It’s slim, sleek, black and silver, and comes with Bluetooth. But unlike the
latest mobile phone, you won’t be showing off the Black Pro 6500 to anyone
outside your bathroom.
This hi-tech gizmo from Oral-B – which has its own app – is the latest in
toothbrush technology, and has a £250 price tag to match. It claims to be
able to strip 100 per cent more plaque than a manual toothbrush, leaving
what the manufacturer describes as “nothing but an astonishing clean”.
So can any toothbrush be worth that sort of money? Mid-range powered brushes
cost £30 to £50, although the Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean Rechargeable,
which claims to use high-energy “sonic action” to break down plaque
microbes, will stretch the budget at about £140.
Dental surgeon Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health
Foundation, balks at the Black Pro price. “I should think it will end up
heavily discounted in the stores – perhaps half price – which is more
reasonable,” he says.
He’s not sure the brush-head technology (with bristles at a “dynamic 16‑degree
angle”) is much more advanced than cheaper models, but concedes that the
oscillating mode of action (where the brush head rotates in one direction
and then the other) makes it more effective than other powered brushes.
Some impressive leaps in technology have occurred since the first electric
toothbrush was designed in the Fifties for disabled people and orthodontic
patients with braces; and scientific tests concur that powered brushes have
greater benefits than manual ones. A recent review by the independent
Cochrane Collaboration found that electric brushes do better at reducing
both plaque (by 21 per cent after three months) and gingivitis (by 11 per
cent). Whether they are also better at reducing cavities is unclear.
Despite the evidence, powered brushes are favoured by only about one in four
of us, says Dr Carter, with a further 25 per cent thinking they are for
“lazy people”, according to research. What could tip the balance for the
Black Pro are its other bells and whistles – with Bluetooth connecting to an
app on your iPhone.
The app is easy to use, and stores data on how long and how often you brush.
Although it can be programmed for many tasks – it can tell if you have
cleaned your tongue, and warn if you use too much pressure – most people
will probably set the timer and simply use it as a motivator.
“I’ve been using one for about two-and-a-half weeks,” Dr Carter says, “and I
have to say that I was surprised to be caught not brushing my teeth for long
enough. It’s had an increased effect on my personal motivation.”
Of course, you don’t have to spend £250 to get a useful dental app. You can
download Brush DJ from iTunes for free. This is an award-winning,
NHS-approved, free toothbrush timer app that plays two minutes of music from
your MP3 player to encourage brushing for the recommended length of time.
There’s a free Disney app for younger children, too, which can sync with Crest
or Oral-B children’s brushes. Dr Carter says that learning a manual
technique benefits children as they “need some sense of how to guide a
toothbrush around the mouth as a foundation”.
My own impression of the Black Pro is favourable; it seems to do a thorough
job, and gathering data on your brushing habits is motivating. Whether it is
worth the money depends on your budget, but the evidence suggests that an
electric brush is the better option.