Live Science Verdict
The Foreo ISSA 3 is a beautifully-designed toothbrush that’s easy to use and simple to control, but its high price point may leave some users feeling short-changed.
365-day battery life
Simple to use and control
Silicone brush takes some getting used to
Users have to manually clean teeth
No pressure sensor feature
Why you can trust Live Science
In this Foreo ISSA 3 review, we’ll be taking a look at the design, performance and water-resistance of this sonic electric toothbrush, so you’ll have everything you need before deciding to purchase.
365 days on a single charge
Sleek, ergonomic design
16 intensity settings
Travel ‘lock’ setting
Built-in tongue and cheek cleaner
Medical-grade BPA and phthalate-free silicone
Smart memory feature
The creators of the Foreo ISSA 3 make an impressive claim that their toothbrush can last up to a whole year between charges. A simple USB charging cable designed to be plugged into a laptop or other charging socket is included for this annual charge, whilst a flap cleverly conceals the charging point at the back of the silicone-covered handle.
This 4-in-1 toothbrush is designed to clean the teeth, gums, cheeks, and tongue with a unique bacteria-resistant silicone and thermoplastic toothbrush head, which the makers say helps to prevent receding gums and tooth sensitivity while being gentle on tooth enamel.
While the Foreo ISSA 3 is sonic, meaning that it operates at a higher frequency than a standard oscillating-rotating toothbrush, users are actually required to operate the toothbrush as they would a manual brush, which may feel a little strange and confusing for some users.
A QR code that comes with the toothbrush allows you to quickly access and download the user manual and activate the two-year warranty that comes with the toothbrush.
Foreo ISSA 3 review: Design
The Foreo ISSA 3 has to be one of the most sleekly designed electric toothbrushes on the market. Available in a choice of four colors - fuchsia, mint, pink and black - the ergonomically designed handle and toothbrush head have got the wow factor. The brush head itself combines thermoplastic bristles with silicone bristles, which continue down the brush head. This longer brushing surface of around 2 inches (5 centimeters) may take some getting used to if you normally use a standard brush head.
Although thick, the silicone bristles are soft and flexible, while the inner thermoplastic bristles are medium-firm. The brush head is angled slightly forward, which helps to target the back of teeth and hard-to-reach areas more effectively.
The brush handle features just three control buttons, which are seamlessly designed into the silicone. Users push the on/off button to power on the toothbrush, and then set the intensity of the brush by pressing the + or - buttons which are located above and below the control button. This simplicity of control means users can easily dial the intensity up or down while brushing, without having to take the toothbrush out of the mouth to do so.
At the back of the handle, a small charging point is cleverly concealed beneath a flap that can be secured after charging to prevent water damage.
The very base of the toothbrush is clear plastic, which flashes white to indicate when to change position, during charging, and when you change the intensity of the sonic pulsations. It also lights up continually when the recommended 2 minutes of brushing time have elapsed (a useful reminder feature), or when the brush is fully charged.
The packaging is similarly stylish and sleek. The toothbrush is packaged in a recyclable curved plastic box which opens to reveal minimal further packaging inside.
Foreo ISSA 3 review: Functionality
The Foreo ISSA 3 is ready to use straight out of the box, although users may prefer to give it a quick charge using the white USB cable provided. While a small, basic paper manual is included, users need to scan a QR code to download the full online manual. This is much more detailed and features useful graphics and photographs in full color.
Before first use, you’ll need to unlock the Foreo ISSA 3. This is done by pressing both the + and - buttons simultaneously until the indicator light at the base flashes. Once unlocked, it’s ready to go.
Using the Foreo ISSA 3 may be easy as pie or a little tricky, depending on what type of toothbrush you’ve been using previously. If you’re used to a manual toothbrush, where you brush your teeth in a circular motion, then you’ll quickly get to grips with this toothbrush. If you’re used to holding an electric toothbrush steady on your teeth while the brush does all the work, it may take you a little longer. This is because the Foreo ISSA 3 requires that you use it like a manual toothbrush instead of an electric toothbrush. With a little practice, however, this should become second nature.
Users can set the intensity of the sonic pulsations by using the + or - buttons above and below the power button. Continuous pressing will scroll through the 16 intensity levels, or users can raise or lower the intensity one level at a time with a brief push.
Also included at the back of the brush head is a ridged panel, designed to help brush the tongue and cheeks after brushing. Simply switch the toothbrush around to use this while keeping the brush switched on.
During brushing, the toothbrush flashes white every 30 seconds and emits a short pulse to indicate when to switch to a new area of the mouth. At the end of two minutes, it continually lights up to indicate the end of brushing time.
The manufacturers advise cleaning the brush head after each use with warm water while running a finger through the bristles. They also recommend using a proprietary silicone cleaning spray on the body of the brush and replacing the brush head every six months.
Users can also purchase sensitive toothbrush heads or a separate tongue cleaning brush head which can be used in place of the in-built tongue cleaner on the standard toothbrush head.
Foreo ISSA 3 review: Performance
In our at-home testing of the Foreo ISSA 3, we evaluated its various settings and features, including how water-resistant it is. We also assessed how noisy it is during operation with a decibel meter. We found that the Foreo ISSA 3 operates at just 33 decibels at its lowest setting, gradually increasing to 44 decibels at its highest setting. 33 decibels is the same as a whisper, while 44 decibels is just louder than a quiet library. This impressively low volume makes this toothbrush a winner for users who prefer a calm morning and bedtime routine.
Although we worked our way through the 16 levels of intensity, we tended to find that the highest level setting gave the best results, or results closest to that of a regular sonic toothbrush, while the lower levels were largely redundant. However, users with sensitive teeth or painful gums may prefer operating this toothbrush at a lower setting.
We gave the Foreo ISSA 3 a quick charge straight out of the box, and found it to be fully charged within 30 minutes. Unfortunately, our limited testing time frame means we can’t fully test the claim that it can go for up to a year without charging, but user reviews currently report several weeks of ongoing use without needing to charge.
Finally, we ran the toothbrush for a full brushing cycle while submerged underwater, to see if it would continue to operate. We found the Foreo ISSA 3 had no problems during this test or afterward in terms of performance or water damage.
Foreo ISSA 3 review: What’s good about it?
We love the sheer wow factor of this toothbrush. Its cool design far surpasses any other electric toothbrushes at this price point (around $135). We’re also impressed at how unique this toothbrush is compared to most other electric toothbrushes. It looks and feels futuristic, despite how easy it is to control. This simplicity of design and function makes it feel luxurious and aspirational.
We also like the fact that the Foreo ISSA 3 has a smart memory feature, which means that it remembers your level setting for the next brushing session.
And finally, we’re impressed by the Foreo ISSA 3’s eco-credentials. Not having to charge a toothbrush every week or two saves energy, time, and money, while replacing the toothbrush head every six months instead of every three months cuts down on manufacturing and materials. The recyclable packaging is another bonus, although it would be nice to see less plastic used, even if it is recyclable.
Foreo ISSA 3 review: What’s not so good about it?
Some features of the Foreo ISSA 3 are perhaps too subtle. For example, the pulse to switch positions is so quick and quiet that it can easily be missed. The ridged panel at the back of the toothbrush head, designed to clean the tongue and cheeks, felt too smooth to be effective in cleaning these areas.
The large brush head takes some getting used to. Users may have trouble hitting those hard-to-reach areas at the back and sides of the mouth.
The toothbrush comes with a flimsy travel sleeve, which only has space for one toothbrush and head. At this price point, we’d have hoped to have a more robust travel case with room for at least one extra toothbrush head.
Finally, users may be put off by the fact that you have to use this electric toothbrush in the same way as you would use a manual toothbrush. For many, one of the biggest benefits of using an electric toothbrush is having the physical effort taken out of brushing one’s teeth. So it feels confusing to add this effort back in, and it’s easy to wonder how much effect the sonic aspect of this toothbrush has in the final result.
Foreo ISSA 3 review: User reviews
Amazon.com reviews for the Foreo ISSA 3 are largely very positive, with users citing improved gum health and cleaner-feeling teeth after use. They also rate the longer battery life over several weeks, the stylish ergonomic design and ease of use.
Negative reviews criticize the high price point of the Foreo ISSA 3 as being too expensive. Others say they’re not sure how well the toothbrush is cleaning their teeth, as they don’t have that ‘clean feeling’ after brushing.
Should you buy the Foreo ISSA 3?
The Foreo ISSA 3 may be the ideal toothbrush for users with gum problems or sensitive teeth because of its soft and flexible silicone bristles. Those who enjoy sleek design and simplicity may also enjoy its looks and functionality.
However, those looking for a more powerful tooth brushing experience may find this toothbrush lacks the oomph required to get a really deep clean feeling during brushing. And despite its high price point, the Foreo ISSA 3 lacks the extra features other sonic or oscillating-rotating brushes may have, such as connected smart apps or pressure sensors to reduce gum damage.
If this product isn’t for you
If the Foreo ISSA 3 sounds like too much hard work, why not try the Oral B Genius X electric toothbrush? With an oscillating rotating brush head, six cleaning modes and a connected smart app, this toothbrush packs a lot in at a similar price point.
Or why not opt for the Waterpik Complete Care 9.0? Combining a water flosser and sonic toothbrush into one compact unit, it offers three cleaning modes, 10 pressure levels for water flossing, and plenty of accessories to boot.
Joanne Lewsley is a UK-based freelance writer and editor, covering health and lifestyle news and features. She mainly creates evidence-based health and parenting content and has worked with a number of global sites, including BabyCentre UK, Medical News Today, Fit & Well, Top Ten Reviews, and Yahoo!