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Oral-B Smartseries Bluetooth toothbrush brushes up on oral health

Treat your pearly whites right with a Bluetooth toothbrush and app that makes sure you clean your teeth properly, tracks your brushing, and helps you find a dentist.

The Oral B SmartSeries toothbrush
Shara Tibken/CNET

Open wide! It's time to brush up on your dental health with the help of the Oral B SmartSeries electric toothbrush, which gives your pearly whites the once-over and connects to your phone via Bluetooth. It's a Bluetoothbrush!

Experts reckon you're supposed to brush your teeth for two minutes each session, but most people don't. To get you into the habit of brushing properly, the SmartSeries talks to your phone via Bluetooth 4.0 and shows a countdown on your phone to make sure you don't short-change your chompers. And at certain intervals, the brush vibrates to let you know it's time to move on to the next part of your mouth.

An app for your yap
In the companion app you can adjust the timer to suit your own brushing needs. And you can change the onscreen view from a plain countdown to a picture of a mouth, showing where you need to be brushing. Those intervals can be adjusted too, to spend more time on the specific parts of your cakehole that need extra attention.

Also inside the brush is a pressure sensor. When you press too hard as you brush, the app flashes red to tell you to go easy on your gnashers.

If the prospect of a dazzling smile isn't enough to keep you brushing properly, the app also gamifies the whole process of cleaning your teeth. The app congratulates you on streaks of good behaviour, and awards trophies such as 'Power user' or 'Early riser.' No lollypops, though.

Should you stop brushing before the allotted time the app shows you a frowny face, but if you do complete the full time you get a smiley face. Details of each session are recorded, including a record of how often you press too hard while brushing, so you can track how well you brush and show that data to your dentist.

You can control the brush from your phone, by for example changing the mode. There are six modes, such as a mode for those with sensitive teeth that reduces the speed and power of the brush, or a massage setting that stimulates and invigorates the gums, apparently.

To help your two minutes of brushing fly by, the app also shows news, dental tips or photos at the bottom. And it gives you a handy local weather update so you can start to plan your outfit.

The app also suggests nearby dentists, and logs your appointments. It reminds you to replace your brush head every 90 days, with a link to buy more, and pictures to make sure you pick the right one.

The Oral-B SmartSeries electric toothbrush with built-in Bluetooth.
The Oral-B SmartSeries electric toothbrush with built-in Bluetooth. Oral-B

Alternatively, if you're not keen on the idea of taking your phone into a damp bathroom, the brush stores stats on around 20 sessions to sync later.

The Oral-B Smartseries goes on sale in starting in Germany in May and the rest of Europe in June. It's set to arrive in the US by September or October. And the price of good oral health? £199 in the UK, 219 euros in the rest of Europe, or $249 in the US.

CNET's full coverage of Mobile World Congress

We didn't quite do a "teeth on" with the product, but the app and toothbrush, shown at Mobile World Congress, worked as promised. Navigation between the different features felt smooth and simple, and the app actually had many ways to entertain/distract users while they're using their toothbrushes (because let's face it. No one wants to linger while brushing their teeth). It's easy to see how people could end up brushing their teeth for the recommended two minutes rather than the typical average of about half that time.

The pressure sensor also worked smoothly, with the brush lighting up when a user started pressing too hard. The settings on the toothbrush can be adjusted via the smartphone app, with it acting as a sort of remote to change the mode to "sensitive" or other levels.

The price seems pretty steep for a toothbrush. It's about double the price of some other Oral-B electric toothbrushes on the market, at least in the US. But people really concerned about their dental hygiene -- or who want to figure out how well their kids are brushing -- may find the cost worth it.

--Shara Tibken contributed to this report.

Updated 11:15 a.m. PT, February 23:Hands-on impressions added from Mobile World Congress 2014.