A Recent Adventure In the Scientific Method and Toothbrushes

Once again I have decided to dedicate my body to science. It all started during my trip to the dentist. I’m sort of a dentist junkie. I only go twice a year, but it’s my happy place. Thinking about clean teeth and the smell of disinfectant excites me. I know; this is odd.

I have perfect teeth, but my gums could use some work. Genetics come into play for both. I’m just glad I got at least one of the good genes, because I could have easily gotten bad teeth and bad gums. For those of you who don’t visit the dentist, they do this thing where they measure the pockets of the gums. I have a few “deep pockets” which is bad. I’m an overachiever, so naturally I wanted to know how I could improve.

My dental hygienist had lots of suggestions.

“Eat less chocolate.”

Don’t worry that was an automatic no, but I think she said it as a really unfunny joke.

“Use a vibrating toothbrush.”

“How does this help?” I asked.

“It stimulates your gums and makes them healthier.”

“OK I’ll give it a try.”

They happened to sell a cheap model in the office that was “lower than the store price.” I was not convinced that this was my ticket to success in the gum-improvement-campaign.

As I was leaving I turned to her, “I think I want to propose a study.”

She gave me an odd look. I get those a lot.

“I’ll use this brush and when I come back in 6 months I want you to measure those pockets again and see if using an electric toothbrush really does work.”

She seemed excited by the idea. I must have spoken to her inner tooth-geek.

“What a great idea!”

I started thinking of confounding variables and how I could account for those variables. And because I design research studies in my head for fun (that I’m sure is a sickness not yet recognized in the DSM-IV), I promptly began my new scientific adventure.

The first couple of nights’ of data had to be thrown out, since the idea of sticking a vibrating anything in my mouth sent me into a fit of giggles.

The next day I began my experiment. First I had to open the package and out popped an instruction manual. At first glance, the manual was a small, folded piece of paper. But upon further inspection it revealed itself to be an endless accordion full of confusing technical jargon. I’m pretty sure a NASA scientist designed the specs for this model. I panicked and then resisted the urge to text my resident technology genius (aka my husband). I can use a simple tooth brush for heavens sake I repeated in my head like a mantra.

You will not defeat me!

This is where it gets interesting. I have never used a vibrating toothbrush, so I was unaware of the sensation that would follow. Just out of curiosity: has anyone else experienced the jackhammer effect? That is the only way to describe what was going on in my mouth. My brain was vibrating at an incredible frequency. I think I may have blacked out.

When I finally came-to I wiped away the foamy drool and quickly pulled the still-vibrating toothbrush from my mouth. This is when I solved the most unsolvable mystery of my household. See, my husband is a longtime user of the electric toothbrush and for years I couldn’t figure out where the splatters came from on our mirror. Lets just say I made the connection.

I then had a flashback to the one and only CSI episode I ever watched. In this episode crime investigators were solving the mystery of where the assailant was standing at the time of murder by analyzing the angle of blood splatters. I can now accurately pinpoint the exact location of where both my husband and I stand while brushing. Thank you CSI.

It’s going to take me six months until my next dentist visit to get used to the new toothbrush. I’m anxious to find out if my suffering will result in positive data. If anything it will quiet my dental hygienist’s claims that the electric toothbrush can solve a dental health crisis.

4 thoughts on “A Recent Adventure In the Scientific Method and Toothbrushes

  1. Madison Woods

    This was hilarious and really appealed to my geeky side, too. I’m always doing experiments to see what works and what doesn’t with herbal remedies I make, but it really is exciting when you’ve got another outside observer to work with you on it 🙂

  2. Brian (grNadpa) Case

    Sorry, but I can’t stop laughing long enough to write anything coher-r-r-r-r-r-ent (sorry, decided to brush).

    1. Tina Post author

      The conclusion to it was so anti-climatic it wasn’t worth another blog post. The next apt I forgot to remind her to do the measuring thing again, but this last time (April) we got our data. I was improved on all side of my mouth. It was pretty cool and super nerdy. We compiled a spreadsheet of the difference. They have cool computer programs at the dentist now. Better than when I used to work at one.


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