Health & Beauty

The Game-Changing Beauty Staple You Didn’t Know You Needed: An Upgraded Toothpick (Win!)

July 4, 2024

There’s nothing worse than pulling up to a meeting, date, or event and realizing you have leftover lunch taking centre stage between your two front teeth. We’ve all been there, which is why we’re excited about the launch of Stimmie, the world’s first premium reusable toothpick, which aims to help people get ready for those close-up moments. We chatted with founder and seasoned dental hygienist Steph Nightingale to learn more! —Vita Daily

Can you tell us about the moment or inspiration that led to the creation of Stimmie?

My “aha moment” came in December 2020. I had just come home from gum surgery. For context, after gum grafting you’re not supposed to floss for two weeks, or until the doctor gives you the green light. My gums were throbbing and I knew based on treating my patients, using a rubber tip stimulator would have given me such relief. It was the first time I felt like the patient, and I needed the best advice. I decided I would treat myself to a range of brand new ‘chic’ oral care. But gum stimulators were boring and felt dated. So without a serious thought in my mind, I started to sketch and design my own.

What problem did you see in the market that you felt needed to be addressed?

All my observations came from over 30,000 conversations that I’ve had with patients as a dental hygienist. I’ve never been one to lecture people about how many times a day they floss. I would constantly hear people’s stories and pain points on how caring for their teeth is tedious—specifically when it comes to flossing. I kept hearing on repeat that products were either hard to use, bend or break after one use, too large, too expensive, too messy, etc. The funny thing was, I actually had the tools to solve many of these problems 1:1 with each patient conversation. But I’m only one person. The solution was right in front of me, but I just needed that magic bullet to bring the product to fruition.

How does Stimmie’s unique rubber tip differ from traditional toothpicks in terms of dental health benefits?

Traditional toothpicks as we know them today are wooden and sharp. They offer no health benefits when it comes to plaque removal, and I most definitely wouldn’t advise anyone to use them since they’ve been known to encourage enamel abrasion (meaning, they can wear down the enamel of the teeth and the delicate roots of the teeth). Our tip won’t strip down tooth enamel. It’s firm enough to get the job done, feels great against the gums, flexible enough to adapt around teeth anatomy and safe to use around dental treatment like the veneers and implants.  Then there’s disposable floss picks and soft picks. These single-use ‘cleaning in between’ products are an easier solution to traditional string floss,–and I always champion people using either of these. I’d rather you use something that works for you, than to do no cleaning in between at all. Where Stimmie comes in, is its ability to manicure around the gumline for effective plaque removal where your toothbrush can’t always reach. Picture a popcorn kernel stuck on the inside of your last molar or under the gum. Stimmie is multi-faceted. It sweeps under the gums to remove plaque, and glides between the teeth to remove food and stimulates the tissues for a boost in blood circulation. It’s safe for teeth and gums and safe around dental implants as well! 

Can you elaborate on how it helps in reducing the risk of gum disease and promoting overall oral health?

Absolutely! Gum disease is complex and comes in various forms. It can range anywhere from having bleeding gums, to having puffy gums, all the way to having bone loss under the gums and the worst case, it can present as bone loss so severe that teeth become loose. Plaque bacteria is the biggest contributor to gum disease. There are other contributing factors, but plaque is something we can actually control! I always say, I wanted to create a toothpick for the day to day quick touch-ups on-the-go, but I also felt a responsibility to help people with gum disease and plaque control— for non-flossers. Lecturing at the dentist won’t help. But offering smart and simple solutions might actually entice people to want to get their gum health under control. Stimmie is enticing and for non-flossers, it’s so rewarding to hear people’s testimonials on how it’s improved their oral hygiene.

Stimmie seems to be designed with both functionality and aesthetics in mind. How important is the design aspect for you, and how do you think it complements the current trends in the beauty and wellness industry?

I love this question! When I started conceptualizing, I was moodboarding objects with great shape architecture to them. It’s just how my brain is wired. Elsa Peretti was a huge source of inspiration. If you look back to vintage pieces and current products today, there hasn’t been much change. I wanted my designs to embody my own classic, iconic silhouette that’s easy to identify.

Putting my personal desires aise, I knew patient product feedback was pivotal: A thicker shank, for easy grip, ergonomic concavities for adaptability, a length that was suitable for pockets, a cap that was ventilated for breathability…I had a rolodex of patients’ product feedback to tap into.

Working with patients my entire career has been the greatest asset when it comes to innovation. Pairing my personal taste and aesthetic with the form and function drawn from real-time human feedback is ultimately the most important aspect of my entire business. You can have a great brand, great messaging, perfect positioning, maybe even one day a booming marketing budget. But at the end of the day, if you don’t have an amazing product, that is actually functional, effective and lives up to the hype, then eventually the hype will die. Fundamentally, this is an amazing product and stands on its own just fine. You just need to try it out yourself to truly ‘get’ it.

Sustainability is a key selling point for Stimmie. Can you share more about the materials used and the environmental impact compared to single-use toothpicks?

To be completely honest, sustainability was not the primary focus at the onset. However I am completely obsessed with incredibly well-made, high quality products. I obsessed over the finish, the weight, the feel, the parting lines from the molds. Zooming out, I’m probably a manufacturer’s worst nightmare, but I’ll take it if it makes me a winning product.

The result of being so discerning with our materials and durability is I’ve developed a well-made product that’s designed to last! I was opposed to using anything with nylon bristles since they harbor more bacteria. We opted for food grade plastics and firm latex-free custom rubber to repel water and resist moisture which was so important to keep the product clean between each use. From our experience so far, each Stimmie holds up anywhere from 1-3 months, which definitely beats all of the single-use, disposable options already on the market in terms of contributing to landfills. 

Your approach to oral health seems to blend it with lifestyle and beauty trends. How do you see the future of oral care evolving in this direction, and what role do you think products like Stimmie will play in this transformation? The best part about starting my own business is being able to blend these two worlds.

Creating a brand from the ground up means there are no rules and you get to create your own blueprint. Straddling between oral care, beauty and lifestyle has been my true and natural direction. If there’s one thing I know, people will always get food in their teeth and many feel self-conscious about it, which can impact standard daily tasks; especially when interacting in close contact with others. I don’t think Stimmie itself is a trend, I think this is the future. Lifestyle was/is so important to me since I’ve learned first hand how habits play a huge part in shifting towards positive behaviours. If someone’s insanely busy and always travelling, they’re probably not a regular Waterpiker. While others who have issues with dexterity, are likely not traditional flossers. We need something for everyone in between.

I think the future of oral care is happening right now! For so long dentistry has been stagnant. “Dental” always felt medical, sterile and utilitarian. Now, we’re seeing more elevated dental products merchandised in apothecaries, retail corners at bodega’s and clinicians are building out dental practices that reflect their own personal style and personal brand. We’re starting to see a ton of diversity and overall elevation in the field. I think innovation in our category should start and end within the four walls of the dental practices and the people who work within them. My hope is that more dental authorities themselves will move out of their comfort zone of being on auto-pilot with the utilitarian product and stay up to date on new product innovation. The fact is, consumer purchasing patterns are changing and many people desire fewer items that last longer.

There’s an 80-20 rule in dentistry. 20% is what we (the professionals) can do to help the patients, but 80% is what the patients do at home. With Stimmie, we get to tackle the dental vertical and the social confidence side. Being able to help people both in and outside of the dental chair is what makes this product and brand so incredibly exciting!

Win! A Stimme (+ Sephora) Prize Pack!

One lucky Canadian winner will receive two packs of Stimmies and a $100 Sephora gift card to celebrate oral care as the new frontier in beauty! To enter, head over to Instagram, follow @itsstimmie and @vitadailymedia and make sure to fulfil all the entry rules in the caption of the corresponding contest post. Contest opens July 5, 2024 and closes July 12, 2024. Complete contest rules and regulations herePlease note: if you are the winner, you will receive a DM (direct message) in Instagram directly from @vitadailymedia. Please be wary of fake accounts, which often use similar handles with an extra or missing letter, number or symbol. We will never ask for a payment or for your credit card number, and we will never ask you to click through a link. If you are unsure whether you have been contacted, via Instagram, by us or a fake account, email us before responding.

share:

  1. Christina Cumayas

    July 5th, 2024 at 9:38 am

    @agee1004 loves Sephora!

    I’m @ccuma

  2. Elinor S

    July 5th, 2024 at 10:23 am

    So convenient & sustainable luv it!
    Entered on instagram @honestlyelles
    And tagged too

  3. Jackie Jerebic

    July 5th, 2024 at 10:24 am

    @grizlypawsmokers

    @Gr.etchen7268 loves Sephora ❤️❤️

  4. Carling Zuber-Vescio

    July 5th, 2024 at 11:31 am

    My wife loves oral hygiene and Sephora! My insta is @carzubio

  5. Rita Duff

    July 6th, 2024 at 4:04 am

    @halaynaTaylor

    @duffmr

  6. Janine Rutledge

    July 6th, 2024 at 9:26 am

    @c_up_yeg I hate it when there’s stuff stuck between my teeth! @janinerutledge

  7. Jeff

    July 6th, 2024 at 11:37 am

    @jeffcamillo facebook @ninetoesdave

  8. Carole

    July 6th, 2024 at 1:32 pm

    @loucanlife loves dental hygiene and Sephora! 🦷

    @caro.craftnook

  9. Rachel C.

    July 6th, 2024 at 5:25 pm

    @daniellefebre

    @rachelanncartwright on instagram

  10. Chris H

    July 7th, 2024 at 3:48 am

    Tagged all my friends on IG, starting with @jconlinz. I’m @ch.imagine

  11. Marla

    July 7th, 2024 at 4:49 pm

    @marlibup

    Love oral hygiene and sephora

  12. Alice Smith

    July 9th, 2024 at 10:10 pm

    @bases555 love Sephora. @tigerd18

  13. David S.

    July 10th, 2024 at 10:35 pm

    @sass.me3 loves Sephora @coachd.yyc

  14. Nolan Smith

    July 11th, 2024 at 6:57 am

    @bases03ls is a huge Sephora fan @ewok.ab

  15. Sarah

    July 11th, 2024 at 9:01 pm

    My mom likes going to Sephora as a self-care treat. @lookatlifeupclose
    I’m Sarah Jean on FB
    @countrylivingwithkids on IG

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