What is Armor Dental is probably your first question, and what the heck is a Mouth-Mate is your second question? Well, Armor Dental’s mission is to modernize the patient experience at home so we improve oral hygiene, recovery and outcomes. You will often hear us talking about dental patients as “forgotten patients”, and how little help there is for these patients at home following a dental procedure such as an implant, bone graft or wisdom teeth surgery. For example, if you have a shoulder surgery or knee surgery, you have plenty of help and recovery assistance at home, but if you get your mouth drilled or a gum graft, there is very little help for you as you recover at home. You could have gone to the very best dental office in the world but the dentist or hygienist can’t come home with you to make sure you are following their instructions. It is also important to note that over 60 million Americans suffer from chronic mouth sores like canker sores or Lichen Planus and there are also patients receiving radiation treatment for cancer who can develop painful mouth sores. These consumers also have very little help at home when they brush near a mouth sore. Dentists will tell you that the one of most important things to improve oral healing and reduce infection is to BRUSH, and yet having any kind of surgical wound or sore in your mouth and brushing doesn’t feel good and in fact can be downright frightening and intimidating. It doesn’t feel good if you hit a surgical wound or mouth sore with your toothbrush, right? Mouth-Mate changes all of this.
I’m not a dentist, so how in the world did I become a co-founder and CEO of a dental company? A fair question. I first began working as an oral surgical assistant at age 14 after school passing instruments at a terrific oral surgical office in Framingham, MA – just outside of Boston. For over 40 years, my mother Eileen (Eisey as they called her because of her beautiful eyes) was widely regarded as one of the top oral surgical assistants in the Boston area, and was always called in to be the lead assistant for the most complicated cases. Sadly, my incredibly hard working mom passed away from lung cancer before I founded Armor Dental 3 years ago, but I credit her for igniting the fire inside of me to improve oral health for patients. After working alongside my mother during high school, I put myself through college at the University of San Francisco while working as an oral surgical assistant at Dr. Craig McDow’s office, a fabulous oral surgeon on the Bay area. While I strongly considered pre-med and oral surgical career, an inspirational marketing class professor coupled with the financial need to start my career earlier developed into working in media and public relations. After just 5 years in the industry, I went out on my own to start LP Group, a PR and marketing firm and over the course of 15 years, I led the management of client accounts ranging from baby and early child development and education companies, to launching the Teletubbies in the U.S. and several children’s education programs, as well as high tech start-ups, enterprise mobile and gaming companies. But I must say, the dental industry is a lot more gratifying to me, especially meeting incredible colleagues in the field who continue to support me. More on this and impacting one’s path during another blog post so stay tuned to this blog.
But in October of 2015 fate brought me back to the dental industry after my youngest daughter Grace had a baby tooth extraction. As I was helping Grace brush her teeth after the extraction, I was making every attempt to keep the brush bristles from painfully contacting the extraction site. But try as I might, the brush found the extraction site and Grace’s painful reaction and tears immediately confirmed what had just happened. Through my early years working in the dental industry, I understood the importance of keeping areas around extraction sites clean, and thought that there must be a product out there that allows patient to gently cover and protect wounds in the mouth so they can brush without fear or pain? The further I investigated and realized no simple to use product was available, the concept for Armor-Dental’s flagship product line, Mouth-Mate® began to take shape. My mother worked with some incredible oral surgeons, including Dr. Katherine Haltom, who has practiced in Framingham, MA for over 30 years. Katie is an incredible surgeon and the most special person to me. I have known Katie since I was a teenager and she was the first person I emailed when I thought about the concept for Mouth-Mate. I emailed Katie soon after Grace’s incident in the bathroom where I hit the surgical site with the toothbrush and asked Katie “Are your patients still leaving the office with very little help to recover at home”? You have to remember that I hadn’t thought about dentistry for over 220 years so the question caught her off guard but her reply was “Yes…what are you up to Cherie?” A few weeks went by and Katie and I met over dinner and decided there was a real need out there and formed the company, Armor Dental in 2014.
The last 3 years we’ve been busy!
Personally through 2014-2016, I was doing two jobs, taking care of 3 kids, running half marathons, triathlons and spending time with my incredible husband, David. I haven’t even told you about David! It goes without saying but I will say it, Armor Dental is only here because of my support system and David is truly that. So grateful for his love and our amazing children, Olivia, Wyatt and Grace. The beginning of 2016 marked a big personal milestone as I sold the PR firm I founded and built over 15 years to focus 100% of my time on Armor Dental as of January 1st 2017, and I haven’t looked back since. In just 3 short years since brushing over Grace’s extraction site, we have developed, engineered, patented, secured nation-wide distribution through Henry Schein, ACE Surgical, Patterson, Benco, manufactured Mouth-Mate in the U.S.A., and are currently selling 4 specific SKUs specifically designed and tested to improve patient comfort and recovery from specific procedures at home. We also conducted two patient studies (totaling 700 patients across the U.S. with 90%+ patient satisfaction rating and not documented infections), Mouth-Mate has proven it can protect patients at home and improve comfort and healing from everything to chronic canker sores and lichen planus, to bone or soft tissue grafting sites, implants, tooth exposures, and wisdom teeth surgeries.
Discovering Many Additional Use Cases:
One of the products in the line is Mouth-Mate OVAL and this unique product is the first bendable retraction tool for all patients needing to improve oral hygiene. Think about it. How many times has your hygienist told you “You have recession because you’re brushing too hard or You have deep pockets because you’re brushing too little.” Moms, how often have you heard your child’s dentist tell you “Your child with new braces isn’t brushing well enough or worse, your child has a cavity!” And lastly, moms with kids under 6 who are still brushing their kids’ teeth and often there are battles in the bathroom with cute but sometimes bossy pants saying “I don’t want to brush!” Mouth-Mate OVAL improves access, visibility and focus for all consumers including young children, teenagers, adults and grandparents! We are also very thankful to hear that Mouth-Mate is helping special needs children and adults and patients in nursing homes so please keep the feedback coming!
Thank you for learning more about my journey as a female entrepreneur and mother, who discovered a massive un-met need and is working hard every day going forward to improve the lives of children, adults, and seniors through better oral health and helping comfort and protect pain in the mouth during brushing. We have come a long way, with so much more to do, and I am grateful for your encouragement, support, and testimonials on how Mouth-Mate is meaningfully contributing to you and your families lives.
Please keep check back to our blog as we will continue to blog and post meaningful content and information that will improve your oral health. Our next post will be all about Mouth-Mate KIDS so in the meantime check out our new kids page.
Drop me an email anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org as I would love to hear from you!
To your health,
Cherie Le Penske