With a manual toothbrush action that promises electric toothbrush results, does ISSA 3™ live up to the hype? We tried it

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My daughter is about to go to university and much to my chagrin, she won’t be studying dentistry. I planted this career seed when she was still sprouting milk teeth for purely selfish reasons, namely, the eye-watering sums I have paid to dentists over the years to rescue my sorry smile. A professional in the family would save me a fortune.

Having troublesome teeth has made me extremely fussy when it comes to how I care for them. I floss and tongue-clean twice a day, I look for remineralising toothpastes to repair my enamel and to ensure that no cranny is safe from plaque, I always use an electric toothbrush.  I have tried them all – ones that rotate and sound like road drills, others that buzz and sound like hornets, ones that create negative ions and others that blast your teeth with radiofrequency. But never have I tried one with sonic pulse technology that has medical-grade silicone bristles and a 356-day charge. Until FOREO Sweden gave me the FOREO ISSA™ 3 silicone electric toothbrush  to test.

What’s FOREO ISSA™ 3 like to use?

Like all FOREO sonic pulsation devices, ISSA™ 3  has smart Swedish ergonomic design and comes in funky colours. The grippable antibacterial silicone coating makes it a joy to handle.

I’m used to the buzzy feel of an electric toothbrush and don’t have sensitive gums, so I was happy to use it at the top of its 16 intensities. Cleverly, it remembered my preference so I didn’t have to reset it every time.

My first observation was how incredibly quiet it was for a sonic toothbrush – more low hum than high-pitched hornet (never great with a hangover).

Secondly (and this is revolutionary) you use it like a manual toothbrush, with the back-and-forth action that we all learned as children. All other electric toothbrushes I have tried require you to change your brushing technique, holding the bristles over the tooth and gum line for a few seconds before moving on to the next. This requires a degree of focus not always present first thing in the morning.

As a result, most of us press too hard too, which can damage the teeth and gums. This is why ordinary electric toothbrushes often have pressure sensors. FOREO claims that with the  ISSA™ 3 silicone electric toothbrush  it’s impossible to brush too hard – believe me, I have tried. But because the neck of the brush is slightly bendy, it really does absorb any extra pressure.

As I brushed, the  ISSA™ 3  beeped every 30 seconds for each quarter of the mouth to make sure I stayed in the game for the required two minutes. I really could do it half asleep. You can even do it in the shower as it’s totally waterproof.

What about the unusual head?

At this point, I really have to mention the brush head. It does take a bit of getting used to. The non-abrasive Hybrid Wave head is made of smaller PBT bristles surrounded by a ring of silicone bristles, making it gentle but deceptively mighty. Although you are ‘manual’ brushing back and forth, there’s no swish-swish brushing noise and so it’s easy to wonder whether it’s doing its job, as feels so gentle.

FOREO's research reports a 140 per cent increase in oral hygiene using this brush over a manual, there’s no need to worry - it’s shifting that plaque by stealth. That’s particularly important as 47.2 per cent of adults aged 30-plus have some form of periodontal disease (or gingivitis as it’s known in the early stages). You may be tempted to lay off brushing when gums are sore or bleeding but, as a dentist once told me, it’s crucial to keep brushing to keep them free from bacteria.  ISSA™ 3’s silicone bristles  are specifically designed to be non-abrasive on gums, gently massaging them to help treat and prevent periodontal disease.

I quickly became accustomed to the newness of the experience and began to feel that my teeth really were properly cleaned and polished. I was sold, but what does a cosmetic dentist think?

Dr Nina Bal, who is working with the brand, tells me that in addition to all the benefits I'd noticed, the antibacterial silicone was “10,000 times more hygienic than a nylon brush”. She tells me that  ISSA™ 3  will save me not just from bugs but buy me time, when compared to a manual toothbrush, “Hours if not days!” she says. “It offers in two minutes what it might take five to seven minutes with a manual toothbrush.”

How so? Thats'; because of the 11,000 T-Sonic™ Pulsations per minute – that’s 22,000 in a two-minute brushing routine. That must take a lot of charge, no? Absolutely not, Dr Nina reassures. One USB charge lasts a whole year – yes, really – and the head only needs changing every six months, making it a better eco choice than nylon bristle heads, which need changing every three months.

So all in all, the ISSA™ 3 silicone electric toothbrush  is more eco-friendly, kinder on the gums, saves you time as well as being antibacterial so all-round effective for oral health. For me, its shorter stature is a big plus too. It fits easily into my wash bag and makeup bag and I have been taking it on the go to add a midday brush to my routine. Even better, I know it's never going to die on me - not for another year anyway!

Written in partnership with FOREO SWEDEN.