At a Las Vegas dental-care convention a few years ago, a buyer urged him to devise more floss products, given that the niche was wide open. Dr. Fresh began thinking about the biggest trouble with floss: that you can't always find it when you need it.
One night, he sketched a toothbrush with a hollow compartment at the base containing a roll of floss, with a cap at the end.
He named it the Flosh: toothbrush and floss in one.
He developed a prototype, monkeyed with it, perfected it.
Given Americans' deplorable rates of flossing --11% do it regularly -- he couldn't hope the Flosh would sell like the Firefly.
Still, the Flosh embodied Dr. Fresh, a toothbrush and floss in one instrument, combining his love for innovation and his zeal for eradicating dental bacteria wherever it might be found.
"I think," he announced this summer when he was done monkeying with it, "that this is going to be a major step in flossing."
One fall evening, Dr. Fresh pushes a cart down Wal-Mart's fluorescent aisles, looking for inspiration.
He combs through toothbrushes, then stops in stationery.
Pen packaging often gives him ideas. He eagerly awaits each October: "There's a lot of innovation in Halloween packaging."
Looking like an art critic in a museum, he halts to admire curvy new bottles of Zest body wash, then frets at how little a pen company has done with its SpongeBob SquarePants license.
He's been busy lately. He's won a contract to make Wal-Mart's private label Equate toothbrushes next year, 5 million units annually, he says. He's opened an office in Bentonville, Ark., near Wal-Mart's headquarters.
Sales to the retail giant, he hopes, will top $20 million annually in a couple years.
He shopped the Flosh to Procter & Gamble and to Johnson & Johnson, wanting their national distribution. But when he didn't hear anything definite from them, he decided to sell it under his own brand.
Wandering through Wal-Mart's acres of mass production, tonight, his mind is open -- especially, it seems, to things that blink.
He has grand hopes for his Firefly line. A new Firefly mouthwash has a cap that blinks. He wants more ideas for products that blink -- big, refreshing, anti-bacterial ideas, not necessarily dental.
Finding nothing, he leaves Wal-Mart with only a few pens and a box of Crest dental floss he wants to study.
"Oh, look at that," he says as he exits the store.
Outside, a woman in a wheelchair sells tiny blinking pendants: a broken heart, an electric guitar, Betty Boop. They flutter in her lap.
Just what he was looking for.
He buys a bulbous blinking fish that catches his eye. He cradles it gleefully as its red light pulses.
An idea takes shape in his mind.
"I'm going to put it in bottles of liquid soap," he whispers conspiratorially, "so you can push on the top and it'll light up."