Spokane Journal of Business

What’s Happening With: Slate Dental’s electric flosser

Dentist sells practice; couple focus on venture that brought to market gum-health invention

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-Mike McLean
Slate Dental founders Danny and Brynn Snyder await a second shipment of the startup’s electric flossers, which are due to arrive in September.

With a recent surge in sales, a Spokane couple believes as strongly as ever that their electric flosser is the next big gum changer when it comes to oral health.

Since the Journal reported on Dr. Danny and Brynn Snyder and their startup company Slate Dental Inc. a year ago, Danny has sold his South Hill practice to devote more time to the device he invented and now works three days a week at Dr. C Family Dentistry, in Airway Heights.

The couple declines to disclose revenue for Slate Dental. However, Brynn Snyder, the company’s CEO, says the startup has sold over 7,000 Slate flossers so far, with sales in June 230% higher than May sales. They expect their second shipment of 10,000 Slate flossers from overseas in September.

Judging by the recent sales pace, the company could become profitable this year, Snyder says. A year ago, Slate Dental had raised $800,000 through the Spokane Angel Alliance and crowdfunding. If the company sees continued, exponential sales growth, it likely will hold another fundraising round to expand production, she adds.

The Slate flosser, which is about the size of a slim electric toothbrush, combines high-grade dental floss with 12,000 sonic vibrations per minute. It uses a proprietary floss head that has built-in silicon bristles called gum sweepers and a tongue scraper. The device also accommodates a floss head designed specifically to clean teeth with braces, which earlier this spring earned Slate Dental recognition from the American Association of Orthodontists as being among the top three innovations in the association’s 2023 new-product showcase.

Snyder says the global electric toothbrush market has over $3 billion in sales annually, and the water floss market, which includes the Waterpik and similar devices, is approaching $1 billion annually, which provides plenty of space for the Slate flosser to establish a foothold.

The device is currently available on the slateflosser.com website with a starter-kit price of about $80 that includes five floss heads. The floss heads are reusable, but the company recommends replacing them at least once a week. Additional floss heads cost $25 for a pack of 20, although the company has subscription plans for regularly replacing floss heads at a reduced rate.

The couple are hoping to make the Slate flosser available on Amazon in the fourth quarter of this year.

“First, we wanted to get the direct-to-consumer channel running, then we’ll work on Amazon,” Snyder says.

A year ago, the couple were Slate Dental’s only employees. Today, Snyder says the company works with about five contract employees, including a chief marketing officer, a chief finance officer, a customer services representative, and salesperson.

She says Slate has hired a hygienist who demonstrates the device for dental professionals in the Spokane area. Dentists also can sign up for a professional program through the company’s website.

Spokane-based online marketing company Strategy Lab LLC handles digital ads for Slate Dental, Snyder says.

The couple have presented the device at four dental trade shows in the last year.

“Lots of medical professionals are interested in this succeeding,” she says.

Snyder says Slate Dental’s investor group includes dentists and hygienists who also serve advisory functions, and the company’s board of directors includes an oral surgeon.

“What’s most exciting is we’re seeing results in better gum health,” she claims. “When people use it regularly, their perio chart readings (improve) in less than six months.”

A perio chart is a record of comparative measurements of gum disease.

“Gum disease happens when you don’t stimulate gums,” Snyder says. “Our gum sweeps stimulate gums and also clean out areas of gums where most plaque forms,” she says. “The toothbrush doesn’t get that area.”

Good oral health could have other positive implications, as research has shown an association between gum disease and heart disease and dementia, she says.

As reported last year, U.S. patents are pending for the device. Snyder adds, “We have applied for more patents internationally.”

The Slate flosser has gone through one minor design change having to do with the power button in its base.

It operates on two AA batteries that are expected to last about six months with normal use. A rechargeable model is expected to be available early next year.

Danny Snyder, 38, has been a dentist for eight years, having earned his dental degree from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, in Kentucky.

Brynn Snyder, also 38, has a degree in product design through Brigham Young University, in Utah, and has prior experience owning small companies.

Mike McLean
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Deputy Editor Mike McLean has worked his entire journalism career in the Inland Northwest. Mike, who also lives to reel in fish and crank up music, has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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