist or oral care specialist, whether for a regular checkup or more emergency treatment, always ask the dental office in advance what special preparations they can make for your child to make the dental experience less stressful.

What are the Different Types of Autistic Toothbrushes?

There are three main types of autistic toothbrushes, each having its own unique properties that offer cleaning advantages to improve gum health. So it’s good to look at a few different options to see what works best. These are:

3-Sided Toothbrushes

The 3-Sided Toothbrush is most similar to ordinary toothbrushes, except the soft, end-rounded bristles are arranged in an advanced wrap-around design to brush all three sides of the tooth at once. This three-sided design reduces the amount of time needed to brush teeth, causing much less stress to the user. They also come in different sizes and angled bristles to accommodate for different tooth widths.

Kids Electric Toothbrush

The vibrating electric toothbrush, like the manual toothbrushes mentioned above, also comes with toothbrush heads with a 3-sided design. These power brushes work almost identically to an automatic regular toothbrush in that you hold them over the tooth, rather than brush with more movement for effective plaque removal.

U-Shaped Brush with Curved Bristles

The U-Shaped Sonic Toothbrush has soft silicone bristles in a U shape that help stimulate the gums and teeth. Vibrating brushes like these are also designed to help children with Autism who have trouble controlling their movements when using manual toothbrushes. The vibrating action of the brush helps with plaque removal on tooth surfaces and prevents gum disease.

Alternative Option: Kids Water Flossers

For some children with more severe health conditions or regular orthodontic patients, traditional toothbrushes may not be suitable due to sensory sensitivities or difficulties with fine motor skills. In such cases, an alternative option to consider is a kids water flosser.

Water flossers, also known as oral irrigators, use a jet of water or a water pulsation to clean between teeth and along the gumline. They can be a great option since many children with autism may struggle with using traditional toothbrushes in the future. The gentle stream of water can effectively remove plaque and food particles without causing discomfort.

Water flossers can be more convenient for children with limited dexterity or coordination. They can simply point the nozzle towards their teeth and let the water do the work, making oral hygiene routines easier and less stressful. And the best part is many kids water flossers come in the colors of their favorite movie characters!

How To Use an Autistic Toothbrush

Using an Autistic toothbrush for kids is much like using a regular brush in most cases, but it does depend on the kids toothbrush of choice and, more importantly, the individual needs of the child. Some tips on teaching kids how to use an autistic toothbrush may include:

– Ask the person how they like to hold the toothbrush.

– Be patient during brushing. Let the person brush their own teeth, but offer assistance as needed.

– Help the person to brush all of their teeth, including the back, tongue, gums, and all chewing surfaces.

When it comes to using an autistic toothbrush for kids, make sure that the toothbrush is the right size for your child’s mouth. You don’t want them struggling to hold it or fit it in their mouth like a standard toothbrush.

Also, be sure that the bristles are soft enough that they won’t cause discomfort or pain. Many parents find that silicone brushes work best for their children, as they are gentle for complete tooth coverage and offer effective plaque removal from teeth and gums.

Help your child learn how to use the toothbrush properly for efficient cleaning and complete coverage. If your child is older, you can use visual supports to aid their brushing. Show them how to hold it and brush each section of their teeth evenly. Taking care of their oral hygiene is an important step in helping them alleviate any future distress caused by poor dental hygiene.

Oh, and don’t forget verbal praises for their great brushing technique!

Using an Autistic Toothbrush

There are a couple of ways to use an autistic toothbrush – you can either use a conventional toothbrush or a soft-bristled 3 sided brush. If you’re using a conventional toothbrush, make sure to use gentle motions and avoid scrubbing too hard. You should also avoid twisting the head of brush for optimum brushing, as doing so can damage enamel and gums.

If you’re using a gentler toothbrush, still make sure to wet the bristles before putting any toothpaste on them. Take gentle care to massage the surrounding bristles on the tooth surfaces and gum line. Get into all the nooks and crannies! Rinse thoroughly with warm water when finished.

Choosing The Right Toothpaste

For many with sensory issues, flavored toothpaste can be a huge anxiety trigger. If it’s a distaste of the overpowering mint flavor, try one of the many child-friendly flavors available. First, check they aren’t putting too much toothpaste on – A pea size amount is enough for maximum cleaning!

If it’s the unusual gooey texture causing issues, consider alternative options such as unflavored and non-foaming toothpaste. This fluoride-free and unflavored toothpaste has thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, so it’s well worth a try for sensitive mouths.

Alternatively, if the sensation is too much, powder toothpaste is another option. Powder toothpaste is great for cleaning oral wounds or sores and gets into hard-to-reach areas, making it great for anyone who struggles to brush teeth twice a day.

An Autistic Toothbrush Has Long-Term Benefits

Traditional brushes can cause much discomfort for anyone with sensory processing disorders. An autistic toothbrush, in particular one with a triple-headed design will not only improve your child’s oral health, but it will also give them a sense of pride and accomplishment.

It’s the perfect tool for showing they are capable of doing something that other people take for granted every day. This will go a long way towards improving self-esteem and confidence.

Keep reading for more useful advice and learning more about neurodiversity!

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Rob Butler
30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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