I'm finding the North American obsession with oral hygiene a bit unsettling. Obsessiveness in general is unsettling, but the part that really creeps me out is how my mouth is depicted as a cesspool of bacteria, germs and unsightly stains, not fit for exposure to other human beings. I'm often told I have a dirty mouth, but it's generally meant in a more figurative sense than a literal one.
I can't seem to sit though a commercial break in my favourite TV programs anymore without being beaten over the head with images of giant teeth dripping slimy purple-brown goo and magnified alien-like bacteria pulsating and wriggling like Jell-o. But thanks to the modern miracle of CGI, the "hero" in these epics is often just as creepy as the (alleged) bad guys.
Consider the mouthwash with the pink "liquid men" splashing around in your mouth--doesn't that just give you the willies? Or the other one that promises to "Stop gingivitis before it starts, " which makes gum disease sound more like an eventuality than a possibility. These scare tactics are meant to convince me I can't live a normal life without their products, but the thought of using them makes me want to scream with terror.
I guess what really offends me about these ads for fancy toothpaste, motorized toothbrushes, gingivitis-fighting mouthwash--and most importantly, teeth whiteners--is the insinuation that my mouth is naturally diseased and defective and without the intervention of these innovative and high-tech products I'm doomed to a life of pain and suffering, both physical and psychological. My $2.49 toothbrush and $3.79 toothpaste just aren't gonna cut it--in fact, it's irresponsible of me to even be using them!
I guess I'd better stock up before they're all recalled and taken off the store shelves. If they're that ineffective, one would assume a responsible company concerned with my oral health wouldn't want to taint their reputation by selling products that don't work. Right?