Professor Emeritus Turns Entrepreneur

Dr. Tetsuo Nakamoto, LSUHSC professor emeritus, is a man of perseverance, patience, and commitment. After dedicating nearly 30 years of his career to dental research, he shifted his focus seven years ago to bring his life's work to the marketplace.

A new toothpaste derived from chocolate is the result of his efforts. A member of the LSUHSC School of Dentistry (LSUSD) faculty for 28 years, Dr. Nakamoto is a dentist and PhD. His research on the effects of caffeine on fetal development eventually led to the discovery that an ingredient in cocoa strengthens tooth enamel. Theodent™, with its active ingredient Rennou™, derived from cocoa, is an alternative to toothpastes containing fluoride.

Tetsuo Nakamoto, DDS, PhD, displays tubes of Theodent™ toothpaste

In collaboration with Professors William Simmons and Alexander Falster, experts in analytical geology at the University of New Orleans, Dr. Nakamoto discovered the effect of theobromine on teeth and enamel. Researchers found that this extract from chocolate, similar in structure to caffeine, had a beneficial effect on teeth and stimulated the growth of new enamel. Rennou™, a proprietary blend of cocoa extract and other minerals, increases the size of enamel surface crystals, making teeth less susceptible to bacterial acid demineralization.

Dr. Arman Sadeghpour, whose doctoral dissertation at Tulane University compared cocoa extract with fluoride on human teeth, is also a member of this scientific team. Retirement gave Dr. Nakamoto the opportunity to focus on his new project, the founding of Theocorp Holding Company, to which he was named chief scientific officer and chairman of the board. Dr. Sadeghpour is president and chief executive officer. The company now holds two patents with two more patents pending.

Housed in the new BioInnovation Center on Canal Street, 100% of the technology has been retained in Louisiana. Officially launched in January 2012, Theodent™ Classic can be purchased online. It is available at Whole Foods Markets in most of the United States and British Columbia and Ontario and in Raley’s Supermarkets in California and Nevada. Theodent™ has a minty, non-chocolate taste. It is not harmful if swallowed, unlike fluoride toothpaste, and is safe for children. The company plans to launch a chocolate-flavored sugar-free toothpaste for kids early next year.

Dr. Nakamoto received his DDS from Nihon University School of Dentistry in Tokyo, Japan, in 1964. He came to the United States in 1964 to attend the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and received a master’s in prosthodontics in 1966. He then received two additional master’s degrees, one in physiology and pharmacology from the University of North Dakota and a second in physiology from the University of Michigan. In 1978 he ultimately earned a PhD in nutritional biochemistry and metabolism from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

That same year, Dr. Nakamoto joined the LSUHSC faculty in the Department of Physiology, attaining the rank of professor in 1991. He has published over 100 papers in scientific journals. In 2006 after Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Nakamoto retired with the title of professor emeritus.

Dr. Nakamoto continues to lecture in physiology to students at LSUSD. He is as well-respected in the Japanese-American community as in the New Orleans scientific community. Among his honors is the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette, in recognition of outstanding contributions to friendship between Japan and the United States of America. The decoration was conferred by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan in Tokyo in May 2010.

"Dr. Nakamoto's commitment to dentistry has been evident to his peers and colleagues. We are honored to celebrate this important milestone in his career," said Dean Henry Gremillion. "His success is our success and we are so proud of his accomplishments."

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Last Update 11/2012