Today I am going to do something a little different and talk about a recent personal experience with a consumer product – not a lemon car, not a big-ticket purchase, but an inexpensive electric toothbrush.
We use toothbrushes everyday and normally do not spend much time thinking about their design or history. We do not know when humans first started using tools to clean their teeth, but there is evidence of the use of “chewing sticks” by ancient Babylonians as far back as 3500 BC. The first appearance of such devices in literature is around 1600 BC in China. Following on this long history of oral hygiene, in 15th century China, boar’s hairs were fixed in bamboo to make the first toothbrush. The 19th century brought the mass production of the toothbrush in America, then modified in the 1930’s to include nylon bristles. The electric toothbrush made its appearance on the US markets in the 1960’s with continuing evolution up to the present day.
So, how does this tie in with my experience? A few months back, I saw a battery powered Crest Spin brush on sale at the grocery store in Lewisville, TX. I do not remember the exact price, but it was around $5. If you consider what electric and battery powered toothbrushes cost a few years ago (and even what expensive models go for today), this is incredibly inexpensive – especially since batteries are included.
After a month or two of use, the batteries died and I replaced them. Shortly thereafter, I noticed a loss of powered and checked the battery compartment. I found that, despite having a gasket, water had leaked into the compartment and a battery had corroded a bit as well as one of the contacts.