Curaden is a fast-growing Swiss company, founded in 1954, which under the Curaprox brand develops oral care products and services. Emphasizing the importance of prevention, the company is determined to change the way people brush their teeth by training dentists and developing innovative toothbrushes and related products. Curaden CEO Ueli Breitschmid, and his daughter and Head of Sales Christine, tell us how crucial oral care is to overall good health, and how their Swiss-engineered solutions make a difference.
How would you assess awareness of the importance of prevention in oral healthcare?
Ueli Breitschmid: Treatment is a booming business, but prevention is not clearly understood. Prevention in oral health is the best way to avert chronic illness and disease. These days it is possible for everybody to keep their teeth and gums clean and healthy for their whole lives, but perfect use of toothbrushes and interdental brushes must be taught by trained professionals. Curaden’s scientific research of the correlation between healthy gums and interdental brushing shows that one might as well not brush their teeth at all if they do not perform perfect interdental brushing.
How is overall health linked to oral health?
Christine Breitschmid: People tend to look at the mouth and other parts of the body in isolation, but a minor injury in the mouth is the perfect entry point for bacteria or viruses to the bloodstream, and this could affect the whole body.
U.B.: Research has shown that bacteria found in periodontal pockets in the mouth can make their way into the bloodstream. Clots in arteries that can cause heart attacks or an ictus in the brain contain the same bacteria that form as a biofilm in periodontal pockets. Of course, this is usually not an issue with good oral health. So dental health affects overall health, and we were the first company to alert dentists about this. My goal is for the global medical community to learn more about the origins of illnesses and for proper tooth brushing to have a positive effect on national health systems and their cost.
“Prevention in oral health is the best way to avert chronic illness and disease.”
What are the next frontiers for innovation in preventive oral healthcare at Curaden?
U.B.: We are looking for ways of using enzymes in oral care and have initiated extensive scientific research. We also aim to transform face-to-face teaching on oral care through our iTOP (individually Trained Oral Prophylaxis) method.
How important is the Switzerland factor for the success of your brands?
U.B.: It is very important and even essential in some markets, such as Latin America or countries in the former Soviet Union. Switzerland has tremendous value which, coupled with our quality and design, creates a community of true fans of our brand. Our sales keep growing, and we are not losing existing customers.
What are your ambitions in the U.S. market?
U.B.: We have been present in the U.S. for about 20 years with mixed results, but now we have recruited a specialist who has worked with major oral care brands to grow our footprint there. We are also in talks with various partners (product brands and dental studio chains) for potential collaboration to leverage our efforts in marketing and communication.
Our ambition is to build a strong online presence in the U.S. market while building up a robust network of dental professionals who support our brand and idea and serve as strong and credible recommenders.
C.B.: To be successful, you need to have a team that is committed and follows a vision. So far we have lacked the right team for the U.S. It is also a huge market, and you can’t be everywhere at the same time. Focusing has been hard for us at times, as we went to every dental trade fair but failed to follow up properly. The American spirit of self-promotion differs from the rather modest Swiss attitude and we need to adjust.
We have the right story, products, cool and trendy image, colors, quality, and the Swiss-made factor, which is relevant in the U.S. Price shouldn’t be our focus, but rather attitude, pride, and the self-conviction to say: “we have the right products with the good story that goes along, and together with us, you will be more successful as a dental professional.” In terms of products, our main offering will be our manual and electric toothbrushes, and some of our chemical products, depending on the registration process. Our baby line is also promising because it is revolutionary in preventing teeth malformation, which is a serious issue. It all depends on whether we find the right channels and way of communicating.
Did you foresee from the start that the company would get where it is today?
U.B.: We always had the goal to be good, and not necessarily to be big. We started by selling to dentists, who then recommended our products to their patients, and suddenly we were in the consumer business too – which we had never planned. The company still focuses on the dental profession, with the goal of contributing to better health.
C.B.: There are other target groups beyond dental professionals with a high standing when it comes to health. What matters is credibility, so if we find other groups relevant for our key messages who can act as influencers or multipliers, we can involve them in the business, too. We are not marketing driven, but we try to achieve a push-pull effect so that final consumers also know what they can ask their dental professional for.