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A Blonde’s Perspective: Learning curve steep with electric toothbrush

Two minutes doesn’t seem like a long period of time, but it’s an eternity when you’re brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush.

As a result, I’ve made yet another discovery about blondes. Electric toothbrushes and blondes, or at least this blonde, do not work well together.

After brushing my teeth manually for over 60 years, it was a big learning curve in adjusting to the electronic method, which is supposed to clean your teeth better. After listening to repeated advice from my dental hygienist, I purchased the new toothbrushes for my husband and myself.

According to a 27-page study completed at Dartmouth University, the electric toothbrush was introduced to the U.S. during the 1960s, but it didn’t do well in the marketplace until the 1990s due to the cost.

However, the first method of cleaning one’s teeth goes back to 3000 B.C. when “chewing sticks” were used by the Egyptians who frayed the ends of twigs that were rubbed against the teeth. The Chinese invented the first toothbrush with bristles from hog necks that were attached to a handle made of bamboo or bone. The tooth-cleaning device evolved through the centuries as did toothpaste, which was first in a powder form before being put into a tube by Colgate in the 1890s. That concludes the history lesson.

My challenge with the electronic method is the process used to brush my teeth. I read the instructions thoroughly. To start my first attempt, I wet the brush, placed a small amount of toothpaste on it, and turned it on before putting it into my mouth. The vibration of the brush caused the water and the toothpaste to fly off the brush, splatter on the mirror, walls, sink, vanity top, and me. I muttered a few words as I wiped the toothpaste off the mirror, my face and other affected areas.

During my second attempt, I managed to turn the brush on after it was in my mouth. I slowly moved the brush over my teeth as the instructions stated, waiting for the power to slow down every 30 seconds so I knew when to move on to the next quadrant of my mouth during the two minutes.

The electronic brushing process has improved over the past year; however, there are still times when I’m not concentrating on the quadrants of my mouth, and I proceed to rinse my brush during the two-minutes without turning it off. It’s very frustrating as I clean up the mess repeatedly, and I’ve learned not to wear my glasses while brushing in order to save on clean-up.

So I’m coming to the conclusion that you are not supposed to stop and rinse the brush during the brushing process. My three grown children use the electronic method, and when they come home, they walk around while the brush is vibrating within their mouth.

I cannot do that. I have tried to maintain the two-minute process without stopping to rinse the brush or spit into the sink. But no matter how hard I try, the pasty, water mixture oozes out of my mouth and down my chin. I need to be standing over the sink, but have still had to clean up dried white toothpaste that has run down the cabinet doors.

I’m too embarrassed to ask my dental hygienist as to the correct procedure, so I have “Googled” my question on the brushing process with no luck, concluding that no one has ever asked this question. Therefore, I surveyed family and friends who use the electric method and the consensus is that you keep the brush in your mouth for the 120 seconds (or more) and spit and rinse after you’re done.

But I was relieved to find out that I’m not the only one who has splattered the bathroom with toothpaste and water. Responding to the survey, blonde friend Peggy, recently purchased the electric brushes, admitted she’s had the same splattering experience during the learning process.

Also in response to the survey, my blonde daughter Tracy confessed that it happened to her recently. She wasn’t concentrating on her brushing and rinsed her brush without turning it off. She laughed at herself but was too embarrassed to tell her husband of five months. But Ryan, knowing his mother-in-law’s blonde blunders, has said several times that he hopes my antics skip a generation.

It was good to know that other friends also responded with splatter moments. The survey also revealed that friend Sharon, who is not blonde, bought an electric toothbrush for herself, but it was stored in a cabinet as she didn’t know how to charge it. After I told her what to look for, she reported it was now charging on its stand. Hmmm, perhaps it’s old age? Or in some cases is it being blonde? It’s a toss-up.

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