Dentistry.co.uk speaks exclusively to Benjamin Binot, senior vice president of oral care Europe at P&G, about Oral-B IO10 and Oral-B’s reinvention as a health technology brand.
Can you please explain to me what the Oral-B IO10 with IO Sense is?
I would say it is almost like putting a dental professional in your bathroom each time you brush your teeth.
We put all our knowledge in the technology. So it is certainly what we think is the best brushing experience ever.
We really put AI at the service of the outcome with the IO10. When I say, it is like putting a dentist professional at home, actually, we’ve been learning from thousands of brushing patterns. It helps each individual buying IO to really guide them on when, where and how to brush.
On the IO brushes there is a timer, a very visible one, to help you and guide you to optimise your bushing. But it’s also guiding you on the different locations in your mouth.
You also have intuitive lights on the device to help guide you to the right location.
We still have the IO app that we keep on improving. This is really where we put a lot of artificial intelligence of the bushing patterns we’ve been accumulating together with the dentist professional.
The guiding principles are really based on how to best brush your teeth if you were actually yourself a dentist professional.
On the app, you’re going to have direct feedback and it’s really a rewarding and enjoyable experience because it’s quite dynamic.
But you have almost a scoring in the end. You see the smile on the handle to indicate you’ve finished, but also you have a lot of details on the app. It shows whether you were good with the pressure, or whether you are good on brushing the key areas of your mouth.
Of course, it makes a huge difference on the results.
IO 10 comes with IO Sense, which is an additional device. We also recognised by listening to our consumers that actually the underlying information is good.
The app was good, but you don’t want to go into you bathroom each time with your mobile phone. This is an additional device always in your bathroom. It guides you and comes up with clear indications to improve.
This is another level of personalised oral health care. You previously had the app, but this takes it to another level. What role do you feel technology has in helping to improve the oral health of patients?
First of all, it’s all about shifting people to power toothbrushes. Somewhere we believe we have a very proven technology with very tangible results.
When you move from manual to a power toothbrush, actually you remove 100% more plaque. We know removing plaque has an immediate impact on your health.
So, it’s a big deal and the penetration and power is still relatively low.
The average number of people who use a power toothbrush in Europe is 29%, probably in the UK a little bit more – between 30 to 35%. But if you take some the best-in-class countries, we are at 60% in the Netherlands, we are at 45% plus in Germany and even more close to 50% in some of the Nordic countries.
We still have a lot of opportunities even for the UK to have a majority of people using power toothbrushes now.
We have the right technology we designed with dentists.
And we put in a lot of technology to shift and move the experience to the next level.
AI technology is making a huge difference. We benchmark each and every individual versus the number one. And the number one is the dentist professional.
It’s like tennis, you know you’re going to be benchmarked against Nadal – the best in class.
It’s going to tell you what the improvement areas are. The idea is not only that you have the best brushing experience because of power, but actually, you also improve your capabilities.
There are several tools on the handles with a lot of information.
We continue to improve the platform. We have thousands of patterns of brushing and of course, we keep communicating. We also keep on improving and investing into the app so that it is in continuous improvement.
All the IO users benefit from the improvement of the app on a regular basis.
So, it’s a very dynamic platform.
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You mentioned that there is still a large percentage of people who don’t use a power brush. What do you think are the big barriers to making that transition?
Of course, they need to understand why. What is the benefit to move?
And actually, that’s also the job we do with our dentist professionals. The best person to advise a shift from manual to power is the dentist professionals.
We are the number one recommended brand amongst dentist professionals precisely because it’s a very proven technology.
We know that on gum sensitivity sometimes people are not fully clear on the impact of power. Is it really ok for my gums for the sensitivity?
Actually yes, a big yes.
And actually, we made further progress on gum protection and sensitivity.
And last but not least, we want to move from a very cold mind decision to a very emotional decision.
If you look at IO, hopefully you see a very beautiful product and an object of desire.
Actually, we are pushing with new colours and very premium aspects.
You don’t have your smartphone just because of the capabilities of the tool. You have it because it’s also a beautiful object and it’s part of social life.
That’s what we are talking about with IO now. Precisely because of the iconic design and because IO is quite an expensive product. It’s quite premium.
We have 30% of people who are coming directly from manual to power toothbrushes. On manual you are spending a few pennies and then you are jumping straight to quite an expensive tool – that’s 30% of people.
It’s even more I think in the UK, probably 35%, it’s even above Europe. A lot of people are coming straight from the basics to the most advanced.
But for those where price is a barrier you do have the IO4 and IO5 as an introductory level.
With this latest update, Oral-B is certainly maintaining its position as a leading force in helping with patients’ oral health regime at home. What do you feel are the other next steps, and where does Oral-B go from here?
First of all, we are not only an oral healthcare player. Actually in the UK we have all the product propositions and it stops with power, but it continues with premium-based products.
The intent for us is to be simply the best generalist in any market.
The UK is a good example and we want to make sure we improve the whole health of our consumers. We know from clinical studies that a good oral care health journey has a direct impact on your health.
I’m not sure it is a great pleasure for anyone to go to the dentist for a long period because you have issues.
We know that using the right products on a regular basis will massively reduce the risk of some specific diseases.
It will also improve gum health.
We have a lot of data on all of this, and ideally we want to have the majority of people using power toothbrushes. People using the right toothpaste products combined with floss, combined with mouthwash.
Our mission starts with the kids to the very senior people. We are really touching the entire span of the consumers. And we have huge program for kids.
We will certainly improve the overall health in any country and it will be very meaningful on the health of our people, so that’s a bit of the superior mission that we are after.
And we do that always with the dentist at the centre.
So we have a very strong partnership with them and all the products are co-developed and co-designed with them.
Artificial intelligence is a really exciting area of healthcare. Where do you see that falling into the oral health regime in the future?
Actually, we are really a tech company.
All of this will keep on evolving and we are investing a lot every year. As I was telling you, the engine of value will stay the same, but actually the platform, the app and the artificial intelligence will benefit from all the latest developments.
And on this I can tell you we progress every quarter. Because we keep on investing a lot with our research and development teams and developers to keep on improving the platform.
I cannot paint really what will be the future. But I can tell you that we will guide people more and more. And we’re going to do that in a more enjoyable way.
At the moment it covers guiding them on their brushing. But of course we can think about additional steps and also on the right products to use.
That will be the direction and AI will help us a lot and technology will help us a lot.
What will you do to ensure Oral-B has a positive impact on the environment?
We work on all the different aspects. It starts from manufacturing our product. We are zero waste to landfill and recyclable.
Energy is produced at all our sites. It’s a critical one for us that we are reducing our greenhouse gases.
We are actually over delivering on our targets. I think we have reduced our emissions by 35%. While actually the target was 30% reduction by 2030.
So we have a really strong plan to manufacture the product right.
Then we want to make sure we act on packaging as well, coming up with the right recyclable packaging and that’s something we do on IO.
And we are also working on repairability. It is possible for our premium products on power and that’s something that is coming to the rest of Europe.
We are working on ensuring we’re good for the planet and we have a clear, strong agenda to be really best in class.
We are also doing a lot of work on education and accessibility to make sure we help NGOs – and this was particularly true with Covid. In particular, we help the Red Cross to have our product available to make sure we offer the right education to children.
Children also need to understand in very practical terms what it means using the right product to really improve their needs.
We have clinical studies and again, we spend a lot of money and energy to understand the risk, using the right researchers and dental professionals. The best way to educate people is really through a partnership with all our partners, starting with dental professionals.
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