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Oral-B Pro 5000 Bluetooth toothbrush review: Don't buy it for its Bluetooth feature

Michael Brown | Feb. 10, 2015
There was a time when Bluetooth was a technology in search of a purpose. Now you'll find the wireless protocol in everything from smartphones to speakers, headphones, light bulbs and yes, even toothbrushes. The smartphone app for Oral-B's Pro 5000 electric toothbrush makes a game out of brushing your teeth, and that could encourage one person in your home to practice better oral hygiene--because its companion smartphone app can track only one person's routine.

When your two minutes of brushing are up, the handle will flash a green LED, vibrate, and pulse the brush head to let you know it's time to move on the next part of your oral hygiene routine: Cleaning your tongue. Once you've performed that task, the app reminds you to floss. When you've finished flossing, the app will recommend using a fluoride rinse to further help combat tooth decay. You can push a button to skip either of these steps, and the app will track how many times you do.

If your dentist recommends paying particular attention to certain teeth or areas of your mouth, you can configure the app to measure how long you spend cleaning those areas. You can set up to 16 additional timers for the cheek and tongue sides as well as the chewing surfaces of your teeth. The app will even find nearby dentists for you, using Google Places.

If your dentist is interested, he or she can program the app's reminders, focused care, custom timer, and recommended tips settings for you. Add your dentist's contact information and you can call and schedule an appointment right from within the app. Enter the appointment details and the app will remind you up to a week before the date.

I carry my phone with me pretty much everywhere I go, but when I started using the Pro 5000, I quickly discovered that I often don't bring it into the bathroom when I brush my teeth. After the umpteenth time getting irritated that I had to go fetch it before I could brush, I discovered an overlooked section of the user manual that informed me the handle can store up to 20 brushing sessions and automatically upload them to your phone the next time you do have it with you when you brush. This would be particularly useful for families with children, since it won't always be convenient to give up your phone when the kids need to brush. Unfortunately, this feature doesn't seem to work.

The gamification of oral hygiene

If you need motivation to brush your teeth beyond the obvious reasons (avoiding tooth decay, painful and expensive visits to the dentist, and bad breath) you might find the gamification aspect of the app to be appealing. It didn't do a lot for me (being married to the office manager of a pediatric dental office, I hear plenty of horror stories about people who don't take care of their teeth), but I can see it getting children more excited about brushing on a regular basis.

In addition to tracking your oral hygiene practices on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, the app awards trophies for good behavior, including "Power User," "Lunch Time Brusher," and "Streak" plaques for brushing, flossing, tongue cleaning, and/or rinsing over consecutive 7-, 14-, 30-, 60-, 90-, 180- and 365-day periods.


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