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Born from two little girls' desire to raise money for autism awareness, Bracket Ears offers accessories to connect with patients of all ages and has seen tremendous strides in its first five years.
Here at Dental Products Report, we typically specialize in covering and promoting innovative technologies that will hopefully advance your practice and professional abilities. For this feature, we're excited to present a product that differs ever so slightly in that it's not your traditional "device"; rather, it's a product that will allow you to promote your practice's brand and connect with patients of all ages.
Operating out of Columbia, Maryland, Bracket Ears offers a diverse array of low-cost, high-quality accessories for your orthodontic and general dental patients. Currently, the company offers accessories for both men and women - signature earrings designed to mimic a brace’s bracket; woven and leather bracelets; unique charms; as well as cuff links, lapel pins, and tie bars for men - and sells to clients nationwide and abroad.
In addition, Bracket Ears is in the process of developing themed accessory lines, including animal charms; icons for causes such as Susan G. Komen's "For the Cure" campaign and autism awareness; holidays and celebrations; American iconography; political parties; spirit wear, sports; and even desserts. â¨
The company debuted in 2012 as a result of the efforts of dentist and attorney Dr. Casey Crafton’s daughters, Gigi and McKenzie.
According to Dr. Crafton, the story begins many years prior, when he was 21. After unexpectedly losing his brother in an aviation accident, he and his family became very charitable, which he says has influenced his entire life and practice.
“As a pediatric dentist, I see a lot of special needs kids. I’ve always been attracted [to help] to that population,” Dr. Crafton says. â¨
Given Dr. Crafton’s clientele, he says that his son expressed interest to participate in Bike to the Beach's Maryland Ride for Autism - a 100-mile bicycle ride extending from Baltimore and Eastern Shore, MD, to Dewey Beach, DE, that raises money for autism research.
After returning from the ride, Dr. Crafton says his daughters, who were only 8 and 12 at the time, were motivated to become involved with raising money for autism research as well. As a result, the girls designed the original earrings that resemble a bracket worn by a patient, intended to be distributed during patient sessions.
"The idea for [Bracket Ears] was that when [the dentist/orthodontist] starts the case, you put the braces on the patient and you give the patient a pair of earrings to match their teeth," Dr. Crafton says.
Dr. Crafton then talked with a patent attorney, whom was convinced that the girls’ idea was both patentable and profitable.
“A lot of people have ideas, but if you don’t act on the idea, it doesn’t work very well. I want [my daughters] to be self-sufficient, to realize that if you want something you keep working for it, and it could ultimately be yours - but it’s not easy,” Dr. Crafton says.
By 2013, Dr. Crafton and his family traveled to China to have the first Bracket Ears earrings produced. Later that year, they sold more than 3,000 pairs of the earrings at the American Academy of Orthodontists conference. â¨
After partnering with the global dental device manufacturing company Dentsply, the girls started to grow their product offering.
“Dentsply said that we needed more than an earring product. I wasn’t really sure wealth to come up with … and my daughters said that they could probably do a bracelet,” Dr. Crafton says.
Following the expansion into bracelet designs, Bracket Ears has proceeded to develop the array of products listed earlier in this article and is now actively attempting to enter the collegiate marketplace. As of this writing, they've cooperated with institutions like the University of Maryland, Penn State and Texas A&M to produce logo accessories intended for dental patients as well as the greater student and alumni populations.
"Feedback from patients has been overwhelming positive." says Jeanne Hyatt, a representative for Bracket Ears. For Hyatt, one of the moments that solidified Bracket Ears’ significance was when two little girls and their father came into Dr. Crafton’s practice for a routine appointment. The girls selected turtle earrings while leaving, and excitedly asked their father when they could return to the dentist.
Interactions like these benefit both the patient and practice.
“If you look at it from a dollars and cents standpoint, if you come into my practice and you’re an 8-year-old little girl and I give you the earrings and the bracelets, and you wear that to school and tell your friends that I’m the guy in town giving out the earrings, I’m more inclined to connect with that patient and get that patient in the practice,” Dr. Crafton says.
Though Dr. Crafton’s daughters will be starting college, the company hopes to continue to develop new product lines for patients and customers. With the anticipated expansion into more collegiate markets, more options should be available for your patients in the near future. Until then, check out the Bracket Ears product line on their official website.