By Andrew Liszewski
Once a privilege only enjoyed by kings, presidents and software magnates, electric toothbrushes have come down in price over the years to the point where you can now pick up a basic model for around $10. However, those looking to pimp out their bathroom with the latest in high-tech gear will be happy to know that there are still electric toothbrushes on the market that cost well over a Benjamin. Like the Oral-B Triumph for example, which currently sits at the top of the heap when it comes to consumer-level dental care. But is it worth the investment? Check out my full review after the jump for those answers, and more!
The first indication that you’ll soon be enjoying the ‘creme de la creme’ of electric toothbrushes is the Triumph’s hefty packaging which lets you know that this isn’t just some disposable model like the dentist hands out after a cleaning. No sir, this is a real investment for those who are truly concerned about dental hygiene.
Inside the box you’ll find everything you’ll need to get started on your new oral care regimen including the Oral-B Triumph toothbrush itself, the charging adatper, a charging/storage stand, the SmartGuide wireless display unit (with a set of Duracell AA’s) a FlossAction brush head, a ProWhite brush head and the requisite manual. In fact the only thing missing is the toothpaste, and from what I can tell, you’re free to use your current personal favorite.
The Oral-B Triumph comes in a convenient hard plastic carrying shell that will keep it protected when traveling, but to be honest, the toothbrush isn’t exactly the most compact of units. If, like me, you’ve never used an electric toothbrush before, you’ll probably be taken aback at how large the Triumph actually is. It’s almost like brushing your teeth with a small flashlight (given the added weight from the batteries and motor) and it does take a while to get used to, particularly if you’ve only ever used a traditional ‘manual’ toothbrush in the past.
The toothbrush stands about 7 inches tall without the cleaning heads attached (hence the scary looking metal shaft sticking out of the top) but it’s contoured and shaped to fit well in the hand. There’s a couple of buttons that are used to turn the brush on and off and change the brushing modes, and the back features a rubberized textured grip so the brush doesn’t slip out of your hand when it inevitably gets wet.
On the bottom of the front of the brush you’ll find a small LCD display that provides a graphical depiction of the battery’s current charge level. It also has a small ‘not-broadcasting’ icon for when you’ve disabled the brush’s wireless transmissions. Most people will never have to do this, unless you find yourself brushing your teeth near mining operations and are afraid of triggering a wireless detonator. (It could happen!)
Speaking of charging, one aspect of the Oral-B Triumph I really like is the charger itself. Instead of plugging into the brush via a jack that has to be covered with a rubber gasket to keep it waterproof, the Triumph uses an induction charger. You just stand the base of the brush in the ring, and it automatically starts charging. Not only is it dead-easy to use, but it’s also completely waterproof which is important for a gadget that’s designed to sit next to your bathroom sink.
The charger can also be integrated into the Triumph’s storage stand so that whenever it’s not in use, it’s always recharging. Let’s face it, while not completely useless, an electric toothbrush with a dead battery is just not as effective.
Another thing I like about the Triumph is that the battery is actually easily accessible. On the bottom of the brush is a small triangle-shaped recess that’s used to open the battery compartment. And instead of providing you with a tool that’s easy to lose, you actually just use the wall plug since it has the necessary triangle-shaped appendage sticking out of one side. While there’s probably no need to replace the battery during the brush’s lifespan, should you ever need to dispose of it you’ll be able to remove the battery instead of sending it to a landfill.
The Oral-B Triumph comes with 2 different brush heads (at least mine did) which are removable and interchangeable. This is important because just like with a regular brush they’ll eventually get worn down and need replacing. In fact, the SmartGuide display unit, which I’ll talk about shortly, will actually keep track of how long you’ve been using the current brush head, and after 3 months (dentist recommended) it will remind you to replace it.
It also means multiple users can share the same Triumph base-unit, and more importantly, it allows you to swap in different types of cleaning heads. The brush head pictured here is referred to as the ProWhite head and is designed for occasional or every day polishing.
While the other head, which I actually prefer using, is called the FlossAction brushhead, and is recommended for every day deep cleaning.
But what really sets the Oral-B Triumph apart from the other electric toothbrushes on the market is this little device known as the wireless SmartGuide display unit. It’s roughly the size of a pack of playing cards, and besides serving as a handy clock on your bathroom counter (it can also be mounted on the wall) it provides valuable feedback and info while you’re brushing your teeth.
When not in use, the display unit simply shows the current time (6:06pm in the previous shot) but when you’re brushing, the LCD really comes to life. As soon as you turn the Oral-B Triumph on, the display starts a timer counting, which by default counts up to 2 minutes, but it can also be set to count down instead.
The segmented circle on the right represents the 4 quadrants in your mouth (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left) which you’re supposed to brush for 30 seconds each. So each quadrant on the display gets filled in every 30 seconds, letting you know which section you should be currently brushing (flashing) and which you’ve already cleaned (solid). So in this photo for example, the first quadrant has been cleaned for 25 seconds. And after each 30 second interval, the brush makes a quick stuttered pulse letting you know it’s time to move onto the next quadrant, just in case you weren’t paying attention to the display unit.
You’ll also notice a tooth and brush icon just above the ‘0:25’ in the above photo. That indicates what mode the toothbrush is currently in. By default it always starts in the Clean mode, but by pushing the mode button on the brush while it’s running you can switch to a Sensitive, Massage or Polish mode which changes how the brush head spins or vibrates.
Another feature of the Triumph and the SmartGuide display I really like is that it can detect and tell you when you’re brushing too hard. Underneath the ‘0:44’ in this photo you can see another tooth and brush icon with a caution symbol that lights up red (though the red LED is washed out and not visible) whenever you get a little carried away with the pressure. But once you let up, the warning icon goes away.
Finally, once you’ve brushed for the recommended 2 minutes, the segmented circle will be completely filled and a happy face will appear. If you ask me, a clean set of teeth is its own reward, but a smiley face is the icing on the cake.
There’s no question that the Oral-B Triumph is an impressive electric toothbrush. The design is well thought-out, from the induction charger to the wireless display unit, and even though it will cost you loads more than a manual brush, it feels like a worthwhile investment. But like I mentioned earlier, if you’ve never used an electric toothbrush before, there are a few things you’ll have to get used to.
For starters, I’ve already compared the Triumph to brushing your teeth with a small flashlight given its size and weight. It’s a definite change of pace, particularly if you’re used to the light plastic models available at the local drug store. On top of that, there’s also the vibration from the electric motor which kind of drove me crazy for the first few days. However, while I’m not a dentist and can’t vouch if the Triumph actually works any better than a manual brush, the vibrations from the brushheads definitely made my mouth feel cleaner. And even if it was just a placebo effect, it’s still a nice feeling. I’ll also mention that turning on the toothbrush while there’s toothpaste on the head is kind of like turning on an electric mixer while the blades are covered in batter. So if you don’t want stuff thrown around your bathroom, you’ll quickly get used to sticking the brush in your mouth before turning it on.
And finally, I’m already used to having countless power bars sitting in my living room and office, but I’m not so excited about having to stick one of them in my bathroom. But since it uses a rechargeable battery, the Oral-B Triumph is yet another device that has entered the turf war over the 2 power outlets in my bathroom. So if you’re stuck playing the juggling act of plugging and unplugging the devices in your bathroom as they’re needed, the Oral-B Triumph will only make things worse.
+ If you’re into gadgets, this is the toothbrush for you.
+ Ensures you brush for the dentist recommended 2 minutes.
+ Actually leaves your mouth feeling cleaner, which is a definite pro, even if it’s just a placebo effect.
+ Helps prevent enamel-wear by letting you know when you’re brushing too hard.
+ Various brushing modes including one for sensitive gums.
– It’s a big toothbrush, and if you’ve never used an electric brush before, it will take a while to get used to it.
– Expensive, particularly when you can get a brand name electric toothbrush for as cheap as $10.
– Yet another thing that needs to be plugged in in your bathroom.
If you have any questions about the Oral-B Triumph you’d like answered, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to respond to them as best I can.