I was never a big fan of the electric toothbrush. I considered it an extravagance, one that made people who were too lazy to practice good oral hygene even lazier. I viewed it as just another unnecessary convenience that did little more than increase the budget on batteries or add to the electric bill. Besides, all of the ones I tried were considerably bulkier and heavier than a standard, hand powered model and usually had a heavy duty price tag to match. Most of them offered some good vibrations, but when it came to brushing, they didn’t seem to really clean as well as I could do it manually. Or so I thought.
Recently, Oral B offered me an opportunity to try theirs, a premium priced electric toothbrush called the Pro 5000. Since they offered to send me a unit free for my honest review, I accepted. After all, it was free, and you can’t beat free. So, after over a decade of brushing my teeth by hand, I decided to give the electric toothbrush another try.
I was very pleasantly surprised.
The toothbrush I received was the Oral B Pro 5000 SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth. First, of all, this is not one of those battery powered toothbrushes you can get at WalMart for under $10. I shopped around and discovered the median retail price for Pro 5000 averaged from $140 to $160. This is definitely a high end product, and it shows in the results. More on that later.
Second, it isn’t just battery operated, it’s rechargeable, which means that it’s a lot more cost effective to operate in the long run and more environmentally friendly, since I don’t have to constantly replace alkalines as I do in the $10 “disposable” battery operated toothbrushes my wife and kids use. According to the manual, the Pro 5000 can last up to ten days of brushing on a single full charge, based on use twice a day for two minutes each session. Since it automatically recharges as soon as I set it back on its charging base after brushing, I can’t verify the claim, but the sealed NiMH rechargeable battery does seem to maintain ample power during my cleaning sessions, so I have no reason to dispute it, either.
Finally, this toothbrush is different because it is equipped with Bluetooth® technology. Think about it for a moment. It’s a toothbrush with Bluetooth. Aside from the obvious association to the word tooth, the first thought that comes to mind is, well, that sounds really cool. And it really does seem cool, for about a minute or two. Then a second thought emerges. Why?
Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s because it isn’t just a toothbrush. It’s essentially a toothbrush system. This electric toothbrush is only half of the brushing experience. The other half is a smartphone. More specifically, a smartphone with an Oral B toothbrush app.
Yes, I said an app. It’s an app for brushing your teeth. Believe it or not, there really is an app for that. When paired with a smartphone running this app, the Pro 5000 uses its built-in Bluetooth to connect to the smartphone and communicate with the app to help you manage your tooth brushing session.
More on that later. First, let’s talk about the toothbrush itself. This is a well designed, solidly constructed device. The handle is comfortable and easy to hold without being too heavy. It’s also waterproof, which should be a given, since it is, after all, a toothbrush. Since it is waterproof, the battery is completely sealed, which means that once the battery has reached its end-of-life, so has the handle, and the entire thing gets tossed. However, it should provide at least a few years of service before that happens, and considering Oral B gives the Pro 5000 2 year limited warranty leads me to think they expect it to last at least that long, so it’s somewhat encouraging.
The Pro 5000 is equipped with a Triple Pressure Sensor, which lights up an indicator on the handle to alert when you brush too hard. It lit up a lot the first time I used it, simply because I was attempting to apply the same amount of pressure I normally exerted when brushing manually for the last ten years. I’ve often heard that elbow grease doesn’t work when it comes to brushing your teeth, but I didn’t realize just how little is required to get the job done until I finally had a brush that told me so.
The Pro 5000 has five modes of operation. They include the following:
There is a brush head available for use in each mode (sold separately).
The Pro 5000 also includes a timer, which I think is its best feature. Let’s be honest, who actually brushes their teeth for a full two minutes each and every session? I didn’t. But now I do. Not only does the Pro 5000 time your session, it tell you how long to spend on each quadrant of your mouth. Every fifteen seconds it stutters and flashed a green light to mark 30 second intervals so you can move to the next quadrant. In Deep Clean Mode the time is extended to 45 seconds. At the end of 2 minutes in Daily Clean Mode (3 minutes in Deep Clean Mode) the Pro 5000 will stutter four times and the green light will flash on to indicate the end of the session. Of course, if you want to keep brushing, you can, but knowing human nature as I do, most of us probably will be satisfied when the session times out. All of the other features are nice, but idea of a built-in timer is definitely a winner for me.
I’ve only used the Pro 5000 in Daily Clean Mode, so to be fair, I really can’t comment on its performance as a teeth whitener. However, I can say with great satisfaction that I really like the way this toothbrush. The first time I used it, my mouth felt almost as fresh as it did after my last professional cleaning session from my dentist. And it feels that fresh every time. I really like this electric toothbrush.
Then there is the second part of this cleaning system, the Oral B app.
When I first saw it, I thought the entire concept of a toothbrush syncing up with a smartphone app to monitor brushing was just plain silly. However, since Oral B sent me a free Pro 5000 for my honest review, and to be completely fair and honest about it, I had to review the entire package, including the app. so I downloaded the app and gave it a try.
As with most smartphone apps, it was a pretty straightforward installation, and pairing the the device with the app was quick and easy. I had already used the toothbrush a couple of times before the install, so when I started them together for the first time, Pro 5000 immediately uploaded my previous brushing sessions to the app, which monitors and logs all brushing activity for review and offers guidance for improvement. The app features a graphic representation of a timer that syncs with the built-in timer on the toothbrush, Once the app is loaded, I can either start the timer by touching the start button on the screen of the app or just turn on the toothbrush and the timer on the app will start automatically. From that point the two are synced and data on my brushing session flows from brush to app in real time.
I must say that although I first thought it was silly, I was very impressed with the results. I had no idea how much data I could get from a toothbrush until I connect one to my smartphone. However, after about two sessions, it seemed silly again.
My wife thought it was silly, too, right from the start. She also had a concern. This app was collecting all this data about my brushing habits, presumably to evaluate them and help me brush better. What else was it doing with this data? Good question, and I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t, because I really don’t know. Probably nothing, but it is a cause for concern, because so many apps do phone home, and without the user’s knowledge. I am a bit wary though, especially since the app does have a live ticker on the bottom of the screen that displays news, weather, random photos and trivia facts in real time. Maybe it’s just something to read while I’m brushing my teeth. But it is unnecessary and seems a little weird. So far, there are no ads, unless I count the menu option in the app called Shop that is essentially a catalog of Oral B products and accessories. Ads or not, the app is just silly. It adds no real value to the package, in my opinion, and isn’t really needed. I think the Pro 5000 is a highly effective product on its own.
Aside from the app, the Pro 5000 is a solid product. It seems to be well made, it’s easy to operate, it cleans well. One more plus is the assortment of replacement brush heads available. It is compatible with the heads used for many other models of electric toothbrushes in the Oral B line, one for each cleaning mode on these models. The typical Oral B brush head is good for about three months of use, so one could expect to purchase a two pack about every six months. They are generally sold in two or three packs, and while somewhat pricey, they can be purchased at a substantial discount from places like WalMart and Amazon. While considerably more expensive than a disposable battery operated toothbrush, and certainly more than a manual $3 model, The Pro 5000 does seem to clean a whole lot better. It sure sold me.
Is it a good value for the price? The Pro 5000 retails for around $160, which does make it a rather pricey product for brushing your teeth. It does clean very well, so it is definitely a high quality toothbrush worth more than a typical electric toothbrush. However, The Bluetooth connectivity is unnecessary and frivolous, and the only reason to have Bluetooth technology in the brush at all is to connect to the Oral-B app, which is completely unnecessary and only serves to make the daily chore of dental hygene more involved and complicated than it really should be. There are other models of Oral-B toothbrushes in the series that do the same job without Bluetooth, and for considerably less. Unless you really, really want to micromanage your oral hygiene, Spending the extra money simply for Bluetooth in a toothbrush isn’t worth the price point.
In summary, I really like the Pro 5000. It certainly won me over, and I was formerly a staunch supporter of the good old manual toothbrush. The Pro 5000 cleans really well, and the built-in timer makes it a whole lot better. The Bluetooth technology is a nice idea, but isn’t needed on a toothbrush. The app is completely unnecessary. Unless you are totally bored with your life and need to be constantly entertained, don’t even bother with the app. I think it’s just dumb. The toothbrush itself, however, is very, very smart.
I think Oral B has a winner.
For a closer look at the Pro 5000, watch our Oral-B Pro 5000 Electric Toothbrush unboxing video!