A little over-the-top.

An earnest young “dentist” is busy breaking the fourth wall as he discusses the dreaded “condition” of tooth sensitivity. [i]

We know it’s a serious problem because he’s wearing a white lab coat and they’re filming him from odd angles. That means ‘pay attention’. This is serious stuff, after all. People are suffering. They have a condition.

They emphasize that repeatedly.

People are suffering from this “condition”. It’s dire, according to the man on television. Ice cream becomes impossible to eat.

The horror is hard to imagine.

I’m not being hyperbolic when I say the commercial makes me want to scream. I hear it on the regular because I like background noise as I putter. Sometimes, it’s radio or music streaming. Other times, I leave the television on. I like the Cooking Channel or HGTV mostly which means sexist and infuriating commercials a lot of the time.

And if the “condition” of tooth sensitivity isn’t scary enough, we’re also facing an epidemic of bladder control problems. Luckily, corporations that want to sell you stuff have your back. Skip going to the doctor. Skip the reality that bladder leakage isn’t normal or necessary for most, and buy the ugly adult diapers they market as cute instead.

I should run a PSA for kegel/ben-wa balls. [ii]

At least the women in the bladder commercials aren’t crying. They laugh as they show off their asses for the camera to demonstrate that diapers don’t mean visible panty lines. You can still dance and shop for groceries while ignoring health problems.

Cheery smiles to sell you a solution that’s a problem and a near-tears “dentist” trying to convince you an inconvenience is extremely serious. What a world. I half-expect to hear news of an upcoming sensitive-tooth telethon.

I’ve had sensitive teeth myself so I feel entitled to judge and mock. This is not a serious concern. It’s nice that they can fix it but let’s put things in perspective. It’s less “serious pain and suffering” and more “annoying twinges followed by cursing”.  Luckily, most of my teeth died: sensitivity isn’t an issue with replacement ones. The live ones that are left have the good sense to not act up, probably because they’ve seen what happened to their siblings.  

I first noticed I was afflicted with the sensitivity “condition” when the cold water I was brushing with caused me to squeal, hiss, and curse simultaneously. Brushing in warm seemed the obvious fix. I mentioned it to my dentist and after some necessary structural repairs he “prescribed” a desensitizing toothpaste. He didn’t offer a consoling hug in response to fate’s cruel blow or suggest therapy. Just the free sample of Sensodyne. Ironically, they produce the commercial I hate.

Maybe it’s supposed to be camp? Maybe they’re making fun? Is that why they regularly mispronounce “pronamel”? We’re not really supposed to consider testy teeth and the inability to slurp piping hot beverages traumatizing, are we? That being the case, I wish they’d tone it down. Because sure as I’m sitting here, some people watching these commercials will come to believe they have a real problem. They don’t. Once you move beyond its diagnostic usefulness, sensitivity’s an inconvenience at best.

But if you make it a “condition”, people pay extra for the “cure”. It’s not that desensitizing toothpaste is bad. But a trip to the dentist first to check for real problems is advisable and that’s something the commercials fail to mention. Magic toothpaste won’t fill a hole or seal a crack. Pay for structural repairs first and exotic toothpaste second. There’s a world of paste out there and it includes more than mere nerve control. [iii] You might not even need it.


Do commercials irritate you or do you simply skip through them, whatever the platform?

Do you think standards regarding commercials should be enforced? Should people selling things be allowed to lie, even if it’s only by misdirection?

Is there a commercial you love?

Have you ever bought something because of the commercial?


[i] The dictionary defines “condition” as the state of something with regards to its appearance, quality, or working order; the circumstances affecting the way people live or work; or as a verb. Common use puts it as a descriptor of disease but grumpy death simply aren’t that dire.

[ii] Ben Wa, or Kegel balls can be used to help strengthen pelvic floor muscles. This helps with light bladder incontinence in women. Bladder leakage is not inevitable or irreversible regardless of what the people trying to sell corrective products suggest. 11 Best Kegel and Ben Way Balls for a Strong, Tight Vagina is a good reference piece.

[iii] One company that offers flavoured toothpastes is Marvis. They have options like jasmine, licorice, and cinnamon. There’s also a whitening option if you want to revisit sensitivity. I found a Marvis sample kit of three on Amazon for twenty-five dollars: too rich for my blood and toothpaste spending limit. I’ll be sticking with the “under three dollars” stuff.

By Em

I like writing. Words help me unpack my thoughts so things can start to make sense. Once I have both myself and the universe figured out, I plan to take up macrame. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing, and learn as you go." E. L. Doctorow

12 comments

  1. At least we don’t have direct to consumer prescription drug ads on this side of the border. The toothpaste thing doesn’t bother me, because at least sensitivity is an issue (even if an inflated one), and Sensodyne and the like do have an ingredient that logically would impact nerve sensitivity. I get my knickers in a knot over alternative health products and medical devices. There are various stupid things that are supposed to electrically stimulate your brain, and they’re “FDA-approved” or “Health Canada approved”, as if that means anything other than the government being reasonably sure the stupid thing isn’t going to electrocute you. What I struggle with is how much people can be reasonably expected to think on their own about what things mean, and how much regulators need to compensate for so many people being oblivious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? I absolutely agree. People misunderstand the meaning of “approved”. And yes, you’re right. People don’t really think beyond the surface level of what’s presented so how responsible are they versus the purveyors of the (at times harmful) bullshit?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I skip commercials whenever I can. If not, then I simply walk away (to get a snack, etc.) The ones I like are the funny ones, which do not air often.

    There are countries in which you cannot smear your competition. You cannot use their product in your own commercial. Of course, you can use a product that looks similar or has a similar name, but you can’t talk crap about it openly. Unlike here in the US. Is that good or bad? I guess there are pros and cons to both, but I do prefer it when they keep it clean and allow US to make the decision whether product A is better than B.

    I’ve learned a long time ago that people on TV lie. If movies are not real, why would commercials be any different?

    There is no commercial I love because I don’t really watch them.

    Have I bought a product because of an ad before? Absolutely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the rules about “no direct smearing”. I like some of the funny ads but lately they’re in short supply – or maybe I’m crotchety 😂

      The worst thing I bought from an ad was an electric device that promised to rip out your leg hair painlessly. Total lie.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have sensitive teeth too and i simply drink my tea and coffee warm and wait for my ice cream to half melt before i eat it. I also don’t drink slurpies or bite popsickles and brush my teeth with warm water. The dentist also recommended sensodyne but the colgate I’m using is just fine

    Liked by 2 people

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