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Brushing your teeth with a smart toothbrush is unnecessarily arduous

Brushing your teeth with a smart toothbrush is unnecessarily arduous

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My family freaked out when electric toothbrushes came out. They’re passionate about oral health, and, finally, they could own a tool that’s more on par with a dentist’s. So everyone in my family now has an electric toothbrush.

The excitement hasn’t continued with the announcement of smart toothbrushes. Do we need a Bluetooth-connected toothbrush? Will that really enhance the mundane brushing experience?

I brought the Colgate E1, the Sonicare DiamondClean Smart, and the Playbrush on Circuit Breaker Live to find out. Unlike the other two brushes, the Playbrush is just a Bluetooth dongle that fits any regular, non-electric toothbrush. I’ve been testing the Sonicare for a few months at home, and within a week, I had already given up on pairing it with its companion app. All these brushes ask users to not only brush their teeth, but to stare at a screen while doing so. You could theoretically brush without the screen, but the whole idea is that you can visualize your mouth while brushing, time your brush, and then later revisit the data.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

These toothbrushes’ companion apps guide users through the brushing process, either through games that make sure kids brush the full two minutes and get every side of their mouth, or through more straightforward depictions of a generic mouth. The Colgate E1 and the Playbrush have game modes, whereas the DiamondClean Smart is for adults only, or really bougie kids. (It costs $200 while the E1 costs $100 and the Playbrush costs $30.) That extra money also provides users with a variety of brush heads, like an electric tongue scraper, and a pressure sensor inside that’s designed to make sure you don’t brush too hard.

I understand that some people might want to take extra good care of their teeth, and maybe a connected toothbrush will help them do that. That’s fine. But I, a person who cares about their teeth but also doesn’t floss, can’t handle a Bluetooth pairing process. I also don’t bring my phone into the bathroom with me when I first wake up. Even if I do, I can’t get the setup right where I can brush and keep an eye on my phone at all times. That said, I love electric toothbrushes! Bluetooth is just a step too far.