2521: Toothpaste

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"9 out of 10 dentists have banned me from their offices."
Title text: "9 out of 10 dentists have banned me from their offices."


Cueball is telling Megan about his friend. He indicates that she said something shocking and probably hurtful. He then states that even though she tried to apologize it was too late, the words had been said and it cannot be taken back.

He uses a phrase to underline this: You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Putting toothpaste back in its tube is often used as an analogy for something irreversible, such as how you can't undo speaking. Megan, however, rejects this assertion and says that you actually can put toothpaste back in its tube, which is certainly possible in some cases. There are many ways to do this, and none of them are recommendable if the toothpaste has come into contact with something non-sterile. But she chooses a particular nasty one where she would blow the paste in her mouth back into the tube. This is obviously much more unsanitary than simply returning unused toothpaste to the tube, which someone might reasonably want to do after squeezing out more than they wanted.

Cueball is so disgusted by this suggestion that he states that Megan's suggestion is the worst thing she has ever said.

The joke then comes when Megan assumes that Cueball's original analogy still holds, that taking words back is like putting toothpaste back in to the tube. So therefore she can actually unsay something. She starts to say exactly what Cueball's other friend did "Sorry, I can take it back". But then she says, "It's just like--", and was presumably about to continue, "--putting toothpaste back in the tube" (or perhaps, since it's Megan, was going to give a new analogy that was even worse). However, Cueball forcefully interrupts her, because the idea of putting toothpaste back in the tube now evokes the distasteful mental image of Megan blowing used toothpaste back into the tube.

Toothpaste is normally loaded into the tube from the back, before it is crimped shut. However, it should technically be possible to push an extruded amount of paste back in from the front by wrapping one's lips around the whole front of the tube and blowing the paste you have in your mouth back in. This positive pressure can re-inflate the tube the same way one blows up a balloon. However, blowing the toothpaste back into the tube would be highly unsanitary, and as the main purpose of toothpaste is to clean teeth, the end result is both counterproductive and disgusting.[citation needed] In some cases paste coming out of a tube will be sucked back in if the pressure is released. Such containers would probably be able to suck toothpaste back in, if it was still lying on the toothbrush in one blob (or on the table/in the sink if dropped). As above mentioned this would be unsanitary as germs etc. could get back inside the tube, where the paste is supposed to be clean.

The title text spoofs a common line found in toothpaste commercials: "9 out of 10 dentists recommend using our brand." This statement is very easily manipulated through any number of basic marketing tactics (such as only asking 9 dentists, whom are all paid handsomely), and its ubiquity lends it to spoofing. In this case, it's spoofed by saying that nine out of ten dentists are dissatisfied with Megan's approach (or with Randall and his ideas, as it is usually he who speaks in the title text; if it refers to Randall himself it is reminiscent of all the conferences he has been banned from) and have banned the toothpaste spitter from their offices.

It may actually say more about any dental establishment that does not disapprove of what Megan apparently is not just theorizing about doing - but maybe they are disapproving too, just not considering it bad enough to ban her from office.


[Cueball, holding his arms out, is talking to Megan.]
Cueball: I can't believe she said that.
Cueball: She apologized, but you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.
[Megan holds a hand, palm up, out towards Cueball as she replies.]
Megan: Sure you can; it's easy. You just put your mouth over the opening.
[Finally they stand straight talking.]
Cueball: Well, that's the worst thing you've ever said.
Megan: Sorry, I can take it back. It's just like-
Cueball: No!

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The editing done so far looks fairly good. Hopefully not too many reversions, or it might be like moving the deckchairs back to their original locations on the Titanic! 05:46, 28 September 2021 (UTC)

Was Megan going to say: "It's just like- putting toothpaste back in the tube"? If so this should go into the description (and if not then what was she going to say?) --Kynde (talk) 08:40, 28 September 2021 (UTC)

Putting the mouth over the tube? It is not the tooth paste in your mouth that needs to get back. It is that on the tooth brush... I think it is possible (although not sanitary) to get tooth paste still in a blob on the tooth brush into the tube if it is a soft plastic tube. Because then when you press it together, the air comes out, and then when you release it will suck air back in (I have seen how the paste coming out gets sucked back in if it is not put on the brush). But if you then put the end of the tube onto the blob of toothpaste on the brush, it would suck the paste right back in. So I think it is true that you can get the paste back in the tube. But not by blowing, and of course there are many kinds of toothpaste containers, and not all of them could suck it back in. You should not put it back but you could! So it is a bad saying, and Megan is correct in pointing that out. What she suggest is disgusting, though, for sure. If that is the worst she ever said, though, she has been too kind to Cueball :-D In some ways it is not a very great comic, but I guess the fun part is when she assumes that she can take something bad said back because Cueball states you can do with things said like tooth paste back in a tube, and since you can put toothpaste back in the tube, she must be able to take her words back. --Kynde (talk) 08:50, 28 September 2021 (UTC)

The tubes I have experience with may be able to suck a bit of paste back, but not much of it - they have little to no elasticity or how it's called, you permanently deform them when squeezing paste out. You would need to apply pressure, which, well, you either need some machine for or blow into them. -- Hkmaly (talk) 16:09, 28 September 2021 (UTC)

I disagree that blowing paste into tube is disgusting. Now, reusing such paste, sure, although it's unlikely to be that much unhygienic as I don't think the bacteria can survive in tooth paste for long. -- Hkmaly (talk) 16:09, 28 September 2021 (UTC)

It would depend on the composition of the toothpaste, whether it has any bactericidal components or has a high enough concentration of soluble/dissolved compounds to inhibit bacteria by osmosis. Bacteria do just fine in many kinds of makeup, by way of comparison. BunsenH (talk) 20:52, 29 September 2021 (UTC)

Putting toothpaste back in the tube is easy with a syringe or an icing gun. But I want to know what happened at the 10th dentist's office? Cwallenpoole (talk) 16:58, 28 September 2021 (UTC)

I always heard it as "you can't put the genie back in the bottle". 18:02, 28 September 2021 (UTC)

i have literally never heard this expression 22:12, 28 September 2021 (UTC)Bumpf

Am I the only person who sees this as vaguely flirty? I kinda expect the next panel to be Megan grabbing Cueball and kissing him to metaphorically suck the words back in. 19:28, 29 September 2021 (UTC) person who isn't sure how signing comments works.

To reverse talking, she'd suck on his ear, no? Once, when shopping for noise-cancelling headphones, I asked the clerk to blow on them because I wanted to hear whether it was capable of cancelling wind noise. She happily complied, commenting "It's been a long time since I blew a man in his ear." So yes, I see a flirty component there. -- 13:32, 5 November 2021 (UTC)

You actually can put SOME of the toothpaste back in the tube. Squeeze the tube on the surfaces of the tube that are perpendicular to the surfaces you squeezed to get the toothpaste out in the first place. The originally squeezed surfaces will start to revert to their original shape, creating a void of pressure that sucks some of the toothpaste back in the tube. I'm going to write my congressman about this horrible, misleading punch line and the danger it poses to society. Longtimereadfirsttimeposter (talk) 16:09, 2 October 2021 (UTC)