It was inevitable that toothbrush manufacturers would join the Internet of Things revolution and start slapping the word Smart on their packaging.
But do I really need a smartphone app to tell me how well I’m brushing my teeth?
I must admit that I’ve warmed to the idea. The companion app for Android and iOS devices keeps a record of your brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning, tells you when you’re brushing too hard or when the battery needs charging, reminds you to brush the four corners of your mouth for 30 seconds each, and keeps you entertained with news snippets and motivational quotes. Then there the Dental Care Journeys, which guide you through various steps to fight plaque, freshen breath, whiten teeth, improve gum health and look after your dental braces. The Achievements section awards trophies such as Most Improved and 14 Day Flossing Streak. This, presumably, is the gamification of dental care. I found it silly but entertaining nonetheless. The novelty will probably wear off sooner or later, but in the meantime there’s a decent chance that it’ll encourage improved brushing habits.
Accessories and features
The Wireless SmartGuide is a waterproof clock that sits on the bathroom shelf or sticks to a surface and provides a timer with four zones to encourage brushing each area for 30 seconds. It also shows an icon to indicate which brushing mode you’re in, from a choice of Daily Clean, Pro-Clean, Sensitive, Whitening, Massage, Tongue Cleaning. This is selected on the toothbrush but, unlike on the Oral-B Genius 9000, there’s no indication on the brush which mode you’re in. Then again, it’s not easy to see the toothbrush when it’s in your mouth, and taking it out of your mouth to change modes means you’ll be sprayed with toothpaste. The Wireless SmartGuide is much better system. I also found it really handy having a clock in the bathroom for morning school runs.
Smart features aside, this is a highly competent toothbrush. I’m not convinced by the various brushing modes, which simply vary the speed of the brushing motor, but I really like the various Oral-B brush heads. These are designed for various specialist tasks, such as 3D White with its little plastic polishing cup, FlossAction with its little paddles to get between teeth and Orthodontics that’s designed for people with braces. Four different brush heads are included, along with a holder for them. Replacement heads cost around £2.50 each when bought in packs of eight.
One disappointment is the travel case, which looks pretty bland and doesn’t have an integrated charger. A bigger disappointment is the use of a Ni-MH rather than Li-ion battery. The SmartSeries 6500 managed 31 brushes from a single charge — the same as the Lithium ion-equipped Oral-B Genius 9000 — but Ni-MH batteries are known to lose their charge capacity if they’re charged up before the battery is fully depleted. This can be hard to avoid on a toothbrush where you might be going away for a few days and don’t want to bring the charger, or if you need to use it when it’s midway through a charge.
The SmartSeries 6500 is a great toothbrush, but those minor battery niggles are enough to make me lean towards the even pricier Genius 9000 - especially given that you can pick up the 9000 for as little as £100 at some retailers. However, the SmartSeries 6500 is a credible alternative, and if you're looking for a matching his and hers toothbrush pack, as Oral-B also sells it in a two-handle pack for £115. Now that's what I call romance.