Everyone wants a straight, white, healthy smile. And the Smile Direct Club understand this, because they made an entire business model based on helping people align their teeth.
SmileDirectClub – What Is It?
SmileDirectClub is a company that offers custom-made clear plastic teeth aligners that straighten your teeth gradually over time.
These aligners come in a set of multiples, each aligner making small adjustments to your teeth. So as one aligner moves your teeth to the desired position, you would move onto the next aligner to further adjust your teeth. The folks at SDC will map out where your teeth will end up and what aligners to use.
But how do you know if these are right for you?
Easy — you just take a 30-second assessment then get a free at-home impression kit or schedule a 3D scan (more on that later). Once SDC gets your impression, they can analyze it and tell you if you’re a candidate.
Generally speaking, these aligners are for people who need minor to moderate teeth correction. This can include closing spaces between teeth, crowded teeth, rotations, and even bite correction.
Is SmileDirectClub Safe?
This process sounds great in theory. But, as with any new entrepreneurial endeavor in the dental world, we have to ask if it works and if it’s safe.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, it’s a bad idea. They actually have started investigating SDC, saying the company is performing medical work that legally should only be done by licensed professionals (taking bite casts, delivering dental appliances to people, etc.). And the AAO “strongly discourages” the DIY approach to correcting your teeth for safety reasons.
On the other hand, a licensed dentist or orthodontist does oversee, modify, and approve each user’s situation. They say on their website that this ensures your state’s “Standards of Care” are met.
SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign
One alternative to SDC is Invisalign. It’s very similar, but at the same time, very different.
Dentist Visit Or Not?
Everything with SDC can be done virtually and through the mail. You don’t have to visit the dentist — you can do this all from the comfort of your home. However, you can go to a participating dental office to get the impressions done, if there’s one near you.
At Invisalign, on the other hand, you meet the dental professional who will be helping you adjust your teeth. This can give you confidence that the plan for your teeth alignment is safe and will be successful.
Some people may find it nice that you can pay for your teeth alignment in stages. This can be especially helpful for those with a fixed income. That’s SDC offers monthly installment payments for their products.
However, because your dentist installs the prosthesis, you may be able to work out a payment plan with them, especially if you’re left with a big bill.
Invisalign Impressions Are Taken By A Dentist
Because of this, SDC impressions have the potential to be inaccurate, whereas with Invisalign you can get an exact impression from your dentist.
One bad impression could affect the alignment of your teeth long-term, so many people prefer to have a dentist do the impression and installation.
SDC will probably end up being more affordable than Invisalign, but you know the old saying: “you get what you pay for.”
And remember, if you decide to go with Invisalign, your dental insurance could cover some of it, your dentist may be willing to set up a payment plan, and a dental discount plan may be able to get you a big discount.
Many people just want to deal with their dental professional in-person. Sometimes, communicating with a company virtually can be difficult. And SDC’s forte is not customer service.
One reason they’re not great at customer service is that they have trouble keeping up with demand (which is a good thing, I guess). This means you’ll experience long hold times, delivery mistakes, and longer wait times for the aligners.
Even if SDC’s product is good, getting through the process may be difficult.
Among users of SDC’s products, there are mixed feelings. Some people are excited about their results and overall experience while others regret working with them.
“I find it comical,” one user writes, “that they bombarded me with emails / phone calls regarding getting my retainer ordered, but couldn’t send me a reminder email or phone call that said they were still waiting on info from me to proceed with my teeth not being straight at the end.”
“I would do this again,” a happy customer of SDC writes. “Smile Direct is like going to get your hair done at your hairstylist house instead of a hair salon with all the bells and whistles. They were however highly professional… The dental assistant was great at explaining the process and taking the impressions.”
About six out of 10 people report a successful alignment with SDC, although that doesn’t include many of the reviewers who had not yet completed the process.
SmileDirectClub Before And After Pictures
For more photos check out SmileDirectClub official gallery.
How To Get Started With SmileDirectClub
So after reading all about the whole process and the pros and cons, you may be one of the many people who want to join the “club.” Here’s how to get started with SDC.
How To Get Clear Braces From SmileDirectClub
After taking the smile assessment, you’ll get a free at-home impression kit, which you would complete and mail back to SDC. Or you would visit a SmileShop in your area to get a 3D image scan of your teeth. Then a dental professional reviews the alignment of your teeth and works out a plan to correct them.
Next, SDC would send you a preview of what they expect your teeth to look like by the end of the process. They say your aligners are as unique as a fingerprint.
Finally, you can buy a set of retainers for $99. After double-checking with your dental professional, you can begin wearing them at night, gradually progressing to different sized retainers to shift your teeth.
To see if there’s a SmileShop near you, just visit SDC’s “Locations” page and you can scroll through the locations by state. Some of the shops are in Hollywood, Miami, and Brooklyn.
As mentioned above, a set of retainers cost $99, but that’s not the only part of the treatment.
You can choose Single Pay, which costs $1,850 and is paid in full upfront. Or you can go with SmilePay, where you pay $250 upfront, then $80 per month for 24 months (the total ends up being $2,170).
SDC does note that they accept HSA, FSA, and CareCredit and may be able to reimbursement you through your dental insurance plans.
Another way to help pay for the cost is to grab a coupon for SDC. The best way to do this is to ask them directly, “Do you have any coupons available?” You can also just do a Google search for coupons and find offers like “$100 off” or “50% off.”
SmileDirectClub has clear pros and clear cons. The fact that you can do everything online and through the mail is convenient and not have to visit a dentist is convenient. But because SDC not only doesn’t have the ADA’s approval but actually their disapproval is concerning.
The best course of action is probably to speak with your dentist for a second opinion.