Disrupting Dentistry with a New Generation of Oral Care
Disrupting Dentistry with a New Generation of Oral Care

"It was seeing people be healthier and happier by taking care of their mouth. And that was really the spark for what is Twice." 

- Cody Levine

Get those sparkling smiles ready as Elizabeth welcomes the dynamic duo, Julian and Cody Levine, co-founders of the oral wellness brand, Twice. They're on a mission to revolutionize the way we think about our oral health and its connection to our overall well-being. Cody and Julian were inspired by a heartwarming charitable dental mission that opened their eyes to the importance of oral care for underserved communities. They joined forces with their father, the esteemed Dr. Jonathan Levine, to craft a next-gen oral care brand that's all about holistic health and boosting oral wellness. In their conversation, they unpack their approach to building a modern wellness brand, and why your oral microbiome (yes, it's the second-largest after your gut!) deserves some serious attention. Discover how Twice products go beyond clean ingredients to leverage cutting-edge science, how systemic health issues are linked to a dysbiosis of our oral microbiome, and the profound importance of finding joy and purpose in your wellness journey.

Get 15% off your order at TWICE when you use the code purely15.


    Elizabeth Stein 0:00
    Hi, everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, founder, and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. And this is Live Purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey.

    This week's guests are Julian and Cody Levine brothers and co founders of oral wellness company Twice. Committed to empowering people to take control of their oral health and educate them on the mouth’s connection to overall health. Inspired on a charitable dental mission providing free dentistry to communities without access to care, the brothers teamed up with their father Dr. Jonathan Levine to design a next generation oral care brand focused on holistic health and improved oral wellness. In this episode, we talk about their approach to building a modern-day wellness brand, the importance of our oral microbiome, which is the second largest to our gut microbiome, how Twice products provide not only clean ingredients, but also efficacy through cutting edge science to create better mouth body balance. Julian and Cody share some of the key ingredients to watch out for an oral care, how systemic health issues are linked to a dysbiosis of our oral microbiome, and the importance of finding joy and purpose. I absolutely love what Twice is doing. They are so on the cutting edge. To try their products, visit smiletwice.com and use code PURELY15 for 15% off your online order. Enjoy.

    Cody and Julian, welcome to the podcast. So excited to have you here. I'm such a big fan of your brand. Right before this, I had my whitening strips on so hopefully my teeth are looking nice and white for you guys. Welcome.

    Cody 1:50
    Thank you. Happy to be here. Keep on looking great.

    Elizabeth Stein 1:54
    Great. So let's start with before you guys started Twice, what were you guys both doing in your career. Just first to establish, you’re brothers. So, there's that.

    Cody 2:07
    Yeah. I'm Cody, the younger brother. Before starting Twice, I was in marketing. I was starting creative ad agencies in New York and I was helping big companies, Fortune 500 businesses from AT and T to FedEx to the Bacardi portfolio, I was helping them tell stories and connect their customers building global campaigns, integrated marketing campaigns. I loved it and the ability to help tap into a consumer's heart, their head and their soul through marketing, through messaging, through communication, through video really moved me. But I was always in advertising. I was working with creative directors, art directors, and copywriters. I got to see the creative process for about seven years before starting Twice.

    Elizabeth Stein 2:58
    And how about you Julian?

    Julian 3:00
    Before Twice took more of the finance route out of college, Cody and I, both went to Cornell. We both played lacrosse together there, we both were in the undergraduate business program.

    Elizabeth Stein 3:10
    How many years apart are you guys?

    Julian 3:13
    3. I was a senior when Cody was a freshman. He'll have to tell.

    Cody 3:19
    It was very special.

    Julian 3:22
    I took more of the analytical route, and was an investment banker for four years, and then joined a growth stage investment fund, specializing in tech and consumer for a few years. I loved being immersed in business. And that was particularly the case in banking. In investing, I got to see the entrepreneurial journey at different stages. And nothing could quite prepare us for Twice, but it certainly has been helpful a experience in the past.

    Elizabeth Stein 4:01
    And I'm sure it gave you that itch to want to be in it and see those experiences.

    Julian 4:08
    Yeah, without a doubt. It's just inspiring. How lucky are we that we're surrounded by so many inspiring people doing great things, looking to make the world a better place? And then when you're in that position where you're meeting five or six people a day that are building their dream and disrupting and burning the boats, it's pretty cool.

    Cody 4:27
    That's also what was happening at home. We grew up with mom and dad, dad being a dental specialist and oral health expert, and they started their first oral care company together. Our mom and dad when I was 7, and Julian was 10. And we were packing products on the ping pong table in the basement. We were the in-house fulfillment center when we were kids.

    Elizabeth Stein 4:50
    Love it. Okay, so you certainly influenced your parents and certainly had a direct influence on the oral care aspect. What was it really that first inspired you guys to start Twice? Where did the idea come from?

    Cody 5:07
    Yeah, we joined our family, we started a foundation back in 2012. That brings full-service dentistry, medical, and dental services to communities around the world that don't have access to care. We grow up in a society, for the most part where if you have a problem, you can go see someone. If you have a cavity, get it filled. You see a dentist every three, to six months as preventative care. In most parts of the world, that doesn't exist. We joined our family on a mission down in the Bahamas, and we've been doing it every single year. Since 2015 it has been our shift to the Bahamas with one of our dad's patients who happens to be Lenny Kravitz, who lives down in the Bahamas. Julian and I, while we didn't go to dental school, we were incredibly moved and inspired by the profession. What a dental professional can do. The ability to take someone who is in physical pain in their mouth, emotional pain, unable to smile or express themselves, they cover their mouth because they're self-conscious. With a little bit of love, and some hard work, able to flip the script, and they left our clinic, we have a full-service dental clinic. They leave our clinic, beaming ear to ear with this new energy, this new life, this new passion, because they have a new, beautiful, healthy smile. And we were down there and Jules could share the aha moments, but it was seeing people be healthier and happier by taking care of their mouths. And that was the spark for what is Twice.

    Julian 6:52
    Yeah, there was a lot of power in these volunteer trips. For us, it was particularly special Cody I and I have different stories from a dental standpoint about our past. But I never had braces, I was never self-conscious of my smile, I didn't even know what it was like to feel worried, or pain or disappointed or embarrassed or anything about a smile. So we got on this mission. And all of a sudden, I'm seeing what my parents have devoted their lives to, to helping people transform. It's not just science and dentistry and biology classes. It's a life transformation and a super powerful work. When you juxtapose those feelings of happiness, togetherness connection, and brightness, with the state of the oral care industry, at least in 2015 when we did this mission, it just felt like a void was there. Like where's the vibrancy of the smile, where's the love of a smile, where's the humanity of a smile in a brand? And while we were on these missions, and then we did it, we’ve done a mission every single year with an exception for COVID, where we skipped two years. We've done six missions. And in 2016, it was just more of the same, but we got to see really how connected the mouth is to the rest of the body. In 2016, we had patients coming back saying, “Guys, I'm flossing now. And this went away.” And all of a sudden we start hearing these stories, people are opening up to us like we're a family. And they're sharing how the dental care that we're doing and the education that we're doing, are leaving them in an overall healthier place. That inspired in addition to our father who is pioneering this movement of oral systemic health and the connection of the mouth and the body, to want to create a brand that wasn't just a brand, but a philosophy of what we've come to call oral wellness of creating products with unique super ingredients as a platform, as a holistic system that caters to the mouth, knowing that the mouth is the gateway to the body. It just opened our eyes to both this brand opportunity, but also this product philosophy that we felt was just missing. It felt very drugstore, commoditized, have-a-problem-here's-a-product, not the poll that we thought. And again, this was 2016. So it's been seven years from when we decided to take the jump to start the brand a couple of years later. Now five years in, we've learned a lot but that was the initial inspiration. Seeing the power of what our family has devoted their lives to and saying, hey, we found our passion. And we were able to carry the torch from our folks which was very powerful for us.

    Elizabeth Stein 10:00
    That's such an amazing, beautiful story. I love that hearing so much, the power of your family in it, and the full circle moment and the power your oral health has on the rest of your health. It's incredible how ahead of the rest of the category you guys are in the conversation. We've certainly been talking about the gut microbiome, which has in the last couple of years become such a bigger part of the conversation. But as I think back, I went to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, that school in 2007, and we were just starting to talk about the gut microbiome, but there was certainly no conversation about the oral microbiome. I still feel like right now, you guys are just on the cutting edge with this. And we're probably just learning the little bit of information that we have coming. It's so cool to see what you guys are doing and to be so disruptive in a category that, as you said, has just been this commoditized, drugstore, ugly packaging, doom, and gloom category, and you're bringing happiness and joy into it. Well done. All right, you have this idea. You have this epiphany. And then when did you launch and what was the first product?

    Julian 11:28
    we formally launched at the end of 2018. The name Twice was created for the twice-a-day ritual. And also this idea of thinking twice. Alongside this idea of Twice, our first product was a morning and night toothpaste. One was a white tube and was wintergreen and peppermint flavored, and the other was a black tube and was vanilla, lavender, and mint. We were selling this directly to consumers as a two-pack.

    Elizabeth Stein 12:05
    I was gonna say I did some digging before and do know that your packaging wasn't always this beautiful yellow brand. Some of my favorite brands have this yellow-happy color. I think of Dry Bar, which to me is this color. And we've since incorporated yellow as our brand color. What was the change in the tubes going into this packaging and branding?

    Cody 12:35
    The evolution we made was a rebrand that was realigning our vision, and setting us up for the future of the category. The truest expression of what we believe our brand represents and where we want the category, our customers, and oral health at large to go. Julian was talking about this void, we felt. Oral wellness and I think the brightness of our packaging, was always there from the start. We just hadn't seen it yet. Along the entrepreneurial journey, when you start something that's rooted in the right stuff that comes from here, I'm pointing at my heart. When that happens, you just keep molding the clay and the evolution that we had made, was us looking inward and saying, what is oral wellness for us? We always wanted to be a disrupter and challenge the category. When you look at the aisle, if you were a fly on the wall in the roundtable at the mega corpse building big toothpaste, yellow has always been a taboo, stay away, yellow teeth. We first felt the idea of oral wellness with some incredible creative partners. Yellow was the color that brought brightness to people and made people smile. We felt like we were in a position to then make that move where we had always wanted to expand beyond toothpaste and the evolution was, hey, we're introducing new products. We're going from a toothpaste company to this oral wellness company where we're introducing floss, mouthwash, whitening products, this full holistic system. The way to improve and achieve optimal oral wellness is by using a brush, floss, rinse, and whitening with Twice. The yellow wasn't easy work in that creative process and never easy but it was so rewarding because what we have live today in market is a packaging, a brand, a feeling that was always there and is now just its purest, truest expression.

    Elizabeth Stein 15:02
    That's amazing. I think certainly in the sea of blues and whites and ugly packaging, you've created such a beautiful chic design that frankly you want that product on your vanity. It’s beautiful like a skincare product to me. It's funny last week, we had our all-team meeting here in Boulder. And one of the assignments was that each team broke off into groups of four and everyone had to bring in an example of a modern-day wellness brand. You had brought one product and I brought your product, because I think you guys such done such a phenomenal job of getting beyond just here's the product and creating a lifestyle wellness brand for me. What are some of the things that as we started off talking at the beginning, I saw you at the end that you were doing a four-hour TikTok marathon yesterday. What are some of the ways that you have to build brand awareness and get the brand out there into consumer’s hands?

    Cody 16:14
    I'm happy to share what I've felt. We found some unlocks and some wins in the last year or so where people want to feel a human connection to the brand. Julian and I as brothers, as founders, as a family-run business, when we started posting on TikTok, tapping into what people are struggling with and hearing it from the founders, it started to click. We take a very real raw approach to community building. We're pretty bullish on TikTok. I know the whole thing of like, is it getting banned or not? We're on TikTok and tapping the community through what are people struggling with. Because we know that everyone has oral health issues. And a lot of times, it gets suppressed. The statistics on oral health are shocking.

    Elizabeth Stein 17:13
    Yeah. What are some of those statistics?

    Cody 17:16
    9 in 10 people have a cavity. 1 in 2 people have some form of periodontal disease, which is early-stage gum disease, gingival inflammation in the mouth. And it's because of our modern diet of processed foods, acidic foods, and sugar, and it's contributing to an oral microbiome, just like the gut microbiome that is incredibly out of sync. Dysbiosis is an imbalance of bacteria. The awareness of, hey, did you know that the number one killer in America, cardiovascular disease, and heart attacks are directly linked to bacteria in the mouth when you have gingivitis? Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and dementia, are systemic health issues that our country deals with daily. Prevention with the mouth is the first step. Education is a huge component of our community building. Yellow plays a nice role in society because it's hyper-visual. Like, what is that? It captures attention. And then our real special sauce is our ability to educate and like make it fairly relevant and relatable. Because oral care has been boring forever. In one ear out the other. What was my dad telling me? I don't know, I wasn't paying attention. That's been a big push for us.

    Elizabeth Stein 18:45
    Let’s talk about a little bit on the education piece, because I think we started that at the beginning by talking about the oral microbiome. But if you could go into a little bit of what that means. And I did just see this past week, or maybe last week, it had come out that frequent use of regular mouthwash had a significant risk of developing prediabetes. But you hear again, it's all about these stats. And when you hear them, you're like, oh, my God, what am I doing? So, help educate our community.

    Julian 19:15
    There's a lot to learn. There's a lot that's coming out. And we're excited about sharing in that burden as a new next-gen brand in the space to help educate and inform. But essentially when you think about your mouth as this oral microbiome, it's the second largest and most diverse microbiome in the body behind the gut, and you're meant to think of it as an ecosystem. I was sharing with the team at one point that think of it as like the Amazon rainforest lies behind your mouth. And when you're using mouthwash that has alcohol, you're going into the rainforest with machetes and flame throwers, and just torching the whole thing. The good bacteria, the bad bacteria, they're all dying. That's not good. When you have a dry mouth which leads to bad breath, it also allows bad bacteria to thrive. There's this whole conversation of saliva. How your products can help you feel like you're hydrating and moisturizing your mouth and promoting saliva flow, which is basically like the river of this Amazon rainforest, the rainforest of your mouth. When you think about it this way where a healthy environment, like an ecosystem, is a balance of good and bad bacteria, yes, bad bacteria is okay. You think about other products that you can be using and should be using because it's not just about fresh breath and white teeth, which of course, everybody wants. But it's really about a healthy mouth, which is going to deliver all those things. Fresh breath, clean teeth, strong teeth, and put you in this position to reduce inflammation, which is another word that doesn't get used by modern or legacy oral care brands. However oral inflammation is the lead indicator of hundreds of these systemic diseases. Mouthwash, typically is an antiseptic, it's alcohol focused, and it just scorches the earth of that precious little ecosystem behind your teeth. For the last several years, these non-alcohol mouthwashes have been coming to market, but then you have some that just don't do much. We use some unique ingredients that when they're combined, have this impact where they reduce more of the bad bacteria and allow more of the good bacteria to thrive while maintaining some level of balance. But products that try to think about this microbiome and being sensitive to it, I think when you just think of it as an ecosystem, your mind is like, oh, my God, wait, what? I don't just need white teeth. I want to start thinking a little differently.

    Elizabeth Stein 22:05
    Well, I think one of the things too, about your products that I've certainly noticed is unlike other natural oral care, some of the natural toothpaste of the past that have been in the co-op store for years that you don't necessarily from a consumer side, doesn't feel like it works, where yours feels like it's working. Can you talk a little bit about what are some of those key ingredients that you're using? And also conversely, what should people be watching out for?

    Julian 22:36
    Yeah, great question. We like to think about products and most of our products have taken anywhere between a urine three years to make. So, it's like a rigorous process. We work with amazing manufacturers and chemists, we work with our father who's practically got a Ph.D. in this as almost 30 patents on different oral care products. It's a really fun process. We love it. I think that the ingredients that we look out for, probably the biggest one is sulfates and sodium lauryl sulfate. This is another one of those ingredients that when you use it in your mouth, it's what causes a bubble bath. It's why it's used by really big companies because it's super effective and cheap at creating a bubble bath in your mouth, which everybody loves. But it dries out your mouth, which promotes an environment of decay. And when it dries out your mouth, it can lead to canker sores, which Cody has been creating a lot of content on that people have found very relatable. If those canker sores are left unchecked, they can lead to infection. That's the main ingredient. Our philosophy with everything is efficacy, experience, and health. Those are the three pillars of our products. When we responded to customers who said they wanted a fluoride-free product, we said okay, but we're not just going to give you the fluoride-free product that you see on XYZ packaging, because that doesn't do anything to help strengthen the teeth to try to help remineralize the teeth. So you're just brushing stains off your teeth and maybe freshening your breath, but you're not protecting them. We live in a modern world where our diet is not friendly to our oral microbiome. There's an acid that occurs in a variety of different ways, daily, every minute, every moment. The idea of using toothpaste just that it doesn't have fluoride because you read some article that may or may not be true, you need to have something that remineralizes. We have this product that we created most recently. It's our fourth toothpaste, and it's a fluoride-free product that has an ingredient called nano-hydroxyapatite, which is an ingredient that's been around for a long time but is having a moment. It has some really good studies around its efficacy as a fluoride replacement. We're creating a fifth product, a fifth toothpaste, which hopefully launches sometime early next year, which will be a nice other version of that product without charcoal. We have one with charcoal, gentle abrasive, and this next one will have no charcoal. That's on the toothpaste side how do we think about it? Why do you feel so clean? We have some ingredients in there. In particular, our little secret ingredient is this ingredient called pentasodium triphosphate. It's a chelating ingredient, which means as you brush your teeth with it, it will cause a chemical reaction with plaque on the surface of the teeth to lift it and remove it. You have this mechanical action of removing plaque and a chemical reaction of moving and removing plaque. And the result is like when you lick your teeth after you brush your teeth with Twice, this is the most common review that we get, “I feel really, really clean.” I don't know if I left some for you to cover.

    Cody 25:53
    I think when it comes to efficacy, are focused on infusing super ingredients that go beyond those surface-level benefits, when we think about our version of mouthwash, the immunity rinse, we use ingredients like nanocolloidal silver, zinc, baking soda, and coconut oil. And the magic of our rinse is it’s a dual-chamber rinse. There are two chambers, and when you spray it directly into your mouth, it creates a reaction that oxygenates the mouth. When you add oxygen, it targets specifically the bad bacteria. Like most mouthwashes, we were talking about how alcohol destroys the oral microbiome, good and bad, ours specifically seeks out the bad bacteria growth and neutralizes it. If you have bad breath or halitosis, if you have zero stoma which is a dry mouth condition, we're helping promote saliva production. These super ingredients are designed to cater to a healthier balance, and more diverse ecosystem, like most products I've never done before.

    Julian 27:01
    I would also add in this awareness that customers consumers have these days with pH. You can't look at a water bottle and not see the pH on it. I don't know if people understand the significance of that or not, but essentially, this whole acid conversation that we're having, this whole bad bacteria conversation we're having, that thrives in an acidic environment, which is caused by today's modern diet, most of it at least. Our products are all formulated to be at seven or above in an alkaline position because that's where the bad bacteria cannot thrive. This mouth rinse that we have, our toothpaste, they're all 7 to 8.4 and above to help put your mouth in this happy, ecosystem world.

    Elizabeth Stein 27:44
    That's a nice way to think about it and thinking about like, all the good things, live in an alkaline state, get out of the acidic state. As you think about product innovation, curious to hear what that process looks like for you. And specifically, curious to hear about your teeth whitening strips, because I know I just started using them. But I feel like they've worked so quickly already.

    Julian 28:10
    Yeah. Well, let me hit down whitening strips first. I would say that it's almost their magic, but also how inundated this market is with bad products. I think that there's a stigma around teeth whitening because a lot of internet marketers sell these products and don't care about the product quality. So you're flooded with these like class action lawsuits, bad reviews, and just products that feel scammy. I would say I think that the consumer perception of teeth whitening products is skewed and that they're not going to work because people are just putting out bad products. But this is like anything else, completely an ingredient story, and if you follow directions.

    Elizabeth Stein 29:03
    Oh, shoot. I didn't follow the directions.

    Elizabeth Stein 29:06
    Well, you said they were working, so you probably did the right thing. But if you use them as directed twice a day for essentially as long as it takes to get the result that you want, it's going to work. Again it comes down to the science and the products and the combination of ingredients. Teeth whitening is a category that it's pretty wild to say this and I don't know if I recognize the magnitude of this seven years ago when we were going into this but not our parents have spearheaded the innovation in teeth whitening from a consumer standpoint. Their first company, Go Smile, had these teeth whitening on the go and what Cody was referring to, us packaging on our ping pong table when we were 10 and 7. And then their latest company, GLO Science, was the first company. Our father was an athlete. He won a national championship at Cornell. Cody and I tried to follow in his footsteps. He was on a bike one day thinking about the teeth whitening experience in his dental practice, and combined his knowledge of sports and the mouthpiece, with light and heat and his whole world of innovation, and created the first add-home product where you have light and heat to accelerate a teeth whitening gel. Patented that product and all of the copycats are contributing to this world I was referring to before, this scammy world that doesn't work because they tried to go around as a patent and did so successfully but created a product that doesn't work. So, I would say I'm very happy that the whitening strips are working for you because the product integrity and the ingredients are there. So keep on trucking because it's only going to keep working. Cody, do you want to chat about some of the product innovation side?

    Cody 30:59
    Yeah. For us, it’s a never-ending flow of great ideas or fun ideas, dinner table conversations, oh, what if we do this or that? The oral microbiome has many layers. We could take it in so many directions. What we love is that we are reinventing the everyday products that people know. We sell our toothpaste, our floss picks, and our whitening strips in 1000s of Walmart stores. How do we bring in newness that doesn't yet exist? How do we take what's out there and leverage oral wellness to improve and create a new way to see that product? For us, we have so many ways we want to go. And I’d be so curious, like Elizabeth through your journey, like how innovation comes to life and when. Because I'm of the camp of, let's just go make all of this. But in reality, it's so hard. I'm bullish on mouth taping, tongue scraping, and some of these niche, functional, everyday elements that help improve the oral microbiome. We are just finishing a clinical study in oral microbiome first of its kind, a 30-day trial where we put Twice products, our toothpaste, our floss, and our mouthwash up against Colgate Total, Listerine with alcohol, and Glide Floss. We looked at the improvement in the oral microbiome through an at-home salivary diagnostics test with a company called Bristle out of San Diego. From there, to identify what shifts are happening? How could you create products around building towards a healthier microbiome? You've got pre-post, pr-pro-post biotic products that are being introduced in adjacent categories. That's exciting. Our rinse is probably one of our hero products. How did we evolve that portfolio? It's always endless, but it's only a matter of when, where, and how do we do it.

    Elizabeth Stein 33:08

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