The smart toothbrush is here. The Oral-B Pro 6000 and Pro 6500 SmartSeries electric toothbrushes sync with a brushing app via Bluetooth to record and monitor your oral hygiene and dental health.
Brushing your teeth isn’t difficult but most people don’t do it right or for long enough. Basic oral hygiene is probably something we could all improve.
I brush my teeth twice a day, tongue once, and use TePe interdental brushes and dentist-approved mouthwash before bed.
But do I always brush for the prescribed two minutes? Probably not.
Let’s face it. Brushing your teeth for two minutes is a chore, as well as pretty boring. Plus, unless you’re timing yourself, it’s easy to think you’ve done all that’s required.
The average person brushes for just 45 to 70 seconds each session. After breakfast most of us are in a rush to get to work or school. At night time we’re tired and want to go to bed.
But to keep your teeth and gums healthy you really should take the time. Dentists recommend you brush each quadrant (top left, top right, bottom left, and bottom right) of your mouth for 30 seconds to ensure you properly clean the front, backs (inner) and tops (chewing surface) of the teeth. Any less and you may well miss removing some of the nasty plaque. Toothbrushing stops plaque building up. Plaque is a film of bacteria that coats your teeth if you don't brush them properly. It contributes to gum disease, tooth decay and cavities.
Most decent electric toothbrushes can alert you to move to a different tooth area with a buzz or vibration, but I suspect these are largely ignored by most of us.
Oral-B has a smarter solution to tooth brushing. Its Pro 6000 and 6500 Smart Series electric toothbrushes use Bluetooth to communicate with an iPhone app that gathers statistical data on your regular brushing, which you can share with your dentist or hygienist to prove you’re doing your two minutes twice a day.
It has all the buzzing vibrations you find on standard electric brushes, plus it warns you when you’re brushing too hard – a lot in my case. Over vigorous brushing does more harm than good. Brushing vigorously can erode tooth enamel. I was surprised how many times the brush lit up red when I overdid it. Gently does it.
You can also use your iPhone as a dental remote control, setting your target session length and selecting your preferred modes.
I tested the Oral-B Pro 6000 Smart Series electric toothbrush with Bluetooth. The Limited Edition Pro 6500 has a tongue-cleaning mode, a sensitive head included in the pack and a sleeker limited-edition design.
The brush feels solid and comfortable and is certainly the best I’ve ever used. But what about the smart tech?
The Oral B Pro 6000 and 6500 Smart Series brushes come with a digital Smart Guide unit, which you can place near your bathroom sink. It wirelessly syncs with the toothbrush to give you feedback that helps you brush thoroughly and gently. In some ways this does everything you need in checking you complete a full clean.
You also get three additional brush heads and a neat travel case.
Its companion smartphone app has a brushing Timer, visual pressure alert that warns you when you are brushing too hard, and a quadrant prompt that tells you after 30 seconds to change the quadrant, or area, of your mouth.
The Pro 6000 features five brushing modes: Daily Clean, Gum Care, Sensitive, Whitening (with surface polishing brush head), and Deep Clean (with Micro Pulse interdental brush head). The Pro 6500 has an extra tongue-brushing mode.
Download the Oral-B app for iPhone or Android. The brush wirelessly syncs with the app via Bluetooth. It gets even smarter than that as the app uses the smartphone’s microphone to detect the sound frequency of the Pro brush. This also works with Oral-B’s TriZone brush series.
The main part of the app is the Brush Timer that guides you through each quadrant of your mouth.
You can customise the timer if you or your dentist thinks a particular section of the mouth needs special attention.
Your brushing statistics are kept in the app, and you are rewarded with trophies for brushing regime compliance. It’s another example of how technology monitoring our daily lives – like activity trackers, creating the quantified self.
The app also has dental health and brushing tips, and will even locate your nearest dentist.
While you’re using the brush the app can display the latest news and weather forecasts, or just show off attractive National Geographic images.
Oral-B recommends that you share these brushing stats with your dentist, but as they only really show how long you brush I’m not sure how helpful this will be. I know medical professionals often disbelieve patients but taking your phone out to prove that you do seems a little over the top.
What would be more useful is detailed information about how you brush each quadrant. It would be handy to know that you’re not great at brushing the lower back parts of your mouth, for instance. The Oral-B app doesn’t record this, just the total length of time spent brushing.
There are other free apps that record the time spent brushing, although the Oral-B app is the most comprehensive for displaying stats, including pressure.
Oral-B claims that these electric toothbrushes boast its longest-lasting rechargeable batteries, with a charge required only every 10 days.
I've owned Oral-B and Philips SonicCare electric toothbrushes, and found Oral-B brushes run out of juice quicker than the Philips. And the Pro 6000 I tested here backed this up. I was lucky to get five days out of a full charge. You can see in the stats image above where it gave out halfway through a brush (Tuesday morning).
I also had problems a couple of times with the brush refusing to sync with the app. This was annoying but easy to fix with a handle reset.
There’s no doubt that these SmartSeries toothbrushes are top quality, and the additional SmartGuide plus Bluetooth-syncing with app offer features way beyond normal electric brushes.
The problem is that it costs at least £230. The Oral-B Pro 6000 Smart Series costs £229.99, and the Oral-B Limited Edition Pro 6500 Smart Series is priced at £249.99.
No doubt when it goes on sale at retailers such as Amazon the cost will tumble, but I expect it still to be priced at well over £100 for some time.
When you think about it investing in a great toothbrush is worth the price, and will probably save you money (and pain) by being able to more often than not walk out of the dentist’s surgery without swollen numb lips and cheeks.
But do these smart brushes warrant that extra cost?
You could buy the Which? top-rated Oral B Professional Care 500 for £45, and download a free tooth-brushing app – there plenty on the iPhone/iPad App Store and on Google’s Android Play store.
You could even download the Oral-B app and manually tell it when you start and stop brushing. The Bluetooth functionality is handy but not essential to include the app as part of your brushing routine.
For £80 you can pick up the Oral-B Professional Care Triumph 5000 or TriZone SmartSeries 5000 – both of which also come with the handy SmartGuide timer, although those too have a high RRP of £199.99. The SmartGuide is just like the one you get with the Bluetooth brush, featuring timer, pressure alert and quadrant prompt.
We expect the price of the Pro 6000 and Pro 6500 to come down significantly when it goes on general sale, and when they do we’ll adjust the rating accordingly.