Review: Oral B iO 8 is a great high-tech toothbrush, but is it worth such a high price?

Oral B iO toothbrush and app
How high tech can a toothbrush be? Very, as it turns out. Photo credit: Supplied.

I have to admit, my oral hygiene is something I've always been pretty proud of. 

My teeth may be a bit crooked, but thanks to a strict twice-a-day cleaning routine installed in me since childhood they've always been fairly clean and shiny, and at age 27 I've never had a filling - knock on wood. 

But over the last year or so I've become more conscious of my teeth than ever. Maybe it's thanks to the 'new normal' of Zoom meetings that allow us to dissect our smiles in those tiny boxes for hours at a time, or perhaps it's the influence of TikTokkers and their perfect teeth. 

Either way, it's been a period of lots of fancy new teeth tech, like digital teeth whiteners that plug into your phone, or apps to reward good teeth brushing ability. 

Enter one of the highest tech toothbrushes now available on the market: the new Oral B iO series 8 and 9 toothbrushes boasting high performance, sleek design and real-time brushing feedback. 

But all that comes at a cost. An eye-watering cost, really: They start at NZ$669 to be exact. 

I've been trying the Oral B iO series 8 for a couple of months now and here are my thoughts. 

The good

If you live alone without flatmates or a partner and you're missing someone greeting you "good morning" first thing in the day, a toothbrush can do that for you now. 

The Oral-B iO sports a colour display in the handle that allows you to check battery life, choose your preferred setting, count down your tooth brushing process and my favourite feature: Greet you cheerily with a sunshine emoji to start your day off beautifully.

If you're a bit of a 'speed cleaner' and don't give your gnashers the respect they deserve, one of these will mean those days are behind you. The Oral-B iO will respond to a premature end to your teeth brushing with a sad face appearing on the screen that will guilt you into starting it back up, even if you're running late for work. 

Anything over the allocated two-minute mark is greeted with a starry-eyed smile which is so reinforcing my partner and I fought over who got the most stars in a week. Perfectly normal things for people in their late twenties. 

Similarly, a light-up pressure sensor - red for too hard, white for too soft, green for perfect - gives even more positive reinforcement. 

You can connect to the Oral-B app on Android or iOS via Bluetooth, giving even more accurate feedback on how you're brushing, including real-time intel on what's getting missed out on your mouth. But I found that too niggly for every day - a little colour coded feedback suited me just fine. 

The brush itself vibrates quietly against your teeth, so it feels like a little, gentle diamond sander, although the quick spreading of the bristles on my brush head shows I might be a little overenthusiastic. But not only is this the most elegant toothbrush I've ever seen, I can say hand on heart it has definitely improved my dental hygiene. 

I recently underwent a year-long process of aligner teeth straightening which meant I had to wear aligners 22 hours a day, and finally a retainer at night. As any adult braces wearer will know, mean excess food and debris gets built up inside the aligners - delicious! But using the Oral B every day meant my teeth have never been cleaner - in fact, a colleague even asked me if I'd have whitening done alongside my straightening.

The white model is slighty less expensive than the black, but otherwise the two seem to be basically the same.
The white model is slighty less expensive than the black, but otherwise the two seem to be basically the same. Photo credit: Supplied.

The bad 

There is no getting past that price: the Oral B iO stars off at $669 for the 8 (white) and $769 for the 9 (black). It's as much as a week's rent in a reasonably sized house in Auckland.

Is that too much to pay for a toothbrush, when you can, in theory, buy a basic one for $3 for the supermarket?

Perhaps. Again, it depends on your budget and how seriously you want to improve your dental hygiene. When you think about the devastating costs of dental bills, it doesn't seem too shabby in comparison; but I'm sure no dentist would tell you a good toothbrush is a replacement for an annual check-up.

And while charging is very quick - around three hours to reach full charge on the base - all those light-up pressure sensors and colourful screens come at a price. The iO chews through battery pretty quickly - just one morning brush uses around 10 percent of its battery life.

If you were taking it away for a mini-break you should be fine, but for a longer overseas holiday (ha! Remember those?) you'd want to take the whole charging base along with you. 

It's easily the most chic toothbrush you can have on your counter.
It's easily the most chic toothbrush you can have on your counter. Photo credit: Supplied.

The verdict

If you have the money to spare, the Oral B iO series is pretty hard to beat. The appearance is sleek, the use pleasant, and the snazzy extra features will probably pay for themselves if they get the kids to look forward to a good, solid two-minute brush, sans bribery.  

Just a few months of use have transformed my teeth, which I can prove with one anecdote. 

At my last dental appointment, my dentist praised the "wonderful brushing and flossing routine" I'd obviously picked up since my last visit. 

But to be honest? I've never flossed my teeth in my life.

Newshub was provided an Oral B iO 8 for this review.