New Business talks to Dr Anthony Lovat, former dentist and founder of OPRO, short for oral protection, the world's largest manufacturer of the most technically advanced mouthguards, selling more than ten million worldwide.

Eureka moment

Having the idea to set up a national dental service was the easy part. I had seen so many children coming to my surgery suffering from tooth trauma that could easily have been prevented by wearing a mouthguard but I was struggling to get my message out. Then, out of the blue, in came a phone call from ex England rugby player, Roger Uttley, who had heard about the service. He thought it was a fantastic idea and invited me to come along to Harrow School, where he was head of rugby, to take dental impressions of the pupils. This then led to me being invited along to speak at the Independent Schools PE Conference and during my lunchtime slot, in the midst of the clatter of knives and forks, I asked the teachers if they were aware that their duty of care meant that should an injury to a pupil's teeth happen whilst playing sport, the school would be held responsible if they had not enforced the wearing of a mouthguard. This brought a halt to the noise and the start to OPRO.


Our business model has allowed OPRO to be self-funding and not needing outside investment to grow. Plus, our bank has been fully supportive of the growth strategy, which has allowed us to invest in infrastructure such as IT, new product development and our people.


I don't really ‘do' regret. My philosophy is to view every experience as a learning opportunity so if something doesn't work out as I had hoped, I learn from it and move on. I trust my own judgement and make every decision based on the information I have available at the time.

What would you have changed?

Like many businesses our age I definitely would have embraced ecommerce sooner and more warmly! Now we have four company websites, are placed on Amazon and eBay globally and are reaping the benefits of our global expansion strategy. Also, I would have brought in outside expertise sooner and appreciated my limitations because in order to grow as a business we need to innovate and introduce experts when needed.