When it comes to electric toothbrushes, your options tend to break down into two major players: Philips with their Sonicare range, and Oral-B. Interestingly you’ll find claims on the boxes of both that they are the most recommended brand by dentists (I’m sure there is some minor differentiator in this claim). But what does the Oral-B Professional Care 8500 have on offer?
Like other electric toothbrushes from the Oral-B, the 8500 comes with a plastic handle featuring rubberised sections to ensure you have a good, comfortable and secure grip on the body of the brush. The rear and thumb section does mean that you can precisely move the head to the area of your mouth you are cleaning.
You will also find a battery indicator on the lower section of the body, which is an advantage over the Vitality line, as there is nothing more annoying than putting your toothbrush onto a charger that is not plugged in, or setting off on holiday with a flat battery. A red LED illuminates when the battery needs charging, whilst the green flashes during charging and stays on when fully charged. Charging completely takes 16 hours, however, you can store your toothbrush on the charger, in which case the battery will be well topped-up.
The charging base that comes with the 8500 has a standard shaver plug to hook up to the mains with a relatively short cable, so if your shaver socket is in the light above your head, you’ll have problems. The base also has a compartment for storing your brush heads, ideal if more than one family member wants to use the same brush handle.
The stats that Oral-B give for the brush are 40,000 pulsations a minute, and 8000 side-to-side movements a minute, so it is a “3D” clean rather than just a straight-up power brushing, claiming to sweep plaque away.
The 8500 also features a 2-minute timer, broken into 30 second intervals, so you can brush your mouth in quarters and make sure you give each area of your mouth the same level of attention. This cleaning mode is activated with a single press of the neat metal button. A second sensitive cleaning mode is available with a second press of the button, which calms down the action.
Before we move onto the performance of this particular brush, some anecdotal evidence is probably appropriate. I always used to get told off by the dentist, resulting in visits to the hygienist, lots of tooth problems and plenty of bills for dental care. The cause was poor cleaning with a manual toothbrush. After switching to an electric toothbrush, I not only noticed a cleaner feeling set of teeth after brushing, but the dentist was much happier with me too: so electric toothbrushes do work.
In cleaning, I found the 8500 to be similar to the Vitality toothbrush reviewed previously, however those extra rotations and pulsations lead to a good deal of extra noise. Noticeably noisier than the Vitality and also louder than the Philips Sonicare. There is a distinct clatter to this toothbrush, which comes from the motor in the handle, not the brush head itself.
That said, this noise does not detract from the cleaning performance. Like other brushes from Oral-B I found that after each clean I felt like that it had done the job well, better than I could have done with a manual brush. The 30-second interval timers, whilst useful for some, can be annoying, because you feel you have to move on, even if you don’t feel like you have cleaned that section well enough.
The sensitive mode I couldn’t really test, but for those that have a sensitive area of the mouth, this will cater for that requirement. However, you can’t switch between normal and sensitive, it is a cycle, so once you have done your sensitive cleaning, you are back to the start of your 2-minute normal cycle again.
One of the great things about Oral-B brushes is that the heads are widely available and there are a number of different options depending on your requirements - sensitive, dual head, whitening and so on.
Whilst the charging base is useful for storing spare or alternative brush heads, it is a little too bulky to use on your travels. A travel case is included for your brush handle, so you’ll just have to make space, or hope that the battery lasts. The cited battery life from a full charge is 14 days, based on two cleans a day. So if you happen to share this with your partner, you’ll be close to the limit on a week-long holiday.
However, the cleaning experience (from an arbitrary in-mouth feeling) is not that different from those brushes lower down the range. Whilst the Professional Care 8500 comes with a RRP of £70, it is widely available for half price, making it something of a bargain. We just aren’t sure that the extra features you pay for over the entry-level offerings are worth the money.