After years of trying to assist her patients with preventive dental care, Rachael Lolling, a dental hygienist by day and entrepreneur by night, set out to revolutionize the toothbrush. This age-old dental hygiene tool was due for an update and Rachael took on the challenge to provide consumers with a better tool to fight dental decay and periodontal disease. FitsBrush is the only toothbrush with a bendable and flexible neck and has double the average number of bristles. Her patent-pending product launched in October 2017.
Rachael’s first steps were studying and measuring more than 500 models of people’s teeth she had collected over the years. In designing her new toothbrush, she had several important goals in mind. First the angle of the bristles. To brush most effectively, the bristles have to be at a 45-degree angle. Secondly, the size of the brush head needed to be increased to clean more than one-to-two teeth with each stroke and covers more surface area. Next, she made the bristles multiple heights in a concave pattern that will conform to convex teeth shape to efficiently clean the tooth’s biting surface, the exterior surface, and below the gum line all in one position. Her final innovation is what makes FitsBrush so unique: its side-to-side bend and ideal flex. This allows the toothbrush to clean behind the molars and around the canine teeth and also assists people who are hard, aggressive brushers—warning them to not push so hard.
After perfecting the design, Rachael set out to find a manufacturer but didn’t have to look farther than Eau Claire, Wisconsin. After the Tess Oral Health president listened to her compassionate presentation, he was eager to support her efforts. FitsBrush’s unique movement component makes it a manufacturing challenge. Rachael declined hundreds of samples until the product was perfect.
“I wish I would have known about NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development (C4PD) before starting the invention process,” said Rachael. ”Now, when I share my entrepreneurial journey, I inform the audience that there’s a local entity that will make their lives easier, especially in the early stages.
Fast forward to FastPitch
For Rachael, public speaking doesn’t come naturally. “I watched many TEDx Talks on a variety of topics, before even contemplating signing up to compete in FastPitch. I was incredibly nervous at the competition, but I think when you’re passionate about something, somehow that overrides your nervousness. Everyone was so supportive and encouraging that it resulted in a great experience,” shared Rachael.
Rachael plans to invent two similar products—one for the younger generation and a second for the older generation. Now that she’s aware of the C4PD and programming NIU EIGERlab has to offer, she plans to take full advantage. “My future inventions will be much easier! I now have a team in place, and I’m fully aware of all of the resources our community offers,” shared Rachael. “I’m also thankful for events such as NIU EIGERlab’s monthly Innovation Tuesday Meetups. I’m able to connect with like-minded people, and I feel as if I’m going to entrepreneurial college–learning or enhancing my knowledge of a new topic at each Meetup.”
The “Fits” in FitsBrush has two meanings. It “fits” in your mouth and also stands for “Funding In The Schools.” Rachael helps schools raise money through the FITS Dental Fund.
“I’m passionate about working in the schools to educate children on not only the importance of dental hygiene and good nutrition but also how easy it is to prevent the world’s most chronic disease, tooth decay, with the proper tools and instructions,” Rachael said. “In a perfect world, we’d have dental clinics in the schools. I would love to see schools include dental hygiene education in the curriculum. The FITS Dental Fund proceeds assist school children with dental treatment they could otherwise not afford.”
To check out the FitsBrush and the FITS Dental Fund, visit www.fitsbrush.com.
To learn more about the C4PD and programming NIU EIGERlab offers, visit www.EIGERlab.org or phone 815.753.2192.