In the business of smiles
Local dental products company Sporting Smiles marks 10 years

By EILEEN MOZINSKI SCHMIDT - Special to Conley Media

May 28, 2019

A photo of some of the products offered by Sporting Smiles. The Waukesha-based business sells dental guards, retainers and whitening supplies. This month marks 10 years in business.
Submitted photo

WAUKESHA — When Evan McCarthy was in 8th grade, he was accidentally hit with a wayward baseball bat during gym class.

He lost four of his front teeth.

McCarthy’s father was a dentist and was able to patch him up, but from then on he had the care of replacement teeth to manage. Little did McCarthy know it was the beginning of a journey that would lead to a successful business.

After the accident, McCarthy took care to wear mouth guards when playing sports. But he found that over-the-counter guards were “uncomfortable and boring,” according to a press release.

McCarthy asked his father to teach him how to make custom guards and began producing some with different colors, patterns and graphics, drawing interest from family and friends.

“It got to be a hobby of mine,” he said, of creating his own dental guards, in an interview with The Freeman

McCarthy saw a gap in the market and began selling the guards online as a side job. But as McCarthy’s side business took more and more of his time, he decided it was “time to take the plunge” into working on his own operation.

In May of 2009, Sporting Smiles was launched. The company started by offering custom dental guards and later expanded into offering retainers and whitening solutions.

McCarthy’s interest was well timed. It coincided with the boom of the Internet and a growing comfort among consumers with ordering products online.

Waukesha business Sporting Smiles offers 3-D scanning and printing of most of its dental models. Business owner Evan McCarthy said he believes the company will continue to expand its digital technology in the future.
Submitted photo

There also was a generation of people who had orthodontic work done and therefore were in need of post-braces retainers, along with a growing segment in the market for cosmetic products like whitening kits.

People now “look for everything online,” McCarthy said. “This is the natural thing.”

Today, as it marks 10 years in business, Sporting Smiles has 14 full-time employees, as well as a few part-time workers.

A year-and-a-half ago, the business moved to a 10,000square-foot warehouse on Doral Road in Waukesha and converted the space into a new headquarters. The space allows Sporting Smiles to house a 3D printer for filling orders “Everything is made here in house,” McCarthy said.

Customers are sent a kit, where they take an impression and return it to Sporting Smiles for a custom product. McCarthy said the business has customers all over the U.S., and fills international orders as well.

In the dental guards line, McCarthy said the business customizes orders and also has models in stock that are available.

“We do a lot with jiujitsu,” he said, adding that those guards have become so popular that they are now kept in stock.

A shipment of dental stone arriving at Sporting Smiles in Waukesha last month. The business prints 3-D models, but also pours them, producing products on site at its Waukesha headquarters.
Submitted photo

American athletes are wearing mouth guards in a growing number of sporting activities and marital arts, like jiu-jitsu, said McCarthy, catching up to European countries where he said guard use has historically been more widespread.

Retainers are the latest offering by Sporting Smiles, and McCarthy said there is increased interest as the orthodontic process has become less invasive and more utilized.

“People are doing clear orthodontics,” he said, referencing products like Invisalign. “They make straightening your teeth easy now.”

Sporting Smiles does not accept insurance payments; however, McCarthy said some of his consumers pay for products out of flex spending accounts.

As the business moves into a new decade of operation, McCarthy said he envisions developing the technology related to the 3D printing of products. The operation is “transitioning to full digital so we can keep everyone’s mold on file forever,” he said.

At the outset, McCarthy said he didn’t imagine the business growing into such a large operation.

“We never saw ourselves having this big building and all these employees. It will be interesting to see where it goes in the future,” he said.

The accident that started it all was a difficult experience, and McCarthy said he will probably spend the rest of his life having his teeth fixed. And yet, when he considers the success of Sporting Smiles, McCarthy said he wouldn’t go back in time and change things.

“I would have it happen again in a second,” he said.