SPOKANE — A Spokane-based startup has developed a product that it says will be a game changer for preventing cavities and gum disease.
Slate Dental Inc. earlier this month launched the Slate electric flosser, a three-in-one device with a reusable flosser head, tongue scraper and silicone bristles that sweep hard-to-reach areas between teeth and gums.
The electric flosser is geared toward those looking for an easy way to maintain at-home oral health and avoid costs associated with cavities and periodontal disease, said Brynn Snyder, co-founder of Slate Dental.
Snyder said cavities typically cost $340 to fill, while scaling and root planing, a deep cleaning procedure for patients with periodontal disease, can cost more than $1,200.
“Realistically, if we can get people to floss, it’s going to save them a lot of money,” she said.
Snyder co-founded Slate Dental with her husband, Danny, a dentist and owner of Snyder Family Dental on the South Hill.
Slate’s electric flosser, which costs $79.99, combines high-grade floss with 12,000 sonic vibrations per minute and the company’s patent-pending Gum Sweeps technology to remove plaque, bacteria and particles between gums and teeth.
“The Gum Sweeps (technology) gets the embrasure area — that’s the area hygienists spend the most time cleaning,” Snyder said.
The device has an option for an orthodontic floss head with bracket sweeps, meaning it can easily clean between gums, teeth and braces, a process that can be challenging with traditional flossing or water-based electronic flossers, Snyder said.
The floss heads are designed to be used multiple times and are easily replaceable. Because the floss heads are reusable, it can prevent more than 700 single-use floss heads or picks from entering landfills yearly, Snyder said.
Danny Snyder’s idea for the electric flosser was sparked in 2019 as a way to motivate patients to increase the frequency in which they floss.
“There’s a few reasons why people don’t floss. It hurts. It takes too much time,” Brynn Snyder said. “Danny said he had to find solutions to those problems.”
When dental offices were temporarily closed at the onset of the COVID pandemic in 2020, Snyder began further developing his plans for the electric flosser.
“He started cutting up different tools, electric toothbrushes and floss heads,” Snyder said. “He thought it needed to be even better than floss that vibrates. He said the point of flossing is to disrupt plaque and bacteria and we need to make it so it’s a proxy brush attached to the flosser, and that’s when he invented the Gum Sweeps.”
Last year, the Snyders launched a Kickstarter campaign for the electric flosser and raised more than $194,000 from more than 2,500 backers. The couple also raised $800,000 in a seed round of funding with participation from the Spokane Angel Alliance, Snyder said.
More than 500 registered dental hygienists tested Slate’s electric flosser and 73% rated it superior to products in the same market category, Snyder said.
The Snyders are the sole operators of Slate Dental but plan to hire employees as the company grows.
The couple hopes to tap into the water flosser market, which is expected to reach $1.2 billion annually worldwide by 2028, according to a report by market research firm Grand View Research Inc.
The Snyders spent the past nine months refining the design of the electric flosser, which is manufactured at a factory in the Philippines, Snyder said.
“Now, we have 10,000 units that will be ready for sale,” Snyder said. “When we did our Kickstarter campaign, we were able to get 3,500 units sold in 35 days. We are hoping to continue that traction as we move forward.”