Foreo Issa 3 Review: Should you buy a $246 toothbrush?

The latest Foreo Issa 3 sonic toothbrush costs S$246. This puts it at the upper price range of electric and sonic toothbrushes in the market.

Swedish manufacturer Foreo says the Issa 3 is made of medical-grade silicone, which is twice as durable as its predecessor Issa 2. This new sonic toothbrush is said to offer up to 11,000 T-sonic pulsations per minute to create micro-sweeps that effectively and gently clean the teeth and gums, with 16 speeds to choose from.

SPECS
PRICE: S$246, available at Foreo
WEIGHT: 72g

Furthermore, the Issa 3’s brush head is also said to be 10,000 times more hygienic than nylon bristled brushes, and can last up to a year (compared to conventional electric toothbrush heads that need to be replaced every 3 months or so).

DESIGN
With its sleek and unique design, the Issa 3 stands out from the rest of the toothbrushes (electric or manual). The entire toothbrush is encased in silicone and has only three buttons.

An on/off button, a plus button to increase the speed, and a minus button to decrease it. Holding both buttons together activates the travel lock, which prevents the toothbrush from turning on accidentally when you travel.

The Foreo Issa 3 has a sleek and unique design. (Photo: Foreo)

In addition, this sonic toothbrush comes with a Hybrid Wave Brush Head which features silicone bristles on the outside, regular nylon bristles in the centre, and a tongue cleaner at the back.

The silicone bristles are designed to bounce back and are ultra-flexible. They are supposed to move like “soft and gentle waves over teeth and gums to gently yet effectively sweep away food particles and bacteria”, according to its maker.

Getting your pearlie whites with the Issa 3. (Photo: Foreo)

The Issa 3 comes with a USB charging cable that plugs into a small port near the base of the toothbrush. Closing the silicone seal ensures that the port is protected from water during brushing and washing. Charging the Issa 3 was a breeze. The only grouse is that the cable (which is only about 50cm) could have been longer to make it easier to reach power points.

You also get a travel pouch – made of faux leather-like material – for the Issa 3. For some reason, Foreo folded the pouch in half, resulting in a crease right down the middle of the pouch. This is quite bizarre considering the care they took in designing the toothbrush itself.

PERFORMANCE
During the review, the Issa 3 is charged overnight, and tested the toothbrush over two weeks – brushing once in the morning and once at night. A range of speeds was used to test its comfort level and effectiveness in teeth cleaning.

FOR
+ Looks good
+ Flexible silicone bristles are gentler on sensitive gums and teeth
+ Comfortable to hold
+ Long battery life

AGAINST
– Expensive
– Does not clean as effectively as traditional (manual or electric) toothbrushes
– 16 speed levels is an overkill

Foreo recommends that you split your teeth into quarters and spend 30 seconds brushing each section. For example, you start by brushing the left half of your upper teeth for 30 seconds, then the right half for 30 seconds, then move on to your bottom teeth and do the same.

For this reason, the sonic toothbrush has a built-in timer which will pulse briefly to alert you every 30 seconds during brushing, and then with a longer pulse at the end of 2 minutes (the optimal brushing time recommended by dentists).

Thankfully, it does not turn off automatically after 2 minutes. So those who need more time to finish brushing may choose to continue brushing longer and manually turn it off after they are done.

Compared to electric toothbrushes, the Issa 3 is much quieter and lighter. It is also easy to clean, requiring just a quick rinse under the tap. Moreover, the ISSA 3 is comfortable to hold and the overall brushing experience was gentle on the gums and teeth.

But while the soft silicone bristles make it easier to reach awkward corners, they do not seem to be as effective in removing food particles and plaque as compared to the nylon bristle brush heads.

This is probably why Issa 3’s hybrid brush head has a row of these bristles. As for the tongue cleaner at the back of the brush head, it was even more limited in its effectiveness. As a result, brushing took much longer and more effort, because you probably end up having to go over the same area repeatedly to achieve the same cleaning outcome as traditional (manual or electric) toothbrushes.

Adjusting the speed settings was easy, but the 16 speed levels is an overkill. In truth, the difference between each level is negligible.

BATTERY LIFE
The biggest selling point of Issa 3 is that it can last up to 365 days – one whole year – on just one full charge. For now, we can only take Foreo’s word for it. If not, we will have to wait for a year for this review to be published.

VERDICT
There is no doubt that the Foreo Issa 3’s silicone bristles are gentler on the teeth than nylon bristles, but they do not clean as effectively as the conventional brush heads.

Most importantly, brushing with such an expensive toothbrush should be easier, faster and more effective. Unfortunately, the Issa 3 failed to tick any of the boxes.

RATINGS
DESIGN: 7/10
PERFORMANCE: 5/10
BATTERY LIFE: 10/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/10
OVERALL: 6/10