And by ‘study’, I mean my own personal experience. Background: The electronic toothbrush came of age around the same time we did. Granted, they’ve been around a lot longer than we have. The original electric toothbrush, the Broxodent, was born in 1954, making it a part of our parents generation. However, it never caught on, and in the new millennium, a younger, sleeker, more social, electric toothbrush has become popular, essentially because it works ok and doesn’t make your gums bleed, like those boomer brushes.
Like most trends, I didn’t think electric toothbrush were much more that a passing gadget fad, until I realized that almost all of my friends had them. And that my breath smelled like an old man’s. There’s nothing wrong with being late to the party, as long as you show. If you have yet to drop the $75-$150 on a sweet new teeth cleaning accessory (you’re probably either under 25 and/or cheap) here’s what makes them worthwhile:
- They do about as good a job as cleaning your teeth if you brush vigorously for 2 minutes twice a day.
- They force you to brush for two minutes each time, which, if you may not have realized, is waaaay longer than you usually brush for, you lazy bastard.
- They require less energy on your part, replacing the elbow/wrist grease of traditional brushing with electronic vibration/sonic wave grease.
When I initially got the brush, I’d say it improved my dental health by about 200%. Scientifically. I say this because, before, I usually only brushed my teeth with a bare minimum of effort/concentration. Brushing my teeth meant spending a minute or less not really caring one way or another whether I was doing a good job. I was sleepwalking through it, like practicing religion for the ritual, without and spiritual devotion. But the electric toothbrush changed that. With the same amount of mental energy, my teeth actually felt like they were getting cleaner every day. My mouth didn’t have the constant aftertaste of bacteria. Spitting after brushing didn’t provoke the mental image of my gums being on their period. It was great. But here’s the B-side.
The fact that brushing is easier and my teeth are healthier makes it easier for me to forgo brushing. You can see how I’d get there mentally. Scenario: I’m laying in bed, reading an Ultimate Spiderman on my phone, dead tired. I think to myself It took my Flintstones toothbrush two brushing sessions to get my teeth as clean as one session with the Jetsons model, so, since I already brushed my teeth once today, I feel like I’m basically even with where I would be, pre-electric-toothbrush-days. Then, I fall asleep with no regard for the chunks of food grit still in my teeth or the longterm effects of plaque buildup.
As all descents into lethargy go, I keep slipping. Occasionally, the fact that I own an electric toothbrush allows me to justify going a full day without brushing my teeth. Usually, in that scenario, I’ll start the day hung over and finish the day drunk, so there ARE other factors at work, but nonetheless, I can no longer even say if my teeth are more consistently clean than in the sepia-toned days before I got the toothbrush. This isn’t an argument for relying on less technology in our lives. But is in an instance where a gadget that was supposed to make to life better, first made me lazier and then made me shittier. The lesson is that sometimes, with technology, you have to actually work harder. Or, at least, I do.
Henry Goldman is the founder of yr an adult and is other things, too, but mostly that.
Photo credit: flickr user Barkbud, used under cc license.