Dr. Onaedo Achebe is passionate about many things. Among them are equity, sustainability and…teeth.
After graduating from dental school in 2018, the NYU-trained dentist envisioned a career of making the world a better place, one smile at a time. What she didn’t anticipate was having to face the stark realities of deeply inequitable healthcare gaps that makes it hard for those under a certain income threshold to have access to service.
“It’s really wild—I’ve worked at practices that landed on completely opposite ends of the spectrum, and all of those experiences were incredibly eye-opening,” Achebe shared with Essence. “At one practice I saw patients who barely had any cavities while working, to being at other facilities treating others with serious oral issues. This wasn’t due to poor hygiene, but lack of access to preventative because one patient’s insurance enabled them to get more cleanings.”
Contrary to popular belief, dental insurance is structured and functions very differently than general health insurance.
While physicians are typically employed by a hospital or physician group, dentists mostly operate their own practices. This ultimately leads to patients without high-quality dental insurance coverage paying out-of-pocket for costly dental procedures.
Achebe said the challenges in the dental insurance industry drove her to take a closer look at where she wanted to focus her time and crystallize her career priorities.
“I just got to a point where it didn’t feel good to be in either space–working for high-end practices or in others that were resource-deprived,” she said. “So I came up with the idea for Minti.”
Launched in April of this year, Achebe describes the company as a ‘good-for-you’ brand that cares for the planet and represents everyone. Minti offers a full line of toxin-free oral tools including toothbrushes with handle made of 100% compostable bamboo, and paraben-free toothpaste, a toxin that can disrupt hormone function by mimicking the hormone estrogen and lead to breast cancer.
Another key part of her brand ethos is sustainability.
“There’s so much plastic waste in dentistry and I want to change that,” she said, pointing out that all of Minti’s packaging is recyclable. “I’m here to shift the way we treat smiles–because everyone deserves to that…everyone deserves to smile.”