Justin Monaco ’21 and G’22 brings invention to dental health

headshot of a man in a dental jacket

Dentistry isn’t usually thought of as an entrepreneurial venture. Many fail to recognize the drive, recognition, communication, and service required to build your own private dental practice from the ground up. Justin Monaco ’21, now getting his master’s degree in biotechnology, is demonstrating how entrepreneurship and oral health can go hand in hand. 

“Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a dentist,” says Monaco who grew his love for dentistry from personal experience. He says, “When I was a kid, my brother and I used to suck on lemons which would cause cavities.”  Then things changed as he got older and started experiencing the real practice of dentistry.  “I found a passion for it.”

Through shadowing dentists in his hometown of Somers, New York as well as volunteer practices in the Syracuse area, he learned the many facets of entrepreneurship within dentistry. He says, “I’ve been entrepreneurially minded since I was in third grade, so I started realizing how the two fields are tied together.” He continues, “As a dentist you’re constantly thinking of business issues like what is the most convenient and cost-effective way to make a mold.”

After obtaining his undergraduate biology degree this past spring in at Syracuse University,  Monaco was looking for something to do as he worked as a dental assistant in Syracuse. He joined the Invent@SU summer program, which helps transform undergraduate students into inventors as they design, prototype and pitch original devices. 

Monaco and his team of Anh Dao, who is an industrial design major, and Bianca Andrada, who is an engineering major, created a product that they believe will revolutionize how we view oral health. He says, “I was super fortunate to have a strong team around me and we were able to combine our strengths to create a great product.”

That product is Glisten, an all-in-one device that allows you to monitor your oral health from home. The product is a handheld device with an oral strip attached that allows the user to get a 3D x-ray image of their teeth, streamline treatment, participate in an online teleservice with their dentist and so much more.

Monaco was inspired by the startling statistics of Americans who seem to disregard their oral health or are just financially unable to maintain it. He says, “3.6 billion people suffer from oral disease per year, and this is mostly due to inaccessibility of dental care.  We need a more convenient way to check someone’s oral health to see when they have to visit the dentist.” 

Monaco and his team won best understanding of STEM as well as an honorable mention in the final pitch at Invent@SU.

Team Glisten looks to ride this momentum working with the Blackstone LaunchPad as they refine their product and business development roadmpa, and compete for seed funding this academic year.  Their goal is to get this product into the hands of people who need it.

They are currently looking for someone to work to help develop a marketing and branding strategy. If you are interested, reach out to jsmonaco@syr.edu.

Story by Jack Lyons ‘22, LaunchPad Global Fellow; photos and graphics supplied