If you’re anything like me, you welcome the opportunity for new tech in your life at every turn. And not just cell phones, laptops, and audio equipment—but also smart home equipment, like wi-fi enabled door locks, lights and thermostats. A bluetooth connection is gold when it comes to your every day stuff. A smart-phone connected ottoman that helps you identify weak points in your ankles? Why not! A bluetooth dresser that lets you know when you’re running out of socks? Sign me up!
If you think about it, smart home goes a lot farther than what you see in the “connected home” section at Best Buy. Robot vacuums have been around for years, and the very notion of something as basic as a garage door opener highlight the simplest ideas in smart home options. A fun thought experiment—take a virtual walk around your house and think about all the things that are connected in one way or another…then think about how few (or many) things still haven’t been converted. Perhaps you’ll find yourself in your bedroom, wondering about smart sheets that tell you when it’s time to clean them—or in your bathroom, pondering a toothbrush that tells you how you’re brushing.
Well friends, the future is now. And what a time to be alive.
Before I got my hands on this device, I struggled to come up with a convincing argument of why I needed it. There’s certainly not a ton of competition for it directly—the notion of a smart toothbrush (herein called “bluetoothbrush”) is limited in that there’s only so much you can do with a toothbrush. It’s main competition, in my opinion, is not other bluetoothbrushes, but in other smart home products that are deemed more important. My approach to a connected home is a gradual one, because smart home products typically come with a hefty price tag—so bluetoothbrushes are significantly lower on the list than smart lighting or a connected thermostat. And—as far as hefty price tags are concerned, the Oral-B Pro 6000 is no different.
Considering the subjectivity of price, though, I will focus for now on performance. Given the atypical nature of this product, and the fact that I never thought I’d need a bluetooth-enabled toothbrush, I was very excited to take this for a test drive. From unboxing to first use, it was a very straight forward setup. Pairing is achieved through the Oral-B companion app, without which this would just be another electric toothbrush. Once paired, and after a few setting adjustments within the app, you’re ready to go with your first use of this bluetoothbrush.
The brushing experience was exactly what you’d expect out of an electric toothbrush. My previous toothbrush was also an Oral-B electric brush (minus the bluetooth awesomeness), so there was absolutely nothing different there for me. There is, however, an extra ring of lights, I guess that’s pretty neat.
There are also brush mode adjustments that can be cycled through using a second button on the device (the first being the power button). These settings are nice, I guess, but not particularly useful for me. Powering the brush on, it defaults to what I’ll call “standard” mode (Oral B calls it “Daily Clean”), which is exactly what it sounds like. One setting down is what I’ll call “intense” mode (“Pro Clean”) where the oscillation of the brush head is slightly more, well, intense than on standard mode. Next is “Sensitive,” which speaks for itself; “3D White” is a polishing mode, then “Gum Care” and “Tongue Clean.” The problem is, I’m not going to check the instruction manual every time I want to change the mode. For me, it will stay on Standard or Intense for all uses…the others are just extra and get in the way.
So at the end of the day, the toothbrush is a toothbrush (thank goodness for that). After my first use, I definitely felt like I had brushed my teeth.
The magic (apparently) comes in the Oral B App, wherein your world of oral care gets very interesting. At the most basic level, the app, when your phone is connected to the bluetoothbrush, automatically shows a timer on-screen to gently encourage you to brush for 2 minutes on each use. And, while this is definitely cool (because I usually just count to 30 four times for each quadrant of my mouth), the brush has a timer built-in so that after 30 seconds elapses there is a short stutter to indicate the time has passed—removing the need for any sort of onscreen graphics.
There is a (seemingly optional) mirror mount for your phone that, through the use of your camera, will somehow monitor the areas you brush in most frequently. While my review model didn’t include the mirror mount, it would seem holding your phone up against the mirror while brushing isn’t good enough—so I couldn’t get this feature to work well.
Aside from a timer, the app through regular use also guides you through good oral care—first by brushing for 2 minutes, then prompting you to indicate on-screen that you’ve also cleaned your tongue, flossed, and rinsed. Then, as time goes on, your stats are logged in the app. And, if you go a couple of days without brushing, you’ll get a passive-aggressive reminder on your phone that you’re taking awful care of your teeth. Lovely, exactly what I need in my life.
There are a couple of things in the app that I find compelling, albeit not that useful. The first is the option to pursue “Dental Care Journeys” (I wouldn’t make that up), wherein you can focus on achieving more specific goals such as Fresh Breath, Whitening or Gum Health. Preparing for these journeys takes only a couple of setting adjustments and you’re on your way—and rest assured, while shorter in duration (2 weeks, 4 weeks, etc.), I’m sure each journey will still feel like watching your least favorite Lord of the Rings movie. Because it would take forever. So, compelling? Perhaps—but I don’t have the patience for it.
Another interesting piece of the app, and the element that got the most feedback when I was talking about this product with friends and family, is the inclusion of “achievements.” Some of these include:
- Completion of dental care journeys;
- “Early Riser,” for those who brush 7 consecutive days between 3:30am and 6:00am;
- “Most Consistent,” for those who brush twice daily for 14 days in row; and
- Consecutive brushing, flossing, tongue cleaning or rinsing, ranging from 30 days to 365 days.
Said one family member, “I need achievements.” So, if you’re all about that, Oral B has you covered there. Seems like a bit of a novelty to me; then again, I’m not much of an achievement kind of guy.
You can also use the app to track your dentist appointments (because you don’t already have an app on your phone that can handle that), and you can link the App to your Twitter account—because your followers really care about your gum health. Seriously—don’t buy this and link it to your Twitter account. Aside from that, standard reminders and notifications can also be set up in app to encourage you to stop ignoring your chompers.
OK, so hopefully by now you’ve decided whether or not you’re going to buy it. If you do—links below—but in the meantime, let’s examine who is the best candidate to spend those Benjamins. Shout out to my brother—the one who “needs achievements”—because he is the best use case I can think of. If you’re someone who struggles with oral care, but you’re driven to improve through these sort of “soft” reward systems, I think it’s safe to say that the couple hundred bucks you’ll spend on this now may help improve your oral health as well as create some new good habits. $200 is a small price to pay for teeth that don’t rot…just saying.
Now for those tech enthusiasts—the ones chomping at the bit (see what I did there?) to get your hands on cool gadgets: well, I’m one of those guys, and I don’t know that this is a good fit for me. This is no gadget for gadget’s sake, and in some ways not that dissimilar from a Nest thermostat in that it may be the most underwhelming tech purchase of your year…because it’s really not that cool. And here’s why: the device itself is 500-year-old “tech” with bluetooth and a couple of lights. The magic, if we’re being entirely honest, is in the app, which technically is still usable without an expensive bluetoothbrush. And, as it was put to me by a friend, “you can buy a lot of toothbrushes for $200.”
And speaking of 500-year-old technology (I have it on good authority that the modern toothbrush was invented in 1498 in China), it took mankind 500 years to add bluetooth to our nightly routines—I don’t think you’re at any tremendous risk on holding off on this purchase until next year’s tax return. If nothing else, the price should hopefully drop a little, and you can decide if spending that much money is really worth it.
Also, competitive products from other companies like Philips are priced similarly, so you might also be able to rely on good old-fashioned economics to help get a bluetoothbrush into your life a little bit sooner. Or, find a cheap Chinese knock-off that might electrocute you, but also might make your teeth shiny.
Either way, to help you make the decision BEFORE spending a bunch of money, perhaps test driving the companion apps first is the key strategy.
So where does that leave us? You may have found the next must-have tech, and I may have found that I now have two electric toothbrushes that I don’t use nearly enough. Sad to say, I don’t see a big use case for this product right now. Maybe they’ll slide under the radar like robot vacuums did years ago, and maybe they’ll stay at the same price point for the next 5-6 years, also like robot vacuums. I sincerely hope that isn’t the case.
It’s at least a solid product as far as Oral B electric toothbrushes are concerned…but then again, my previous, non-bluetoothbrush from Oral B did the job just fine without needing the extra lights and something else to drain my phone’s battery. I say, pass on this one unless you really, really like those achievements.