Being in practice for over 30 years, I have witnessed many changes in the ever-booming dental products industry. As a consumer of dental products, I have been fascinated with and fallen prey to the many fads that have all come and gone. In addition, over the past four decades I have tried and tested some of the most amazing and outlandish products to hit the shelves. It makes me laugh when I remember some of them now. Many studies have shown that the quicker a cultural item rockets to popularity, the quicker it dies. In fact, the symmetry between popularity rise and fall can carry over to other cultural items or phenomenons too. For instance, remember when there were 5 Jennifers in your grade school class, but your younger sibling’s class had none? How about that yellow Sony Walkman that was stuck to you like glue in the 80s? Well, the same types of trends have run rampant in the dental industry for so long and they have brought in billions of dollars to the companies marketing them. Today, I thought I would take you on a trip down memory lane and share some of my most favorite dental products of years past.
Pink Disclosing Tablets: Some of you will remember the school dentist coming into your classroom to talk to you about how to brush your teeth properly. At the end of the discussion, he or she would hand out these little round pink pills. Did you know they were called disclosing tablets? You were told to chew them so they would reveal how good a job you were doing at brushing your teeth. THE PINKER YOUR TEETH THE MORE TARTAR YOU HAD Remember how you hoped your teeth wouldn’t be the pinkest. But of course you would always forget this wasn't candy and how nasty it tasted.
Gelling Toothpastes: In 1967 Unilever’s Close-Up Toothpaste launched the first gel toothpaste in the world. Unilever, went on to introduce and market Aim toothpaste in 1974. Suddenly toothpaste was fancy, colourful and iridescent and seemed to glide and shimmer out of the tube, not like the white paste we were so used to. Then in 1979, Beecham Products jumped on the bandwagon with Aquafresh, which was a mixture of paste and gel. The gels became the hottest thing to hit the dental market since fluoride was inserted into toothpaste. And oh how their marketing schemes were brilliant, bringing in so much money that eventually other brands like Crest and Colgate, introduced their winterfresh gel formulas too. But lets not forget the kids market Oral B got really smart in the 80s by creating one of the greatest marketing gimmicks of all time, a bubble gum flavoured gel that came in a Muppet designed pump… Brilliant!
Hot Cinnamon Fire Pix: As a lover of cinnamon, I definitely purchased a few of these back in the day and I remember their packing fondly, The cinnamon saturated toothpicks had more flavor than any candy on the market. In fact, if you ate more than a couple at a time, they easily burned holes in the skin of your inner cheeks. But hey, they also did a great job of picking the food out of my teeth! Back then you had to looked no further than your local 7-11 to purchase which was only a bike ride away.
Pearl Drops Toothpaste: Years ago, when you were looking for that neon white smile and before all the whitening toothpastes came out you counted on Pearl Drops. Pearl Drops was a gentle liquid tooth polish, invented by a dentist, with a brilliant marketing campaign. It promised to turn your toothbrush into a polishing machine and that if used twice daily; you would see a difference within three weeks. Check out this1982 Pearl Drops commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtMG0Eu_Fas
The Waterpik: Otherwise known as an oral irrigator, the first Waterpik was developed in 1962, in Fort Collins, Colorado, by dentist Gerald Moyer and engineer John Mattingly. Since then, the many updated versions of the oral irrigators have been tested and proven effective on people with gingivitis, diabetes, orthodontic appliances, crowns, and implants. And as a bonus, this product will probably remind you and your kids of how fun it was to waste time in the bathroom before bedtime!