«Curaden is revolutionizing oral hygiene»

Brightly colored toothbrushes and blackberry- or gin-and-tonic-flavored toothpaste: The Curaden range is eye-catching. Ueli Breitschmid and his daughter Christine don’t market their company primarily as a product supplier, however. They have made it their mission to improve the world’s oral health.

As an entrepreneur, what exactly do you do?

Ueli Breitschmid Many people equate being an entrepreneur with earning money. And, of course, entrepreneurs earn money if they do their job properly. But anyone thinking of becoming an entrepreneur just for the money should think again. We offer more than just products. There are lots of companies that supply toothbrushes. We have made it our mission to ensure that people across the world are able to take care of their own oral health proficiently. 


What sets Curaden apart from its competitors?

U. Breitschmid I was born inquisitive. I never believed anyone just because they had a particular title. Curaden is revolutionizing oral hygiene. It’s not primarily about the products; these are the simplest component and therefore easy to copy. The art lies in convincing people to use the products properly. We see ourselves as purveyors of knowledge. The fact that oral hygiene is more important to people than it was thirty years ago has to do with the transfer of that knowledge.


C. Breitschmid There is actually a lot of product expertise out there, but unfortunately very few dental care products ultimately build on that knowledge at the development stage. That’s something we do differently.


U. Breitschmid We were the first to say that it’s better to use a “soft” toothbrush. The bristles on our brushes are very dense and this makes them feel like they’re soft. They’re flexible, don’t move about, and aren’t abrasive to the teeth. Our products also look attractive. This makes them a kind of Trojan horse, ensuring that brushing teeth is fun and, of course, ensuring that our toothbrushes and toothpastes sell better.

"I was born inquisitive. I never believed anyone just because they had a particular title."

Ueli Breitschmid

You were founded as a dental supplier and now offer a comprehensive dental health range. Can you briefly outline how you got there?

U. Breitschmid It took us 50 years. It’s a stroke of luck that we started out in the dental supply trade rather than on the consumer market. Dentists knew us and knew that our products were sound. They are our key partners because they explain to people how to clean their teeth properly. We can’t do that on our own. 


What’s Curaden’s most important product?

C. Breitschmid In terms of turnover, it’s toothbrushes. But if you’re asking about our flagship product, then that’s interdental brushes. That’s where our expertise lies. And there’s still a lot of work to do.


U. Breitschmid The available studies indicate that if you don’t clean in between your teeth, you might as well quit cleaning your teeth altogether.


You manufacture in Switzerland. Is that not more costly?

C. Breitschmid With a fully automated plant, companies in Switzerland can manufacture at quite reasonable cost. In addition, we finance our machinery via Credit Suisse leasing. At Curaden, the additional costs are in quality control rather than manufacturing. We’re very thorough at every step of the process.


What are the benefits of your products being Swiss-made?

C. Breitschmid For many people, it’s a guarantee of quality and a promise of added value.


U. Breitschmid The fact that our products are Swiss-made is a major reason for our success in many countries. 


What challenges are you currently facing?

U. Breitschmid As far as our mechanical products are concerned, we are on the right track and have made provisions for the future. They’ll keep working for another 30 years. But that’s not rocket science. Knowledge transfer is our primary task.


C. Breitschmid Our aim is to talk about our mission. We want to be more than just a company that sells toothbrushes. We want to help change the world. But that also means investing in individual markets without reaping the rewards straight away.


At the same time, however, we aren’t an NGO that focuses exclusively on educating people. Our communications activities remain a challenge. In addition, wherever we are, we are a niche player. Whether it’s manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes, or toothpaste: Our competitors are always big companies. 


What does the future hold?

C. Breitschmid Unsupervised learning and artificial intelligence to transfer knowledge are tools that we want to make greater use of.


U. Breitschmid We’re constantly thinking about what the next oral hygiene innovation might be. Chemistry is a much-discussed topic. It’s not easy to find a product that only attacks bacteria and not the teeth. Enzymes are an exciting area of research, for example, but I think any practical application would require some kind of mechanical device. We will soon be launching a new product that’s been developed by an Israeli company and cleans your teeth automatically when you bite down on it. Products like that have been around for a while, but this one is truly impressive. It could be a breakthrough.

Curaden AG

Number of employees: over 150
Founded in: 1954
Headquarters: Lucerne
Scope of activities: Oral hygiene and providing information on preventing dental problems