Thursday, August 24, 2006

Scary Dental Hygiene

Where can a person get a normal-looking toothbrush nowadays? I stopped by the toothbrush aisle at the local Walgreens last week and there wasn’t a regular toothbrush in sight. They all looked mutant space toothbrushes designed as props for an episode of Babylon 5. Some had whirly-gigs or doo-dads attached to their tips. Some had hinges so they could bend themselves to the slight curve of my jawbone. Some had wings of bristles to reach out and brush the teeth parts I miss on my own. Some were all ergonomically correct with special handles that are cushioned and conformed to the shape of my hand. That’s great, because I hear tooth-brushing is one of the major contributors to the epidemic of carpal tunnel syndrome in this country. I also saw some with bristles that stuck out at weird angles, with different colors and lengths. They look like Sid Vicious mated with a hedge hog. Just what exactly are the toothbrush people trying to accomplish here? Are they trying to entertain me somehow? Do they think that my attention span is so short that I won’t be able focus long enough to get the job done without something shiney to look at while I brush? Most importantly, do any these freaky looking things actually get your teeth any cleaner than a standard toothbrush? I doubt it.

Maybe the toothbrush people think they have to keep their customers interested and excited about all the pretty colors or we’ll die of boredom while brushing our teeth. Maybe they’re all in search of the Holy Grail of toothbrushes, the one that will remove all the debris from my teeth if I just wave it in front of my open mouth. Or maybe the toothbrush designers are just wanking off in the design lab. I don’t know. But, some things work just fine as they are. Some things don’t need to be improved. After a point, some improvements are simply gratuitous. I think we’ve long passed that point in the toothbrush aisle.

As for me, I’ve reached the point where these things are just too scary to put in my mouth. I’m afraid one of them is going to come to life and burrow into my gums or extract a molar of its own volition. I think they’re more suitable for voodoo rituals or scaring squirrels away from bird feeders. I don’t want my gums poked or massaged or conformed to. I don’t need funky colors or rotating bristles with wings or glitter imbedded in the plastic handle. I’m perfectly capable of turning my wrist those extra couple of degrees to reach my back teeth. All I want is an ordinary, normal-looking toothbrush, like the ones from the educational films of my youth, the ones that sang songs and danced while holding hands with a tube of toothpaste. Is that too much to ask?

And don’t even get me started about the current state of toothpaste technology…..


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