It’s hard to believe but toothbrushes have gone high tech. So much so that I’ve put together a series on the blog and the YouTube channelwith all the options. This next one I’m reviewing has to be one of the most unusual. Blizzident is not a connected toothbrush and it doesn’t vibrate or send you data, but it’s one of the more high tech toothbrushes I’ve seen in a long time. Here’s why.
Dental technology is huge these days, believe it or not. For proof, look no further than my mini review series on toothbrush technology. In this post we’re looking at two brushes in the Philips Sonicare line; the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected and the Sonicare DiamondClean. (Read part one of our series on the Oral B Genius 8000 here.)
What is Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected?
The Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected is a smart toothbrush that connects via Bluetooth with your smartphone to track your brushing patterns, coverage and time spent cleaning your teeth. It works without the app as a simple electric toothbrush and it’s fully rechargeable too.
How to get set up
Setting up the toothbrush is quite simple. You’ll download the app then open it. As soon as you turn on your brush the app will find the toothbrush and connect instantly.
While the handle is not as slick and minimalist as the DiamondClean version (which you’ll read about soon), it’s still nice looking. It has several buttons on the front; a power button, a speed button, and a button that changes the different modes of cleaning.
What’s in the box?
Inside the box you’ll find the brush handle, two different brush heads with travel caps, a charging base, a bracket that fits over the charging base to hold toothbrush heads, and a travel case. Unlike some other models, such as the Sonicare DiamondClean, this case does not double as a charger.
You’ll need to allow 24 hours to fully charge the battery in the handle for the first time, so once you get it unboxed plug it in and leave it alone for a while.
Get brushing coaching
The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected brush is designed to pair with the app to give you timed and illustrated instructions on your brushing technique and coverage. While you can use it without the app, what’s the point? If you’re spending this kind of money on a fancy brush, you’ll want to commit to using it in its technologically connected mode. If you’re not the kind of person who wants to whip out their phone every time they brush, skip ahead and read about the DiamondClean.
Adjusting different brushing modes
The toothbrush needs to be switched between its available modes while the brush is off. Small lights will illuminate the mode you’ve chosen. There is a Clean mode which is basic toothbrushing, White mode adds additional ‘massage’ and an additional 40 seconds to polish your visible front teeth. There’s also a Deep Clean mode which is said to provide “invigorating deep massage to deliver an exceptional clean”.
A pressure sensor built into the brush will let you know if you’re brushing too hard. It uses both a change in vibration and a slight change in sound to let you know if you’re brushing too hard. This feature can be disabled if you wish, but again, why would you?
App features Using the app is easy, but there’s not really an realtime feedback to speak of. While the app will guide you through which areas of your mouth to scrub, it’s not actually tracking you or watching to see what you’re doing (like the Oral B Genius 8000). Here, it’s more like you’re getting coaching, or following along to a workout video; but there’s no one in the room with you to make sure you’re not eating cheetos.
Pressure sensing for aggressive brushers
The brush has several smart features such as pressure sensing. If you brush too hard the toothbrush will let you know using a change in vibration and slight change in sound. The app will also display a warning message on screen. I found the brush very touchy when it came to motion and pressure at first, but once I followed the coaching and stopped grinding the brush into my teeth things improved.
Beeping Brush Pacer
The brush pacer setting allows you to turn on an indicator which will emit a small sound during the brushing cycle so that you’ll know when to move on to a different section of your mouth.
The brush pacer requires you to divide your mouth into six sections; three on top and three on the bottom. You’ll hear a beep after you’ve spent enough time on each section.
To turn this feature on or off, leave your brush in the charging base then press and hold the mode button until you hear one beep to indicate the brush pacer has been deactivated, or two to indicate it is ready to go.
Easy start for beginners
Brushing with a much stronger electronic toothbrush can be a little difficult for some to handle, there is the easy start feature. Easy start gently increases the power over the first 14 brushings to help you get used to using the toothbrush. You turn this feature on or off by putting the handle in the charger, one beep indicates it is deactivated.
Replacing the brush heads
Philips recommends you replace the brush heads every three months. The app can be set to tell you when it’s time to do that, and you’ll earn points when you check in the brush’s status.
It’s worth pointing out the cost. Two replacement brush heads sell for about $35-$40 Canadian. That is of course in addition to what you might have paid for the brush handle itself.
The brush was was to set up and looks sleek and modern. It’s easy to operate on its own and in connected mode.
I feel like it would be easy to cheat with this brush; after all, it’s really just using the app as a guide or a coach, and there’s no accountability for cheating (but as my second grade teacher used to tell us we’d only be cheating ourselves here, right??), however the brush will track the length of your sessions and frequency.
The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected costs $189 CAD. Get more info on it here.
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean electric toothbrush
The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean is a gorgeous electric/rechargeable toothbrush, but unlike its Platinum cousin, it’s not smart and won’t connect to the app. It does have a timer function built in that will buzz you when it’s time to move from quadrant to quadrant of your mouth to ensure an even clean. It’s also got high tech induction charging.
The first thing I noticed is how appealing the overall package is. The brush actually won numerous product design awards back in 2012, so Philips has stuck with the sleek and modern design ever since.
The included travel case looks really cool and modern. The silver canvas casing hides a lime green interior which cradles the smooth white brush handle inside. The whole thing looks sleek and elegant.
The kit also comes with an induction charging glass. It’s a drinking glass that also doubles as a charger for the brush when you set it inside the cup. I couldn’t wait to try this out as this was blowing my mind. I’ve seen induction chargers before, but they’re usually ugly, plastic, and functional. This charger looked neat and pretty.
The charging stand has two pieces. There’s a sleek and shiny metal base which houses the actual charging unit, and then the glass that accompanies it. The glass sits on top of the base for stability and security plus power, and is removable for use as a drinking glass or rinsing cup when you’re not using it for power. You can of course keep the glass separate or not use it at all, as the diamond kit also contains a clear plastic stand for the toothbrush that will replace the glass on the charging base (see photo above).
The brush comes with that silver canvas travel case I mentioned and it also works as a charger plus it holds two brushes.
Overall review – Philips Sonicare DiamondClean
This brush is really pretty, but if you’re looking for smarts, it’s not for you. The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean, as I’ve taken to calling it, is designed primarily as a better looking, less utilitarian electric toothbrush. When paired with its sleek recharging case it’s a great options for travelers too, since you can actually use the case as a power bank if you’re so inclined. This brush is perfect, however, for the person who doesn’t want to fuss with using their phone each time they brush their teeth, but still wants some level of smart functionality.
The Sonicare DiamondClean comes in black or white and will set you back about $199-229 CAD.
For the soap and water purists, the idea of spending over two hundred dollars on something to clean your face is appalling. Yet legions of loyal fans swear by the effectiveness of Clarisonic ultrasonic skin care devices.
I wrote previously about the Clarisonic Smart Profile brush (much to my surprise I really, really liked it and now use one several times a week. Read my review here)
Meet Clarisonic Mia Fit and Alpha Fit
Clarisonic now has a different brush in this range; it’s smaller, more compact and less expensive than the multi-purpose Smart Profile, but it still has the basics of ultrasonic cleaning covered.
Ultrasonic technology is big in beauty right now. The subtle vibrations are said to help shake dirt and impurities from your skin and even help clean your teeth.
I had the chance to test out two ultrasonic beauty gadgets; the Foreo Issa toothbrush and the Luna face brush. Scroll to the bottom for an update from my dentist on how well the Issa toothbrush performed.
What is Foreo Luna and what will it do?
The Foreo Luna is a skin cleansing device, designed to use ultrasonic waves to help clean your skin more thoroughly.
There are different styles of Luna from very smooth to a more obvious silicone bristle. I tested two models — a white one with no visible bristles on it (it’s simply a smooth silicone device, that looks somewhat like a bar of soap, with fine ridges on it), and a pink one with subtle silicone nubs.
Foreo says the Luna with its “unique combination of T-sonic pulsations with silicone touch points will gently exfoliate dead skin cells and unclog pores of make up residue as well as 99.5% of dirt and oil, enhancing the absorption of your other skin care products”.
It also makes claims that using this device will reduce the signs of aging, by offering “lower frequency pulsations that when applied to wrinkle prone areas reduces the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles”, and makes skin look firmer.
A cleaner way to clean?
The Luna devices are coated with silicone, making them very smooth and streamlined, and easy to grip. That same silicone, according to Foreo, makes it resistant to bacteria, and easy to keep clean, presumably easier than some of the bristled face brushes that other companies sell, such as the Clarisonic.
Knowing how much I enjoyed the Clarisonic experience, I was very much looking forward to testing out the Luna.
Which Foreo Luna is right for you?
The Luna comes in three different models with cleansing brushes it says are tailored to specific skin types. You can take a quiz on the Foreo website, and it will help you select the correct model for your skin type. The quiz wants to know if your skin is fine, has any red patches or oily areas, as well as information on imperfections and acne breakouts.
The quiz recommended I use the normal/sensitive brush, with its touch points for gentle cleansing, and some broader touch points near the top. But since I also had recieved a sample of the brush for sensitive skin, I decided to start with that one.
Luna for sensitive skin
On the day I received it, I charged the device and then put it to work right away. My immediate reaction was I found it uncomfortable and not enjoyable to use. The device is smooth and, even though it is wrapped in soft silicone, it’s very hard. I was rubbing it across my face, and pressing it lightly onto some areas, but it’s ultrasonic buzz really just made me feel as though my bones were being rattled. Particularly on areas of my face where the skin and flesh or thinnest, I felt as though my bones were being vibrated.
I cleansed my whole face and then stopped. I can’t say I was looking forward to the next experience after that. Even so, the next day I repeated the process, and got the same bone jarring experience. Now, what I mean by bone jarring here, is not that it is going to drill holes in your head. It has a very gentle vibration, but when those vibrations are applied directly to certain areas of the face, I found them rather uncomfortable.
Luna for normal skin
I had a much more enjoyable time using the Luna for normal skin. While the bristles are very soft, at the same time it makes it feel as though your skin is being cleansed deeply.
After my first use, I have to say I felt like the brush didn’t do as good a job as my Clarisonic device. But when I went to sleep and woke up the next morning, I was surprised my skin felt velvety, soft, and new. I was impressed.
I found that using this brush with it soft silicone bristles was much less bone buzzing than the Luna for sensitive skin. I think the little silicone nubs act as a bit of a buffer between the device and your skull. So, using this brush I felt I was getting the benefits of the ultrasonic vibrations, without the uncomfortable feeling.
Foreo Luna: The Verdict
I did feel like I needed more cleanser with the Luna, at least initially. While other brushes will foam up your cleanser, the Luna doesn’t. So the first few times I found myself adding a second dose of cleanser. After a few uses, however, I started soaping up my face, not the brush and found I could use the normal amount. You still won’t get that foamy effect, though.
I also found the shape of the Luna a bit awkward to get into narrow areas, like around the nose, and it wasn’t as natural to cleanse the neck or the jawline, as the brush is not at all flexible. I preferred the normal skin brush of the two I tried as I liked getting a bit of a deeper clean. I also liked the variety of settings. Overall, I’ve been enjoying the ultrasonic technology, and I think my face is smoother, cleaner, and less prone to the occasional breakout, even just using it about twice per week.
The Luna brushes retail for about $229 Canadian.
Ultrasonic toothbrush: the Foreo Issa
The Issa is a silicone toothbrush that uses ultrasonic waves to clean and polish your teeth. The brush is made up of two parts; the base and the brush head, and the brush heads are interchangeable and replaceable.
I love the idea of this toothbrush; it incorporates both the vibrations of an electric toothbrush, with the softness of silicone, and the ability to keep it bacteria free, unlike most regular toothbrushes that are simply gross toothpaste residue and bacteria magnets.
Testing the Basic Foreo Issa Toothbrush
The first model I tested out was the regular Issa brush. It has a rounded silicone brush head, that has a bit of a contour taking the brush from short bristles too tall bristles.
Foreo says “the combination of sonic pulse technology with a unique silicone design cleans and whitens teeth like never before”. The company says its toothbrush brushes teeth effectively, but gently. I can definitely attest to that. Using this toothbrush is a very unique experience.
All my life, I have been used to using plastic bristled toothbrush is, and more recently plastic bristled toothbrush is with electric or battery powered technology. The feeling of this brush is completely different. It feels very gentle and more like you are merely rubbing a finger around your mouth. There is absolutely no sensation of bristles or brushing or, scratching, if you will. The sensation of this brush is really just soft and edgeless. While that’s a significant difference and a nice touch, I didn’t really feel like it was getting into the nooks and crannies of my teeth and cleaning them. I did feel like the brush was definitely polishing the flatter surfaces of my teeth, but in terms of a feeling of overall clean in my mouth, I didn’t have that with this brush. It’s worth pointing out that the is a hybrid brush has slightly different bristles. The company says “the hybrid is stronger on plaque and still gentle on gums.” More on that below.
I love the fact that the handle of this brush is nothing but smooth silicone, with no cracks, crevices, or griplines. I find the handle is the part of any regular toothbrush that gets the grimiest after months of use; it can be downright gross. But with this brush, even if it does get a bit dirty, a quick rinse under the top and everything is clean. The silicone dries quickly as well, preventing gunk buildup. Amazingly you can also wash Foreo products in the dishwasher if you do want a cleaner clean!
Testing the Hybrid Foreo Issa Toothbrush
This brush was my favourite from the get-go. The brush head has more regular toothbrush bristles in the centre, and silicone bristles surrounding those. From my first test use, I felt like I was getting a proper clean while still being gentle.
Help for ‘Aggressive Brushers’
I’m what’s called an ‘aggressive brusher,’ according to my dentist. I use more force than I need, apparently, and over many years that’s resulted in my wearing away grooves at the base of my teeth near my gums. It’s a problem because you can get cavities or extreme sensitivity in those areas, and some will even need to be given fillings to protect your teeth. My dentist recommended an electric toothbrush to tone down the back and forth cutting motion I was using brushing by hand, and that’s been effective for the last few years. Now, with the Issa hybrid, I feel like I’m getting a good clean, but with much less force.
I asked a Doctor for his opinion
I spoke to Dr. John Huynh, DMD,MS,D.Ortho, FRCD(C) who’s a Certified Specialist in Orthodontics about the Issa brushes. He told me a quick search of PubMed (a database for medical publications) found no published articles about the Issa toothbrush at all, meaning not a lot of professional medical research has been done on the Issa, or if it has it hasn’t been published.
Dr Huynh had a look at the Issa line and told me, “I think the bristles on the Issa tooth brush are rather large. I don’t feel as thought they would be able to get into the tight spaces between the teeth. Basically, a tooth brush works by mechanically debriding plaque, biofilms and debris off of your teeth. If the bristles don’t actually contact your teeth because they are too large to fit into the small spaces, then it doesn’t really work. Pretty much every other tooth brush out there has fine bristles that can get into the nooks and crannies to clean your teeth.”
Regarding aggressive brushers, Dr Huynh said, “I can see it possibly being gentler on the root surface of a tooth though. That part of the tooth is made out of cementum which is a lot softer. That’s the part of the tooth that tends to get damaged when people have gum recession and are aggressive brushers. Usually using a soft or extra-soft tooth brush can help prevent this type of wear from occurring.”
Of course taking care of your teeth is about more than just the brush, which Dr John pointed out. “You have to remember that flossing is the other half of the equation that needs to be done. Brushing alone isn’t able to get right between your teeth to clean out all the gunk from between your teeth. The thing is…how many people actually floss daily? I bet not too many. So it’s extra important that you have a tooth brush that can get into the smaller nooks and crannies.”
Battery lasts a year on a single charge
Foreo says the brush can last a full year on the single battery charge. That’s impressive when it comes to an electric toothbrush, and so far I have indeed only charged it once.
There’s a kids version of the Issa and there are also several different attachment options for the is so brush. One is a tongue cleaner, one is a simple replacement head, and the other is what’s called the hybrid brush head. It incorporates more traditional bristles (but made with polymer) into the center of the silicone bristles. This is meant to keep the antibacterial properties that set this brush apart from traditional manual toothbrushes.
The Issa toothbrush comes in several colours and costs $229. Replacement brush heads are about $25-30.
Foreo Issa: The Verdict
It’s a bit weird getting used to the new brush shape and feel, so I’m not using it all the time yet, but I’m working up to it. I feel like the brush is extremely gentle, maybe too gentle; it doesn’t quite feel like it’s getting the teeth in the back, and I need to really concentrate to get in the nooks and crannies. But the tradeoff here is that I’m damaging my teeth a lot less, I guess.
I’m also a bit concerned about the cost of replacing the brush heads. They’re about $25, but Foreo says you only need to replace them once per year. While this whole set up is much more expensive than a traditional $5 toothbrush or $10 drug store electric one, there’s longevity to consider, as well as the fact there are no batteries to replace, as I usually need to do in my $10 brush about 3 months in. Yes, the Issa is an investment, but if you’re like me, it may help you cut down on cutting into your teeth.
I am also interested to see what my dentist will say; whether she feels I’m getting as good of a clean from this brush after 6 months. On that front, I’ll let you know.
UPDATE: The dentist’s view!
May 2016: I had my 6 month checkup, the first since starting to use the Issa brush. I brought the brush in to my dentist and showed it to both her and the hygienist. They had both heard about silicone toothbrushes, but hadn’t been hands-on with one. They were interested in the Issa, and even more so at what my results were. After a thorough dental exam by each of them, they proclaimed my teeth clean and healthy, and with perhaps slightly less plaque than they’d usually find on me.
While it was hard for either them or me to definitively say the Issa did a better job than a regular electric toothbruth, what was clear was that it did just as well and maybe even slightly better. Both the dentist and the hygienist agreed I should keep using the device, and I can say that was comforting news. So now, more than 6 months later, I am still using, enjoying and having good results with the Issa brush.
For more information on these products, head to Foreo.com