Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Money-Saving Toothpaste Tip

toothpasteThere's a hoary old urban legend about a high-level meeting of toothpaste executives trying to come up with an idea to sell more toothpaste. A lowly cleaning woman overhears the meeting and suggests her own idea - make the hole bigger.

Have you ever actually read the instructions on a tube of toothpaste? They say "Use a pea-sized amount". But the photograph on the box always shows a long "worm" of toothpaste on the brush - that's about four or five times as much as you actually need.

But don't take my word for it. Last night I picked the brains of a friend of mine, Geoff Taylor, retired Dean of Postgraduate Dentistry at the University of Manchester. I asked him whether toothpaste was necessary at all, or whether thorough brushing without paste would suffice. I've tried brushing my teeth without paste sometimes when we ran out. It tastes pretty nasty, as all the bits of stuff you brush loose are released into your mouth. Mint-flavoured toothpaste makes brushing much more pleasant. But once you rinse with water and eat your breakfast, it doesn't really make any difference -your mouth just tastes of coffee and corn flakes by then regardless of what you used to brush your teeth.

Geoff said that toothpaste is worthwhile, especially for children who should use a fluoridated toothpaste. But he pointed out to me that everybody uses far too much toothpaste because of the images used in marketing the stuff. He recommends that you spread your toothpaste across your brush, not along it, to get a pea-sized amount.

He also said that, in his professional opinion, mouthwashes were not necessary for dental health. And he told me that people should floss if advised to by their dentist, but it is not necessary for everyone.

You're not going to save enough money to retire early by using less toothpaste. Nor are you going to reduce your carbon footprint significantly. But it's a lesson in using your brain to reduce overconsumption without hardship. What else are you using too much of because of sneaky marketing? When you wash your hair do you always "rinse and repeat"? Then you're using twice as much shampoo as you need to. It's hard for a company to get twice as many customers, but it's quite easy for them to persuade their existing customers to use twice as much. Read the instructions and think hard - how much do you really need?

One final thought; have you noticed that toothpaste tubes dont stay rolled up nowadays when you get to the end of the tube? It says here that's so you can always see the whole logo.

20 comments:

neil said...

I thought the toothpase tube not rolling up anymore was just the change in materials from metal based to plastic based.

marigold said...

I use a pea sized brush so that there are no mistakes. I love this series of money saving articles. I am off to the market today to by some seasonal produce. Now, if you could only come up with a healthy substitute for all the sugar used in preserving fruit............!

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

I have always tried to use just a tiny dab of paste, otherwise the crap comes foaming down your chin! I am seriously thinking about switching to baking soda but fear it may be too abrasive for my choppers. Hmm, I think I will research.
Oh, giving up flossing is a bad, bad idea for almost everyone unless you have gaping spaces between all your teeth. Skip flossing for a day or two and then see, even after brushing all the gunk you get out when you floss again-BIG yuck.

Despairing said...

I heard somewhere that the most effective marketing campaign ever was for Alka Seltzer.

Until that campaign, users would put one table into the water to dissolve. Then some genius came up with the slogan "Plunk Plunk Fizz", and usage and sales doubled.

Woody Wilbury said...

Yep, it don't stay rolled up cos it's made of plastic

Jean said...

The shampoo really gets me. I have long hair and use almost none. Hubby has short hair and uses three times the amount. AAAARGh!

femsc said...

The toothpaste adverts are incredible. How on earth anyone could use the amount of paste shown and not be gagging is beyond me. I have always used just enough to freshen my mouth, which would be a very immature pea indeed were it pea-sized.

I often find that the powder lasts longer though, as any excess can simply be tapped off the brush back into the tub..

What really amazes me is the difference in price between 'supermarket cheapycheap own brand' and the big names. They all seem to work just as well, so unless the supermarkets are losing money on their cheapycheap lines, someone somewhere is making a fortune out of people's 'need' to have the 'right' brand of stuff on their shelves.

Fran

kethry said...

"have you noticed that toothpaste tubes dont stay rolled up nowadays when you get to the end of the tube?"

it does if you roll it up and stick a clothes peg on the end.. :D

works for us!!

Skipweasel said...

"Lather, rinse and repeat" - instant doubled sales!

To be fair to the toothpaste firms though, despite showing a big dollop on the pack the instructions say to use a pea sized amount.

Dickens said...

Hi

I was told you can just use salt for toothpaste. Or if you want to be more organised here is a recipe:
Ingredients:
6 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons glycerin
15 drops peppermint
Directions:
Mix thoroughly. Should be a tooth paste consistency.

I am sure this works out much cheaper as well.

Jill
Volunteer Organiser Creative Cafe
http://creativecafe.org.uk
Creative Cafe is a charitable group which supports people with disabilities

Nikki said...

See, I've always thought that a pea-sized amount was huge! But then I guess it depends on the size peas you think off too. Me and kids probably only use about 1/3 the amount (no idea about hubby).

maria said...

Hi, I have washed my haria bout 8 times in the last 3 and a bit years so I've saved on tons of shampoo, conditioner and hot water. Is there anyone else doing this, I'd love to compare notes....

maria said...

Hi, I have washed my haria bout 8 times in the last 3 and a bit years so I've saved on tons of shampoo, conditioner and hot water. Is there anyone else doing this, I'd love to compare notes....

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Sharon J said...

Crafty buggers. Thanks for the eye opener.

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