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Thanks to technological break-throughs, electric and battery- operated toothbrushes, once available for upwards of $100, can now be purchased for under $20 — and many consumers are taking advantage of the deals. According to Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research firm ACNielsen, Americans bought 22.8 million power toothbrushes between July 2001 and July 2002, a 721 percent increase in unit sales over the same period two years earlier when just 3.2 million power brushes were sold. Toothbrushes, however, are not the only thing generating industry buzz. Consumers are also flocking to stores to pick up new tooth whitening products, like Crest's Whitestrips, and whitening toothpastes, such as Colgate's Fresh Confidence. In the past year alone, dollar sales in the dental accessories category (including whitening products) rose 80 percent, to $298.5 million. Druggists are catching the windfall of the latest trends in dental hygiene, notes ACNielsen. Fully 57 percent of dental accessory sales came from drugstores in the past year, as did 40 percent of power toothbrush sales. Now that's something to smile about.


Spending on toothbrushes and other oral hygiene appliances increases proportionately with household income.

<$20,000 56
$20,000-$29,999 76
$30,000-$39,999 85
$40,000-$49,999 98
$50,000-$69,999 119
$70,000+ 163
*The national average is 100. For example, those with an annual household income of $70,000 or more spend 63 percent more than the average American. Adults with a household income below $20,000 spend 44 percent less than average on oral appliances.
Source: ACNielsen
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