Oral-B iO review: the toothbrush to buy if money is no option

Oral-B’s new high-end toothbrush has had an impressive re-design, but is it worth the hefty price tag?

Electric toothbrushes put people off for many reasons: overly powerful skull vibrations, safety concerns, the often high prices or reservations about whether they actually do anything at all.

Oral-B is aware of these perceptions, so, six years ago, they decided to try and re-design a toothbrush from the ground-up.

Equipped with a linear magnetic drive (similar to the ones used in Japanese ultra-smooth magnetic trains), a re-designed brush head (4,000 filaments at a 16 degree angle for removing bacterial biofilm) and a position sensor that communicates with your phone via bluetooth for an indication of where the brush is in your mouth, you’d be hard pressed to find a more tech-filled toothbrush.

But all of that tech comes at a cost – £499 RRP, to be exact.

The high price point will put many prospective buyers off, opting for a cheaper electric brush or even a manual, but for those that are willing to take the plunge, what do you get for your money?

The brushing experience is certainly impressive – the motor isn’t overly powerful, the force feels directed onto the tooth surface and by the end of a session, your teeth really do have that dentist-clean feel.

There are seven different modes on the brush (daily clean, sensitive, gum care, intense clean, whitening, super sensitive, tongue cleaner), which may seem like a lot, but comes in handy when you have a sore spot or are feeling a little fragile.

However, the brush head is on the larger side, making it difficult to reach right to the back of your teeth, while the design of the toothbrush can lead to toothpaste running down your hand while cleaning – a less than ideal brushing experience.

Oral-B suggests replacing the brush head around every three months. But at a cost of about £13.50 per head, it can quickly make you resent the money spent on the pointless colour display.

It’s designed to work with the iO app, which tracks your brush’s progress around the mouth. While it’s fun to see your teeth cleaned in real-time, the tracking can become disorientated – as we used the toothbrush, it lost track of its position several times. 

This, frustratingly, meant that we couldn’t finish our clean under the recommended two minute cleaning time. Feeling anger towards your AI-toothbrush is a very 2020 experience.

Once you’re finished with a brushing session, your performance is given a ‘score’ and saved to your phone, letting you graph your brushing skills over time. As well as individual session scores, the app has a host of trophies you can win for consistently remembering things like brushing your tongue or flossing.

Oral-B hope this gamification will lead to more consistent brushing routines – but it’s down to the type of person you are as to whether you’ll find this gimmicky and annoying or genuinely helpful.

Or, if you’re lazy like us, or tired, or hungover, or leave your phone lying downstairs, you’ll forgo the app altogether and use it as a regular toothbrush – which sort of defeats the point of spending so much on a toothbrush in the first place.

Oral-B claims the brush will give you 100% better gums within a week – though we found this a little hard to verify, we certainly noticed an improvement on cleanliness of your bog-standard manual brush.

Away from the digital side of things, the brush does have a premium feel. It sits nicely in the hand and feels well made. The long lasting and fast-charging battery, with sleek charging travel case, are nice touches.

But even with a premium and novel cleaning experience, it’s hard to see past that precipitous price tag, even for the most devoted of dental hygiene lovers. If money is no option, and you’re after the best clean possible, then by all means (it might even save you expensive dental work in the long run), but if you’re content with good enough, then another electric brush would probably suit you equally well.

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