Sunday, February 5, 2012

Brushing like an amateur

Somebody please tell me, when did brushing teeth become rocket science?

Thanks to a bout of "couponing" a year or so ago, today was the first time I needed to purchase toothpaste and toothbrushes in quite a while. I expected to hit the dental aisle at Target, decide between "fresh mint" or "clean mint" flavor, pick up some cheapie toothbrushes and be done with it.

Oh, no no no.

I only have a few expectations when it comes to toothpaste: It should clean my teeth and not taste terrible.

The first thing I noticed as I looked over the Crest section, was that it was completely dominated by their "Pro Heath" toothpaste line, which I tried during the couponing days, to find it failed completely in the "not tasting terrible" category.

Quickly scanning the shelves for any "Non-Pro" (amateur?) products, I realized that every single package is covered with an encyclopedia of information. "Fights cavities, whitens teeth, prevents gum disease, freshens breath, gentle polishing ingredients, dentist preferred, protection, defense, healthy mouth formula," and on and on.

Most of these were labled as Crest "Complete" apparently to justify being twice the price of the bottom-shelf "incomplete" toothpaste, that only cleans and whitens teeth.

I strongly suspect that the actual toothpaste inside the tubes is practically identical, and that the differences are simply inventions of marketing. At least I hope so. I sincerely hope that the scientific brain-power of our nation is being focused on curing diseases and getting us those flying cars, and not on the minutia of how to cleanse our mouths.

I couldn't find plain ol' mint toothpaste, even among the incomplete, which despite their inadequacy still bragged "with baking soda and peroxide." I just hope it passes the taste test.

Moving on to the toothbrushes, I find an array of bristle configurations from circles to waves to zig-zags, even hexagons, and wierd things that look like bicycle wheels that will spin for you so you don't have to tire your hand. I begin to doubt myself. It is really okay to buy the cheapest toothbrush? What is the latest research on the effectiveness of the circle vs the wave? Are there heated scientific debates on the topic? It makes my head spin just thinking about it.

Well, if my head is spinning, my toothbrush probably doesn't need to right?

I wonder. Do people actually read and believe all the stuff on the package? Is this how insignificant our lives have become, that we have to make a simple daily process into something so complex? Or are people just desperately making up stuff in an effort to justify their jobs?  I'm all for creativity, but let's not waste it, please.


  1. Having worked in advertising, I could on and on and on about this topic!! It's all smoke and mirrors and buckets and buckets of BS. Seriously. None of those toothbrushes work any better than the rest. There really isn't even any conclusive evidence that fluoride prevents cavities! All that crap on the box? It's because a bunch of people sat in a room and brainstormed ways to sell more of their product. Ugh...don't get me started!!!!!!! (too late!) :)

  2. I studied marketing and advertising in college, so I'm familiar with the concepts, but looking at that Crest section, I think they've "jumped the shark." I didn't like the toothpaste I ended up with. I used to get something that did a decent job whitening and actually tasted pretty good, like a minty margarita. I was totally into that toothpaste. That's the kind of stuff they need to market. Cocktail flavored toothpaste please! "Classic Margarita, lemon-lime flavor with a hint of salt will wisk you from your bathroom to the poolside. Two minutes never felt so refreshing!" I'd actually READ that on a box.


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