The AAO, through its Innovation and Transformation Fund, invested in dental startups Synapse Dental and Bright Referral.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) Innovation and Transformation Fund announced investments in two dental startups, Synapse Dental and Bright Referral.

Driving transformation and innovation within orthodontics is one of three strategic plan goals of the AAO which is carried out through a number of strategies including investing in promising startups that are aligned with AAO’s mission, values, and clinical practice guidelines. The objective of the AAO Innovation and Transformation Fund investment strategy is to support innovation within orthodontics, drive non-dues revenue for the association and have the potential to improve patient care or improve the business of running an orthodontic practice.

“The AAO Innovation and Transformation Fund is committed to investing in new technologies from like-minded companies that can help orthodontists provide the best possible care to their patients,” said Myron Guymon, DDS, MS, AAO president.

Synapse Dental, co-founded by AAO member Cosmo Haralambidis, DMD, won the 2023 AAO Ortho Innovator Award for developing the Dental Pain Eraser and competed in the 2023 AAO Ortho Tank startup pitch event. The Dental Pain Eraser is a handheld solution that uses patented PulseWaveTM technology to prevent and relieve oral pain within seconds without needles, drugs and numbness. The PulseWave technology, a type of neuromodulation, interrupts the oral pain cascade and histamine response by using proprietary subsensory electrical stimulus. The company has achieved patents in multiple countries and the technology has broader usage outside of dental and orthodontics in ENT and facial surgical procedures.

“We are excited to partner with the AAO Innovation and Transformation Fund,” said Haralambidis. “The AAO’s support will help us accelerate our growth and bring the Dental Pain Eraser to even more orthodontists and patients.”

Bright Referral, founded by Liz Sudit and AAO member Geoff Sudit, DDS, MS, competed in the 2023 AAO OrthoTank startup pitch event in Chicago at the AAO Annual Session. The company has developed software as a service (SaaS)-based technology to digitize and track the referral process which adds transparency and increases appointments from referred patients which should result in more starts.

The founders pair their “Bright Cards”, which use simple tap technology and replace a typical paper referral pad, with custom SaaS so patients get the information they want at the moment of a referral. Dental specialists who do the referring get a simpler referral process and the orthodontist getting the referral can track their referrals by source to monitor and perform outreach to doctors and referring patients who have not booked appointments. It is encrypted and HIPPA compliant, according to the company.

“We are grateful for the AAO Innovation and Transformation Fund’s investment in Bright Referral,” said Liz Sudit, co-founder of Bright Referral. “This investment will help us continue to develop our platform and make it even easier for orthodontists to connect with patients in need of care.”

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