Where are the toothbrushes for adults?

Have you ever tried to buy the same toothbrush twice in a row? It’s impossible. Toothbrushes are an example of marketing gone crazy.

One of the oldest sales tricks is to create a problem, then provide a solution. If I tell you your life isn’t worth a bar of shit because your washing detergent doesn’t have a colour-brightening enzyme, I’m only telling you because I’m about to try and sell you a washing detergent with a colour-brightening enzyme. “Oh yes” I hear you say, “I know about that old trick”. So why are people still getting caught by it?

Take a look at the toothbrush. I don’t want to undermine the significance, but its not a particularly groundbreaking invention – they just took a brush, and made it smaller in order to be inserted orally. Pretty much everyone in western society uses one (and if they don’t, I don’t want to be near them) so we’re talking about guaranteed sales here. People don’t walk past the toothbrush isle and say “Fuck it, I’m not going to brush my teeth anymore.” When they need a toothbrush, they buy one.

So then it just comes down to different toothbrush manufacturers trying to make their brush more appealing to you. One way to do this would be to make a good quality product and sell it for a reasonable price, but talk like that won’t keep you in the CEO’s chair with all those shareholders to answer to. They want to charge you as much money as possible with the lowest manufacturing costs.

I think the “Reach” toothbrush was the first to try and tell us our existing toothbrushes were ineffective. Do you remember “…to really clean those hard-to-reach back teeth you can either get a flip-top head, or get a ‘Reach’ toothbrush.”

What the fuck? So they take a normal toothbrush, bend the shaft and sell it at an inflated price as a “technological advance”. Is there any evidence that this brush does actually clean better? Did anyone really have trouble cleaning their back teeth with their old toothbrush? Of course not. We had to be introduced to the problem at the same time as the solution, otherwise we’d have had no idea why the toothbrush shaft was bent.

The really sad thing is that lots of people bought them. This gave way to over a decade’s worth of “advances” like angled bristles, usage indicators, pressure-absorbant necks, rubber-grip handles, tongue cleaners etc. Each time we are introduced to a new toothbrush we are also introduced to a new problem: “Did you know that 83% of bacteria in your mouth lives on the tongue?”

Toothbrushes are more like kids’ toys these days, and we are forced to pay extra for them by the removal of the cheaper, “normal” toothbrushes from sale, leaving us with no alternatives.

So with all of these advances, why is tooth decay on the increase? Simple answer – because it’s all a load of shit.

Howard Yeran

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