JENKINS TWP. — Four years ago, Benco Dental officials began searching for a better toothbrush to offer to dentists to send home with their patients.
When they didn’t find it, they made their own.
The family-owned company, headquartered in Jenkins Twp., already had a line of private-brand toothbrushes and wanted to make them better, said Richard Cohen, toothbrush developer and Benco Dental managing director.
A Benco Dental team and designer created a high-end line of toothbrushes, prescription toothpaste high in fluoride, floss and other products called PRO-SYS. The process took about three years.
Since launching PRO-SYS last year and selling the line to dentists and consumers on Amazon, Mr. Cohen said about 3 million toothbrushes were sold in a year. Earlier this year, he accepted a Silver Edison Award in New York for innovation and excellence for developing the new products.
“We saw an opportunity in manual toothbrushes and we knew we could make a better toothbrush,” he said. “We already were selling 2.5 million brushes per year of our own branded brush and so we thought we’d make significant improvements to the brushes and make them even better than what is currently on the market.”
Findings by The Dental Advisor’s John A. Molinari, Ph.D. and Peri Nelson showed the aseptic handles on the PRO-SYS adult and junior toothbrushes are 1,500 times cleaner than other brush handles after months of use.
The toothbrush’s unique design was shown to substantially reduce bacterial contamination after prolonged use, according to The Dental Advisor study.
Manual toothbrushes used for at least two months were collected from volunteers. Participants then received a new PRO-SYS toothbrush as a two-month use replacement. Dr. Molinari concluded that far less debris and bacteria accumulated on the handles of the PRO-SYS toothbrushes as compared to competitor manual toothbrushes.
“It doesn’t absorb toothpaste gunk,” Mr. Cohen said. “If you use a manual toothbrush for two months, you’ll see it accumulates toothpaste. As it sits on the counter, it grows bacteria over months. Ours doesn’t do that.”
Mr. Cohen showed the PRO-SYS toothbrush has bristles that were proven to significantly inhibit bacterial growth. The toothbrush cleans hard-to-reach areas. Its handle is unique because its chunkier and stiffer than most toothbrushes, he said.
“They’re softer than most toothbrushes. That’s the primary thing that dentists look for,” he said. “There was a lot of innovation that went into this brush.”
The toothbrushes are shipped from Benco Dental’s five distribution centers in Jenkins Twp., Indiana, Florida, Texas and Nevada. Recently, Benco Dental underwent its third expansion in 10 years by opening its third showroom in Flower Mound, Texas.
It is now the largest privately owned dental distribution company in the country that serves more than 35,000 dentists and dental laboratories nationwide and employs about 1,400 people.
For every PRO-SYS tapered or antimicrobial toothbrush Benco Dental sells, the company donates one to a person in need.
That includes low-income children at Luzerne County Head Start.
Benco has a long history of donating toothbrushes, adopting classrooms and visiting children at Luzerne County Head Start. Each year, Benco Dental donates more than 3,000 toothbrushes to children there. The company also holds fundraisers to buy supplies and sponsors a scholarship each year to a former Head Start attendee to assist with college expenses.
“We’re big fans of Head Start,” said Richard Cohen, Benco’s managing director. “We give Head Start anything they ask for.”
Lynn Evans Biga, executive director of Luzerne County Head Start, said if Benco Dental did not donate toothbrushes every year, the program for low-income children and families would have to use federal and state funds to buy them that could be used for other things. Each child at Head Start gets two or three toothbrushes to encourage oral health thanks to Benco Dental, she said.
“It’s a critically important requirement at Head Start that all children brush their teeth every day when they come to school,” she said. “Benco Dental truly has been a wonderful community partner with us. They’re one of our strongest allies.”
— DENISE ALLABAUGH