Avoiding Cavities [Oral-B iO Series 7]
[Oral-B iO Series 7]
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 8.6
Written by: Ben Meer | March 6, 2022
In this edition of All Systems Go, upgrade your dental routine with the Oral-B iO Series 7—an AI-powered toothbrush so good that 1) I gave it to my girlfriend as an anniversary gift and 2) she didn’t stay mad at me.
A System For
Sooo here are all the things our moms never told us about brushing our teeth:
- Each tooth you have in your mouth at the age of 70 reduces your 5-year mortality risk by 4%.1
- The tooth is the only part of the body that cannot heal itself.2
- When judging a potential date, both women (71%) and men (58%) found teeth to be the most critical factor.3
Yeah, that last one caught my attention too. It makes sense when you think about it. Given a limited time frame, our brains look for mental shortcuts, or heuristics, to make snap judgements of others. White teeth are prime indicators of overall hygiene and health.
Ok, we’ve established that oral care is crucial. But why is data-driven oral care necessary?
The answer is simple: We think we’re way better at brushing our teeth than we actually are. The cognitive heuristic known as illusory superiority compels most people to overestimate their abilities.4
While we might think we’re doing it right, research indicates otherwise:
- According to the ADA, people on average brush their teeth for 45 seconds per session.5
- A 2009 study in the Journal of Dental Hygiene shows that brushing for two full minutes vs. 45 seconds removed 26% more plaque.6 That’s noteworthy because less plaque means less chance for mouth-related diseases.
All to say, there’s nothing more romantic than giving your girlfriend the gift of life-long, healthy teeth. (AM I RIGHT?)
The Oral-B iO Series 7
I swear by the iO Series 7 by Oral-B ($199), an AI-powered toothbrush that provides real-time feedback of brush time, coverage, and brush-to-teeth pressure.
Note: Oral-B offers an iO 6, 7, 8, and 9 (the models share more similarities than differences). The 8 and 9 have a few more features, like extra cleaning modes, replacement heads, and a chargeable travel case. But the iO 7 appears to be the best value for our investment.
In every edition of All Systems Go, I assess the featured product across four superhuman dimensions: impact (50%), setup (20%), maintenance (20%), and aesthetics (10%).
Unlike your typical product review, I focus on factors that influence personal growth. Get to know the evaluation system.
The iO 7 is a quintessential example of habitech—a smart device that enables, tracks, and reinforces a positive habit.
Could you get the same cleaning with a regular toothbrush? Possibly, but it’s unlikely. Here’s why:
- The built-in timer with OLED display makes it obvious that most of us only brush for 45 seconds. Now, it gets me to 2 every time.
- The accompanying app is so. damn. good. The real-time display tracks which parts of your mouth have been brushed, for how long, and with what kind of pressure. (It flashes red if you’re hurting your gums.)
- The handle vibrates in 30-second intervals to signal switching up your mouth quadrant. (Many of us unconsciously brush one corner of our teeth less, and are then shocked when our dentists find a cavity there.)
If you’re curious, here’s a screenshot of my morning’s readout:
The iO Series 7 gets a solid Impact score of 8. While a new toothbrush may not revolutionize your personal development, oral care is critical to a holistic wellness system.
Setup is simple: Download the Oral-B App (Apple | Android) and pair the brush with your mobile device via Bluetooth. Now you can choose which of the 5 smart modes you want: daily clean, whitening, gum care, sensitive, or intense.
And that’s it. Seriously.
Charging the iO 7 is effortless thanks to its lock-in-place magnetic charger, where I dock my brush between sessions. Plus, the lithium battery lasts 14+ days before needing a recharge (useful for traveling).
Oral-B recommends replacing the brush head every three months. The initial package comes with two brush heads, so you’ll be set for at least six months. A pack of four replacement heads goes for $34.09 ($8.52 per head).
Our moms did always tell us to follow a three-part regimen: brush twice-daily, floss regularly, and go to the dentist every 6 months. The iO 7 addresses the first one. Here are some tips for acing the other two:
- Flossing: Habit experts recommend starting small (e.g., set out to floss one tooth, and you’ll likely do more). That's one flossophy, but I prefer another…
I’ve upgraded to a water flosser by Waterpik. Fill the reservoir and tour your gumline for 90 seconds until it’s empty. According to Waterpik, it’s 50% more effective than flossing for improving gum health. As with the iO 7, the prominent visual cue on the bathroom vanity helps trigger the behavior (another example of environment design that makes achieving your goals inevitable).
- Dental visits: Experts recommend seeing your dentist every six months for a cleaning. My advice is to automate the scheduling. Make a one-time decision about the two days annually you do your dental visits and set up a recurring appointment with your provider. You can always “opt out” later, but you’ll be more likely to stick with the routine of attending.
Overwhelmingly positive Amazon reviews—a 4.7 average rating across 1,900+ submissions—indicate that the iO7 is built to last.
The motor is quiet. The heft feels high quality. It’s the best-looking toothbrush I’ve ever seen.
Bringing It Home
Are you unsettled by the iO 7’s $199 price tag but still want a data-driven brushing experience? Try Quip for $60. While it lacks the iO 7’s premium features, it’s still an upgrade to brushing (without data) in the dark.
For the record, my girlfriend and I do get competitive about who gets a higher brush score every day. She usually wins. (She’s also my editor. 😏)
All systems go,
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- “Number of Teeth and 5-year Mortality in an Elderly Population” by T. Hirotomi, A. Yoshihara, H. Ogawa, & H. Miyazaki, PubMed.gov.
- “Fun Facts About Teeth,” Reno Dental Associates.
- “Top Qualities Single Men and Women Seek in the Opposite Sex” by Jennifer Abbey, ABC News.
- “The Superiority Illusion: Where Everyone is Above Average” by Scicurious, Scientific American.
- “8 Bad Brushing Habits to Break in 2022,” Mouth Healthy (American Dental Association).
- “The Effect of Brushing Time and Dentifrice on Dental Plaque Removal in Vivo” by Andrew Gallagher, ADHA.