I hope one day I'm the kind of rich where I can make $100 toothpaste a staple in my home–a nonchalant commodity at my disposal. For now, though, the product called Theodent and its creator are the objects of my fascination. Are you wondering how he thought up this toothpaste that uses chocolate, why celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow are obsessed with it, how I ended up meeting him, or what he's learned as CEO of his own company? If you said yes, get ready for a wild ride.
A Tulane alum, Arman Sadeghpour, invites a select number of students over for a lavish Thanksgiving dinner in his Metairie home each year right before break. As a gift to every guest he gave out his famous $100 toothpaste, and as a generally skeptical human, I had to give it a try.
A $100 Smile?
Initially, I filmed a video of me trying it for the first time, but I will spare you all from a two-minute-long video of me brushing my teeth only to reach the conclusion that it tastes like regular toothpaste. Instead, here is what happened over the course of two weeks of my using this toothpaste instead of Aquafresh (first in my dorm, then at home during Thanksgiving break):
I felt like one of those YouTube beauty gurus that gets sent cool stuff to try, but this wasn't some stranger looking for free advertising. In fact, he was just a really cool guy who wanted to share his brain child with the students of the school he loves so dearly. I had so many things I wanted to know about this mysterious chocolate-based toothpaste which, much to my surprise, worked as well as promised.
A Look Inside the World of Arman Sadeghpour and His Famous Toothpaste
Spoon: Can you speak a bit about the science behind Theodent and the discoveries that led to your product?
AS: When I first started research with Dr. Nakamoto, who I met while I was in high school, we were studying how pregnant mothers shouldn’t ingest caffeine because it can stunt the growth of the teeth and bones of a child. We focused on methylxanthines including theobromine in chocolate, which we thought would be harmful in the same way caffeine was because of their similar structures. The discovery was that the theobromine actually helped stimulate the growth of teeth and bones; it worked in re-mineralizing enamel, and it was safe to swallow.
Spoon: It must have been difficult to get the average consumer to wrap their head around what your product is really about. Was this the largest obstacle you faced?
AS: I think education is always the biggest obstacle when you’re starting a company or launching a product, especially something that’s innovative and new in the marketplace—and frankly, toothpaste hasn’t changed for 100 years. The average consumer is so inundated these days with advertising and the attention span is getting shorter, so you literally have two words to tell your story, and the ones we were allotted were “chocolate toothpaste.” People thought it was simply a flavor play. It took time and a lot of people writing articles on the internet to let them know that this was a scientific breakthrough.
Spoon: Do you have any advice for young, aspiring entrepreneurs?
AS: Not having gone to business school or law school was a really big asset to being an entrepreneur. Sometimes when you know all the rules and boundaries, it might kill some of your passion. Learn enough to be dangerous, but don’t learn too much where you’re going to stop yourself before you get started. Understand a little bit of this, a little bit of that; it’s better to be an 80% knowledge person across the board than to be 100% expert in just one area. Be critical about your idea, but believe that if you’re persistent, it’s going to succeed eventually. It won't always be in the exact way you had hoped for, but it will work itself out.
Thank you so much to Mr. Sadeghpour for your awesome insights, sweet product (yikes, had to slip in one more pun), and your phenomenal dinner.