Looking to add ‘better-looking teeth’ to your New Year resolutions? The latest electric toothbrushes claim to be capable of treatments once available only in the dentist’s chair, from tooth whitening to scaling and polishing.
But are they worth splashing out on? ANGELA EPSTEIN tried a selection for a week, while dentist Krystyna Wilczynski assessed them. We then rated them.
ORAL-B iO9, £250
ORAL-B iO9, £250,
Claim: This brush uses magnetically driven ‘iO’ technology to vibrate the bristles and rotate the brush head, to produce a ‘fresh, clean-mouth feel’ and ‘100 per cent healthier gums in one week’. Use with an Oral-B smartphone app to see which parts of your mouth you are missing as you brush.
Expert verdict: This electric toothbrush really is superior in its technology. Thanks to the app, users won’t miss areas which take time and effort to clean, such as the back molars, while the LED display on the handle of the brush tells you everything from how much longer you should brush your teeth for, to whether you are applying too much pressure. There is a lot here for your money.
User experience: Of seven modes, from ‘supersensitive’ to ‘intense’, I chose ‘daily clean’, but even this intermediate setting felt fast and the brush, which is heavy to hold, bumped against my gums.
After two minutes, the app showed I’d cleaned only 67 per cent of my mouth but it also showed me where I’d missed, and the next time I got 91 per cent.
ORDO SONIC+, £50,
Claim: This uses 40,000 sonic pulses per minute to create powerful vibrations that force the toothpaste between your teeth, giving a deeper clean. The head contains a silicone section designed to polish the teeth gently.
Expert verdict: Silicone is supposed to aid effective cleaning as the friction brushes away stains. No toothbrush can whiten teeth — only professional tooth bleaching can do this — but the silicone may reduce staining from coffee or cigarettes, leaving the teeth looking brighter.
User experience: I couldn’t feel the silicone feature but the bristles move very quickly and tickle the gums. Even the ‘sensitive’ setting is fast, which is unnerving.
STYLSMILE KIT (Brush seen above with its inventor BBC Apprentice winner Tom Pellereau)
STYLSMILE KIT, £37.50,
Claim: This electric brush and toothpaste kit combines three methods, sonic vibrations, blue light technology and PAPtech, to achieve teeth ‘that are two shades whiter’, the maker says. The vibrations tackle stains on the tooth surface and the blue light technology is said to activate the whitening agent, PAP (phthalimido-peroxy-caproic acid), an ingredient in the accompanying toothpaste.
Expert verdict: The safest, most effective way to whiten teeth is at the dentist. This involves a deep clean by the hygienist to remove any stubborn plaque and calculus (a form of hardened dental plaque) and then using a whitening kit provided by the dentist. So I don’t see how this toothbrush can achieve its claim.
Not done professionally, tooth whitening can cause gum recession and gum damage. Even professional tooth whitening can lead to short-term sensitivity of the teeth, although this will alleviate with time.
You should also avoid whitening toothpastes as these can wear down enamel and make teeth look more yellow and become sensitive.
User experience: The bristles are illuminated with a pale blue light as soon as you start using it. As my teeth are slightly yellow already, I am worried about them appearing more yellow if I continue to use this brush and accompanying toothpaste.
Claim: This uses ‘ionic technology’ to suppress bacteria that cause plaque, says the maker. The brush emits ultraviolet light that reacts with a titanium dioxide bar in the brush handle to create an electrical reaction that suppresses bacteria production, it claims.
Expert verdict: This is a good product that works by using negative ions (which are invisible molecules with an electrical charge) and UV light to reduce the production of bacteria.
This is important because the mouth is full of bacteria which, if not managed, can cause gum and tooth problems. This is an innovative new concept and while the manufacturer seems to have shown it can remove bacteria in studies, I would be interested to see the results long term.
User experience: Of the three vibration levels (sensitive, standard and deep), I chose deep, which feels effective without being uncomfortable. It has simple instructions but is breathtakingly expensive for what feels like a thorough brush.
COLGATE E1, £89.95,
CLAIM: Sensors in the handle pair with the Colgate Connect app to give feedback on how well you have brushed your teeth. The maker claims it can last 365 days without a charge.
EXPERT VERDICT: Most people don’t brush their teeth for long enough (recommended time is two minutes in total), so this is an excellent system to maintain and improve toothbrushing behaviours.
This is particularly useful for children, as the app has games that teach the best techniques.
USER EXPERIENCE: The directions on the app are very clear, guiding me to the bits that I am missing or not working hard enough on. After two minutes I’m told I’ve covered 100 per cent of my mouth!
FOREO ISSA 2
FOREO ISSA 2, £104.30, amazon.co.uk
Claim: The bristles, made of polymer and silicone, channel 11,000 high-intensity pulses per minute to create micro-sweeps that effectively and gently clean the teeth and gums, the maker says. Lasts 365 days on a single charge.
Expert verdict: The hybrid of bristles on this toothbrush head is an excellent way of cleaning both the teeth and the gums. A lot of people never brush their gums, even though your gums can collect plaque and bacteria just like teeth and the tongue.
User experience: Designed in a curved shape for an easy grip, the flexible brush head does seem to reach most of my mouth. It also feels gentle on the gums, even on the fastest setting (there are 16 in all), almost like it is massaging the mouth. But the sheer size of the brush head did make it difficult to get behind some of my front lower teeth.
SILK’N TOOTHWAVE, £265,
Claim: The first electric toothbrush to remove calculus (a form of hardened plaque) by sending mild radio frequency waves to the surface of each tooth, destabilising the strong bonds that attach impurities (e.g. tartar, stains and plaque) to the tooth surface. Claims to achieve greater stain reduction and whitening results.
Expert verdict: I don’t believe any sort of brush can remove significant amounts of mature calculus. This can only be done by the use of an ultrasonic scaler or manual scaling by a dental hygienist.
Using a brush like this can also make people believe they don’t need to see a dental specialist.
User experience: The fastest (of three) settings doesn’t feel uncomfortably fast. However, I don’t see any difference in y teeth in terms of shade after cleaning, as you would after visiting a hygienist. That is, they look cleaner but no whiter.