Inventor Has a Grip on Success

There are two main things about entrepreneurship I appreciate: the importance of curiosity and perseverance – Steven Walther, inventor of the Toof-inger toothbrush®.

Steven Walther marched away from his military service four years ago to battle in the free enterprise jungle, but many of those gung-ho traits he learned as a Green Beret Special Forces medic remain with him today – traits like perseverance, problem solving and a can-do attitude.

Steven got the idea for what he calls the Toof-inger Brush® after returning from active duty in Afghanistan.  His custom crafted toothbrush has an ergonomically pleasing, short flex handle specially designed to “pinch grip” with just a thumb and two fingers when brushing. This provides the user more control and helps exert up to 25% less force than conventional toothbrushes.

While serving in Afghanistan one of Steven’s responsibilities was teaching Afghans, many of whom had never seen a toothbrush, how to brush their teeth.

“Tooth brushing was alien to Afghans and teaching them how to brush again and again really impacted my thinking,” he said in 2015.

Time and again Steven watched Afghan adults and children grab a standard toothbrush by the handle, ball their fists and begin sawing on their teeth like a northern woods lumberjack trying to break a Guiness World Record in cross cutting.

“Think about the way we interact with the toothbrush,” Steven said in 2015. “We grab the tool in our hand and start scrubbing away because its design encourages us to.”

“That got me to thinking about what goes in our hand for creating healthy brushing practices,” Steven said of his Afghanistan experience.

Steven Walther

Upon returning to the States he developed a toothbrush prototype, shared that with a few dentists and, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

When we last interviewed Steven in January 2015 he was in the final semester of his Masters of Business Administration program at Campbell University and he had invested an estimated $70,000 of his own money over three years on his Toof-inger Brush®.

Last week when we caught up with him, he was kind enough to update us on his six-year dream of breaking through the toothbrush ceiling of established commercial manufacturers.

“Our toothbrush compares very favorably with other toothbrushes in terms of how well it cleans,” he said in a June 19th phone interview. “As for its preventive properties, overall it’s more effective.”

Private investors and parents agree. Since our original post on Steven’s short-handled toothbrush gem, he has raised $75,000 from private investors.

The Toof-inger comes in four colors

The brush has proven popular enough with parents teaching their kids to brush that Steven’s company, FTGG, LLC (For the Greater Good) has a patent pending on a child-sized Toof-inger Brush®.  The kids’ brush has the same size mini-handle as the adult toothbrush but a smaller head size for li’l pieholes. It also comes in the same four colors as the adult version: blue, red, green and pink.

“Parents really enjoy the toothbrush and kids like it because they can easily grip it,” Steven said.

The company name FTGG is more than a branding gimmick, though. A major part of FTGG’s marketing plan has been donating toothbrushes around the world to children in undeveloped countries.

“We’ve donated toothbrushes to five or six different missions worldwide where children are in need of oral hygiene,” Steven noted.

Steven undoubtedly experienced toughness first-hand as an active duty solider, but as a medic he’s always lived for and exuded compassion while relieving the suffering of others.

In addition to promoting and advocating the benefits of the Toof-inger Brush®, Steven also is applying his devotion to healthcare and passion for innovation to the critical problem of opioid addiction.  Currently he serves as one of three team members of Continuous Precision Medicine, a group established to combat opioid addiction.

“Since finishing my MBA I’ve tried to stay engaged with healthcare. I enjoy the personal service healthcare provides and that’s always been of interest to me,” he said.

As for the imaginatively designed Toof-inger Brush®, he’s still writing that part of the story.

“Toothbrush manufacturing is a very mature and established industry. It poses an interesting challenge for a company in its early stages, with limited resources, to penetrate their markets,” he admitted.

“But I still believe we can be the go-to manual toothbrush.”

In other words, there’s a lot of fighting left to do but this ex-Special Forces veteran likes the odds.

When asked his advice for future entrepreneurs, he said this:

“The growth I’ve been able to experience during this journey…I’ve learned so much, about so many different things.  I love the entrepreneurial spirit.  I would encourage others to follow their passion, make a positive impact and have the courage to step off into the unknown.”

For more information about the Toof-inger Brush® and how to order, go to Toofinger.com.

 

Photo source: toofinger.com, cpmedi.io

 

Copyright 2018, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

Playing Jeopardy with Your Oral Health

(Announcer) “This…is… Dental Plan Jeopardy!

“Let’s meet today’s contestants: a dental hygienist from Bicuspid Bay, Massachusetts  – Annie Amalgam. A dental lab technician from Crown Point, Indiana – Robert Resin. And, our returning champion, a dental sales representative and fifth grade spelling bee champion at Thomus Jefersun Elementary in Demineralization Springs, Colorado –  Flo Flossing, whose one-day cash winnings total…$19.29!

“And now, here is the host of Dental Plan Jeopardy, Noel McCavity.”

“Thank you Johnny, and thank you ladies and gentlemen, good to have you with us today. Always a lot of excitement on Dental Plan Jeopardy, and yesterday was no exception. In case you missed it, we had a brief melee break out in our studio audience between a gentleman dressed up like the Tooth Fairy and a precocious seven-year-old who claimed the Tooth Fairy left him just two breath mints and an IOU for his last baby tooth.

“Here’s hoping today is a bit more sedate. Good luck contestants, let’s get to work. Here are today’s categories: What Kind of Plan Am I?HMOs, You Can Quote Me, PPOs, Discount Dental Plans, and Mistaken Indemnity.

(Noel) “Flo, you are the reigning champion. Go.”

(Flo) “PPO’s for $200, please.”

(Noel) “PPO’s, or Preferred Provider Organizations, allow you to go in or out of these.”

(Flo) “What is a network?”

(Noel) “Right.”

(Flo) “PPO’s for $400.”

(Noel) “PPO’s usually require these for major procedures.”

(Flo)“What are types of anesthesia?”

(Noel) “No, that is incorrect. Annie?”

(Annie) “What is a waiting period?”

(Noel) “Right, proceed.”

(Annie) “What Kind of Plan Am I? for $200.”

(Noel) “These types of plans are sometimes called a ‘fee for service plan’ and allow you to visit any dentist.”

(Annie) “What is an indemnity plan?”

(Noel) “Right you are.”

(Annie) “What Kind of Plan Am I? for $400.”

(Noel) “These types of dental plans offer quick activation times and no waiting period.”

(Annie) “What are discount dental plans?”

(Noel) “Yes. Continue.”

(Annie) “What Kind of Plan Am I? for $600.”

(Noel) “These plans require you pay a fixed price at the time of service and use a network provider.”

(Annie) “What are rollover plans?”

(Noel)“Uh, no; that is incorrect. Anyone? The correct answer is, ‘What is a HMO plan?’ Annie, it’s still your go.”

(Annie) “What Kind of Plan Am I? for $800.”

(Noel) “These plans have no waiting periods, no deductibles, no annual limits and often cost less than other dental plans.”

(Annie) “What are HMO’s?”

(Noel) “Right you are, also known as Health Maintenance Organizations.”

(Annie) “What Kind of Plan Am I? for $1,000, Noel.”

(Noel) “This type of plan was actually included as part of a 1940’s movie title starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray.”

(Annie) “What is Double Jeopardy?”

(Noel) “No, Double Jeopardy is what we play after this round.  Robert?

(Robert) “Who are Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones?”

(Noel) “Right answer, wrong question. Judd and Jones played in the movie “Double Jeopardy,” but we are looking for a 1940’s movie that has this type of plan in the title. Flo?

(Flo) “What is Gentlemen Preferred Provider Organizations?”

(Noel) “Uh…no. Robert?”

(Robert)“What is Double Indemnity?”

(Noel) “That is correct.”

(Robert) “You Can Quote Me for $200.”

(Noel) “This online dental insurance program will provide you a free quote with just your age and zip code.”

(Robert) “Who is Dental Insurance Store?”

(Noel) “Correctamundo.”

(Robert) “You Can Quote Me for $400.”

(Noel) “This online dental store’s motto is, ‘Find the right dental plan, at the right price.’”

(Robert) “What is Dental Insurance Store?”

(Noel) “It’s a quick and easy way to buy dental coverage from the convenience of your computer, Robert. But please, let’s continue.”

(Robert) “Uh…okay. You Can Quote Me for $600.”

(Noel) “This quote tool will allow you to compare up to five plans at a time and is found where on the website.”

(Robert) “Dental Insurance Store’s Plan Comparison feature.”

(Noel) “In the form of a question, please…”

(Robert) “Where is Dental Insurance Store’s Plan Comparison feature?”

(Noel) “It’s on the Internet at Dental Insurance Store on the general quotes page. And if you need assistance they have operators available at 1-888-299-6441 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.”

Thank you, Noel for hosting today’s game. I’ll take it from here. Maintaining good oral health and the importance of seeing a dentist twice a year is no game, although millions of people lose out every year by not having dental coverage. Don’t put your pearlies in jeopardy, or double jeopardy, by going another week without protection.

The original version of  this post was published at Dental Insurance Store on Jan 14, 2015

 

Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. Welcome to all those who love American liberty, free enterprise, and who believe God has blessed our country. For those who believe in open borders, safe spaces, and who tolerate everything but free speech and conservative ideals, move on – there’s nothing here for you to see. 

Photo source: scrise.com

 

Copyright 2017, Dean A. George©

The Best Kept Dental Surgery Secret Ever

This post was based on a secretive episode of U.S. history unreported in history books.

Oral cancer has always been devastating, even before it was known as oral cancer.

One reason it’s so pernicious is that the early stages of the disease are painless and often symptom-free. The sobering reality is that only half of people diagnosed with oral cancer live longer than five years.

In the late 19th century newspapers called cancer the “dread disease.” At the time there were no oncology centers, no walk-a-thons to raise money for a cure and no professional athletes who wore pink gear during games to raise public awareness.

On the contrary, people at that time avoided talking about it, including doctors. That is why one doctor examining his VIP patient in 1893 referred to it as “a bad-looking tenant” and recommended removing it immediately.

Public perception had also been shaped just 10 years earlier when several New York newspapers provided a highly publicized and morbid death watch of Civil War hero and former President Ulysses S. Grant as he lost his battle with the dread disease oral cancer.

 

Grover Cleveland’s Secret Emergency Surgery

Understandably the important patient was panicked at the diagnosis, but neither he nor the country could afford to panic in June, 1893. Unemployment was skyrocketing, stocks were in a freefall and even the famous Reading Railroad wasn’t worth $500 of Monopoly® money after filing bankruptcy earlier that year.

Historians say it was the worst economic catastrophe preceding the Great Depression in American history.

It was because of all that economic fear and uncertainty that six medical professionals were covertly recruited and sworn to secrecy before boarding the private yacht Oneida anchored in New York Harbor. Included in the group of six were physicians, surgeons, an anesthesiologist and a dentist. Reportedly some in the group were even unaware of the patient’s identity until Oneida had set sail for the patient’s summer home in Massachusetts.

Shortly after noon the following day the patient took his seat in a large chair bound to the yacht’s mast in the parlor. Weighing a NFL-like 300 pounds before that league even existed, the patient’s girth required the extra support and the chair was serving as an operating table for the procedure about to commence.

Oxygen, nitrous oxide, ether, digitalis, morphine and strychnine (in case of shock) were on hand. Two storage batteries would provide lighting and power the cauterization instruments. None of the ship’s crew was present in the operating area other than the ship’s steward.

The patient’s doctors were concerned about stroke, and there was a 15% chance in those days that the procedure they were about to perform could result in death.

During the 90-minute operation the doctors removed the tumor, five teeth beginning with the first bicuspid to just beyond the last molar, and much of the patient’s upper left palate and jawbone. Remarkably, the entire operation took place within the patient’s mouth, including extraction of the tumor.

“The large cavity was packed with gauze to arrest the subsequent moderate oozing of blood,”  wrote W.W. Kean, one of the attending physicians, years later. “With the packing in the cavity his speech was labored but intelligible, without the packing it was wholly unintelligible, resembling the worst imaginable case of cleft palate. Had this not been so admirably remedied by Doctor (Kasson C.) Gibson, secrecy later would have been out of the question.”

Keen later credited the ability of the team to do the procedure without external incision to a cheek retractor he’d brought back from Paris in 1866. This was important so as not to reveal the secrecy that all involved had sworn to keep.

Two days after the operation the patient was out of bed and two days after that he was dropped off at his summer home on Cape Cod. Two weeks later in mid-July the VIP was fitted with an artificial jaw of vulcanized rubber to prevent the cheek from collapsing and support it in its natural position.

The customized plate fit comfortably enough that when the VIP spoke publicly afterwards no one noticed any change to his speaking voice. The public was merely told that he had had some dental work done for a toothache while vacationing but had recovered nicely.

In 1975 the famous patient’s tissue that had been removed in secret was reexamined and determined to be a type of carcinoma that is usually cured by surgical excision. In short, the attending doctors had made the right diagnosis and successfully performed the recommended procedure – all on a moving boat and in considerably less time than similar procedures today.

This gentleman went on to serve a successful second term as president of the United States, and remains the only President to have served two non-consecutive terms: 1885-1889, and 1893-1897.

President Grover Cleveland lived another 16 years before passing away from heart failure at the age of 71 in 1908. News of the President’s secret surgery in 1893 was not publicly acknowledged until 24 years later, in 1917.

We have no need for such secrets here!  All of our dental plans are transparent and affordable!

The original version of this post was published at Dental Insurance Store July 15, 2014.

Sources: healthmedialab.com, neatorama,com, pbs.org, doctorzebra.com, oralcancerfoundation.org
Photo source: neatorama.com

 

Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. For those who love American liberty, free enterprise, and who believe God has blessed our country, welcome. For those who believe in open borders, safe spaces, and who tolerate everything but free speech and conservative ideals, move on – there’s nothing here for you to see. 

This original version of this post was published at Dental Insurance Store on July 15, 2014

 

Copyright 2017, Dean A. George©

The Dental Plan Price is Right

(Announcer) “Here it comes from the Samuel Smiley television studio in Los Amalgam, California – it’s the Dental Plan Price is Right!” “Freddie Fluoride, come on down!” “Candace Crown, come on down!” “Maxine Mandibular, come on down!” “Peter Pontic, come on down!” (Announcer) “You are the first four contestants on …