Review: Colgate ProClinical A1500 Electric Toothbrush

Not all toothbrushes are created equal, and Colgate seems keen to show just how that’s the case, with the world’s first toothbrush that uses an accelerometer to work out the best speed to brush your teeth.

What is it?

Colgate’s latest electric toothbrush isn’t like your regular electric toothbrush.

Oh sure, it can take different heads, designed to tackle different sensitivities of teeth, and it still uses an accelerated up down motion from an electric motor to drive everything, working at a rate of up to 32,500 strokes per minute, but there’s more to it than that.

For starters, this toothbrush has sensors to change the motion based on the position you’re holding the toothbrush, which consequently affects what teeth you’re brushing.

Three modes are built into the unit for brushing.

The “auto” mode changes between slow strokes for the surface of the tooth facing either the tongue or cheek, medium speed for the tooth margin connecting to the gums (seemingly interdental), and a fast motion for the tops of your teeth.

The second mode is “optimum” and works in the middle speed, while the third mode “deep clean” operates on that fast mode. Only the “auto” mode runs the slower mode for the sides of the teeth.

A two minute timer runs the length of your brush session, pausing momentarily every 30 seconds to tell you to change quadrants.

Charging the toothbrush is handled with an induction charger, plugged into the wall, with the NiMH

battery a replaceable one found at the bottom of the toothbrush handle.

A case is included with the tooth brush, as is both a sensitive head and two triple cleaning heads.

Performance

Given how long the electric toothbrush has been around, it’s a wonder that manual powerless toothbrushes are still a thing.

In fact, it’s actually been over 50 years since the first one was conceived, and there have been numerous developments over the past few years to improve it substantially, generally with faster motors designed to whirr and move the brush head with very, very fast motions.

Colgate’s latest attempt on the gadget we’re surprised not everyone owns one of is to engage Omron, a provider of sensor technology (among other things) and install sensors in a toothbrush to work out what teeth you’re brushing at the time and provide a more comprehensive and accurate brushing.

We’ll tackle how it does this shortly, but regarding the performance of the Colgate A1500 and how it cleans your teeth, we really only have one thing to say: wow.

And also ouch.

So it wasn’t just one thing, but rather a combination of “wow” and “ouch” for the A1500, because this is one hard scrubber, moving at a speed of up to 32,500 strokes per minute and going with the logic that more is better for your teeth.

You, with your conventional hand motions, could never scrub as quickly as this toothbrush, and your teeth will certainly notice it, with a slick feeling that reminds you more of what it was like to go to the dentist than any other toothbrush we’ve experienced prior.

It’s just a totally different feeling, and quite literally brings that dentist experience home, at least in the case of feeling clean after a dental clean (this won’t fix your cavities, give you a root canal, or send your child away with a wowwipop).

Of course, as it the way with most technology these days, sensors are involved to help make this process better, and while Colgate won’t tell us precisely what sensors are being used, our best bet seems to rest on an accelerometer or compass, and possibly a pressure sensor, and here’s why: when you use the ProClinical A1500 electric toothbrush, you’ll find it lights up when you’re using the toothbrush at angles, specifically those operating at 90 degrees. When this happens, the toothbrush waits a second and kicks into gear, brushing at a slightly faster speed, generally when you’re getting underneath or on the top of your teeth, particularly the molars.

From what we can tell, this seems to happen when the toothbrush is positioned in such a way where it makes brushing the underside of your teeth more likely, and while it’ll still brush like mad at the front of your teeth — the bits people see when you smile — it’s on the tops of the teeth where it really winds up, buzzes, and goes like the clappers.

When the brush gets going, it moves so far it's hard to take a not so blurry photo of it.

It needs to be said that not every tooth in your mouth needs the uber quick speedy process that can be achieved when it really has to get in there, especially since not every bit of surface area requires interdental cleaning, so it only becomes a heavier brush when it needs to be.

And every thirty seconds, there’s a small pause to tell you to move on, a gentle nudge, as it seems, which basically should be used to move to brushing a different part of your mouth. You can ignore this, mind you, and brush at your own pace, but you can’t turn this 30 second controller off.

So does it work?

We have to say yes, because as we mentioned before, this is one of the most aggressive home cleans we’ve ever experienced, but it can become a little painful. If your teeth don’t get used to it quickly, you will find it can cause some minor discomfort.

The very, very rapid succession of brushing movements didn’t do much to stop our gums from getting affected by it, and after three weeks of persistence, we went back to our old electric toothbrush.

Also, holding the A1500 toothbrush can be a little awkward, and that’s because unlike conventional electric toothbrushes, the brush head actually faces away from the handle.

There’s also a case to keep it in for travelling, but you’ll still have to bring the charger, which is different to the premium approach Philips takes to integrate the two (we’ll have a review of this coming up). But at least you get a carrying case, so really, our dilemma isn’t about the case but the charger, and that it really should be based on something a little more internationally friendly, like USB.

But the way the battery cuts out is more irritating than a simple charger issue, because when the battery runs out of juice, well, then you’re kind of stuck. When that happens, your toothbrush will just stop working, until you wait a few seconds to a minute, and find it has just enough juice to let you get the rest of that minty foam out of your mouth.

And hey, batteries aren’t perpetual: they will run out of juice, waiting for you to charge them up. While Colgate doesn’t exactly suggest a battery life, we found that if you brush twice daily, you’ll find four or five days are likely.

The problem isn’t the battery life, though. We can charge regularly.

The problem is that there’s no warning sign before your battery dies. The A1500 toothbrush won’t provide less power as a warning to say “hey buddy, stick me on the charger” and it won’t even flash a light at you to give you that heads up.

No, it just stops working, and consequently leaves you to finish the brush job with all the momentum and rapid movement your arm can muster.

Conclusion

We’re not sure how many people still use the traditional manual toothbrush, but if you’re a fanatic about your teeth, Colgate’s A1500 seems to be a good option.

We’ve tried quite a few electric toothbrushes and none of them seem to go quite as far as the clean offered by Colgate, but you should be aware that not all teeth and gumlines will appreciate the length this one goes.

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