Why do we Brush our Teeth Every Day?

March 9, 2012 in Daily Bulletin, Signature

In Slate, Charles Duhigg writes that before the advertising efforts of one man, Claude Hopkins, brushing was not a daily ritual for most people. What did Hopkins do to make brushing your teeth so ubiquitous?

  • In his advertising campaigns he focused on the plaque that developed on people’s tongues, inviting readers to “run your tongue across your teeth” to feel the film.
  • He sold Pepsodent as a solution to that plaque. However the genius was the tingly sensation that the toothpaste created in people’s mouths after brushing. The sensation was created by an irritant that was originally added as a preservative.
  • People began to associate that tingling feeling with cleanliness. This is the reason why toothpaste makers continue to add additives to paste to reproduce that sensation.
  • Duhigg was unknowingly capitalizing on the way that humans form habits. First there is a cue – in this case it was the feeling of plaque on teeth. Then there is the behaviour – the act of brushing. And then the reward – the tingling sense that consumers felt. Using these three principles it is possible to create any habit.

To read more about Duhigg’s marketing genius, how you can use these principles to lose weight, and the neurological details of what this process looks like in our brains, click here.

Source: Slate