Oral-B has been the best toothbrush around since the early 60s, back when power brushes were a thing of novelty. The past few decades brought some major advancements- pressure sensors, two minute timers, and a Blueotoh-connected app. However, Oral-B’s Procter&Gamble team followed an older line of philosophy when developing their latest line of toothbrushes.
“The only thing we’ve kept is the round head,” says Christian Mandl, senior director of oral care R&D. Based in Germany, Mandl was part of the team that developed iO, and the process included six years of research. The iO, which is available at major retailers this month, has other familiar features, too, but they’ve all been redesigned for maximum effect. I’ve been using an electric toothbrush since 2018, and the iO Series 8 for the past three months. The only time my pearly whites have felt cleaner is just after I’ve left the dentist.
The first smart toothbrushes hit the market seven or eight years ago, and now all the major players in the oral health world have joined the fray. The smart features on the iO are certainly flashy, but it’s the new drive system that left a lasting impression. (This is Popular Mechanics, after all.) Oral-B created a pint-size linear magnetic motor, which generates power as a magnetic axis moves from side to side between two poles. An added counterweight and some springs even out the motion for less vibration compared to a brush with a traditional geared or sonic motor.
You don’t have to use the app while brushing, and sometimes I didn’t (my phone spends enough time in bathrooms as it is). You choose which cleaning mode you want from the handle anyway, and the 30-second pulse alerts and stopwatch on the handle’s color display let me track my time. Those unguided sessions still appeared the next time I opened the app but only logged the total time as well as how much of that, if any, was spent brushing too hard. Although the novelty of the app wore off eventually, the desire to improve my brushing score has kept me using it more often than not.