Shopping for the dentist-recommended electronic toothbrush in Costco. September 2012.

Shopping for the dentist-recommended electronic toothbrush in Costco. September 2012.

In the lineup of hygiene chores required before bedtime (washing face, taking out contacts, flossing, and so forth), toothbrushing tops the bill for most exasperating.

It's up there rivaling "getting gas" as the most annoying minor regular life task. I do both—fill the car with gas and brush my teeth—but I find them psychologically painful.

Why toothbrushing? (I'll save my complaint about getting gas for another post.)

Maybe I'm too hyper. Toothbrushing seems to take forever. Painstakingly scrubbing all three sides of exposed dental area and ensuring I hit every tooth is mind numbing. Dentists say to brush for at least two minutes. Two minutes! Stand there gazing in the mirror for two minutes? Not possible. I get off track every time, wandering into the bedroom to tidy the nightstand or into the closet to fold clothes or over to a book or magazine to read.

This inevitable distraction means I regularly brush my teeth for more like four minutes. Or five. Maybe more. I realize I've reached the trouble zone when I've drooled toothpaste down my forearm or dribbled it on my shirt.


Turns out dentists don't want you to brush your teeth for longer than two minutes. Mine scolds me for brushing away my gums, exposing the roots of my teeth. I now have to apply—with a different toothbrush—special fluoride after toothbrushing. So I've punished myself for hating this chore by giving myself more of it.

To further constrain my toothbrushing time, my dentist recommended I get an electronic toothbrush that beeps every thirty seconds to prompt me to move the device to a different quadrant of my mouth. In most cases, he said, this ensures people brush their teeth for the recommended two minutes. Not prevents them from brushing for five or more.

Thing is, the electronic toothbrush hasn't prevented anything. When it automatically shuts off after two minutes, I still haven't gotten to the top of my mouth, say, and so I have to turn it back on for another cycle. So much for that idea.

What's your most dreaded nighttime chore?