Australian-based Company Offers Oral Care Products to Consumers and Dental Professionals Worldwide [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Craig_Erskine_Smith_BDS_PikstersGuest: Dr. Craig Erskine-Smith BDS
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Dr Erskine-Smith graduated in 1979 receiving a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the University of Adelaide. During his practice life he has developed various innovative techniques including the use of gum-coloured filling material for disguising teeth with excessively worn gums, a method for stopping unsightly gum shrinkage following extraction, and special techniques for making highly durable tooth coloured veneers on natural teeth and over existing caps or crowns. He has also developed patented dental products and devices such as the worlds’ first flexible patient education model demonstrating the dynamics of cracked cusp syndrome to make it easier for the patient to understand this complex condition. This has received acclaim from dentists in Australia, the US and Europe.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, learn more about proper dental care and hygiene from Dr. Craig Erskine Smith BDS of Piksters – Erskine Dental. They offer consumer products for personal oral care as well as professional dental products and services for members of the dental profession. Piksters is a 21 year old company owned by a former dentist and although they are australian based, they have warehouses in three continents and export to 15 countries. Among their products is the Piksters interdental brush, its ease of use tends to make people want to use them habitually – which is good because it is important to effectively remove the plaque and its bacteria at least once each day. They also have the X-Floss which can be used to floss teeth with large spaces. The firm threader is easily pushed through the spaces at the gum and the soft floss cleans the teeth and gums gently but more efficiently.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. My guest today joins me from Sydney in Australia, it’s Dr. Craig Erskine-Smith. Craig is the CEO of Erskine Dental and Erskine Oral Care. Craig welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Dr. Craig Erskine-Smith: Yes, good morning Wayne.

W: Now Craig, when I looked at the name of your firm and it says Erskine Dental, I’m inclined to think of a suburban dental practice with 3 receptionists and a dentist and a waiting room. But you’re a little bit of different to that, tell us a little more about your business.

E: Yes. So Erskine Dental used to be what you just described, but we’ve moved on now to we’re a multimillion dollar company with offices in America and England and we have the market leading product in Australia in our category for Pikters which is an interdental brush both for cleaning in the gaps between the teeth. It’s like floss, but a lot easier particularly for people that aren’t particularly ambidextrous with two hands, they can usually use one hand and use an interdental brush a lot easier than they can use floss. So that’s sort of like the core of our business, is interdental brushes but we have several hundred other dental products that we sell to dentists all throughout Australia. Many of which we import and which we now manufacture and we’re going to more and more in manufacturing our own patented product because I was a dentist for 35 years I did notice quite a few problems at the clinical process and I’m lucky enough now to be in in a situation where I can actually see what those problems are and I can do something about it, which is a very satisfying feeling to make products for example that addresses the problem and fixes something up that no one else has done before.

W: And I notice Craig on your website that there is an e-consumer e-commerce element to it so people who maybe listening to us who are not in Australia can access at that range of products if they want to, I assume.

E: Yes, that’s right. We have an online store website which is getting bigger and better by the minute. And we hope by February we have a vast array of new toothbrushes. And particularly relevant to your audience will be the ones with very large grips so that it’s very comfortable and easy to hold.

W: Yes. Now I was keen to talk to you about those because about 95% of our audience are clinicians of one sort or other. We don’t get a lot of dentists listening, I’m not sure why. But we do get a lot of people out of aged cared and I know you’ve been developing these toothbrushes and that are patented I gather but custom designed for people who don’t have great control of their dexterity. Tell us about them in some detail.

E: Yes, well we took the view many years ago that Piksters were a great little tooth thing for people who would only use one hand to clean their teeth instead of two when you have to with floss. And then we’ve got a dental hygienist came up to me in an exhibition and said “Have you got an extension handle that we can use?” And I said “No, I don’t but the now you said it, I think I should have one.” And that started about 4 years ago, this whole chain of developing things that are good for people that have a bit of arthritis or for elderly. And so we made this little extension handle and then when we’re designing our toothbrushes, we thought “What about if we could make the pikster fit in to the end of the toothbrush instead of a toothbrush head?” And so we’ve done that and we now have the ability now that to out an interdental brush with anything else with proper toothbrush handles. that’s the end of the whole side of things. But the bigger market is just general purpose toothbrushes. So we thought, “Let’s make some nice comfortable big chunky handles.” And because I was a dentist, we’ve had some fantastic instruments from dentistry that were rather large and chunky, we call them “elevators” and then we changed the name in all sorts of names that we have. I modeled some of my toothbrush handles on some of these chunky large dental instruments that we use for extracting teeth. And I don’t know how they’re gonna go and set the world on fire but we got to put them out there and just see what happens. But they’ve got very comfortable rubber on them as well. It’s slightly tacky so given the tackiness of the rubber and the sign the handle you only have to exert about half the muscular force to hold this brush and then you get a good grip without having to squeeze too hard, and that means people can clean their teeth comfortably and properly without having pain of squeezing something.

W: It is interesting Craig that you think of a toothbrush and it’s a bit of like thinking of a mousetrap. There can’t be a better mouse trap invented because every possible variation of mouse traps has being invented. And what I think a little bit that way about toothbrushes, you think “Oh this has been looked at thousand times over.” But as you’ve been talking I’ve been sitting here thinking “That’s true you know?” Something that was a bit tacky and that was a bit bigger than normal, it would be easy to hang onto and it would work with wet hands. So we wish you well with that product range.

E: Oh thanks Wayne. We look at it with our fingers crossed and we’ll be sending all the dentists in Australia a little gift box of that. And if any of your listeners are overseas and they want to get onto that, stay tuned in about February you’ll get to order it on the website.

W: I’m sure you’ll have some interest. Craig my favorite question in every interview is about misconceptions. In every business, in every industry, there’s always a misconception. And in your business, what’s the biggest misconception amongst your customers, clients, patients that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?

E: (Laugh) Oh geez I’m just thinking how can I answer this question. Oh misconceptions, well we don’t have too many of those because I’m pretty well known in Australia as being the dentist that founded a dental supply company product, yeah. And regarded as the mad professor and dental … person so most people will sort of know me because I’ve done quite a few lectures around Australia. So we don’t have too many problems I have to say in that regard.

W: That in itself is a good problem to have, isn’t it? When you don’t have enough problems?

E: Yeah, well we’ve got enough problems in terms of getting ideas and making them because the manufacturing process is not for the faint hearted. And just to do a patent for you, we have lots of patents and they’re worth $150,000 per patent so the first four years were very expensive and that’s not a tax deduction by the way. You’ve got to … for 20 years, it’s ridiculously expensive and hard to do. So yeah, the big challenge we have is just getting our products out of my head and unto the shelves of the, wherever into the dental clinics or the shelves of the pharmacy. So we do have plenty of challenges and it’s not all plain sailing, but we don’t have too many misconceptions about our business I think other than people just think we just make Piksters and I think maybe they’ll find out in a few years that we are much more than an interdental brush – we are a full oral care company and that we got all sorts of stuff.

W: And that will be a nice message for people to get and hopefully there will be too many people like me who thought of dental practices when I saw the name.

E: Well yeah, so that’s the thing. In the old days, you couldn’t have a practice called Erskine Dental, you have to be … DDS or whatever.

W: Yes.

E: But now with the corporatization and the advertising changes, … it can be a dental practice or it can be a dental company and but everybody in Australia and we’ve been around 23 years in Australia, everybody knows Erskine Dental as a dental company rather than a practice. That’s why we’ve done this in oral care with our…pharmacy type products. Our big tickets sort of products we trade as Erskine Oral Care so there is no confusing there hopefully.

W: Craig I do appreciate your time today, I realize you’re a busy man. So thank you for joining us on Health Professional Radio today.

E: My pleasure Wayne. Nice to talk to you, let’s do it again sometime.

W: We’ll do that after January when the range is released worldwide.

E: Yeah, okay.

W: If you just missed my conversation, I’ve been in conversation with Dr. Craig Erskine-Smith BDS. Now Craig is the CEO of Erskine Dental and Erskine Oral Care. And we’ve had a fascinating conversation about a range of dental products, particularly in relevance in the aged care sector. If you’ve missed my conversation, the good news is we have a transcript on our website at and you can also listen to the archive audio of that the interview on both YouTube and SoundCloud. My name is Wayne Bucklar, you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.