Private equity firm Gryphon Investors is joining forces with dental industry veterans Steven Bilt and Bradley Schmidt to form OneSmile LLC, a dental services organization.

OneSmile will focus on acquiring dental practices in the western U.S.

"There are a number of compelling acquisition opportunities in this fragmented space," says Luke Schroeder, a principal in Gryphon's health care group.

Bilt, OneSmile's CEO, was previously CEO of Smile Brands Inc., a support provider for dental groups in the U.S. Schmidt will serve as the new company's CFO, the same position he held at Smile Brands.

Smile Brands is a company Gryphon built in partnership with Bilt and Schmidt between 1998 and 2005. When Gryphon sold the company in 2005, it had more than 250 locations and $350 million in revenues, and when Bilt and Schmidt left (they stayed on after Gryphon's sale), Smile Brands had more than 400 locations and $500 million in revenues.

Gryphon, headquartered in San Francisco, focuses on investing in middle market companies in connection with experienced management teams. The firm has about $1.4 billion in equity commitments, and generally invests $35 million to $100 million per portfolio company. In October, the firm picked up C.B. Fleet Co., the owner of over-the-counter health care products, including the Summer's Eve brand.

Dentist groups and related services have been attracting dealmaker attention because the industry is fragmented. For more, see Dentists Will Unite, Just Like Doctors Did and Regulation Drives M&A, Especially in Health Care. In April, Shore Capital Partners recapitalized dental practice Chicagoland Smile Group.  In March, Cressey & Co. LP invested in Dental Services Group

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