Monday, April 16, 2007

and regular professional care

Many things bind a nation together. In this country, it is consumer items. There is hardly a tooth in the United States that has not been brushed with Crest tootpaste at one time or another. I was reminded of that this morning when I saw a commercial for yet another Crest product. This one is a whitening wash aimed specifically at coffee drinkers. American products have undergone an amazing amount of fragmentation. I guess the concept works, or the manufacturers would not do it. There are about half a dozen types of M&Ms now. In the old days, they would have just given the candy a different name. But today they take full advantage of the brand. Crest made its first mark in the 1950s when it became the first toothpaste with fluorride to get the American Dental association' Seal of Approval. I have not read the statement in many years, but I heard it several times a day in my childhood on T.V. ads so I still recall most of it. "Crest has been shown to be an effective decay preventing dentifrice when used in combination with a conscientiously applied program of oral hygeine and regular professional care" That was a mouthful, and I'm sure was stated between gritted teeth by the spokesman for the A.D.A. the first time he said it.

Fluoride had been introduced into tootpaste in the 30s. Hoewever, in a time when the dentist's bread and butter was filling one to two cavaties every visit, it was denounced as dangerous by the A.D.A. And it was dangerous, dangerous to the business of the dentist. So the fluoride toothpastes went away. It took about 20 years, and the advent of television, for fluoride to make a comeback. Crest was the first to do it it, and made the biggest splash. The dentists settled by only endorsing Crest if it was used in conjunction with regular professional care. That way, you may not have any cavaties to fill, but the dentist sees you and x-rays for them twice a year anyway. The dentists were needlessly worried. Vey few Americans are capable of undertaking a conscientiously applied program of oral hygeine.Without that, the Crest may as well sit on the shelf. As it expect that it does for millions of americans each day.

But back to fragmentation. Once you had fluoride, there was not a lot you could do to reinvigorate toothpaste sales. Or so they thought. Then came"mint flavored crest". I have always suspected that mint flavored Crest was dreamed up by the same ad agency that convinced the tobacco industry to start making menthol cigarettes. A lot of people don't like mint, so other companies came up with their own programs.In the 1960s "Stripes" toothpaste gave you the impression that there was something helpful placed in the stripe they put in their tootpaste, and if food coloring is helpful to anyone, there is. But it is just since the 90s that I have noticed the tremendous explosion in tootpastes aimed at at different audiences. Believe it or not, Crest has over 50 different types of teethcleaning products. They have seven different kinds of whiteners and multiple of types of cavity protection in both the child and adult markets. Tartar protection, sensitive teeth, ten different flavors, stripes and multicare (multicare is for those consumers like myself that always buy cross training sneakers because we are so overwhelmed with the variety of types of tennis shoes once we get to the running store). And there are guys today down in the lab working on new products as we speak. Does the world really need that many kinds of toothpaste ? I don't know, does it need six kinds of M&Ms ? We got along with plain and peanut for most of my life.

The dentists don't care anymore. Hell, there's fluoride in water now. They have moved on to gums. When was the last time a dentist told you you were not brushing well ? It's been a long time. But they get indignant over your flossing. And no one has invented a way to wire around that yet. Open wide please.


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