The whole tooth: New Queenslander Ingrid Rodriguez aims to help us all with mouth health

Ingrid Rodriguez, 45, has always known her purpose in life was to help others and there are many tales of her unending empathy.

Ingrid Rodriguez
“I think I have always been service oriented; it was something quite innate within me,” Ingrid says.

“In dental school there was a patient, a Salvadorian girl who didn’t speak English and luckily I spoke Spanish. She was experiencing migraines and couldn’t make herself understood so I brought her and her mother home with me and ended up going into the medical clinic with them so I could explain what was going on.”

A former dental hygienist, Ingrid combined her compassionate soul and professional skills to form Eikonic in 2011, a research and development company that is currently focused on developing a nanotechnology inspired product for the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay.

“Gum disease impacts three quarters of the global population and there are huge social, psychological and physical consequences as a result of this insidious disease,” she says.

“Gum disease is connected to diabetes, arthritis, heart diseases and even adverse pregnancy outcomes. In 2010, gum disease was the sixth most prevalent non-communicable disease in the world and tooth decay was tenth.”

The vision for Eikonic’s technology is a product which coats teeth and gums to prevent bacteria from causing disease, without killing off all bacteria in the mouth.

“I call it an elegant technology,” she says.

“It’s fascinating the way it deals with bacteria. A lot of our competitors are very focused on a 99.99% bacteria kill but I don’t believe that is healthy or supports a healthy ecosystem in the mouth.”

Ingrid is excited that once Eikonic’c technology is developed, it will help improve the dental health of Indigenous Australia.

“In Queensland, our Indigenous community has the highest level of tooth decay and gum disease in this country. That’s why I’m so passionate about getting this product out and accessible to everyone,” she says.

Ingrid started the company in Victoria but was lured to Brisbane by the HotDesQ startup relocation program.

HotDesQ provides successful applicants with funding, a co-working ecosystem and access to mentors for a minimum of six months.

“I have lived in most states in Australia and I have to say the biggest difference with Queensland is the fact the Government is so invested at the really early stage of innovation,” Ingrid says.

“I’m very happy to have relocated to Spring Hill in Brisbane in the last few months, it’s an absolute dream come true for me to be fully employed by my company, I can’t wipe the smile off my face.”

As well as being selected for the Hot DesQ program Eikonic was also a winner of the $100,000 Advance Queensland Johnson & Johnson Innovation Quick Fire Challenge which supports ideas in pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer healthcare.

Ingrid has put her winnings towards contract research and development of the technology.

“These programs and the Queensland Government have been able to support me in fast tracking the process,” Ingrid says.

With many roadblocks and challenges on her journey, Ingrid credits her success to her two teenage sons who give her strength to always get back up and try again.

“I have two beautiful sons who live back in Western Australia and I’m here in Queensland,” Ingrid says.

Ingrid keeps a blog and decided to interview her sons to measure the impact of her absence and the effect of the nature of innovative work on the children of entrepreneurs.

“It gave me such an enormous insight into how they see me,” she says.

“To hear their thoughts made me realise this is so worthwhile. My eldest said ‘well in terms of Mum’s project she’s just been through so much, it’s just eminent that she’ll succeed, there is no room for failure for her’.”

Ingrid’s refusal to give up on her dream and her desire to help others means she is also mentoring new innovators as they embark on their journey.

“It’s important to contribute and give back,” she says.

“My message to them (other innovators) is to have faith in themselves. A lot of times we want to see evidence in order to believe. As an entrepreneur you have to believe first and then the evidence comes.”
One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.