Thursday, February 01, 2007

Buying the Hype

As a mom I'm faced with having to deal with my kids wanting every damn thing they see in commercials (shakes head disapprovingly about ads being on PBS - my kids now think Chuck E. Cheese is nirvana). It can be hard sometimes to feel like all you do is say "no" to their various requests for whatever they see on TV. "Please Mom! Can we pleeeeaaaassseeee get the (fill in the blank). I really want it!" And going to stores? They see stuff there they've seen advertised and I see them look longingly at the item/toy as we walk past. Thankfully they learned a long time ago that we don't buy "treats" every time we go to the store. They know better than to even ask. But they look. And the looks speak volumes about desire and wistfulness.

But the other day I gave into the hype. There's this new product out called Listerine Agent Cool Blue and it's a pre-rinse for kids that will "stain" their teeth blue wherever there is plaque in order to help them brush better. Remember chewing on those little tablets at the dentist that did the same thing? When it's time to brush teeth at my house my kids would give a cursory once-over then run over to me, mouths agape and foamy, and ask, "is this OK?" Without even having to look I always tell them, "no, you have to brush more/longer/in the back/etc." and they rush back to the sink and we repeat this dance a couple of times. I've taught them how to brush their teeth. I've demonstrated many, many times. Yet they always want to rush the process. At Christmas, Santa left a toothbrush in each of their stockings that blinks for one minute and you're supposed to brush for as long as the toothbrush is blinking. I, or rather, Santa thought this would help the situation. It didn't. Nicholas left his new blinking toothbrush at our friends house after a sleep-over and it got thrown away, and Lauren, well, Lauren doesn't quite grasp the concept and likes to see it blink and will turn it on repeatedly just to watch it (sigh).

So when we were at Target the other day Nicholas saw a display of this new dental product and got really excited about it. He launched into a whole diatribe about it, explaining to me what it does and all it's benefits ("Mama, that's the stuff I saw on TV! You drink some - it's blue - and it tastes great! and then you swish it around in your mouth. It turns your teeth blue! Can you believe it?? Then you brush your teeth to get rid of the blue. Kids love it! Can we get some? Please?!? It'll help us brush our teeth better, and that's good, right?). The company really should consider hiring him as their spokes-kid he was so enthusiastic about it. In other words, their marketing campaign is working. Very, very well. Give that marketing manager a big fat raise, I say. I bought a bottle of the stuff, much to my kids delight (really, they were more excited about getting this than about most toys) and both of them couldn't wait to try it.

It seems to work, for the most part. You squeeze the bottle and it fills a small chamber at the top to the correct "dosage". The kids drink, swish and spit. Then brush. Their teeth are blue if there is any plaque on them (thankfully, I really haven't seen much, if any, plaque on their teeth - yet) But there are a few drawbacks:

A) the squeezing the bottle to fill up the chamber? MUCH TOO TEMPTING FOR YOUNG KIDS. They tend to just want to squeeze for the thrill of it, often then over-filling.

B) 10ml, the amount a child is supposed to use, seems like a bit too much. It's hard for my kids to hold that much in their mouths without swallowing.

C) That stuff is Super Blue. The dye is very, very strong and saturated. When the kids drink it a semi-circle of blue dye appears on their upper lips from the chamber. And when they spit (kids are NOT tidy spitters. Take note) they tend to spray the blue all over. The sink and counter are then dotted with blue spittle spray. Our sink/counter is white. I'm afraid it will stain if it sits too long. So I'm having to be in the bathroom monitoring the spitting part and wiping up the overspray, just in case. Really, this is some strong color. It sometimes drips on their pajamas and now I'm wondering if it will stain the clothes. I'll let you know.

I tried it myself, not having been to a dentist for about 5 years. I saw a bit of blue stain here and there, but thankfully not the hideously huge amounts I was envisioning. It tastes OK - a bit sweet - but not awful like the traditional Listerine mouthwash. So the initial review is cautiously positive. It really does make the kids excited to brush their teeth, and that's half the battle, right? It's cutting down on the running back-and-forth from the bathroom to me for brushing approval and the kids are learning how to look in the mirror and see if there is any more blue left. I can't say for sure yet if we'll continue to purchase this again after our first bottle is finished - more time is needed before knowing if this will become a permanent staple around here. But the thrill the kids got from me just agreeing to buy it in the first place made the $4.59 I spent well-worth it.

Because sometimes it's just good to say YES to the hype.

I have seen that commercial, and have been thinking about buying it for the reasons you stated. I look forward to hearing if you think it is worth continuing to buy it!
sounds really good re kids brushing teeth (they all seem to suck at it) but ANYTHING with a strong dye anywhere near my kids' mouths makes me queasy and nervous.Anyone else?
Cleaning up the blue dye around the sink made me nuts after the second bottle and I just told my kids to keep brushing the same way they did when they were using the Listerine. Not that I have much faith that they are. I do have my oldest use a flouride rinse after brushing but it doesn't have the dye issue.

I was wondering about the stain potential for that stuff. I work in a pharmacy and customer brought us a broken bottle (they often bring us opened packages and stuff) - the stuff was an absolute mess! I couldn't imagine buying it for my kids after witnessing the blue explosion at work! You are brave!
Yeah, I gave into the hype as well and then read the back of the bottle when I got home. It is recommended for ages 6 and older. Makes sense, really, given that it is harder for younger children to not swallow, and the blue messy staining issue. I did not let my 3 year old use it! I chickened out.

Deanna in Sandy, OR

This is totally off topic and I am only sending it in comment form b/c I know you have comment moderation.

Anyway, I was wondering if you would consider devoting a post to finances. You have mentioned several things in the past that lead me to believe that you and Mr. Chick are very good with your personal finances. You mention that the budget is tight, but you seem to have it totally under control. You seem to be really on the ball as far as living within your means. Were your parents good role models? How do you discipline yourself so well? I mean, you enjoy the finer things in life, but you don't seem to be trying to have it all at one time. Maybe you could give tell us how much you have to work with after you meet all of your monthly obligations (I don't mean tell us what your income is, but how much do you have to spend on food, clothing, entertainment, etc. after the mortgage, taxes, insurance, car payments, student loans, etc. are paid).

How were you and Mr. Chick able to get into your position today? Did you have really big incomes and save a lot before kids? Were you always good with your money, or did that just come out of necessity when Mr. Chick started law school? What are your plans for the future? Will you continue being thrifty when Mr. Chick makes partner and starts pulling in the big bucks and huge bonuses?

I am just amazed by how nice your house is sounding (kitchen overhaul, etc) and how you seem to be doing in such a controlled, budgeted manner. Jessica over at Simple Pleasures also seems to have a really good handle on finances. Maybe it is a Pacific Northwest thing?
Alaina is 10 y.o. and we have her use the blue goo stuff. It actually works very well. I love being able to tell if she has brushed well. She always used to fudge the truth. Now there's no doubt. I can definitely understand waiting to use it til the kids are older, for those who have younger kids. But it works like a charm for us. Alaina needs to get braces this spring and with how misplaced her teeth are, it's very hard for her to brush correctly. Now the blue stuff leaves no doubt that she has brushed well. I definitely recommend it!

PS there is no staining either. She wiped down the sink after spitting and it hasn't left any kind of mark.

There was a recal on the stuff. Hate to be a downer, but safety is my numero uno concern!
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