Have you met the latest “disrupter to dentistry?”
Floss Bar, the New York City brainchild of a former hedge fund manager, opened for business last fall and promised a new era in dental health that brings lower prices, hyper-flexible scheduling and high-quality, preventative dental care.
“At Floss Bar, we are constantly looking at ways to do dental differently and bring innovation to an industry that is in desperate need for it,” according to its website, which also touts “no shaming, no up-selling, nor surprise fees, no waiting times.”
The Floss Bar business model takes its cue from what seems to drive many start-up firms these days: the promise to make consumer choice paramount at all levels, from price to convenience to decision-making. Floss Bar has agreements with three Manhattan dental practices to provide dental hygienists during evenings and weekends hours for preventative care. All appointments, forms and payments are handled through the website. All major insurance carriers are accepted.
After making an appointment, the patient/customer can choose to have a cleaning, whitening or other “preventative care” by a Floss Bar hygienist at partner dental offices or, for an upcharge, a mobile van can meet patients at their homes or even their business office. Patients can also ask for an exam, which the hygienist performs with an oral camera; the dentist calls the patient to discuss results and whether follow-up treatment is needed.
The website lists all services and prices menu-style, promising that costs are “half” the going rates in Manhattan. Floss Bar also offers annual individual membership rates and packages for businesses to offer employees. The website doubles down on high costs for dental care as a major obstacle to those seeking treatment, charging that dental costs have been rising “three times” the rate of inflation.
The site also takes aim at traditional dental office hours, which it labels as inconvenient for most working people at best and, at worse, a reason why dental treatment is put off until it becomes an emergency.
“The vicious cycle isn’t going to be fixed by a new kind of toothbrush, a better X-ray machine, Invisalign,” Floss Bar argues. “It’s going to require a huge shift in usable supply – hours that suit our lifestyle, prices that don’t break the bank, awareness of how bad it really is and how difficult it shouldn’t be to get the preventative dental care you need.”
While still raising money for the business to expand in New York, Floss Bar’s founder Eva Sadej hopes to take the concept to the rest of the country, aiming to settle agreements with some 1,000 dental offices in five years.
Time will tell how much of a dent the Floss Bar model makes in traditional dentistry. If nothing else, it shows that untraditional forces – a hedge fund manager – are turning an eye on the profession in ways that could spell a shakeup.
The views expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily the opinions of the Chicago Dental Society.
CDS presents Front Desk, a column addressing issues facing dentists and staff members experience in the office.
Front Desk is prepared by Stephanie Sisk, a freelance journalist.