The Socio-Economic Tyranny of Expert Advice

Humor my  little rant here. I will admit it is possible I am sometimes part of the "Expert Pressure" problem. After all, I'm one of those people who tells you how to live, what to buy, etc. At the same time however I acknowledge (at least I hope I do) that we can't all realistically afford every "should" we are told we can't live without. I'd like to think I suggest more than insist, and give airtime to the tough decisions we have to make when buying within a tight budget. I don't have a limitless pile of funds with which to live the exemplary life, and most of my readers don't either. (At least I think they don't? If I am mistaken, feel free to get in touch and I'll let you know where to mail that Gucci bag. How nice of you to offer!) Seriously though, I have a bee in my bonnet today over all the well-meaning advice experts dispense with the air that by not following their advice you are somehow letting yourself down. If one expresses the slightest reservation over expense, out comes the cold, steel blade of judgment and condescension. I see this specifically in healthcare --strike that, I see it specifically in dentistry. Wait, I can be even more specific --TOOTHBRUSHES. I was at the dentist today and once again I got that baleful eye from the dentist over my using an "inferior" electric toothbrush.

Every dentist I've seen in the last decade sniffs if I use anything other than a Sonicare brand toothbrush. Well, once I had a dentist insist I use a high-priced Oral B brand that he (surprise, surprise!) also sold, but it is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. I can get a basic Spinbrush for about $10* (or as low as $5.99-$6.99 on sale if I get lucky!) but that is simply not good enough. Sonicares start at $19.99 and some models can cost over $200. True, you can get a more expensive version of the Spinbrush, around $25, but Arm & Hammer still provides a good alternative for the more budget-conscious; there are also generic store brand versions of the Spinbrush and similar. But that is never good enough for the dentists who probably make in one year what I make in four. Invariably, I get that little slap on the wrist for not caring enough about my dental health. I floss daily, brush at least twice, use an alcohol-free/enamel-strengthening rinse, go for my regular checkup/cleanings, and sleep with a custom-made night guard to protect my teeth from grinding but I am still not taking my dental health seriously by using a cheap electric toothbrush.

I am once again reminded of KillerMartini's brilliant analysis of what it's like to be poor and constantly judged by others for making the "wrong" choices. The author is very candid about her dental problems, how she has been looked down upon for missing teeth, and about how many people find they have to choose food and shelter over dental care. Her blog post and subsequent vids/writings drew empathy, but also a lot of judgment --especially about her teeth. What emerged is a more extreme example of the Sonicare tsk, tsk: "If you cared about yourself you would do this. Shame on you."

I say "Shame on you, Dr. Sonicare." I am fortunate to have good dental insurance but even with coverage I have had to scrounge for specialized care over the years. That's hard to do. But I did it. I do it. I make the "right" choices. Apparently, that's not good enough. I'm not buying the right toothbrush so I get a time out. I must not be taking my health seriously. Give me a break, Jake, and endorse a toothbrush for those of us who have more silver in our fillings than in our pockets.

*All dollar amounts are USD.


  1. Feeling your rage... I always feel I have somehow been robbed whenever I visit the dentist... Dental care is one of the glaring exceptions to universal health care that some countries in Europe enjoy. I blame dentists, of course, and their lobbying.

    1. Thank you, Caroline. I appreciate your taking the time to comment, and yes it is outrageous how all too often dental care is given short shrift coverage-wise. It's like having well-cared for teeth is viewed as a luxury, as if it were only an aesthetic concern. And I find that simply maddening because medical science has proven that the health of your teeth and gums can affect your entire system.

    2. Off-topic Caroline, but that's a smashing Nellie Bly set you made/posted on your blog The Pensive Feminist.



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