AM Investment Strategies
AMS Spring 2023

Creating affordable custom night guards through the power of 3D printing

Formnext

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Night time teeth grinding, or bruxism in medical terms, affects over 50 million Americans every year. Left unprotected, teeth grinders often wake up with chipped teeth, headaches, receding gum lines, and a sore neck or jaw. Over time, Teeth grinders may develop TMD, a life altering jaw disorder that can severely hurt one’s way of life. Kevin Gindi, cofounder and co-ceo of Cheeky, is a lifetime teeth grinder who has also suffered through sleepless nights without a custom night guard. What’s a custom night guard? It is an oral appliance that protects people from the harmful effects of consistent grinding and clenching. The problem Cheeky solves? Custom night guards are too expensive and get gross over time.

Sending affordable custom night guards straight to people’s homes, Cheeky uses 3D printing technology to build cost effective, perfect-fitting custom night guards. Kevin explains, “If you grind your teeth you know it hurts! My days and nights are significantly worse when I don’t have my Cheeky night guard on.” From the onset, Cheeky has had a commitment to 3D printing and its capacity to revolutionize oral care. When asked how 3D tech has enabled Cheeky, Jack Gindi, co-ceo notes,  “We launched Cheeky knowing we would need to utilize everything 3D tech has to offer to this space. Over the past 3 years we’ve tinkered away at our process so that we can get closer to perfection every day.” Cheeky’s business model may not have been possible just a few years ago, as today’s 3D tech allows for the printing of this product accurately at scale. In particular, there has been innovation in the materials used to print. Cheeky can now print models at 200uM (microns) for high speed and accuracy.

At Cheeky’s lab in Brooklyn, New York, dental technicians use 3D scanners to digitally store their users’ teeth, and 3D printers as part of the process to manufacture their custom night guards. There are many accepted ways to make a custom night guard. However, using 3D printers and scanners is the most cost efficient, accurate, and scalable process. The Cheeky team has perfected this process, by shipping out hundreds of thousands of night guards, while maintaining their unique life time perfect fit guarantee. The most exciting part? The fact that Cheeky stores all of its users’ mouths digitally allows them to create a repeatable process over time. That is why Cheeky’s night guards are affordable enough to be replaced quarterly. Kevin explains why this is important, “ One of the biggest hurdles in this business is maintaining product quality as volume grows…Cheeky users expect a perfect night guard every time they receive a shipping notification,”  Kevin notes, “ The ability to digitally store and accurately print our user’s teeth ensures that the end product will consistently fit perfectly. Since launch, our main focus has been refining our scanning and printing process even further to exceed the standard we’ve set thus far. ”

The Cheeky team may utilize 3d Tech to manufacture its product, however it took over 3 years to get the most out of the machinery. Since 2019, the founders have used trial and error to find the perfect process for them, maximizing output and accuracy along the way. Sam (COO and co-founder) says, “ In the beginning, we were printing slowly, inefficiently, and too often inaccurately. When the time to scale came, we had to adapt and improve our process to match the demand. We were only able to do so because we had spent countless hours making sure we manufacture fast and accurately. ” The team, with the help of Formlabs,  has learned to use its printers and scanners to maximize comfort in its night guards while maintaining the capacity to ship at scale.

Kevin, Jack, and Sam built Cheeky to help the millions of people who grind their teeth get a perfect custom night guard. Without the major innovations that have taken place in the 3D printing space, that would not have been possible.

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