I Just Spent $160 On A Toothbrush

Pretty excessive, right? I thought so at first, but now I think it’s worth every penny. To be fair, this didn’t happen overnight – it was (in my mind at least) a logical progression where I continually justified spending money I probably shouldn’t have on something I really didn’t need. I’ll also note that I may have been a little drunk at the time. I suppose of all the drunk purchases you can make, this is one of the more responsible ones as opposed to realizing you just ordered $100 worth of googly eyes to stick on inanimate objects. Anyways, here’s why after 3 weeks it’s been life changing and my argument on why you should consider it for yourself, too.

My Childhood Dentist Was (IS) An Amazing Man

As a kid, I hated the dentist like nearly every other kid ever. My family dentist was a man named George Browes, who was a quintessential “pillar” of the community in (at the time) small town Ajax, Ontario. He played old-timers hockey with my dad, he treated thousands of residents, and I can safely say he was one of the kindest and most gentle people I’ve come across in my life. As my baby teeth began to fall out, it quickly became apparent that my adult teeth were larger than normal. This wouldn’t have been so bad, except my jaw is a bit smaller than usual – which meant I had to have a bunch of teeth pulled to make room (4 in total, if I remember); every kid’s favorite thing to have done.

On one visit I had a full on meltdown. I must have been getting to about 8 or 10 years old and I put up a FUSS. George took the time to show me all the tools, how they worked, and even let me press the pedal to make the drill turn on; MUCH to my delight. He was patient, caring, and a gem of a human being. In my early 20’s I wasn’t covered under my parents health coverage anymore and had to get some work done. I think I ran up a bill of about $300 or so. The thing was, I was flat broke at the time and barely had enough money to put gas in my car to get to work. I got notice after notice about my outstanding balance and each time I’d open them I’d feel horrible about ignoring this man who’d taken care of me for my entire life up to this point. Then one day I got a hand written letter from Dr. Browes. My heart sank to one of the lowest places it’s ever been. He more or less wrote “Paul, I feel horrible writing you this letter. I have treated you and your family for over 2 decades and it pains me that you haven’t acknowledged our reminders of your balance with us. If there is extenuating circumstances, please come talk to me and we can work something out. I care about you and your health, and I’m here to help you if you need it”. I can’t remember what it took, but I think I ended up pawning off some things to come up with the money and I walked into that office with my tail VERY much between my legs and settled the balance I should have taken care of a year earlier. I don’t think they even charged me interest. Unreal.

That experience was one I attribute to me being a better person. I’ll never forget it. Since, I have never had an unpaid bill or debt owed for more than a week or two. Even my credit cards get paid off in full almost immediately, and if not, I’m putting on far more than the minimum payments. Without a shadow of doubt in my mind, that hand-written letter from George is one of the biggest reasons I’ve got a credit score I’m really proud of today. I can’t thank that man enough for the lessons he taught me as a young man.

George retired many years ago and as I write this post I looked him up to see he’s an absolute beast of a human being. He’s cycled across multiple countries, and even continents, even completing a journey from Anchorage Alaska to Mexico City.


IN HIS 70’S.

If you want to learn more about him, there’s a small writeup in this magazine. Even years after he retired, people are still commenting on his RateMyMD page with glowing words. What a human.

Since Then, I’ve Have A Complicated Relationship With My Teeth

Fast forward to my later 20’s and I’d just started a job where I was about 3 months away from getting dental benefits. Wouldn’t you know it, I cracked one of my molars eating a bag of chips. I tried putting off getting it treated until I was covered, but woke one Sunday morning in one of the worst pains I’ve ever experienced. It had abscessed. I frantically searched the yellow pages for a dentist that would be open on a Sunday morning at 10am. I landed on Eagle Ridge Dental, and specifically Dr. Gurpreet Gill. Still being a quite broke and living at home, I said “do whatever is cheapest, and will solve this pain!”. That option would have been to remove the tooth, which I was strongly talked out of in lieu of getting a root canal. That procedure took 3 visits over 3 weeks; one to drill out the nastiness, one to clean things up and prep for the 3rd visit, to rebuild the tooth and cap it up. I later got a crown on that tooth for a more permanent fix. If memory serves me correctly, Dr. Gil knew my financial situation at the time and set me up on a VERY reasonable payment plan. My heart goes out to him for that kindness.

After that root canal and once my benefits kicked in, they got to work on filling the multiple cavities I’d collected like neglected action figures sitting away in some dusty drawer. After about a year my mouth was finally in something resembling a respectable shape. Thank goodness. I continued with Eagle Ridge until my mom moved away from Ajax, at which point I had no reason to really take the train ride to my old hometown for my usual checkups and cleanings. Again, I really have nothing but great things to say about Dr.Gil, his staff, and how much they truly care about the health of their patients. If it wasn’t for a 4 hour round trip + treatment time, I would still be with them.

And Into Current Times

I had the pleasure of meeting a woman named Briza Silva in early 2021. We met navigating the wonderful world of the Toronto dating scene, and although we determined we weren’t the romantic match we wished, we did become great friends. I had recently departed from my previous dentist and was looking for someone local. So, when I had a toothache one day she said “get your butt up here in an hour, I’ll take a look”. Since then, Smile Design Dental Studio has been taking care of my oral health, even when I neglect it like a moron.

But, a funny thing happened. One day Briza messaged me “you’re good with computers, I’m having issues with this thing, can you tell me what to do”? And since then, I’ve been that office’s full remote IT department. I’ve helped them rebuild their network into one that actually works, put in security monitoring cameras, a proper managed WiFi solution, rebuilt their phone system, got them into an ActiveDirectory setup that makes sense, gave them a web presence, and saved them from a handful of potentially business crippling computer crashes.

I guess this all goes to say that there’s really wonderful people out there in the dating world, and if you’re not a love connection, it doesn’t mean you can’t be great friends, business associates, or find ways in which to help one another in life. You should never close a door just for the sake of closing it. Good people don’t come along as often as we wish, so when one does, hold them close. Briza still remains someone I care about deeply, is a fabulous friend, and I’m even seeing her for dinner in 2 days! Nice!

But, With All That, I Still Suck At Brushing My Teeth

Most days I simply forget. I’m just horrible at remembering to do things like that unless I’m reminded. If it’s not at the forefront of my brain, thoughts like “hey, brush your teeth you idiot” get very lost in the million other thoughts that consume my very active brain on a minute-by-minute basis. Most days I’ll forget to eat unless my stomach begins to growl. Now that’s on the forefront of my mind, so I eat. But, there’s no stomach growling for your teeth. I knew I needed to take better care of my mouth.

I bought an electric toothbrush a couple years ago and it was a game changer. I felt like my mouth was considerably cleaner on each brush. Nice! Even to this day when I travel with a little collapsible toothbrush it just feels like amateur hour when I’m brushing. I’ve even bought the same Oral B Pro 300 for both my mom and my partner. It really does make a big difference for just $25.

Yet, I still forget more often than I care to admit.

Thankfully I haven’t gotten any cavities in many years, but my gums weren’t in the best of shape. I began fearing what I’d be told at my usual cleanings. I know myself, and I needed something to keep me on track.

Cue Home Automation

Being a nerd, I figured I’d come up with a way to remind myself to brush my teeth each day. I began sending alerts to my phone at 11pm each night. That helped a bit, but sometimes I wasn’t home at the time, which meant that I’d forget once I got home. And, what about the morning? I get up at random times that are unpredictable. I don’t need a notification coming in at 9am when I’m already at the office, or at 8am when I usually sleep in until 10am on weekends (or later!).

What happens if I brush my teeth? How does my little system know I’ve done the needful? I could install a small button in my bathroom that I press once I’ve brushed my teeth, like a little obedient monkey. Sure, that’d work, and I could code that, but it just seemed…. amateur.

That’s when I began researching Bluetooth enabled toothbrushes. There’s a handful of them out there on the market, but I ended up choosing the Oral B iO Series 6. They cost $155 right now (on sale), and they’re an incredible investment. I may suggest to consult your dentist to see if they have access to these, as they may be able to get you a better deal than what’s on Amazon, and you will certainly help your local business make a couple bucks on the sale.

I chose this toothbrush for a very specific reason. First, it seamlessly integrates into HomeAssistant (my home automation server), exposing such information like battery percentage, mode, pressure, toothbrush state (brushing, charging, idle, etc), and the amount of time brushing. Better yet, I DO NOT need to pair it with my phone or some app that will report back to the corporate overlords to suck up my personal data. It works entirely offline. This is precious, especially these days.

Setup was a breeze. It has different modes such as “daily clean”, “gum care”, “intense”, and “whitening”, but the super cool function is that there’s a little LED light ring that turns green when you’re at the right pressure, red if you’re putting too much pressure on the brush head, and blue if it’s not enough -keeps you right in the butter zone. And, it gives a quick little vibration when you should be moving from different sectors in your mouth! 30 seconds top outer, 30 top inner, 30 lower outer, 30 lower inner. 2 minutes per brush. Keeps me right on time – because again… I’m terrible at keeping track of this stuff in my own head.

Setting it up with my home automation server was a bit more complicated than the average person would probably be able to pull off, but I now have the following running:

  • At 11pm each night, I get a reminder on my phone to brush my teeth, but only if I’m actually at home.
  • If I don’t brush them within 20 minutes, I get another, then 20 minutes later, a 3rd.
  • If I still don’t brush them, the light in my bathroom goes red, out of pure shame.
  • However, if I’m not home at 11pm – let’s say I’m out with friends – the cycle above starts 15 minutes after I arrive home automatically, giving me time to settle in before being nagged to brush my teeth.
  • However, let’s say I brush at 930pm because I’m going to bed early? Well, it keeps track of when I last brushed, and only starts the cycle if I haven’t brushed in the past 6 hours.
  • I’m playing with morning automations such as figuring out when I wake up and then reminding me a couple minutes after I do. This is a bit more complicated as my partner also lives with me and it’d be hard to determine who’s up first (she is), and not to remind me until I MYSELF get out of bed. I could base this off motion sensing, or the coffee pot being turned on, but that’s not without potential false-positives. I’m working with the idea that once my phone comes out of sleep mode for more than 1 minute, it starts the timer to trigger the cycle – seeing as one of the first things I do once I wake up is to check my phone for anything that may have happened overnight or things I need to attend to in the morning.

There’s some more things at play behind the scenes, but that’s the gist. It’s been a complete change in my oral health. I brush my teeth religiously at 11pm each night, and I’m even brushing in the mornings before I go to work. It’s been just about 3 weeks now, and I feel like I’m in the the best oral health I’ve been in over 20 years.

Still, $160 For A TOOTHBRUSH. Why? Stop Being Lazy.

Yes. This could almost all be avoided if I was simply more attentive to my brushing schedule. My inability to remember to brush my teeth has made me spend $160 for a toothbrush, and $20/replacement head. It’s a completely needless expense when I could just spend $25 on a cheap electric toothbrush that did the job, and a pack of 16 replacement heads only cost $1.50/head. So, outside of the automations it provides, why justify the crazy expense?

Simple. You just need to experience it. Think of driving your Honda Civic for the past 10 years. It’s a reliable car, it does the job, it gets you where you need to go. But then you sit in a higher class luxury car like a BMW 6 Series, and it’s like you’re driving a dream. That’s what it’s like using this toothbrush. It’s unreal. It feels like it’s massaging my teeth and gums. It’s smooth. It’s REALLY quiet. It feels great in my hand. Not to mention it gives me instant feedback on how to improve my brushing based on it’s sensors – which it DOESN’T SHARE WITH THE WORLD. Plus, it comes with a cool little carrying case for when you’re away from home – something I’m actually looking forward to taking on the road with me. And, it’s battery life will sustain twice-daily brushings for a week without a charge!

Is this a wise investment? For me, it absolutely is. It’s almost already paid itself off with how I’ve changed my brushing habits for the better, and I suspect this will drastically improve how I feel walking into the dentist for my next cleaning. I know I’ll have my head high, anxiously waiting for them to say “you look so much better!”. The thing is, I FEEL better my multitudes. Should you dish out the money? That’s a choice you need to make, but it’s one I’d highly recommend. It’s been a great investment in my own health. It’s certainly better than buying those googly eyes (although I’d argue they were hilarious).

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