An idea developed at 10 grows into a patent pending device
Ten year old Christina Gordon struggles to floss with the metal braces now attached to her teeth. If only there was a way to clean the sides of each brace while also flossing the tooth. Gordon ‘15, who is now 25 and a third year dentistry student, has used her creative mind to self-publish a book and start a charity, but it is her most recent dental invention, one that she first thought of when she was in middle school, that she is the most proud of.
Her innovative dental device makes flossing with braces more feasible and less time consuming for kids and adults. The device, known as the Proxy Flosser, is an interproximal- used in areas between teeth- brush floss pick that reduces time spent on oral hygiene care in orthodontic braces. It combines two cleaning features, an interproximal brush and a dental floss pick in one compact device.
“I came up with the idea when I was 10 years old,” Gordon said. “I was always a smart and nerdy kid with a bunch of ideas in my head, and I just came up with it one day when I was brushing my teeth.”
Gordon did not develop the invention until after graduating college at Washington and Lee University in 2019 and beginning in dental school at Virginia Commonwealth University of Dentistry.
“I thought back to the invention idea in dental school and decided to turn it into an actual invention,” Gordon said. “With the pandemic, I had a lot of free time and was able to play around with the idea and work on it. It has been a long process, and the engineering was especially difficult, but it is now patent pending and an illustrated video is found on YouTube titled Proxy Flosser.”
Classmate of Gordon, Harris Salom who is currently in his first year of dentistry school, said that Gordon’s invention is brilliant.
“Sometimes it is not the most complicated fix that will make the biggest difference,” Salom said.
Another classmate, Kristin Richey, who is currently in her fourth year, said that Gordon has impacted her, as well as her studies and habits.
“Christina is very positive and cheery and always brightens your day,” Richey said. “She is extremely hard working and smart. I was her mentor but she showed me how to study efficiently and use my time wisely.”
Gordon did not always know she wanted to become a dentist, but aspired to work in healthcare from a young age.
“I was always interested in healthcare but not necessarily dentistry,” Gordon said. “I got interested in dentistry in college and after I finish dental school, I would really love to go into orthodontics.”
Senior Emily Lichty, who was Gordon’s fifth grade buddy in 2015, knew of Gordon’s inclination toward healthcare, but found out more recently about her dentistry path through Instagram. Lichty, who as a fifth grader looked up to Gordon, was once again impressed by her buddy’s capability.
“I knew she was going down the medicine track, but I didn’t know she went to dentistry which I thought was super cool,” Lichty said. “I honestly started bragging about it. Now I am a senior buddy, so I wonder if my senior buddy will think of me like I did with Christina.”
Lichty remembers that Gordon was always confident with everything she was doing.
“She seemed like she really knew the path she was going down,” Lichty said. “She didn’t seem scared to do things that people might have told her she should do when she was older. I really admire her ambition and the way she made me feel heard.”
While at ESD, Gordon wrote a book beginning her sophomore year in an honors English class taught by Elaine Murphy. The class was assigned a creative writing piece based on the documentary “The Boxcar People,” and when Murphy read the vignettes Gordon wrote, she strongly recommended turning them into a book.
“[Mrs Murphy] told me to turn them into a book, so that is what I did,” Gordon said. “I started to write the book and it took me around a year before it was self-published and available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.”
Gordon was able to create her book, Finding Hope: A Dog’s Tale with the help of editor Jill K. Sayre and illustrator Cathi Martinez. This experience inspired Lichty, Gordon’s fifth grade buddy.
“She was the craziest senior buddy, but not in the way you would expect,” Lichty said. “The things she had going on were hard to even imagine as a fifth grader. I remember her telling me she started this research project, and it evolved into a book, which was just the coolest thing for a fifth grader to hear. I remember wondering if I was going to write a book in high school.”
Gordon began to become a role model, as Lichty was not just impressed with the book, but also a variety of other things Gordon occupied herself with.
“I actually met her at Olivellas when she was my waitress, and she saw my school skirt and requested to be my senior buddy,” Lichty said. “So even then I saw her in this environment where she was working really hard. She was working at Olivellas to save up for college, she wrote a book, she started a charity, and she was a great soccer player until she got injured. She was just very impressive all around.”