I was so close to making it through Amazon's annual Prime Day sales with my bank account unscathed. I went to bed on July 12 feeling rather proud of this fact, and maybe just a tad disappointed that I hadn't found any irresistible deals.
But maybe you just didn't look hard enough, my sleep addled brain suggested right before the event ended. And that's how I ended up dropping $100 on an Oral-B Genius X Limited electric toothbrush with artificial intelligence.
I casually mentioned my last-minute, impulse Prime Day purchase to my husband the next day as we drove to his parents' house, and his jaw dropped.
"You bought a $100 toothbrush?" He wasn't mad, just flabbergasted.
"An AI toothbrush," I corrected. "And that's only half of what it normally costs."
Having written about an array of AI medical devices in recent years, I suspect that Oral-B is using the term a bit liberally. As Dave Saunders of Galen Robotics would say, most of what medtech calls artificial intelligence is really machine learning, a small subset of AI. But in my attempt to justify my Prime Day spending (to myself more than to my husband), I leaned into it.
"FDA regulates electronic toothbrushes as a class I medical device, so technically I have to try the AI toothbrush for the sake of research," I lamely argued.
He responded with a single-raised-eyebrow look that said, "nice try."
If you read Pedersen's POV a couple weeks ago when I shared my first mammogram experience, you know I'm bad about putting things off, professional dental cleanings being among them. So, you might be wondering how long it's been since I last sat in a dental chair. And I'm going to tell you the same thing I told my mother-in-law when she asked: you don't want to know.
I was still trying to justify my purchase as we sat down to dinner, talking about how my new AI toothbrush will tell me if I use too much pressure when I brush my teeth (I do), or if I tend to miss certain areas of my mouth. And it would tell me how to improve my brushing habits overall.
"You know what would be really great? If it told you to schedule a dentist appointment," my mother-in-law quipped.
She's right, of course. But I know myself well enough to realize that gamification works on me. I'm far more likely to develop better brushing habits if I have an app that coaches me along, showing me in real-time which quadrants of my mouth I've covered well, and which ones I haven't gotten to yet. The fact that it cheers me on with little virtual awards, like the "Master of Brushing" medal that popped up on my app last night for achieving three top brushing scores in a row is just a bonus.
I've been using the AI toothbrush for a full week now, and I honestly think my teeth are the cleanest they have ever been outside of a professional dental cleaning. I have my brush setup for a 56-day gum health challenge, and I'm already amazed at the transformation of my gums in just the first week of that journey. The first four days I kept getting the "red light" warning me I was using too much pressure, so it was exciting the first time I scored 100% for both coverage and pressure. The increased confidence in my brushing skills might even give me the nudge I need to schedule a professional dental exam – eventually.
Should an AI toothbrush replace regular dental checkups and professional cleaning? Definitely not. Is that what I bought it for? It absolutely was.