3M approached Northwestern to help look into how we might expand the 3M brand into dental products to promote dental health throughout their entire lives. While 3M has developed many tools in dental health, they all target the dentists and haven't branched deeply into the direct to consumer market. We put together a 5 year plan of what products the company should tackle and in what order in order to become a player in the dental health consumer market.

Design Researcher & Strategist

Team of three (Mar - Jun 2019)

User Research
Competitive Analysis
Design Strategy
Story Telling
Experience Design

How can 3M help people manage and improve their lifelong dental health in a way that deepens their relationship with dental professionals?

User Journey

First, we researched when people's dental health was at it's worst and why they stopped taking care of themselves. So, to do this we talked  to 5 dental professionals, 3 parents of kids varying in ages, and 6 young adults as well as delving into existing market research and new products. After analyzing their stories, we found a general theme and commonality across the stories.
When Dana was born, her mom knew that she was going to love and care for her as best she could.
As Dana grew up, she wanted to be just like her mom, copying what she did. Dana’s mom checked to see if the toothbrush was wet at night to make sure she brushed her teeth.
Dana's mom makes appointments with their pediatric dentist. As Dana grows up she gets braces and begins to brush and floss on her own.
She develops close friends and they become a tight knit group. Dana also spends more time on social media and school work.
In parallel, Dana starts to notice boys. Her motivation to take care of her teeth shifts away from her mom and towards how other people perceive her. As her teen years advance, her dental routine is roughly the same. After she gets her braces off, she slowly stops to use her retainer.
When she turns 18, she begins taking care of her own healthcare as her mom can’t make appointments for her anymore. That year, she heads off to college.
At college, she makes new friends. Dana most likely starts going out more, drinking alcohol significantly more, sleeping less and eating worse. She forgets to brush every once in a while, “but what is the big deal”. Now her habit is to brush only once a week and never floss. Once a year when she visits home she’ll see the same pediatric dentist.
College ends and she enters the “real world.” She stops seeing any dental professionals all together, focused on her job. She calls home twice a month, but is focused on her career for now. Her job has dental insurance, and it’s something that’s nice to say she has, but she doesn’t really use it. She has her friends, her job, and social media.
That’s when she finds the love of her life. They fall in love, get married and they decide to have a baby.
She wants to help her baby live it’s healthiest life, and so she takes it on herself to be a good example.
She turns her health around and goes back to her own dentist as well as working with her son’s dentist.
If we look at Dana’s entire life, we can map her dental health directly to her connections to her dental professionals and the depth of her family relationships.


Since young adults are motivated by social relationships, they focus on pursuing cosmetics when considering oral health because they are driven by the ways others’ perceive them.​

Young adults view dentist visits as a chore disconnected from their lifestyle, thus only utilizing in times of need rather than proactively.

During life transitions, weakened familial relationships lead to drop off in personal oral care. We noticed this specifically with college aged  students. Those who talked with their parents almost everyday had healthier dental care routines.

​When looking to make oral health improvements, young adults only consider implementing direct actions, such as whitening strips or toothpastes, as opposed to indirect actions, such as healthy eating, even though dentists call for a combination of both.​

Combining all of the key aspects of these insights we pulled out a single overarching insight to inform 3M's strategy moving forward:

Despite dentists’ ability to provide cosmetic benefits, young adults view dentist visits as a chore and grow disconnected from their care network when gaining independence from the childhood support structures that originally drove them to the dentist.

To support people when their dental health was the weakest, our team developed
To support people when their dental health was the weakest, our team developed
Rise by 3M is a networked ecosystem that empowers young adults to connect with dental professionals and their extended care network through a seamless dental experience.
The value proposition is 3-fold. First, for young adults transitioning to a first full time job, Rise by 3M provides a connection to their personal care network and convenient oral care.
For dentists, Rise by 3M gives them exposure to new clients. This increases business security by no longer relying exclusively on Google reviews for new patients.
For 3M, Rise connects young adults to their dental care network, ensuring they consume more in-office 3M products and will choose 3M clear aligners over competitors.


We have developed a suite of products that build on each other to help 3M disrupt the oral care market. Here are short descriptions of what the products are before diving deeper into them.

Rise Smart Kit

A modular toothbrush that grows up with the user, collects data, and communicates knowledge about your mouth.

Rise App

Digital app connecting users to their brushing data and their personal care network.

Dentist Connect

Patients easily schedule dental appointments with 3M verified dentists and have fingertip access to records and results anytime.

Expanded Smart Product Line

Introduction of new smart products to enhance the users ability to maintain high quality oral care.

3M Clarity Integration

Implementation of the current Clarity aligner into Rise app. Discounted aligners for Subscription Kit members.

Dr’s Inventory

Convenient inventory management that connects 3M to inventory data to ensure doctor’s always have product on hand.

Space & Service

Transform the office environment to a setting young adults will want to be.


Increased clarity towards dental expenses to maintain high access to 3M oral care professionals.

Rise Smart Kit

A subscription based service that sends users a curated, personalized box every month with the tools they need to manage their oral health including toothpaste, floss, and new brush heads for their smart toothbrush.​

“I like belonging to Stitch Fix because it feels like it’s made just for me.”

​“I stopped using the toothpaste I love because I haven’t had time to go to the store”

Rise App

The Rise App connects with the 3M smart brush to deliver real time data on the quality of daily habits. Users can easily see how to improve and how they stack up against their network.

“My Apple Watch motivates me to workout because I can see when my friends do.”

“I think I brush pretty well. Like once a day maybe… It’s fine.”

Dentist Connect

The Dentist Connect feature allows users to easily schedule dental appointments with a 3M verified dentist in their area. The platform allows dentists to log results digitally, so the patient has record ownership should they move to a new city.

“I try to improve my Google Reviews so that patients can find me more easily. I would love to get more patients.”  Dentists currently attempt to artificially bolster their reviews. The Dentist Connect would allow 3M to keep a verified registry. The registry could increase business and also providing dentists with a safety net from losing clients if they get a bad review.

“I stopped going to my family dentist when I moved out of town, and I haven't settled down yet so I don't want to form a new relationship just to leave again.”

Expanded Smart Product Line

As the subscription Oral Health Kit grows a consumer base, and the smart brush gains traction, 3M could roll out additional smart products, such as a flosser, waterpik or smart retainer cases which could provide additional data for patient adherence.

Clarity Aligner Integration

Clarity Aligner Integration implements the current Clarity Aligner digital experience into the the Rise by 3M app. Additionally, for those enrolled into the subscription kit, 3M could offer discounts on the Clarity Aligner.

“As a dentist, we begin to get a pretty good understanding of the orthodontic practices around us, so it’s natural for us to provide recommendations to out patients.”

Dr’s Inventory Subscriptions

The Doctor’s Inventory Subscription allows Doctors and Office Managers to avoid the hassle of re-ordering 3M products through a smart inventory management system. This will provide simplicity to a doctor’s practice, as well as provide 3M with the opportunity to sell more current products. ​

“I have no brand allegiance to the products I use in my practice.”

Space & Service Model

3M will work with dentists to help them transform their office space to be an environment where patients want to go, rather than have to endure.

“I spend so much of my time in the waiting room with nothing to do.”​

“I like getting my hair done because I can just sit back, relax, and get pampered.”

3M Dental Plan

The 3M Dental Plan is an easy to understand and enroll insurance program that offers clear pricing for services provided within the 3M dental network. The 3M Dental Plan saves you money while providing the highest quality care.  

“I usually recommend my patients to not even get dental insurance. They make it too complicated.”​

“My employer provides dental insurance, but I don’t really utilize it.”

How to get it done

Some of these ideas may seem out there for 3M's current business model and expertise, but some aren't. Certain elements depend on the adoption of previous steps, so we have outlined the way in which we believe 3M should roll out their products, marking which parts are steps, stretches, and leaps.


3M is currently able to execute these ideas and release them with their current core competencies.


3M could feasibly develop these new technology components in a few years to further push the innovation in the dental care space.


3M could reach towards accomplishing these goals to make a big splash, but they are lofty goals for further into the future.

Reason to believe

By executing on the big idea, 3M will be able to connect young adults to dental professionals, generating additional revenue for the company as well as building brand recognition within the oral care sector.