Foreo issa mikro review: Does the electric toothbrush help young kids to develop healthy brushing habits?

·7-min read
The silicone material that makes the brush a perfect match for children and their milk teeth (The Independent)
The silicone material that makes the brush a perfect match for children and their milk teeth (The Independent)

If you’re a parent, you’ll know the struggles of getting your kids to brush their teeth. You’ll also be aware of the recommendations from dentists that the earlier kids get into the habit of brushing twice a day, the less they will see it as a chore and the more chance they have of growing up with a healthy set of gnashers.

This is clearly what the makers of the issa mikro are trying to tap into with their colourful and tactile baby electric toothbrush brush aimed at the under-fives.

It’s a nifty idea from the Swedish manufacturer, Foreo, which has made a name for itself with its innovative, ergonomic and stylish take on hygiene and wellness products.

The mikro is a (very) junior version of the brand’s adult issa brush and features the same sonic pulse technology, offering 6,000 pulsations per minute to keep teeth clean.

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After being out of stock for a while, Foreo’s brushes are finally available again, so now’s a good time to take a closer look at whether you should introduce one to your offspring to help keep the dentist’s drill at bay.

We looked at the brush from a parent’s perspective and then let younger testers, within the age range that the brush is aimed at, loose on it to see if it might offer a solution to the morning moaning and the bedtime battles that are the norm in bathrooms up and down the land.

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Foreo issa mikro

Buy now £31.85, Foreo.com

First impressions

The issa mikro actually looks like a toy that would pique the interest of any child aged six months and up to four years, which is the age range that Foreo is targeting the brush at. There are some similarities in the look and profile of the mikro with the Disney superhero character Baymax – it’s almost as if the design gurus at Foreo had just watched Big Hero Six with their kids the night before conceptualising the brush’s look. It has a lovely chunky handle that’s just the right size for smaller hands, as well as being easy to hold for adults if you’re actually brushing your child’s teeth for them.

There are also plenty of colours (five) to choose from, all with very kid-friendly names, from pearl pink, fuschia and bubble blue to kiwi and sunflower yellow.

Foreo is also in the enviable position of being able to make the toothbrush as one single unit, without a detachable head like most adult electric toothbrushes, which gets around any safety issues that parents might be concerned with.

The company is able to do this because of the safe, food-grade, silicone that it makes its range of toothbrushes from. This means that the tapered and rounded brush head shouldn’t wear down and the 69 silicone bristles will be just as good on their fourth birthday as they were when they came out of the box.

It’s this silicone material that makes the brush so well suited for young children as it’s so tactile and you can see from the moment that a child picks the brush up that it feels good in their hands, that it’s soft and easy to grip and there are no issues with slippage, even when it gets wet.

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This tactile experience continues when the brush head is in their mouth too, it’s a nice size and the silicone bristles won’t be harsh on gums and then milk teeth.

In the hand

Understandably, there isn’t the myriad of different brushing modes that you would find on an adult brush and the indented, easy to press power button gives access to a brush mode, a massage mode and another for switching the brush off.

Two light up indicators also feature above and below the button that Foreo calls “smile helpers”. The first is a smiley face that automatically appears after two minutes of brushing, while a frowny face appears if the brush hasn’t been turned on in over 12 hours.

The idea behind the faces is to help promote good brushing habits using visual cues, but we’re not sure that babies and younger children quite made the connection; it was only when it got to the 3+ group that the smiles and sad faces seemed to hit home.

There definitely needs to be supervision with the brush for younger children who will just think of it as a toy – the number of times the brush went missing and reappeared in the toy box was evidence of this.

Again, thanks to its one-piece silicone construction the brush is 100 per cent waterproof, with a sealed charging port, which adds to the functionality and the mikro’s ability to promote good habits even if it’s bath time.

In the mouth

Foreo says that the brush has two uses – from 0 to 6 months it’s primarily a way of clearing the mouth of bacteria and baby food and also soothing teething pain. From six months upwards it becomes a child’s first proper toothbrush, clearing teeth of food debris while still massaging gums.

If we look at the 0 to 6 months usage first, we found that at this stage of the kids’ development the mikro was used more as a gumming toy than a brush and some babies became so attached to the mikro that it created problems when it was time for them to let it go.

The 69 silicone bristles on the lower massage mode clearly offered significant relief for teething troubles, especially if you put the mikro in the fridge or freezer, which didn’t seem to affect the brush at all.

However, there are much cheaper teething toys out there and the soft silicone encourages babies to chomp hard on the brush, which would be okay, except that we began to notice definite wear and tear around the brush head.

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From six months upwards and as the teething gave way to primary teeth the mikro is there to offer precise cleaning and break up the plaque that will lead to tooth decay. However, we noticed some issues with how clean teeth were after the recommended two minutes with noticeable pockets of food left untouched, especially between teeth, which could be down to the mikro’s bristles that are discernibly thicker than the ones you will find on other kids’ electric brushes.

Battery life

Foreo is renowned for the excellent battery life that underpins its adult products and we’ve got no reason to think this isn’t the case for the mikro.

The company claims that a one hour USB charge will load the brush enough for it to be used 480 times for two minutes at a time.

We didn’t have time to test this claim but the mikro was used for three weeks and we experienced no change in the performance or the pulsations delivered to the teeth.

The mikro also switches itself off after three minutes so there’s no worry of battery drainage from overuse.

The verdict: Foreo issa mikro

The ultimate purpose of the mikro is to help young ones develop a love of brushing and form a habit that they will, hopefully, take into their later years.

Although we experienced some issues with how clean teeth were after brushing, children do seem to want to use the brush, enjoying the sensation of the sonic pulses on their teeth rather than doing anything they can to avoid it.

So, in terms of being habit forming the brush was a definite success, maybe Foreo just needs to go back to the drawing board and re-imagine the brush head and bristles for there to be smiles all round.

Buy now £31.85, Foreo.com

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