health observations

The Tyranny of the Electric Toothbrush

I bought an electric toothbrush over a year ago, a few months prior to the pandemic. (Can you date events pre-pandemic? I sure can.)

I had gone to the dentist after not visiting one for years, mostly because we didn’t have an affordable local dentist and it was too big a bother to find one out of town.

The dentist gave me a dreaded diagnosis of gum loss due to gingivitis. I had to have built-up plaque scraaaaaped off during an appointment that lasted a good hour. My teeth were incredibly clean afterwards. I hadn’t realized how covered with grime they were.

The dentist recommended that I buy an electric toothbrush and a special toothpaste, Crest Gum Detoxify, to help prevent further gum loss. Let me tell you, that Gum Detoxify is fun! It foams up in a jolly good way when you’re using a regular toothbrush.

Oral-B Pro 1000 electric toothbrush, February 2021.
Oral-B Pro 1000 electric toothbrush, February 2021.

You would think that Gum Detoxify would foam even more with an electric toothbrush, but that is not the case. Instead, it behaves like regular toothpaste, which is fine, I guess.

When I first got the electric toothbrush, an Oral-B Pro 1000, I was amazed at how clean my teeth felt. Stripped off all the gunk.

The toothbrush has a 2-minute timer, split into 30-second increments by a light buzzing so you can brush each quadrant of your teeth in one increment. When the 2 minutes is up, the toothbrush buzzes more strongly.

The dentist recommended I brush twice a day, which I was already doing with a regular toothbrush. When I first started using the electric toothbrush, I was very motivated to keep on top of my twice daily brushing regimen. As the months went by, I became less enamored with the 2-minute timer. There are times I’m in a hurry and want to quickly brush my teeth, but that timer has me captured for 2 minutes, which feels like an eternity when I’m trying to get out the door or am ready to drop into bed.

The electric toothbrush has become a tyrant. (Come on, toothbrush, hurry up!)

Let’s do a little math, shall we?

At 4 minutes a day and 365 days per year, I’m spending 1,460 minutes on brushing my teeth. If we divide that by 60 minutes, we get 24.33 hours. That’s a FULL DAY spent brushing every year! Oy!

In order to overcome the tyranny of the electric toothbrush, it helps if I let my mind wander instead of wishing for the operation to be over with already. If my mind has a successful wander, I find myself wondering why the toothbrush was so fast.

If only it was that easy to banish real-life tyrants.