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Advanced Whitening

by Dear Jon
February 2, 2010


Dear Jon,

Does toothpaste have an expiration date? With all those chemicals in there, it seems like it might. Also, which toothpaste brand do you recommend?

My current toothpaste says it has "Advanced Whitening" in addition to fluoride, but only sodium fluoride is listed in the "Active Ingredients." There are 11 inactive ingredients, which seems rather excessive. Do you suppose the Advanced Whitening is inactive?

I shall await your reply,
Average Brusher

Dear Rage,

Just a few comments before we get into the real thrust of your letter.

1. I would think that the more chemicals there are, the less likely there is an expiration date. Think of yourself as brushing your teeth with beef jerky. Industry professionals are welcome to respond.

2. I cannot recommend one toothpaste over another until such time as a toothpaste brand chooses to advertise on the Partial Observer, which at least under our current governing philosophy on the Board of Directors (motto: We are blood for the Webmaster) would demolish the aesthetics of the site and cause us all to lose our innocence and disinterest as writers.

3. Of course if the advertising money were good enough, most of the P.O. writers would be willing to write columns, poems and novels on the single theme of defending Ice Dancing as a sport. So who knows what philosophy will be hatched at the next annual meeting of the P.O. board.

4. But in terms of general advice on selecting tooth-paste, I go for "yummy minty kinds" rather than children's "fruity" kinds or "clove spice health-store import flavors." That is really all the guidance you need.

Now to the issue of "Advanced Whitening." I think the example par excellence of going with advanced whitening, is the late great pop star Michael Jackson. I do not know if his advanced whitening regime began with toothpaste.

It is a scary prospect if some toothpastes really do make a person whiter than they are already. For instance, we might want to check out the brand used by George W. Bush, who got whiter with each passing year of his presidency. Then White House handlers can steer President Obama away from that brand before it is too late.

I would have my suspicions as to which tooth-paste brands make a person whiter. For example, if your tooth-paste shares the name of an Ivy League school, perhaps you are getting whiter as you brush. Unless that tooth-paste's name is "Brown." Then you are probably safe from getting too white, all things considered.

Of course a great college name for a tooth-paste brand, even if it turns you white, would be "Dartmouth."

Thank you very much. I thought of that one all by myself.

Tooth-paste that identifies with the "working man" will tend to be neutral on the question of making a person whiter. Tooth-paste that reminds you of reaching the top might be a whitening tooth-paste, whereas a brand that suggests hitting a target is neutral. Tooth-paste that reminds you of the cleansing power of water seems to me to be very effectively branded, and as that concept is universal the risk of becoming whiter by using it is low.

Finally, some brands are marketed to denture wearers and to the elderly, with names that sound like they are supposed to relieve heart-burn. I don't brush with those. Yet.

All in all if there have to be so many chemical ingredients to my tooth-paste, I would rather that they be inactive rather than some of the alternatives, such as "passive aggressive" which have a polite taste on the lips but if any of it leaks down the throat it turns the digestive tract into a factory for bitter-tasting slow-death poison. Another alternative which would be worse than inactive, is hyper-active with an attention deficit. This would be a tooth-paste that wants to taste like cinnamon one second, wintergreen the next and peppermint the next, and cannot make up it's mind until it is already time to spit.

These alternatives to inactive ingredients would not contribute more or less to one's whitening per se.

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