Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 12 Boka Family

Putting better periodontal health in the mail: An interview with James Hagen, CEO and cofounder of Boka

Dec. 3, 2015
Boka is a dental product subscription service company that offers toothbrushes, electric brush heads, floss, and natural toothpaste. Apex360 Deputy Editor Erin Robinson recently interviewed Boka's CEO and cofounder James Hagen to learn more about the company's plans to partner with dental offices and educate consumers about oral-systemic health.

Boka, a new entrant into the dental product subscription service market, aims to partner with dental offices and educate consumers about oral-systemic health.

From pet toys to jewelry, product subscription services have popped up in almost every consumer-facing industry—and dentistry's no exception. Minneapolis-based Boka is a new entrant into the home-care product subscription service market, offering home delivery of manual brushes, electric brush heads, natural toothpaste, and floss to consumers who sign up online.

Apex360 recently had the opportunity to discuss Boka's products and goals with CEO and cofounder James Hagen. Keep reading to learn about how Boka's products and services differ from those of other, similar companies and about partnership opportunities for dental offices or likeminded brands.

Tell us about Boka's subscription service and the product options it offers.

Boka was initially created to address the unintentional neglect of toothbrush replacement. The average person replaces his or her brush less than twice a year, but it should be done quarterly. We designed our floss and toothpaste sizes with this in mind, so the products are delivered every three months. Our launch products are: toothbrushes with soft, tapered bristles designed to reduce bacteria growth while also facilitating greater interproximal access; electric brush heads; expanding floss with beeswax; and natural toothpaste.

While each box delivers consumer staples for proper oral care, we want to make sure there’s an element of surprise and fun to inspire better oral health. We include educational materials with a playful (yet informed) voice and illustrations to engage both adults and children alike.

What need did you see in the market for Boka?

Walking through the dental aisle at a supermarket or drugstore can be an unpleasant experience for consumers. The products that are available don’t always fit every bathroom’s aesthetic, and the messages can be confusing and clinical. The fact that so many people have periodontal disease suggests that the average person is both uninspired and uneducated about oral health. We’re using the power of design and voice to encourage better home care, but we’d also like to help dental offices communicate their messages to their patients and help increase their recall rates. Better home care and consistent trips to the dentist can dramatically reduce the prevalence of the most preventable disease in our country.

What distinguishes Boka and its products from other home-care product subscription services?

Our main mission is for Boka to be accessible and promote positive change. Our products are great for everyone from children to adults, and our boxes are customizable from color to quantity for singles or families.

Most importantly, we realize that some of the most basic tools and the right technique can help to prevent periodontal disease. That doesn’t mean we aren’t innovative; we have an electric brush in motion, and we’re working on tools to encourage more consistent flossing. We believe that design is only one component to our business and that the education we offer, our ingredients, and the passion behind what we’re doing make us unique compared to other home-care product subscription services.

We also see ourselves differing from other oral care brands in that we promote education and the holistic connection in a more tangible, positive way. We’re confident that once consumers better understand this link and don’t feel they’re being shamed, they’ll start taking more ownership over their mouths and bodies.

What do dentists need to know about Boka?

Boka was born in collaboration with American Dental Accessories, a supply company focused on empowering practices to reduce overhead, and Zeus Jones, a top design and strategy firm that’s worked with a diverse group of clients. Together, we’ve built a powerful engagement tool to reach both current and prospective patients. Our main mission is to get people excited about taking care of their mouths (and understanding the link between oral health and overall health). While part of our business is interfacing directly with consumers, we’re also committed to partnering with dental offices on cobranded messages, including oral health tips and recall messages that go beyond existing dental office marketing campaigns.

What's in store for Boka's future?

We’re moving forward with multiple product offerings that will launch in 2016, including some that are technologically innovative and others that use more interesting flavors and ingredients to get people more excited about their daily oral care rituals.

Overall, we’re open to partnerships with likeminded brands that are using better ingredients and design to improve personal care.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

We believe good oral care should be considered as an important preventive health pillar, along with diet, exercise, and sleep. We also recognize that, globally, many people lack access to water and basic hygiene. Since 2009, I’ve been intimately involved with SURGE, a clean-water and hygiene nonprofit. All of us at Boka are happy to partner with the organization—by donating products in the short-term and, eventually, by helping local entrepreneurs make and distribute products, like soap and toothpaste.

Where can our readers find more information about Boka?

Our website is Our social media handles on Twitter and Instagram are @loveyourboka, and you can also find us on Facebook at Any dental practices that are interested in potentially beta testing our patient engagement program should email [email protected]. Happy brushing!


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Erin Robinson is an associate editor in the dental group at PennWell Corporation, where she edits for Dental Economics, RDH magazine,, and the Product Navigator e-newsletter and acts as deputy editor of Apex360. Prior to joining the dental team at PennWell, Erin completed her master's degree at the University of Tulsa, where she taught professional writing to students majoring in business, engineering, and the natural sciences. To contact her or submit an article, email [email protected].
James Hagen started his career as a hedge-fund analyst in NYC before becoming the president of American Dental Accessories and cofounder of Boka. For the past eight years, James has worked in e-commerce and digital marketing, starting consumer brands from scratch and modernizing a catalog company. His passion for holistic health led him to cofound Boka. James has a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and received his master's in business administration from Columbia University.