Haleh and Golnar Abivardi, 52 and 48

The sisters Abivardi on creating a brighter future for teeth—and humankind.

By Didi Gluck
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Like many people, Haleh hated going to the dentist as a child. (Perhaps the common phobia explains why dental caries, or cavities, are the most common ailment in the U.S.). So, when it was time to declare a specialty in med school in her native Switzerland, she chose to take on her old nemesis, dentistry. Years later, she and Golnar, her dentist sister, opened a chain of spa-like dental clinics aimed at turning the patient experience on its head: no lab coats, no stark white walls and, perhaps most important, no drilling.  The sisters began offering a revolutionary gel treatment that, when painlessly painted onto teeth,  arrested the progression of cavities and, in fact, helped the tooth begin to remineralize, or heal, from the inside out. "One month later, on an X-ray, you could see that the lesion was gone." 

Last year, the sisters introduced vVARDIS, a full range of oral care products, which features, among other things, an at-home version of the gel treatment called  Aletsch. Named after a sparkly glacier in Switzerland, Aletsch whitens teeth  by forming a stain-proof matrix over them, while  encouraging remineralization. Call it brightening with benefits. Most recently, the sisters signed an agreement with CareQuest Innovation Partners to bring vVARDIS’ drill-free technology to the growing but underserved Medicaid population. This partnership could save the system millions of dollars, not just in oral care but in overall wellness.

With all of their achievements, it may seem trivial to talk about their ageless appearances. But their personal wellness routines and thoughts about getting older are intimately tied to the work they do for others. 

Haleh on turning 50

50 was my best birthday ever. I felt so sure. I have so much experience. I feel good and stronger than ever. I have learned from my mistakes.

We started our startup from scratch. People said 'you could retire, why are you doing this?' But we said, if we have this technology in our hands, we can’t relax. There's work to do.

Golnar on aging

Every year I’m happier, I feel more complete. We need to respect older people. They have so many years of experience.

Their beauty basics

HA: I always do collagen eye masks to offset not sleeping enough. I'm not really loyal to one brand. 

GA: I always wear sunblock. I like really hydrating creams too. I also go back and forth  between brands.

About mostly clean eating...

GA: I try to eat clean. And I drink a lot of water. And tea.

HA: I love brown toast with lemon, pepper and avocado. And grapefruit juice, for digestion. But I love chocolate, too.

GA:  We both love sweets. But brush your teeth after!

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People say 'are you ok if I ask your age?' I have no problem sharing my age.

Haleh Abivardi

Who is aging well? Who cares!

HA: I always loved Audrey Hepburn. She was always beautiful. And also the philanthropic side of her...a natural beauty.

GA: I have really never thought that age could be a problem...

The importance of family

HA: We have worked together for 20 years. Starting a business from scratch, there are many ups and downs. It's nice to have somebody next to you. For us, family is very important. Our children [between them, they have six kids] have grown up together. Sometimes when we work, they entertain each other.

What's next

HA: We are partnering with firms using aligners to take away the white spots they can leave behind. We'd also like to put our technology in chocolate and gum, so you could eat as much as you want!

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