Oral-B Pro Care 5000 Toothbrush

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Although it's difficult to study, it seems that oscillating (rotating) toothbrushes are better than sonic ones. In November 2016, we got a dual pack of these guys from CostCo for $150. Prior to this, I had used a plain old toothbrush.

this article written May 2017 on a late 2016 product

Much better than manual brushing

Oral-B 5000 on charger base and extended base

Upon first use, my teeth suddenly had that super smooth feeling I only previously got from a dentist. My wife didn't notice such a difference, but it was clear to me.

One device is more than enough for a family

We got a dual pair but found that the instructions say it takes 24 hours for a full charge, and a full charge can last 20 two-minute brushings. My very informal observations find that these general numbers seem reasonable; it does take some dozens(?) of minutes to recharge after a two-minute usage.

If you read between the lines, this means that one Oral-B 5000 can be used every 52 minutes, all day long. In other words, we really only needed to buy one. One of these things could serve 20 people a day at one 2-min. brush a day, or 10 people at two brushes a day. While it may be hit hard in the morning and evening, it still has lots of time to recover.

Before your mind leaps to "gross", you can easily buy more tips online; more on this below.

The point is that any penny-pincher does not need to buy two.

But of course, you always can... if you have two, you always have a backup if one fails. Or if someone needs to travel. Or you don't mind the cost and less hassle. And you even have a loaner for somebody else to try, if you have extra tips.

They say tips last three months, but they seem to last a year or more

Oral-B recommends new tips every three months (without saying how many times you brush a day). They also say they build colors into the bristles so you can see if it's aging.

But so far (six months out), our tips show really no sign of aging. So Oral-B gets 10 points for making great tips, and -1 point for trying to needlessly sell more tips.

Just wait until they start looking smooshed, like all your old toothbrushes.

Replacement Tips

I searched a while to try to find info that detailed more precisely what the different types of tips can do for you. Besides the words in their descriptions, there is zero factual data. So I just bought more of the standard tips that ship with the unit, why not. You can also buy third-party tips for much cheaper. But since bona fide Oral-B ones probably last at least a year, why bother. Your choice, shrug. The cheap ones are certainly worth trying if you have a big family.

Oral-B Bluetooth app kind of useless

Oral-B touts its Bluetooth app highly, but it's really rather useless. It's another in a long stream of toy apps from makers of all sorts that could have easily been more serious (this is a pet peeve of mine).

First, a little on the brush itself: All by itself (no app ever needed), the brush flashes a color change and jiggles to let you know of 30 second intervals, then does a more serious display of the same as of the fourth one (two minutes). The idea is to have you brush four quadrants of your mouth equally. This is all fine and good; quite helpful. Bravo, Oral-B!

Then they also have an app you can load on your Android or Apple phone, which gives a display of time as it elapses. It also keeps a rudimentary history that lets you see how much you brushed each day for the past week or month. And it can display news, weather, and other things, but come on guys, we don't need you to re-create all other apps here. You're just a toothbrush app. Give us what you alone can give us - our data - not what everyone else can give us better (more on this below). In fact, why not make your app be able to be a background app that makes sounds notifying users of 10 second intervals (or whatever) so they can have other foreground apps? Be useful, not self centered.

The app didn't always work for me, and seemed to contradict the instructions provided. If I remember right, the instructions said to:

  1. launch the Oral-B app
  2. lift your brush

and it would sync. But if I remember right, lifting it didn't do anything. You had to turn it on. And then, it only caught sometimes. In particular, if you had not used the app for the past several brushings, it seems to take many multiples of seconds to "catch up" and pass the past brushing data to the app. This is all very awkward and stupid while you're rushing through your morning ablutions. Oral-B, you want me to raise the brush, turn it on, then stand there staring at my ugly self in the mirror for some 10 seconds while your slow app syncs? Or maybe doesn't sync at all, leaving me wondering what the f* I'm doing using the app anyway?

Pardon me if my memory is hazy. Because the app was more trouble than it was worth, to me. And that was months ago. But perhaps it will appeal to some.

The built-in 30-second/2-minute alert is more than enough for most anyone. Why do you need an app that does the same thing? The only thing the app adds is that it shows how far until the next 30 seconds is up. Doesn't hurt, but it's easily ditchable.

Also, the history is sort of "who cares". Most people either brush religiously or not. And if you miss a day, it was just a bad day. You don't need an app for that. I might care to see data over long periods (months and years, including time of day; see below). But not the simple summaries of this toy-ish app. I already knew all that, don't need to be reminded I was too rushed to brush once every hundred days.

I might have been interested in its history if it automatically fed it, e.g., to a free Google Sheets table that I could later review (over months and years) to see interesting things that happened over time. But it's really only a little toy that mostly shows you very simple numbers, and doesn't have any way to download or offload the data. Sad when they've done 99.999% of all the work involved, and free Sheets are available to everyone.

Nice Engineering Touches

From an engineering standpoint, this brush has some really nice points:

  • There are no actual electrical recharge touch points to corrode or be covered in drool, or shock you (if that were a concern). It uses electromagnetic induction. It's probably not as efficient as direct contacts, but it is nice and seamless. No, I have not (yet) measured its energy draw over time. It's probably inefficient if this super simple little thing takes 24 hours to do a full charge. But it's probably still very little energy wasted.
  • The entire brush unit is self contained (water sealed) and can be easily rinsed. Nice if you're a gorilla like me. Also the tip comes off easily. Even the base can be easily wiped (it too is seamless; no contacts).
  • If you look at the ads, you see it comes with an extended base that holds tips. The charger base (which has a fairly small footprint) easily lifts out of the extended base, so that that clunky thing can be stored away. If you only need a new tip once a year, who needs to waste all that extended footprint to something that will only get dirty over time.

Ideas for Improvement

  • Let users have their own data. Oral-B, you spent untold dollars engineering this product. Plus you have your entire staff and sites, logistics, marketing, manufacturing, lawyers, and all the other untold number of layers of difficulty in making and distributing such a good product.
Please go the 0.01% farther and pass the brushing data that runs through your fingertips to we who bought your product. (Timestamped data of when started, when ended, elapsed time in brushing interval, etc. Of course, this would only be something optional, which users have to consciously set up an account for.)
It's so super easy to let it be directed to a Google Sheet or something else. Then we can do anything we want with it.
Think of how cool it would look in your advertisements! "See how well you've done. For years back! FREE!"
  • Let users set their own alert intervals built into the brush (change them within the brush, not just what your app shows). Intervals are currently set to 30 second with a big alert at the fourth instance. Let "power brushers" choose 20 second intervals, or languid brushers choose longer intervals. Let us choose how many intervals before the big alert; maybe we want to spend time on one side, the other side, then the front, on top and bottom (six intervals). For extra points, let people set up various customized named intervals and try them to see what they like. Let users choose from a variety of in-brush settings. It could look cool on your packaging - "New - Make your own settings!"
Let users do it however they want. You can require users to need the app to change how the brush works. But - this is important - only require them to need the app to change the brush settings, then not ever need the app again (the brush itself will remember the new settings). Also please have a teeny bit of NVRAM to remember settings across battery drains. It only adds a few cents.

For extra points, Oral-B:

  • Let the alerts that you provide if someone is brushing too hard have gradations. Instead of just blue (good) or yellow (bad), several shades or a rainbow. Multicolor LEDs are cheap these days.
  • Add sound (beeps, chirps). But if you do, let it be able to be turned off easily. Because sometimes you brush when your partner is still sleeping.

Summary

This is a great toothbrush, and I highly recommend it. You only need one even for a large family, if you buy more tips. The app is pretty useless.

Comments

Comments? This where where I hope to show an iframe of this