I’ll admit it...like any self-respecting ice-cream lover, I’ve always taken the first bite without much thought of the morning after. Until the day when that first bite sends a shooting pain that freezes your synapses. Correct brushing is part science, part discipline and it’s hard to get it right in your 40s if you’ve never really practised it for the previous three decades. Thankfully, these days there’s an app for everything and in this case, even for your toothbrushing! The Oral-B iO-8 is the latest in a line of power cleaners that aim to widen the gap between dental clinic visits. Or maybe it’s my faith in tech.
Clearly in a stratosphere all its own, the iO-8 is considerably more expensive than its closest competitor but for that, you do get a lot of cleaning power, cutting-edge technology and a travel case that stores everything neatly. The bundle comes with one Ultimate brush head, a magnetic charger that the brush handle rests on pretty easily, but is also easily dismounted, due to the small contact area I presume. Nevertheless, one of the most impressive features of the iO-8, especially considering its powerful magnetic drive motor, is its battery life that I still haven’t recharged after I first set up the brush almost two weeks ago! So any anxiety around having to charge one more device on a vacation can be easily negated, unless your vacations last longer than the Olympics. A coloured, interactive display is situated perfectly on the handle to give you real-time information and also greet you with timely welcome messages, depending on when you’re picking it up. The remaining battery life is indicated every time you power the device off. Six cleaning modes include Intense, Daily Clean, Gum Care, Whitening, Super sensitive and the “AI” part of the promise is manifested in the form of tracking zones in your mouth in real-time. With just two buttons on the device, it’s an easy menu to learn and it’s mostly entirely washable too, which you will need to do after every use. Yes, it does get messy, thanks to the ultra-high RPM on the brush head.
Perhaps the only tiresome process in this otherwise brilliant brushing experience is the need to open the Oral-B app on your phone before brushing every single time. While it’s new and you’re excited to see your pearls shine brighter, you might do it. But show me someone who’s been disciplined about doing this for more than two weeks and I’m willing to donate by denture fund away. Thankfully, there are a couple of graces here. The iO-8 does relay the captured information back to the app as an “unguided” session but it still shows you brushing duration and overpressure history. Overpressure, like I just found out during the course of this review was my biggest nemesis while using my earlier electric toothbrush. Applying too much pressure while brushing rubs off the natural enamel coating on our teeth and causes gum recession too, so the iO-8 has a handy (and bright) ring light that glows blue/green/red to indicate under, perfect or overpressure while you’re at it and since it’s right under your eyes, you can’t miss it. So while the app is great to see historical data, it’s not absolutely essential. What the app does help with though are reminders to change brush head, take up fun challenges that urge you to be more thorough and consistent, and give you a visual representation of where you have applied overpressure during your routine. All pretty fancy, but how’s the actual brushing experience?
Don’t rush to brush
If you’re new to electric brushes, the first session will rattle your skull. That’s how powerful the circular brush head is! But you soon learn to hold the handle firmly and not push the bristles against your teeth. The rounded design and the dentist-recommended circular brush head is great for hard-to-reach corners of your mouth and thanks to the different modes, the angle of oscillation changes, giving you a genuinely clean-feeling mouth. Standard and minimum recommended brush time is two minutes for every session and the little display throws up a sad face if you underdeliver on that mandate, ensuring you’re always motivated for a smiley face. The accuracy of the AI-tracking is a hit or a miss and the visuals on the app might not always coincide with what your effort was but overall, as a toothbrush, it definitely stamps its superiority over any non-electric contraption and every other electric toothbrush that I’ve used too. Even vibrations within the handle are superbly managed, again thanks to the magnetic drive as opposed to a mechanical motor. So it’s not your hand that is vibrating in between breaks or changing direction and it might sound hard to imagine, but on a daily basis, it’s the single most important thing to eliminate fatigue and make toothbrushing a fun and effective tool to maintain a high level of hygiene. The vibration patterns change to communicate changes in oscillation and even when your two minutes are up, which is a good touch.
Noise? Well, I’m not a connoisseur of electric toothbrushes but it’s minimal enough to never have bothered me or wake anyone else up in the room. There is a tongue-cleaning mode available too, but on a model that’s even more expensive than this, if you can believe it! On this model, with the Ultimate brush head, my only performance-oriented grievance was the actual size of the circular brush, which is a bit small and I just couldn’t get enough toothpaste on it for a “fresh breath”, tingling mouth feeling. There’s always a bit of toothpaste loss due to the high vibrations anyway and after a brushing session, while the small size helped it to get to the deepest recesses and make my mouth feel clean, I always craved a bit more of the minty toothpaste aftertaste.
After all said and done, it still is a lot of money to pay for a toothbrush and honestly, unless it improves your smile and whitens teeth visibly, it won’t be worth it. But, if you’re self-indulgent and keen on the best hygiene possible, it might be worth knowing that the iO-8 did visibly reduced plaque build-up on the back of my front teeth, an area that’s always hard to clean with a non-electric toothbrush effectively. The micro-vibrations along with the smart pressure sensor really make a difference in how clean you feel and eventually, look. If you have a bathroom that is kitted out with a mirror TV, an Alexa controlled air-conditioner and a Dyson Supersonic hairdryer, this toothbrush will fit right in!