In 1987, Ken Hegemann began development of the 30 Second Smile power toothbrush, the intent being to ultimately sell the intellectual property to a major oral care company. Here is his story in his words.
I had gone to my dentist and was informed that I had gum disease. If I did not take it seriously, I would likely lose my teeth just like my father and grandfather. I was taught exactly how to practice the Bass brushing technique, and was instructed to brush 5 minutes per day. I studied the mechanics of the manual Bass brushing method, and being a product developer, my goal was to create a machine that would precisely mimic the Bass brushing technique. It led to a trial and error process that took many years. The most important part of the design criteria was product safety. Countless iterations of the design concept were built and tested, each successively closer to the solution.
The first clinical trial was conducted at the University of Tennessee dental school in 2005. In that study, we were up against both Sonicare and Oral-B. Our product proved to be statistically/significantly better than both competitor products. You will find a link to that and other clinicals on our website 30secondsmile.com in the upper tool-bar on the home page. The 30 Second Smile units that we provided for that initial test were simple hand-made prototypes, yet our product proved to be superior by a significant margin. Those impressive results inspired more R&D. Millions of dollars were invested and the initial product launch was in 2011/2012. This 2011 version of the product had replaceable AA batteries. We sold more than 250,000 units ($22.5 million) via that infomercial. User feedback included overwhelming acceptance of the brush head, while many users complained that the handle needed to be induction-charged with sealed-in batteries.
While keeping the proven brush head design, we completely redesigned the power handle. It took several years to perfect and then complete new clinical testing. This time we tested at Georgia Regents Dental school in 2013. We went head-to-head against the best/most expensive Sonicare unit (Diamond Clean). The Sonicare users were instructed to brush for 2 minutes. 30 Second Smile users were permitted to brush for only 30 seconds. Even with the cards stacked against us, 30 Second Smile proved superior to Sonicare in every category, especially all indicators related to gum repair.
Most dentists who are introduced to 30 Second Smile ask: “30 seconds, how is that possible?” Here is the simple explanation. Gum disease is caused primarily by poor brushing habits and not taking enough time to brush properly. In other words, most gum problems are caused by human error. 30 Second Smile eliminates brushing human error. The brush head completely surrounds the teeth/gums and there is virtually no way of missing any part of the dental arch. The bristles are long enough to reach and massage the gums every time it’s used to insure healthy blood flow. Since 30 Second Smile brushes 6 surfaces simultaneously, 30 seconds of brushing with 30 Second Smile is exactly the same as brushing 3 minutes with any single-headed toothbrush.
That first visit to my dentist in 1987 was a real wake-up call for me. After 2 weeks of 5-minute brushing every day, I decided I would tackle the problem. Since Dr. Bass had already proven that his manual brushing method was clinically effective, I was reasonably certain I could mechanize his technique. I went back to the dentist and requested full probing charts as well as photos to document my poor gum health. The probing was a painful/bloody mess. I was told that only 3% of the population floss on a regular basis. I was also told that toothpaste (unless loaded with abrasives) provided little more than a gratifying after-taste. I started using early hand-made prototypes. I simply use 30 Second Smile once per day for 30 seconds.
I am pleased to report that today I have all of my teeth and not a trace of gum disease. A dentist friend looked recently and he said my gums look teenage-healthy; pink and stippled.
By simply using 30 Second Smile every day for 30 seconds, my gums are in perfect health. When dentists compare my 1988 probing chart to my present oral health, they truly witness the magic of this toothbrush.
Today, we sell 30 Second Smile on our website and Amazon. There are more than 400,000 units sold and I am pleased to report that we have not had a single complaint of damage to either hard or soft tissue. Two notable periodontists who have used, sold, and followed our progress are Dr. David Scharf from Long Island and Dr. Joseph Nemeth from Southfield Michigan.
There is certainly nothing special about me, I am just your average consumer. I honestly believe that everyone who uses 30 Second Smile regularly can have the same results that I have.
Each new unit comes with a set of red bristles (ultra-soft) and a set of blue bristles (extra-reach). Normally we suggest that a new user start with the red bristles. They are ultra-gentle and intended to allow new users to become accustomed to this new/complete and effective brushing method. We tell them to switch to the blue bristles after about two weeks because they have a longer reach that ensures perfect gum massage every day.
30 Second Smile can contribute to better oral and systemic health, and drastically reduce world health costs. Gum disease is incontrovertibly linked to numerous whole-body health conditions. We know that systemic health issues can compromise the immune system. 30 Second Smile can do something about that, especially with the new awareness to the need for a strong immune system.
30 Second Smile is headquartered in Escondido California. The company was established in 1999. 17 years of intensive research and development has resulted in the emergence of 30 Second Smile, the fastest, most comfortable, and most effective toothbrush on the planet, confirmed by 4 independent clinical studies. 30 Second Smile is committed to making a positive, measurable impact on the overall health of millions of people worldwide by providing oral care products that are reliable, easy to use, and substantially improve oral health. Our Quality Management System (QMS) guides our company-wide focus on quality, via our ISO 13485 quality certification, enabling us to anticipate and deliver beyond customer expectations. When producing our products, we comply with regulatory requirements and are committed to maintaining the effectiveness of our ISO 13485 certification.