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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
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A New Handle for Healthy Brushing

Jan 08, 2015

By Dean George

Telling an inventor they have built a better mousetrap is like catnip for their incentive. But a passionate inventor who works tirelessly to bring that invention to market “for the greater good” is an inventor who is inviting all of us to be part of their adventure.

One such inventor is Green Beret and former Special Forces Medic Steven Walther. His startup company is F.T.G.G. LLC, or For The Greater Good. Last May, we wrote about Steven’s Toof-finger Brush® in Dental Wire. After reading recent media accounts about his efforts at, we decided to check in with him personally and learn how 2015 is shaping up for the eye catching Toof-inger Brush®.

Toof-inger Brush

If events the latter part of last year are any indication, 2015 could be a breakout year for the 34-year-old ‘mousetrap builder’ and full-time Campbell University student from Cary, North Carolina.

The ingenious Toof-inger Brush® has a short flex handle that is designed to ‘pinch grip’ with just a thumb and two fingers when brushing. This helps exert just 15-25% of the force that standard toothbrushes do when gripped, and provides more control.

Steven learned while working with Afghans during his seven years of active duty military service, that even those new to brushing their teeth tend to brush too hard because the design of standard toothbrushes encourages it. According to Steven, that’s when the light bulb came on.

“We brush too hard because we are enabled to by the tool,” Steven said in our phone interview. “Think about the way we interact with the toothbrush. 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.”

Brushing too hard, or “crush brushing,” can push back the gums over time. This can create tooth sensitivity by scrubbing away tooth enamel, which in turn can damage teeth and even lead to gingivitis.

It was after returning to the States on reserve duty and reading a book on body language that Steven recalled his tooth brushing lessons in Afghanistan.  “The body language book lit the fuse,” he recalled when asked about the genesis of the Toof-brush. “Tooth brushing was alien to Afghans and teaching them again and again how to brush made the most impact on my thinking.”

So rather than just ‘flapping his gums’ about how people unconsciously use toothbrushes as  weapons of oral destruction, Steven applied his military experience to the problem and worked to ‘get a handle on healthy brushing.’

Founder of Toof-inger Brush

First, he developed a toothbrush prototype using a wooden dowel rod bought from a local hardware store and a dremel tool. After gluing on a toothbrush head and sharing the idea of the prototype with a few dentists, he knew he was on the right track when one of the dentists said it was the first time she remembered looking forward to brushing her teeth.

“Having that background and military mindset to do high level problem solving with little resources has been instrumental in helping me move forward,” he said about those early efforts. “I try to consult an expert, collect all that data, and make the best possible decision from there.”

During product development, Steven has not only drawn on all his military experience, but on the faculty resources at Campbell University where he starts his final semester this week to earn his Master’s of Business Administration degree.

He also credits a number of North Carolina dentists he’s consulted since 2012 for their comments and helpful feedback.  One such dentist that he specifically compliments is Chapel Hill and Greensboro dentist, Dr. Christie Sanford. Steven said her feedback from the beginning was invaluable, and based on her testimonial on the company’s website, her enthusiasm for his toothbrush is unabashed.

“This is a brilliant recognition. I see patients with gum recession every day in practice…The design of this innovative toothbrush corrects maladaptive brushing and fosters healthy practices.”

After settling on his self-made prototype Steven went shopping for a manufacturer, eventually settling on Tess Oral Health of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Using an auto-cad program, he and his manufacturing partner produced a single mold that has been used to produce the first several thousand Toof-inger Brushes®.

“Its Model-T simple,” he said with satisfaction of the Toof-inger’s design. “It’s ergonomic and uses 20% less material than a regular toothbrush.” The latter point is one Steven shares in his marketing pitch. Because the Toof-inger Brush® uses less material to produce, they are less expensive to manufacture which could represent major savings for a future partner.

Still, as Steven has learned in his business classes, product development is a very competitive area with less than 10% of investors seeing their product brought to market. Again, he credits his Army background as invaluable in this new field of operations.

“Military training was definitely essential in helping me get to this point. It has helped so much with my transition to work as an entrepreneur,” he said.

Another mentor that Steven credits in helping him market and sell 26,000 toothbrushes so far is GLO Science founder  and Dr. Oz contributor, Jonathan B. Levine and his wife Stacey. “I have really valued my relationship with Dr. Levine at GLO Science,” Steven told us. A renowned dentist and prosthodontist for three decades, Dr. Levine has created a niche by connecting beauty with oral health.

Dr. Levine was so impressed with Steven and his Toof-inger Brush® that he helped set up a meeting with the high-end cosmetic store Sephora to carry the short-handled brush on their store shelves last year.

“That was a proud moment to see my product on store shelves,” Steven said. “To be in Sephora is a dream come true for any new product and I’m very happy about it.”

But there’s still a lot of work to do and many miles to travel  to show and tell the Toof-inger Brush® to dentists, equity investors and medical service distributors. Up until now Steven has self-financed everything, spending an estimated $70,000 since 2012 on his dream.

He’s donated hundreds of toothbrushes overseas to children’s charities and has donated closer to home for just over a year to the NC Mom Clinic, part of the statewide Mission of Mercy program.

Steven is confident that all this marketing groundwork and brand awareness is going to pay off sooner rather than later. “I’ve got upcoming meetings scheduled with equity investors, and I’m focusing now on getting in touch with medical device distributors,” he said.

One such connection he’s made is with Practicon, a Greenville, North Carolina company that is displaying the Toof-inger Brush® in their catalog this month.

He said that while he has had no direct contact with toothbrush manufacturers yet, he expects that to change in the foreseeable future. “Right now I’m evaluating criteria and it seems like this (Toof-inger Brush®) may take a significant portion of the market in years to come.”

In the meantime, he plans to continue attending dental trade shows, symposiums and talking to individual dentists and hygienists about what makes his Toof-inger Brush® better than traditional toothbrushes.

“Okay, I’ve invented a better mousetrap. That’s great, but as an entrepreneur, the next step is how do I educate the masses and how do I deliver it?” he asked.

Steven admits that one of the primary motivations for chasing his dream is a burning desire to educate others on using a helpful, preventive tool that will cut down on serious oral health issues.

“I like doing something that will have an impact on the health of so many people. That’s exciting and it keeps me motivated every day.”

Steven Walther is a military veteran who served his country for seven years home and abroad, and a young man who graduates this spring with his MBA. He has invented an oral health product that could one day revolutionize the way millions of us brush, and also significantly minimize the number of people suffering from serious periodontal issues.

If you are a major toothbrush manufacturer, it’s a good bet you are going to hear from Steven Walther and the Toof-inger Brush® at some point in the future.

The Toof-inger Brush® retails for just $3.99 or $9 for a 3-pack and can be purchased on Amazon or through Walther’s website at

Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk, and if you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution about following us on Facebook, TwitterPinterestGoogle+, and LinkedIn, better hurry before the grace period runs out!

Photo source: Steven Walther

Copyright 2015, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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