Bristle is filling the preventative care gap for the one-third of Americans who didn’t go to the dentist last year.

Preventative care is second nature in many areas of health — mammograms, prostate exams, skin cancer, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and more. Yet, we’re reactive when it comes to dental health. We’re fixing the issues that have already occurred when we get checked for cavities and drilled or filled. 

25% of American adults have at least one cavity right now, and 70% of adults over 65 have gum disease. Moreover, we are advised to see our dentist twice a year, yet almost one-third of Americans haven’t seen one within the last year.

We lack a reliable, quantifiable measure and understanding of oral health, which is why Bristle and their drill-free vision for the future resonated so well with the Initialized team. They’re also tapping into a $145B U.S. market approaching almost $200B by 2027.

Why has dental health fallen to the waste side? Perhaps it’s out of sight, out of mind. But the oral microbiome — like our gut — can wreak havoc on our bodies if not kept healthy. Maternal microbial infections during pregnancy, for example, have been associated with preterm labor, pre-eclampsia, low birth weight, miscarriage, and other serious, potentially devastating outcomes. In addition, gum disease, affecting 65M Americans, increases the risk of more significant conditions, from diabetes and dementia to heart disease and cancer. Bristle wrote more about oral microbiome impact here

The Bristle Experience

The team at Bristle has developed a unique oral microbiome diagnostic and treatment approach, which offers patients insight into their oral health between dental visits, no matter how often they go. Their personalized, actionable treatment plans provide a missing window into our oral health. The Initialized team first met Bristle last year when they went through YC and are proud to be backing their important mission to fill the preventative care gap in dentistry.

“The top three reasons cited for not seeing a dentist every year are costs, inconvenience, and anxiety,” said Danny Grannick, CEO & Co-Founder of Bristle. “So we have these financial, physical, and mental, emotional barriers that prevent us from getting the care that we really need.”

The test is a simple, painless saliva test that is easy to administer at home.

Once the results are acquired, Bristle’s sequencing approach allows them to capture 10x more markers than a simpler test, analogous to a single gene test vs. whole genome sequencing. As a result, patients receive a completely personalized list of interventions based on what was found. 

Because of Bristle’s breadth of data collection and ongoing research efforts, they can identify even more biomarkers and increase patient impact over time. Patients can purchase follow-on tests to determine when and if the interventions have worked before being forced to “drill and fill” at the dentist. 

“I think the dental industry as a whole has lagged behind the rest of healthcare, but it’s also one of the few industries that I think has the potential to leapfrog traditional healthcare by adopting advanced technologies because it’s so separate from our standard healthcare system,” said Danny. “When I think about the future of the dental industry, we look at the top most common oral health conditions — halitosis, cavities, gum disease — and they’re all largely preventable if they’re caught early.”

Through Bristle, the dental industry can shift toward early detection, ongoing prevention through behavioral change, matching people with the right products, the proper hygiene regimen, and providing consistent levels of care with the sole intent of preventing the onset of disease. 

We have embraced tracking our blood sugar levels, heart rate variability, sleep, and other markers to manage our health. It’s time we looked inside our mouths, too, so oral health can become a norm in preventative health.