Early Brand History
We have always had a commitment to dentistry and to good oral health care both for the dental professional and the consumer. We have a history of excellent oral care products around the world.
Since our founding in 1923, Sunstar Americas, Inc. has been a respected leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of breakthrough oral health care products of the highest quality. We continue to take an active role in the worldwide advancement of oral health and dental care, including:
- Educating dental professionals about the link between oral and systemic health
- Sponsoring and supporting the work of professional organizations
- Investing in research and development of clinically superior dental care products
Sunstar works with clinicians, academics and scientific researchers to design manufacture and distribute innovative, high quality oral health care products. As our understanding of oral health and its relationship with systemic health has grown over time, Sunstar continues its founders’ philosophy of working with clinical, academic and scientific leaders to commercialize clinically relevant, scientifically sound products. Sunstar works with professional dental associations to support the distribution of Continuing Education resources – bringing continuously updated ‘best practice’ information to dentists and allied dental professionals.
Dr. John O. Butler, a periodontist from Chicago, started the Company in 1923 with the introduction of a 2-row, 12 tuft, wide-handled toothbrush that answered the specific need of dental professionals for a fine quality toothbrush that met oral hygiene requirements. Toothbrushes at that time were too large and bulky to reach all the way to the back of the mouth. They were made in various shapes and sizes designed mostly for appearance rather than for any scientific reason.
Adhering to a basic philosophy of research and development in preventive dentistry, Butler remained virtually a one-man business -- Dr. Butler did all the selling, administration, and educating himself. The success of his design was demonstrated by the fact that competitors developed similar designs and challenged his market position within 10 years after he began. However, the strength of Dr. Butler's integrity, innovation, and quality reputation allowed the company to thrive.
While Dr. Butler's philosophy of preventive dentistry gained acceptance, another individual began research into the correlation of oral cleanliness and dental disease. Dr. Charles C. Bass, a physician and Dean of Tulane University Medical School, began studying dental diseases upon his retirement in 1940. He substantiated the theory that oral hygiene was related to dental caries (decay) and periodontal (gum) disease. Dr. Bass also designed the "Right Kind" toothbrush and gave The John O. Butler Company exclusive rights to market it. This product is still offered today.
Dr. Butler sold the company to an investment group in 1949 and they expanded the business, adding new products, a field sales force, penetration in the retail market, and overseas operations or distributors in over 50 foreign countries.
In 1988, Sunstar, Inc., a leading Japanese manufacturer of health-related consumer products took ownership of the company. Sunstar's strength and experience in manufacturing, research, and development have enhanced the company’s ability to grow and prosper. The company was renamed Sunstar Americas, Inc., and continues to use its well-known brand names GUM® and Butler® for all its products.
Today, Sunstar Americas, Inc. employs over 600 people worldwide. In addition to its U.S. headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, it has operations Canada, Mexico, and Argentina.
The future for professional and consumer oral care is very bright, as awareness of the importance of good oral hygiene continues to increase worldwide. Technological advances in oral care are growing at an accelerated rate and Sunstar is well positioned for this global growth with high brand recognition and a solid reputation.
Leading Product Innovations
The founder of the company, Dr. John O. Butler, was committed to designing products that would conform to the highest professional standards and oral hygiene requirements. Dr. Butler's original concept of product innovation and complete dedication to the dental profession still prevails at Sunstar Americas, Inc. today. That is why the Company has provided the dental profession with innovations to help their patients. Some of the company's earlier product innovations include:
1. Original 2-row toothbrush: Dr. Butler designed the original brush with a bone handle and natural bristles that had a straight trim.
2. Velvet-tip™, sanitized nylon: The term "velvet-tip™" was introduced by Dr. Butler many years ago when he realized the damage that could be done by an untreated, cut nylon bristle. We believe he was the first to treat bristle ends, using a rounding and tapering process that allowed each bristle to better fit in the narrow sulcus.
3. Round rubber-tip stimulator: Rather than triangular rubber tips found on most toothbrushes of that time, Dr. Butler placed a round tip on the brush because it scientifically gave better and more gentle contact to the interdental area.
4. Disclosing tablets: A disclosant tablet that eliminated the mess associated with liquid disclosants.
5. Colored handles: Dr. Butler switched from bone to plastic handles, originating the idea of colored handles so each member of the family could identify their own toothbrush.
6. Dome trim on #411 GUM® brush: Careful research confirmed that toothbrush bristles, when placed at a 45-degree angle against the tooth (Bass brushing technique), bunch together and interfere with the penetration of the bristle under the gumline and between the teeth. Sunstar Americas, Inc. minimized this bunching by trimming the bristles in a patented dome shape, which varies the length of the bristles. This benefit has been clinically proven.
7. The Proxabrush System interdental cleaners: The Proxabrush System was invented by a dentist at the University of Alabama who licensed it to the Sunstar Americas, Inc. to improve and promote it. The original handle was metal. Sunstar Americas, Inc. has expanded the use of interdental cleaners by introducing the first double-ended handle and the no-load Proxabrush® Trav-Ler®, adding the popular #612 tight brush refill, and coating the wire core with nylon to reduce galvanic sensitivity.
8. End-tuft toothbrush: Dentists told Sunstar Americas, Inc. that twisted teeth and bridges were difficult to clean with a standard toothbrush so two new end-tuft brushes were designed with the small brush head specifications that were requested.
9. Water soluble wax on dental floss: Paraffin wax has been added to floss by manufacturers to minimize shredding and add strength. However, wax greatly reduced the spreadability of floss which picks up plaque. Sunstar Americas, Inc. engineered a water soluble wax so the floss had strength to get between teeth without shredding, yet spread during use when it contacted saliva on the tooth surface.
This flexible nylon loop, patented by Sunstar Americas, Inc., made it possible to thread dental floss in small spaces where floss and toothbrush bristles could not fit, such as under bridges and orthodontic wires.
11. PostCare™ flossing aid for implants: PostCare™ was designed by a dental hygienist with an extensive background in dental implants, when she realized her patients lacked an effective means for cleaning them without scratching the metal posts. Recognizing Sunstar Americas, Inc. commitment to dentistry, she made the design available in a regular and thin braided cord for the Company to manufacture and promote.