The purpose is really quite simple.
The coloured ring is put in place to tell the difference between each brush head.
For example, if you had a family with a mum, dad, son and daughter, each may have their own brush head that can be used on their Oral-B electric toothbrush.
The colour of the ring is what can be used to identify whose brush head is whose. Mum may have a red coloured ring, whilst Dad has a blue ring, the son green and the daughter pink.
The coloured ring serves no other purpose than that.
Why they are needed?
It may not apply to you but taking the above scenario, if every member of that family uses the same style of brush head how would you ever tell the difference?
You should always use your own toothbrush/brush head and not share as doing so can pass potentially dangerous bacteria between mouths.
When you have 4 brush heads all lined up the only way to tell the difference is by the coloured ring.
I have lost the coloured ring, does it matter?
Yes and no. The coloured ring serves no other purpose than to tell brush heads apart, so if you are not in a family scenario like above where you need the ring to tell it apart from another brush head then do not worry.
Without the ring, the brush will perform no differently.
Can I swap coloured rings from other brush heads?
Whilst the brush head itself should be changed every three months, the coloured ring has no pre-determined life.
Most will dispose of the coloured ring at the time they dispose of the used brush head, but using your fingernail you can pull the ring off and attach it to a new or different compatible Oral-B brush head.
So for example, you liked the yellow coloured ring on your old brush head, but the new one has come with a blue ring. Pull the yellow one off the old head and attach it to the new one.
How can I buy more coloured rings?
Oral-B does not sell the coloured rings on their own. There are some third party sellers on Amazon and eBay who may sell the rings, but due to their low value and low demand, they are not readily available. You will not find them at your local supermarket.
Do remember with any new brush head purchase will come with a coloured ring.
Can I choose the colour ring on the brush head?
Yes and no. When you buy a new brush head you cannot request or determine the exact colour of the ring(s) included in the pack.
If buying in person you may well be able to see these through the packaging but no if you are buying online.
You may choose to take a coloured ring from an old brush head or your preferred colour from the pack of heads and swap it each time you change the head.
Why do other electric toothbrushes not have this?
Generally speaking, this is seen only on Oral-B brushes. Other brands may have their own way of differentiating brush head or work on the basis that in reality, whilst it makes perfect sense to share a toothbrush handle, even in a family environment users often have one electric toothbrush each, thus the need for the coloured ring is redundant.
No coloured rings – Oral-B iO
The coloured rings do not fit and are not compatible with the Oral-B iO brush heads (Ultimate Clean and Gentle Care).
The iO Series has a new design of brush head and this has lost support for coloured rings.
However, there is still a way of telling the difference between the iO brush heads.
Rather than coloured rings, each brush head has printed on it 1 of 12 different icons.
The icon is printed on the front of the long shaft of the brush head, at the bottom, just above the bottom edge of the head.
Each brush head included in refill packs has a different icon on it.
The icons essentially do the same job as the coloured rings.
LED Smart Ring – A different type of coloured ring
A different type of coloured ring found on some Oral-B toothbrushes is the LED Smart Ring.
Unlike the rings that fit at the bottom of the brush head, this smart ring is quite different.
The ring is built into the brush at the time of manufacture and comes on some of the more premium Bluetooth enabled Oral-B electric toothbrush models.
When connected to a smartphone, via the Oral-B application, the smart ring can be changed to 1 of 12 different colour options.
The brush then illuminates the ring with the chosen colour whilst the toothbrush is turned on.
The smart ring is designed for adding a personal touch and is not aimed at differentiating one toothbrush or brush head from another.
Having said this, the smart ring does double up as the visible pressure sensor, lighting up red when too much pressure is applied. It will on some models also flash at 30 second and 2 minute intervals as part of the built-in timer mechanism.