The company is reinventing the way we approach oral health through the oral microbiome
San Diego, CA - May 24, 2022 - Bristle announces today the closing of their $3m seed round, led by Initialized Capital, with investments from Y Combinator and Anne Wojcicki (CEO, 23andMe).
Bristle helps people measure, understand, and improve oral health through the oral microbiome.
Customers provide a saliva sample for analysis and receive detailed information about the microbes (fungi and bacteria) in their mouths associated with a variety of oral health conditions including tooth decay, gum inflammation, and halitosis (bad breath).
Based on their results, users receive diet, hygiene, and oral care product recommendations to improve the balance of microbes - potentially helping with related issues they may be suffering from. Bristle also provides 1:1 coaching through hygienists focused on oral health & hygiene education to help users implement their recommendations.
Common oral health conditions — such as chronic halitosis — can be frustratingly difficult to connect to specific triggers. While over-the-counter treatments are available they do not address the root cause of the issue. A flood of “wellness” products in the market today claim to address the oral microbiome but lack the data to back it up.
“Our oral health is kind of a black box,” says Danny Grannick, CEO and co-founder at Bristle. “Some people get cavities all the time even though they’re religious about oral hygiene, while other people constantly have bad breath and are pulling their hair out to figure out why and how they can fix it. People try a million different things they read online and nothing seems to work, then in a few months, they’re back in a dental chair or chewing mints 24/7. We help people understand why they have a condition and how they can improve - based on science & data. We take the guesswork out of oral health.”
There are over 700 species of bacteria associated with the oral microbiome. Some of them are beneficial while others are pathogenic and cause damage. The balance of pathogenic and beneficial microbes in our mouths contributes to our risk of oral disease. Bristle’s test leverages advanced genetic sequencing technology to identify and quantify all of the microbes in a single saliva sample — usually finding over 100 different types of bacteria. Bristle also tracks a variety of clinical and behavioral factors to stratify their impact on the oral microbiome and oral health.
“We detect these bacteria before they have the opportunity to grow and cause irreversible damage,” explains David Lin, CSO & co-founder. “Earlier detection enables interventions that exist today but are underutilized, providing non-invasive and inexpensive options for patients when they are most effective in preventing disease.”
There has been an explosion in microbiome research over the last decade but it is largely focused on the gut. Bristle is helping pioneer the oral microbiome in partnership with the University of the Pacific, investigating the link between the oral microbiome, oral health, and overall health conditions.
“Most of the research in oral health has been at the clinical level, associating oral and systemic conditions,” adds Danny. “We’ve known for a long time about links between oral health and conditions like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, but very little research has been done investigating why these links exist. By characterizing the connection between the mouth and the body we can help people improve their oral health as a component of their overall health.”
Dental care can be inconvenient, expensive, and ineffective. First-line tools including X-rays and observational screenings detect the symptoms of disease, like tooth decay and bleeding gums, instead of the root causes. By the time many oral diseases (like cavities and gum disease) are detected, they’ve already become serious issues that require invasive procedures such as cavity fillings and root canals. The standard of care revolves around reactively treating disease instead of proactively managing health - something Bristle plans to change.
Bristle users receive a testing kit in the mail and return a single saliva sample. The sample is processed in a lab and results are available online through a personal login. The user then receives a one-on-one session with a hygienist who discusses what steps can be taken to improve that person’s unique oral microbiome. Subsequent tests can then be taken over time to track progress. As new research emerges, Bristle users will receive updates as to how findings affect their personal results.
“The benefit of a platform like Bristle is that the recommendations we make (and the insights we provide) are constantly improving as we gather data around the oral microbiome and different products,” David explains. “As new products are developed and we gain confidence in the data around them, we make data-driven decisions around which products to recommend to which users. At some point, more targeted therapeutics will become available, but today we're solving them with the most effective tools we have data for.”
While Bristle is available direct-to-consumer they are also working to educate the dental community about their technology and the oral microbiome. Their approach has attracted a variety of key advisors in dental care and oral health.
“Going direct-to-consumer makes Bristle accessible to anyone, which is critical given that only 60% of US adults even see a dentist every year,” Danny explains. “At the same time, we know that changing the standard of care requires buy-in from a variety of stakeholders including patients, providers, and payers. Oral health is this amazing opportunity to rebuild a system of care the right way - patient-first, prevention-focused, and readily accessible.”
"Bristle fills a knowledge & care gap that patients would never receive from the standard biannual dental visit," says Parul Singh, partner at Initialized Capital*. "We see their unique combination of technology-driven data and personalized user experience as a perfect example of how precision medicine can change the future of healthcare."*
For more information on Bristle, please visit https://www.bristlehealth.com/.
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