Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000 Review: Feeling the pressure

Is $379 too much to spend on a smart toothbrush? As we continue to look at smart home essential for the AU review, we were bound to run into the crossroad of hygiene and technology at some point. That brings us to Philip’s Sonicare DiamondClean 9000, an app-connected electric toothbrush that’s making some ambitious claims and uses plenty of smarts to optimise results.

Philips isn’t new to this game, nor is the 9000 the most expensive smart toothbrush on the market, but this model does represent a refinement in the technology that enables users to take on a much better, smoother dental practice than if they were just using a regular electric toothbrush.

Design

The curvy brush handle is uniformly white or black, packaged with two RFID-chipped brush heads, a travel case that doubles as a charger, and a glass that also doubles as a charger.

While there are a few other sold-separately brush heads designed for different uses, the two you get are the best suited for standard use, one specifically for plaque control and the other a “premium white brush”.

The most high-tech thing in here is a built-in pressure sensor which is smart enough to send, via Bluetooth, data to the Sonicare app to let you know if you are brushing too hard, and when to move onto the next section of your teeth after the optimal time. It also adds to the personalised Progress Report, which could stand to be more detailed.

Much like a fitness tracker, the best use here is purely psychological. It’s a necessary well of motivation for those that need to take better care of their teeth (and avoid any unnecessary visits to the dentist). In 2020, that is of the utmost importance. The Philips Sonicare team recently found that lockdown has had a vast effect on the typical dental routine, with 62% of parents surveyed reporting that their children’s routine has moved away from positive habits in recent months, and 58% of parents acknowledging that their own routine has seen a similar decline.

Even if the average consumer would think baulk at such a heavy price tag, the 9000 is an immaculately designed device and the finest I’ve seen on the market. The glass charger is a particularly nice touch, working well and keeping the battery topped up overnight. Not that you’d have much of an issue with the motor sputtering out mid-brush given you’re ideally only using this twice a day, for a few minutes at a time.

The perfectly weighted brush handle doesn’t feel awkward to hold, even if the bottom isn’t as slim as a manual brush. The brush heads are similarly well-designed. The C3 Premium Plaque Control head features bristles flexible enough to curve around the contours of the typical tooth, maximising surface contact and making plaque removal easier for harder to reach spaces. The W3 is a bit thicker with its bristles, intentionally designed towards strength for easy stain removal.

Performance

Key to the 9000’s success is Philip’s BrushSync technology, which optimises oral care by extracting certain data from each individual brush head – how it’s been used, how long it’s been used, when it was first used etc. This acts as a reminder system to let you know when is the best time to replace that specific brush head (they are sold individually), which is typically every three months. It also picks the mode best suited to the brush head, optimising based on individual use so make sure you’re always using the right mode and intensity.

Though this may not always be the most ideal for those with more sensitive gums. In fact, this is where the 9000 falls in comparison to older models. Sensitive is no longer a calibrated mode which you can easily select through the main power button. The range of modes here is down from five, to just four – clean, whitening, gum health, and deep clean. “Clean” and “Gum Health” are the softest of the four, and most ideal for those weening off a traditional manual toothbrush. “Deep Clean” is, obviously, the most intense.

The high-medium-low intensities aren’t as nuanced and distinctive as you’d want; even low is quite punchy in the way it scrubs your teeth, and it can be uncomfortable if you accidentally hit your lip – which is common for those still getting use to the brush. Given you can only choose between these three speeds, instantly with the press of a button, it would have been much nicer to have “low” better calibrated for those who want something that’s actually soft.

Regardless, I have never used an electric toothbrush that has had such a noticeable effect on my teeth. After a month of use, they are whiter and feel better taken care of. This is because I’ve been consciously changing my brushing habits based on what information the app tells me – mostly the pressure data.

And pressure data is main use I’m getting from the app, given the information displayed is quite basic. There’s the number of times that you’ve brushed on any given day, how long those sessions were, and if the pressure was ideal for the brush head’s purpose, with only surface-level insights like “good”, “too hard” etc.

The best function of the app, which I’m yet to use, is the option to share your progress with your dentist and keep track of any upcoming appointments. I haven’t had the brush for that long, and I haven’t seen my dentist since last year. So I can’t comment any further on that.

Verdict & Value

That price tag may be a mental barrier, but the Philips has loaded enough features into the DiamondClean 9000 to justify such an ask. The addition of a pressure sensor, and the fact that the app actually guides you through the brushing session to optimise results, is a remarkable step forward for those who are becoming a bit lazy with their oral hygiene. I’d go as far as to say it’s completely necessary, considering the havoc 2020 has evidently caused to people’s self-care, with something like this ideal for playing catch-up and making up for those lazy days.

Although I really would have liked to see a more accessible intensity to ease people into the idea of electric toothbrushes, if they’re coming from using a traditional manual brush, or if they have a particularly sensitive mouth.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights: Noticeable improvements over a standard electric toothbrush; well designed with two smart charging options; brilliant pressure sensor; guides you through the process, and tells you when to move onto the next area; can share your data with dentist.
Lowlights: no “sensitive” mode; “low” is still quite intense; app is rather basic.
Manufacturer: Philips
Price: A$379 (note there is an ongoing cost due to replacement brush heads)
Available: Now

Review based on a unit supplied by Philips.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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