Tooth technology: Oral B Genius 8000 connected toothbrush review

oral b genius 8000 review erinI research a lot of technology trends.  One thing that’s been popping up again and again is the technology of teeth.  Specifically toothbrush technology.  In fact, high-tech toothbrushes are so common and advanced now, I’ve got a blog and YouTube series in the works about all the options. It kicks off today with the Oral B Genus 8000 smart toothbrush. You can also read about two brushes in the Philips series, the Platinum and the Diamond here.

The Genius is a rechargeable electric toothbrush that uses vibration and an oscillating head to deep-clean your teeth. It also pairs with an app so that you can track and record your toothbrushing habits in real time and get feedback on how you’re doing.

Oral B Genius 8000 – What’s in the box

oral b genius 8000 whats in boxI was sent a sample brush to try out and review over several weeks.  As I unboxed the Oral B 8000, I saw there are a heck of a lot of pieces in the box.

There’s a travel kit, and an at home charging station. Plus storage cases for the brushes. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first but once it makes sense you realize you’re getting a lot for your money.

The kit also comes with a special bracket to hold your cell phone to a mirror right in front of the area where you brush. More about why you need that later…

The toothbrush has a waterproof handle and is designed to get wet so there should be no safety concerns. It’s charged by placing it on a small base. The charging level is indicated on the handle display, and a full charge takes about 12 hours and should give you 12 days of regular brushing (which Oral-B says is about twice a day for two minutes).

Getting Oral B Genius 8000 set uporal b genius 8000 app whats in box

Getting the brush set up and connecting it to your smart phone is easy enough. You download the Oral-B app and it guides you through the entire set up and pairing process. I was connected in no time with just a few clicks.

Using your toothbrush with an app

It’s a bit weird to adapt to using your smartphone while you brush, but to get the most from this brush, you’ll need to connect the Oral B app.  With it you get a timer function and a mapping function.

Timer function
Using the timer function the brush and app will tell you if you’re brushing long enough.  While you’re using it, local weather, news stories, and photos of the day will come up on your cell phone screen to entertain you while you brush.When you’re done your dentist recommended two minute brushing time, the timer will signal you with a long stuttering sound and a flashing ring of light. If you have the professional timer set up, you’ll get a short stuttering sound and flashing of the smart ring light at 30 second intervals to tell you to move to the next quadrant of your mouth.

I also have to say I find it a struggle to brush for the required two minutes. Obviously I’ve been brushing my teeth for years for far less time than I should be, because when I make it the full allotted time, it feels like I’be been scrubbing my teeth forever!

oral b genius 8000 app whats in boxPosition Detection Function
Using the position detection feature is very eye-opening. You think you’re getting all the areas of your mouth but the app proves that you’re not, and then shows you where you need to focus more or less time.

To use it you need to mount your smartphone to the mirror in front of your brushing area, then position your face in a small circle so the app can ‘see’ your mouth and monitor your position. The app will then show you a graph that measures how well you’re brushing each quadrant of your mouth.

Gameifying your brushing experience
The Oral B Genius is gameified; which should be fun for some folks. Once you’re finished doing the position detection technique, you’ll get a score. The app will encourage you to beat your score again next time. gameifying ordinary experiences is a neat and smart way to get you to think more about them and make them more purposeful.

Travelling with Genius 8000

The included travel case will charge both your toothbrush and your smart phone if you need it. Rather surprisingly, to give the case a full charge can take up to 12 hours, so make sure you get it juiced up well in advance.

The inside lid of the travel case has a built in smartphone holder which allows you to prop up your phone so the app can still see you brush.

Using the Oral B Genius 8000

Pressure control ring
One feature I found particularly helpful is the pressure control light up Ring. The light around the top of the toothbrush will turn red if you start brushing too hard. If you’re also using the app at the same time, it will also give you an on-screen message telling you the same. As someone Who consistently brushes too hard, I found this very helpful.

That light up ring also has several other features. When it’s white, the default color, it just tells you that it’s working and act as a visual timer. You can also choose your individual colour for the slight inside the app. A blue light indicates the brush is in Bluetooth pairing mode.

Vibration
The Oral B Genius 8000 uses strong vibrations and an oscillating brush head to clean your teeth. As Oral B explains is, “this highly advanced brush features a dentist-inspired round head that surrounds and cups each tooth with dynamic oscillating, rotating and pulsating movements to remove up to 100% more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush.”

Overall review – Can Oral B Genius 8000 deliver?

oral b genius 8000 app whats in boxAt first I found the brush very … aggressive.  The vibrations are quite strong. I also started out with the small round brush head, the CrossAction, which was significantly smaller than I’ve used before. between the new head, the vibrations, the size of the handle and adapting to using the app, I wasn’t sure if I liked the brush overall.  But after a few days I adapted, and started to notice me teeth actually felt… cleaner.  You know how when it’s almost time to visit the dentist, your teeth start to feel… less clean overall?  I was near that part of the dental cycle, but after two weeks with the brush I felt like I had just been to the dentist. I was impressed.

I didn’t need to recharge the brush during that whole time either, so I ended up putting the charging base away to de-clutter my bathroom. when it does need juice, I’ll just whip it out and leave it to re-charge for a few hours.

After testing, I really liked this brush; I feel like it cleans well, lasts a long time on a charge and will give me a clean even my dentist would approve of.

The brush handle starter kits sell for about $269CAD and replacement brushes are about $36 for a 3-pack, so buying and maintaining use of one of these is not without its costs. is it worth it… I’m going to keep using the brush for longer to see. if you’re curious, hit me up with a comment after a couple months and I’ll let you know.

There’s more info on the brush here.

Check out more in my series on smart dental technology – read about two brushes in the Philips series, the Platinum and the Diamond here.

5 beauty gadgets you need now

This month on CTV Tech Talk we looked at Beauty Gadgets.

tech-talk-octoberDyson Supersonic hair dryer

img_6012The hype around this beauty gadget has been phenomenal.  Dyson, best known for its bagless, superstrong vacuums and bladeless fans, has taken its years of technology and knowledge and made it fit in the palm of your hand.

The Dyson supersonic hair dryer is definitely the priciest of hair dryers ($499CAD), but I can attest that it dries hair significantly faster than a traditional drug store dryer. Continue reading “5 beauty gadgets you need now”

Dyson Supersonic hair dryer review

img_6012No woman likes drying her hair. It takes time to do well, holding a heavy dryer over your head for 20-plus minutes is tiring, and having a loud whine in your ear really sets a  certain tone for the day.

It’s not surprising then there’s been lots of interest now that someone has finally decided there’s a better way.  Dyson, makers of cyclonic bagless vacuums and bladeless fans and heaters has announced its new hair dryer, and it features similar technology to its other products, but refined and on a much smaller scale. Continue reading “Dyson Supersonic hair dryer review”

Clarisonic Mia Fit Review: facial cleansing for women & men

img_5915For 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.mia-alpha

The Mia Fit, and Alpha Fit for men, are essentially the same device in gender-specific packaging and design, but there are some differences, which we’ll get to. Continue reading “Clarisonic Mia Fit Review: facial cleansing for women & men”

Foreo Luna and Issa: hands on reviews of 2 Beauty Gadgets

img_0120Ultrasonic 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.img_9973

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.

I have been using the Clarisonic for several months now, and enjoy the feeling of deep clean I get using the brush. Read my review of the Clarisonic device here.

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.

img_9117Ultrasonic 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.img_0004

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