Oral-B electric toothbrush features.
This page explains various features and capabilities of the Oral-B rechargeable toothbrush line (use this link to determine specifically which brushes have which features).
Oral-b features explained on this page.
- The Smartphone App – The App provides current and historic information about your brushing sessions, so to help make them as productive as possible.
- The wireless SmartGuide – A stand-alone unit that provides real-time information about your brushing session, for those who prefer not to use the phone app.
- Additional indicators – Most rechargeable models feature a brushing/quadrant timer and excessive brushing pressure indicator.
- Information about Oral-B charging stands, battery recharging (including best practices), and options for battery replacement.
The Smartphone app / Bluetooth connectivity.
What does having Bluetooth connectivity do?
The Oral-B Bluetooth feature provides a means by which your toothbrush can communicate with the Oral-B app when installed on your smartphone (iPhone or Android). The app, in turn, can give you feedback about your current brushing session and past history. The app is free and can be downloaded from the usual places (iTunes, Google Play).
Oral-B would suggest that the phone app helps to motivate your brushing habits, as well as improve your session’s effectiveness and safety.
What type of details does the app report?
The information shown on your phone can include (depending on model): a) The brushing timer. b) Quadrant indicator and timer. c) Toothbrush mode setting. d) Excessive pressure warning. e) Brush position detection (mouth mapping).
Note: A lot of this information is a duplication (albeit in a nicer visual form) of what your toothbrush already indicates to you via LED’s, sound, flashing lights, or vibration.
Smartphone app features – (Varies according to model.)
- With Oral-B’s that are enabled with their Artificial Intelligence feature, motion sensors recognize your brushing style, track where you have brushed (shown in the app), and then give you feedback about your results and pointers on how to improve.
- Oral-B’s highest-end models feature their state-of-the-art real-time mouth mapping capability where your brushing progress (the areas where you have brushed) is illustrated in the app during your brushing session (instead of after you have finished).
- More primitive Oral-B’s feature their Position Detection system that uses facial recognition technology to guide your brushing session, zone by zone (UL, UR, LL, LR, UF, LF), thus helping you maximize your brushing effectiveness. (This seems to be the older, previous-generation version of Oral-B’s brushing/mouth-mapping feature.)
- Pre-programmed routines can be selected that are designed to help you attain your brushing goals (Fresh Breath, Plaque Fighter, Whitening, Gum Health, and Ortho Care).
- The app can customize your toothbrush’s brushing timer by configuring additional seconds for those areas of your mouth (quadrants) that require extra cleaning.
- The app displays your brushing history (number of sessions, session duration, assorted other statistics) over time (days, weeks, months). Sessions less than 30 seconds aren’t included in the tally.
- The app can be configured to remind you to floss and brush your tongue after each brushing session. It can also remind you when it’s time to replace your brush head.
- To help with entertainment and productivity while you brush, it displays news headlines, your calendar, and weather information.
Which models have which app capability?
Generally speaking, the level of sophistication of the app experience you get increases as you rise up within the Oral-B lineup. (Model price is a pretty good indication of this.)
We make note of the differences in app capability between models on our All Oral-B toothbrushes page.
Is the Smartphone app a valuable feature to have?
We see the brushing app strictly as a motivational tool. Nothing about it makes your toothbrush function better. Instead, it helps you, the brusher, function more optimally. There is no question that you can brush just as effectively with or without the app, if you will.
On the other side of the coin, if you need motivation or instruction when performing your brushing efforts, or if monitoring your (or possibly your child’s) brushing performance over time is important to you, then having the app may make a significant improvement in your brushing outcome. And if that’s the case, it’s wonderful that such an option exists and you should seek a model that features it.
Tip: If you think the smartphone app is important to have and use, you can find it on Pro 5000 and above.
The wireless SmartGuide unit.
The Oral-B SmartGuide is a stand-alone unit that communicates wirelessly with your toothbrush. It’s not a control or a touch screen, it simply reports information to you via an LCD display.
Fewer and fewer models now come with this feature. For all practical purposes, it’s been replaced by the functionality of the Bluetooth connectivity/Smartphone app feature discussed above.
- When the toothbrush is in use, the unit displays:
a) The brushing timer. b) The quadrant indicator (the dashed circle on the unit’s screen). c) An excessive brushing pressure indicator. d) The brushing mode in use.
- When the toothbrush is not in use the unit serves as a clock and shows the time of day.
Oral-B Smartguide unit.
- The brushing timer can be set to count either up or down.
After counting down, the timer will automatically reverse and start counting back up. That way if you decide to brush for longer, you can keep track of how long.
- The unit displays a circular quadrant indicator. This helps you to keep track of which 1/4th of your mouth you should be brushing at the moment.
- The Smartguide is not rechargeable like your toothbrush. It runs on 2 disposable AAA batteries. Oral-B states that they should keep the unit running for about 1 year.
Is the Smartguide an important feature to have?
It’s easy enough to dismiss a true “need” for having the SmartGuide unit. That’s because so much of the information it relays is already signaled to you by your toothbrush via various sounds, lights, or vibrations.
Having said that, some users may find that having this information relayed to them visually is beneficial.
- We do see how being able to track how long you’ve brushed for after the 2-minute timer has lapsed could be useful.
- And if someone who brushes via quadrants actually has trouble keeping track of which one they should be on, the “quadrant circle” would be a help too.
- As a point of interest, Oral-B actually did a study to determine how the use of a remote timer (the SmartGuide) affected users’ brushing habits.
They determined that using one encouraged users to brush for at least 2 minutes and to maintain a stricter brushing regimen.
We will point out however that the study period only ran for 30 days. A time frame during which we’d expect that the novelty of using the Smartguide hadn’t worn off yet.
Using a “connected” Oral-b toothbrush on airplanes.
- When your toothbrush is switched off it emits no wireless signal, so it poses no conflict with existing rules.
- When your toothbrush is turned on, its wireless transmitter turns on too. And for this reason, the use of your brush during your flight may or may not be permitted, depending on your airline’s rules.
- Check the user manual of your brush to determine if the wireless transmissions generated by your model can be deactivated. If so it can then be used (such as on your flight) without the emission of signals.
(With some Oral-b models you hold the on/off and mode button down for 3 seconds until
the radio transmission display/icon on the brush body goes off. Repeat the process to turn the signals back on.)
The Oral-b 360 Smartring / Light Ring.
The Smartring is a flashing LED indicator light. With more recent toothbrush lines, Oral-B has begun referring to this feature simply as the “Light Ring.”
The “360” reference to this light refers to the fact that it encircles the entire circumference of the brush handle (it’s found right below where the brush head attaches), and therefore can be visualized from all angles.
What does it do?
The Smartring is used to signal the following functions:
- Excessive brushing pressure has been detected (red light).
- That another 1/4th of your brushing timer’s setting has elapsed. Also that the brushing timer’s total duration has ended. (The default color of this feature is white, although other colors can be chosen via the smartphone brushing app.)
- That your toothbrush has paired (via a Bluetooth connection) with your toothbrush (blue light).
The default color of the Smartring can be personalized to any one of 12 different options. Choosing to do so is just decorative in nature.
Oral-B brushing and quadrant timers.
All of the toothbrushes making up our all-models list come with a brushing timer.
- For the most part, this is a 2-minute one. (When a brush is set to Deep Clean brushing mode, the timer extends to 3 minutes. Only selected models feature this mode.)
- As the timer runs, its quadrant feature signals 30-second intervals (45 seconds when set on Deep Clean.) (The Vitality models don’t offer a quadrant timer.) See below for how this is used during brushing.
The signal that’s used varies by model but is typically a pause-and-stutter coming from the toothbrush handle. For models equipped with the Smartring feature, its light flashes at both quadrant and end of timer intervals.
- Unlike some other brands of toothbrushes, once an Oral-B’s brushing timer has lapsed the brush continues to run (it doesn’t automatically shut off). That means you can seamlessly continue brushing for longer if you want. This is a nice feature.
How to use the quadrant timer.
- Imagine your teeth in terms of quadrants (e.g. upper right, lower right, lower left, upper left).
- As you brush, when each 30-second quadrant signal sounds off, you advance to the next quadrant in your brushing plan, brushing it until the timer signals you to advance again.
- There’s nothing really special about brushing this way. It just helps to ensure that you don’t overlook brushing any one area for an adequate amount of time.
Customizing the quadrant timer with the Bluetooth/Smartphone app.
The brushing/quadrant timer of toothbrush models that feature the Bluetooth/Smartphone app can be extended (see above).
Oral-B pressure monitoring features.
What you’ll find.
Mid and higher-end Oral-B electric toothbrushes feature an excessive brushing pressure indicator. While the specific design of this feature varies by model, in general, when your brush detects that excessive pressure is being used:
- It signals via a light, sound and/or makes a change in your brush’s brushing action that you’ll feel or hear.
- Toothbrushes equipped with the Smartguide or Bluetooth/Smartphone app features also show a signal on their screens.
The Smart Pressure Sensor System.
This is Oral-B’s most sophisticated pressure detection system and it comes as a feature on their iO Series toothbrushes. It differs from the systems found on other models by way of the fact that it notifies you not only when you are using too much brushing pressure but also too little or just the right amount.
The system’s primary mode of communication is via the LED Light Ring located at the top of the brush’s handle (right at the base of the installed brush head).
This light shines white when you use too little pressure, red when excessive pressure is detected, or green if you’re using the proper amount of brushing force. (We explain more about this feature on the iO Series brushes here.)
Is having a pressure sensor necessary?
Brushing with excessive pressure can cause tooth wear, gum tissue abrasions, and theoretically even gum recession. It will also tend to wear out brush heads prematurely.
In regard to gum recession, studies have shown that the use of either Sonicare (McCracken) or Oral-b (Rosema) powered brushes do not place the user at risk of damage. And for that reason, we don’t favor one brand over the other, despite the fact that many Sonicare products do not offer this same type of warning system.
Oral-b recharging stands.
- All models come with a basic circular charging unit that plugs into an electrical outlet (the brush sits directly on top of this device). It’s small enough that it packs easily for travel.
- More expensive Oral-b’s come with a plastic tray designed to fit around the basic unit so to hold additional brush heads.
- Some high-end models come with a combined travel case/charging unit. The case can also be used to simultaneously charge your cell phone.
Recharging your Oral-B.
How it works.
Oral-B rechargeable toothbrushes charge by way of induction. This means you simply set them on their charging stand, no direct connection is made (like plugging in a wire).
Battery level indicators.
All Oral-B’s feature a battery charge indicator, although its design (level of sophistication) varies by model.
- Some simply indicate that the unit has enough charge to perform (or not).
- Others give you an idea of the actual level of charge the brush still holds. This may be an important feature for people who want to travel without taking their charger along.
Oral-B states that you can help to ensure that your toothbrush’s battery will maintain maximum recharging capacity by using it straight through (multiple sessions, no charging in between) until it’s fully discharged. They suggest doing this at least once every six months.
Note: Many models are 120 volts only.
It bears mentioning that the charging unit that comes with mid-range to low-end Oral-B toothbrushes is typically one that’s just been designed to be used with the type of electrical system that predominates in the country/area in which it was originally sold.
That means that USA/Canada models are intended for use only with 110-120 volt systems. Units bought in other countries (such as those in Europe) are typically designed just for 220 – 240-volt systems. (In comparison, most Sonicare products feature multi-voltage charging units.)
Some high-end Oral-B models come with a multi-voltage (110-240 volt) charging unit. In most cases, the needed transformer has been integrated into a power cord that has come packaged with the brush. The cord is then plugged into either the toothbrush’s standard charging base or else its charging-capable travel case, depending on which you intend to use.
How to check.
The specific voltage system your toothbrush charger has been designed to work with should be printed on its base.
- Those specifically marked “100 – 240 volts” can be used globally without the need for a voltage converter. Although it’s likely that you will need a “converter plug” so you can physically plug into the wall socket you’re utilizing.
- All others will require the use of a voltage converter unit to operate on any electrical system other than the one they were designed for.
Battery types / Replacement.
a) Oral-b rechargeable batteries.
Higher-end Oral-B models typically feature a lithium-ion battery. Lower-end brushes typically have a NiMH one. The lithium-ion version offers the advantage of longer, more consistent battery life and faster charging.
b) Oral-b’s aren’t designed for battery replacement.
The design chosen by Oral-B for their rechargeable toothbrushes is one where the batteries housed inside aren’t intended to be replaced by the consumer (at least not in a simple, straightforward way). That means battery failure generally correlates with unit death.
(Note: Oral-B does sell “battery operated” toothbrushes, meaning models that run on replaceable off-the-shelf disposable batteries. Our website doesn’t recommend the use of these types of units because the brushing action they create is subpar compared to that of Oral-B’s rechargeables.)
Battery replacement options.
We have run across some websites and eBay stores that appear to offer replacement rechargeable batteries for various Oral-B models. While we have no first-hand experience in dealing with them, what they offer seems to fall into one of the following two categories.
- Some sites appear to just sell the replacement batteries themselves, implying that you the consumer perform the repair task on your own.
Typically the website will provide instructions. We’ve also run across some YouTube.com videos that demonstrate how to perform this procedure. At a minimum, you’ll need to be proficient with using a soldering iron to make the switch.
- Other companies state they offer battery replacement as a service. You ship your inoperable toothbrush to them. They make the repair, check the outcome, and then return it to you.
Tip: The higher-end Oral-b’s offer more of the features discussed on this page. Further on down the lineup are their more value-oriented models, although it’s difficult to suggest purchasing any one below the Pro 3000.
Page references sources:
McCracken GI, et al. The impact of powered and manual toothbrushing on incipient gingival recession.
Rosema NA, et al. Gingival abrasion and recession in manual and oscillating-rotating power brush users.
All reference sources for topic Electric Toothbrushes.