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Oral-B thinks its AI toothbrush can clean your teeth better than you can

Nathan Ingraham
·Deputy Managing Editor
·3-min read
Oral-B
Oral-B

Oral-B, a giant of the tooth-brushing industry, has been making electric toothbrushes for years, incorporating consumer tech trends like smartphone apps and Bluetooth. Every few years, the company takes advantage of the scrum of CES to announce its latest power toothbrush, and 2020 is no exception: Oral-B just announced the iO, a new device the company says is the result of six years of R&D and input from over 1,800 users.

Those are some lofty claims, but the iO does sound like a pretty advanced brush. Probably most important in a toothbrush is its head, and the iO uses "oscillating, rotating movements" along with micro-vibrations that promise to clean every nook and cranny of your teeth. That's combined with a new "linear magnetic drive" that powers all those movements. Finally, a new pressure sensor helps analyze how much force you use when brushing and provides feedback to help people clean with the optimal amount of force -- something that's quite important for gum health.

Of course, it wouldn't be CES if there wasn't some buzzword tech packed in here too -- in this case, it's artificial intelligence. Oral-B says the iO app for your smartphone does real-time "tracking and coaching" that's informed by thousands of recording brushings. I don't know how much I'd want to brush my teeth with one hand while following along with a 3D teeth-tracking app in the other, but if that sounds like your jam, Oral-B will provide.

Oral-B iO
Oral-B iO

If you're not into looking at the app, don't worry -- the iO also has a built-in display to provide feedback throughout your brush. It's also used to activate one of the seven different brush modes that you can choose from, though we didn't get details yet on how exactly those modes differ, or if different modes are recommended for different people based on their specific oral health.

It's easy to joke about some of the inclusions Oral-B made here, especially considering that an AI-powered app might feel like overkill for brushing your teeth. But the company did some clinical tests with the iO and says that users had 100 percent healthier gums after one week and six times more plaque removal from the gumline. And among gingivitis patients who used the iO, 83 percent had their gum classification changed from "unhealthy" to "healthy" after eight weeks. Of course, these stats are compared to an ordinary toothbrush, not one of the many other electric toothbrushes on the market, making it hard to say how much more effective the iO is compared to other options.

Unfortunately, it will be a bit before more people can find out just how effective the iO is; Oral-B says it won't be available until August 2020. We also don't know how much it'll set you back, but at the very least it might be worth keeping an eye out for if you have particular concerns about your dental health.