Bluetooth is a technology that has been around for quite some time. No doubt you are quite familiar with it already.
You most likely use it on your smartphone for connecting your headphones, speakers, and other accessories.
But it is built into many of today’s electric toothbrushes, to make them ‘smart’.
In fact, it has been built into some toothbrushes for much longer than you might imagine. Oral-B introduced it into the Oral-B Smart Series 6000 back in 2014.
Whilst Oral-B might have been the first, others including Sonicare and Colgate have too given some of their brushes this technology.
Oral-B does however remain the brand most focused on adding this technology to their toothbrushes.
For many people, yourself included maybe, the idea of a Bluetooth enabled toothbrush seems a bit ridiculous. But, the ridiculous is here and its all geared toward improving your oral health.
Bluetooth is not a feature that we consider to be a must have. Nor do we rank it as ‘high importance’ in our guide to buying a new toothbrush. But do not be put off by what you may consider a gimmick. It does in many cases actually work, and for some will add real value.
In this post, I explain Oral-B Bluetooth Connectivity; what it is, how it works, and how you can make use of it.
What is Bluetooth connectivity?
Bluetooth connectivity is a wireless standard for short-range interconnection between electronic devices.
It is this technology in your toothbrush, smartphone or tablet that allow the brush and your mobile product to communicate and capture relevant data.
Oral-B Bluetooth connectivity: how it works, explained
This is not an explanation of exactly how Bluetooth works, but how it works in relation to the Oral-B Bluetooth enabled (‘smart’) toothbrush.
You need a mobile device such as a smartphone, be that an Android or iOS mobile that has Bluetooth connectivity, and can run the Oral-B app.
Most modern smartphones are considered compatible.
On your device you will need to download the free Oral-B app from the app store.
You can get the Oral-B toothbrush app for iOS HERE.
You can get the Oral-B toothbrush app for Android devices HERE.
You also need one of the Oral-B’s Bluetooth enabled toothbrushes, which at the time of writing includes:
Once you have the app downloaded, you need to turn on Bluetooth from the settings on your mobile device.
Once Bluetooth is enabled on your smartphone, open the app, allow certain permissions, and follow the on-screen direction for pairing the brush. The process usually takes just a few seconds. Turning the brush on or pressing the cleaning mode button is all that is normally required.
All being well your phone and app will communicate successfully, and once complete, there will be no need to re-pair in the future unless you actively delete the connection between the 2 devices.
With the connection established, the two devices can communicate and share the key data between them.
The brush can send data to an app, such as how long it has been brushing for and if too much pressure has been applied when brushing.
What might be mundane information is then presented in a nice and engaging format on the app screen so that we can clean our teeth to a better standard.
The data is analysed and presented in a way that is meaningful, charts and graphs etc.
The number of options has improved over time, but you can do anything from customising the cleaning time, to enabling and disabling specific cleaning modes and much more.
The sharing of data between toothbrush and smartphone is intended to assist you and me as the users in creating better brushing techniques and habits.
To get maximum value from this technology, it is best to use the app on your phone at the same time as you brush your teeth.
However, this is not always practical and something you might want to do. Not everyone wants their phone in the bathroom. You do not have to.
Most Oral-B brush handles can hold up to 20 cleans worth of data. Therefore, it is perfectly possible to go a week or so without pairing to the app.
This data is then transferred back to the smartphone app the next time it is connected.
It might not necessarily retain quite the depth of data as it might if used in real-time, but for most, it is good enough.
Although the app will be configured differently, depending on the model you have. More on that in the section below, the timer in the most consistent element to the app configuration.
When using the application at the same time as the brush, you will see a timer on the screen showing how long you have been brushing for.
It is usually broken into 4 sections to tie in with the 30 second timer/quadpacer built into the brush handle.
If your brush has it (most smart toothbrushes do), the timer will alert you It will show if too much pressure is applied and what cleaning mode you are using.
More premium models have Artificial Intelligence (AI) and location sensors that track the location of the brush head and the effectiveness of the clean more accurately than just the brushing time alone.
The most capable actually show you areas of the mouth you have brushes well and not so well.
Whilst it is no replacement for a trained dental health professional, it is designed to be the next best thing, picking up on areas for improvement, so you can work towards a consistent cleaning routine that helps keep your teeth and gums healthy.
The app can intelligently make suggestions and provide tips to further improve your oral healthcare routine. Whilst some will be generic and applicable to all, some will be specific to you, based on the data your brush and app obtain from your brushing routine.
Different brushes & app configurations
It is very important to be aware that the exact configuration of the application does differ depending on the toothbrush you own and pair with the app.
The features and functions of the app will differ if using the Oral-B Smart 6 6000 compared to the Oral-B Genius 9000 or Genius X.
At the time of writing, I am aware of 4 different app configurations of the main Oral-B app. 1 particular Bluetooth enabled Oral-B brush requires a new app entirely and there is too a Fun Zone app for kids Bluetooth enabled brushes.
This is intentional by Oral-B and can make understanding exactly what the app will offer you quite difficult.
The underlying user experience is similar, but there are subtle differences.
Typically, the more premium brushes offer more features within the application. This is normally because the handle itself has more premium technology built-in.
The app is updated fairly regularly, which can result in changes, and in the summer of 2020, a significant update was rolled out with the introduction of the Oral-B iO.
What you might learn about at time or purchase or in a review could be different when you come to use the brush with the app.
Here at Electric Teeth, we try to keep on top of these updates, but as you can imagine with so many brushes and configurations, it can be tricky.
Whilst the app stores do usually list what has changed with each update, the details of these changes can be limited. I have seen features be added and removed with little or no notice. With ‘auto-updates’ often enabled this issue can be magnified.
It is also essential to enable certain device permissions for some features to work correctly. Location is one such permission, which not all agree with. You have the choice, but not enabling it can limit functionality.
There are countless features we could explain, but here is a list of the main options/menus available within the app and what they offer you.
- Your latest brushing data with quick access to additional app functions.
- All your historic toothbrushing data charted often with a score for a simple quick glance interaction and understanding.
- Depending on your brush will depend on the exact data available, but it can include coverage, pressure, brush time, gum guard, and additional routines.
- The data is often broken down by week, month, and year.
- A list of medals/awards you have and can win based on certain activities.
- Achieve models for regular brushing routines or at certain times of the day.
- Set specific dental care journeys such as whitening or fresh breath.
- Home to all the key settings for the app and your toothbrush
- Create or login to an Oral-B Me account to sync and retain your data on Oral-B’s system which should make it easy to retain data if you change toothbrush or smartphone.
- Personalise your brush handle changing the order of cleaning modes and the light on the Smart Ring.
- Enable or disable certain cleaning session features such as visuals or vibrations on the handle.
- Track how long you have been using your brush head, setting reminders for when a replacement is required.
- Notification settings – change the notification you receive from the app.
- You can get personalised data sent through to you for review and encouragement as well as more generalised news and info if you wish.
Going ever so slightly deeper into some of the features.
- This is the live countdown of your brushing routine.
- It shows how long you have been brushing for, what quadrant you should be focused on, what cleaning mode you are using and if too much pressure has been applied during the brushing cycle.
- With AI/position detection enabled brushes it should show precisely what teeth have been cleaned and which areas have been missed. Those perfectly cleaned teeth will show white with poorly cleaned areas been a dull white or pale blue colour.
- Dental care journeys
- This gives the option to customise the app and the toothbrush to aid you in achieving specific oral healthcare goals, be that freshening breath, fighting plaque or improving the health of your gums.
- Specific conditions are set, some of which are dependant upon the model of your toothbrush. But this could include changing the recommended brushing time, disabling cleaning modes and adding in other reminders.
Most electric toothbrushes and associated apps are geared to work for one user only.
For example, if 2 people shared a Bluetooth enabled brush handle, the brush would track 4 cleaning sessions in a 24 hour period. By default it would then sync these 4 sessions to the app assuming it was the brushing data for 1 user.
Oral-B have addressed this issue to a point, but it is far from an ideal solution at this stage, in my opinion.
In order to maintain correct brushing records for each individual’s brushing statistics, the automatic synchronisation of cached brush data needs to be turned off.
This is completed in the app, by navigating to the ‘More’ menu and following ‘Your Brush’>’Sessions’>’Automatic Session Sync’ and moving the slider to the “off” position.
With this setting disabled, all users can use the one brush handle in combination with their individual smartphone and installed version of the app. However, any brushing events that take place in the absence of the app will not appear in their statistics and will be lost.
Essentially what this means is that 2 or more users can make use of the Bluetooth connectivity and tracking on their own phone, as long as they have their phone within Bluetooth range every time they brush, to allow for the immediate syncing of the tooth brushing data to their phone.
Another option, perhaps more expensive, but less hassle is to consider either the dual handle packages of the Genius 8900, 9900 or the Smart 5 5950 (view on Amazon).
In these packages you get two brush handles. This will potentially mean rather than sharing brush handles, each user will have their own, and you will only be sharing the charging stand and other included accessories.
Now each user has their own brush handle, their own cleaning data can be recorded and shared to their own mobile device for performance review, without the need for the phone to be in range every time you brush.
Which brushes have Bluetooth connectivity?
This list is subject to change, but currently the following Oral-B models have Bluetooth connectivity:
Where can I get the app?
There is an app for Android and iOS devices. The compatibility of the app with different products may vary.
You can get the Oral-B app for iOS HERE.
You can get the Oral-B app for Android HERE.
There are a number of frequently asked questions surrounding the Bluetooth connectivity and the Oral-B app, the answers to which are included below.
If you have any other questions, please leave a comment below or get in touch.
How to connect Oral-B toothbrush to Bluetooth?
- You need to turn on Bluetooth on your mobile device. It is worth ensuring that within your Bluetooth settings, the device is set to ‘discoverable’.
- Download and install the Oral-B app if you have not done so already.
- Open the app and follow the on-screen prompts for how to complete the pairing and setup procedure.
Can the brush connect to 2 or more different mobile devices and sync the brushing data for different users?
- Yes. Refer to the section titled ‘multiple users’ above.
Is it right that the app requires access to my device location?
Yes. This is a permission that must be granted for the app to work. Disabling or denying this permission will stop the app from working correctly.
The brush is not connecting to the app. What do I do?
- The cause may be different for each user, but it is worth turning both the mobile device and the brush off and restarting them.
- Make sure that Bluetooth is turned on and your mobile device is marked as ‘discoverable’ within the settings.
- For previously paired devices, try deleting the connection and re-pairing.
Can I turn off Bluetooth?
Bluetooth can be deactivated on models that have both a power and cleaning mode button.
- Press the on/off button and the mode button simultaneously for 3 seconds to disable Bluetooth completely.
- Turn the toothbrush handle back on, you should now notice that the Bluetooth icon just above the power bar is now turned off, meaning your Bluetooth is deactivated.
- You can reactive the Bluetooth anytime, by following the same steps and you will know it is back on when the icon is lit up.
With the Oral-B iO Series Bluetooth can be turned off via the settings on the display rather than via button presses.
Your comments and opinions
If you have any comments, opinions or questions about the Oral-B app, Bluetooth toothbrushes etc, please leave them in the comments below.