If the Sonicare electric toothbrush is a Samsung phone, the new one from Foreo is an iPhone.
The beautifully designed, Swedish-made Foreo Issa similarly uses high-intensity sonic pulses, but it swaps out the traditional nylon bristles for rubbery silicone nubs to gently, effectively scrape off plaque. The Foreo Issa costs $199 and feels as sleek and smooth as a river rock. Get the one in black.
Don’t let the price deter you. Yes, a toothbrush is something that usually costs the same as a cup of coffee. You can buy one at any drugstore. Thing is, this is in a different league. And it’s well within range of the other high-priced electric toothbrushes on the market today.
It’s just better.
The Issa I tested uses a combination silicone and PBT polymer brush (entry-level is all silicone). It felt so soft in the mouth that for half the time I spent brushing last week, I wondered if it was doing anything. The other half of the time I felt lulled into some hypnotic state as it massaged my gums. As I thereafter used it every morning preparing for work and every night getting ready for bed, my teeth time became a mini-meditation.
Like its competitors, the Foreo Issa hums along while you brush each tooth and then pulses after 30 seconds; the idea is that you rotate through quadrants around your mouth (top right, top left, bottom right, bottom left) so that you have a total of two minutes of brushing during every session. The brush pulses three final times in a row to signal the end of your session. It all feels very futuristic. Elon Musk definitely uses this toothbrush.
After two weeks of using the brush, my teeth certainly felt more polished than when I use my conventional brush, and they seem to look brighter. (This is possibly a placebo effect, but I’ll take what I can get.) Foreo makes no claims about a hard-and-fast timeline for how long it will take to remove stains on your teeth. Instead, a representative pivoted, telling me that the real benefit comes in the long run, "as the Issa is far gentler on gums and even offers a gentle gum massage that other bristled brushes cannot offer." In other words, I (and your dentist) still recommend flossing.
You can use it in the shower, and there are eight modes for different intensities of pulse—most others have five, tops. If you have sensitive gums like me, the non-abrasive Issa will be your new best friend.
The logistics of this brush are its strongest suit. I travel a lot, so I have resisted using other electric toothbrushes because I don’t want to pack some weird charging station. The Issa charges using a regular USB outlet on a regular plug-in socket (like an iPhone) and one full charge (it takes an hour) gets you 365 sessions of brushing. (Other brands I’ve used say they last two weeks, but in general the duration feels closer to one.) You can lock and unlock the Issa so it won’t inadvertently activate during travel as well.
What’s more, you need to replace the head ($24.90) only once a year. By comparison, Sonicare heads need replacement every three months; they cost roughly $15 and up, so that comes to $60 a year. Foreo guarantees the device itself for 10 years.
The bottom line? After living with the Foreo Issa for two weeks, I’m thoroughly happy with it. It’s beautiful, efficient, and effective. I’d buy it for myself as a treat—or better yet, get someone to buy it for me as a gift.