A Big Idea for Small Mouths

Watch your mouth device sitting on a table

Combining creativity and dental science, Dr. Sarah Shell has embarked on an altogether new career – one that has a very personal connection to her family.

Shell, DDS’16, had already launched a successful venture designing handbags worn by the likes of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. She also went to fashion school, studied science at McGill University and qualified for both medical school and dental school while sidelining as an extra in television.

At last, she came to Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry – where she studied something that would shape her current business enterprise.

“I never wanted my own business again. It’s so all-encompassing,” said Shell, who remains a licensed dentist in the U.S. and lives with her husband Dr. Eric Cohen, son Geddy, five, and daughter Masha, one year. But, her latest initiative – a child-resistant plastic enclosure that snaps around the end of a USB charger to protect curious kids from electrical injury – was a perfect fit for her creative skills and training as a dentist.

Portrait of Sarah Shell
“Though not a traditional application of dentistry, what I learned at Schulich Dentistry is going on to make a real difference.”

—Dr. Sarah Shell, DDS’16

It was also very personal.

When Geddy was 10 months old, he put a USB charger that was plugged into an electrical socket in his mouth. Shell took the cord away from him. No damage done.

However, during her time at Schulich Dentistry, Shell had studied a case of a child with a severe facial scar caused by an electrical injury, and it wouldn’t leave her mind. The thought of these ubiquitous chargers that “you just assume are safe” sparked an idea. After researching products, connecting with experts and learning about the devastating trauma that can result from children putting chargers in their mouths, Shell knew she had to act.

She worked closely with doctors, designers and engineers and Geddy’s Mom LP and its simple enclosure, called Watch Your Mouth, were born. The device – which is now sold online through Amazon and at Walmart – is considered a new standard in child safety and is a popular addition to baby registries.

“I left the fashion industry because I didn’t feel I was true to myself,” said Shell, who has received multiple awards for her innovation. “I entered dentistry because I wanted to make a difference. Who would have thought a case study would go on to shape how I applied what I learned at Schulich Dentistry? That was the spark, and now I’m educating parents on the dangers of USB chargers around little ones, while providing a device that mitigates this danger.

“Though not a traditional application of dentistry, what I learned at Schulich Dentistry is going on to make a real difference.”