Dispelling the Do-It-Yourself Orthodontics Myth

Dental Products ReportDental Products Report May 2023
Volume 57
Issue 5

Forget what you’ve heard about “DIY orthodontics” – SmileDirectClub’s proven treatment plans are overseen by state-licensed providers like me.

Dispelling the Do-It-Yourself Orthodontics Myth. Photo courtesy of tonefotographia/stock.adobe.com.

Dispelling the Do-It-Yourself Orthodontics Myth. Photo courtesy of tonefotographia/stock.adobe.com.

With the emergence of direct-to-consumer dental solutions and the rapid acceleration of teledentistry, there’s no doubt the dental industry has experienced a seismic technological shift in recent years. Dental innovators have become major players in the market by offering easy, affordable solutions to straighten teeth, coupled with cutting-edge telehealth technology, that benefits patients and providers alike.

Even though the clinical benefits of clear aligner treatment are well documented, widespread and baseless inaccuracies about innovators such as SmileDirectClub continue to circulate in the industry. One of these fallacies is that treatment with SmileDirectClub does not involve dental professional oversight and support, and it is a do-it-yourself (DIY) service. Nothing could be further from the truth–this is another unfounded myth put out there to create doubt about a proven dental innovation.

As a board-certified orthodontist who uses SmileDirectClub’s non-clinical services and telehealth platform on a daily basis to assess, diagnose and treat patients, I want to set the record straight.My colleagues and I are involved every step of the way on our patient’s journey to straighten their teeth and get the smile they want.

Debunking the DIY Myth

In my career, I have encountered a few “too good to be true” methods that did not deliver the intended results. SmileDirectClub is a telehealth pioneer that has revolutionized the orthodontics industry and helped over 1.8 million people improve their smiles. They are breaking barriers by offering more access to care through their telehealth platform where every treatment is overseen and monitored by a doctor licensed in that patient’s home state. The company creates opportunities for more patients to straighten their teeth and elevate their dental routine.

Whether my patients want to be seen in person at my practice in New Jersey or connect with me virtually via SmileDirectClub’s platform, I make time for them. I approach every patient in the same manner and carefully review each case to see if they are a candidate for treatment with clear aligners, and then, and only then, do I diagnose and prescribe a treatment plan.

Once either of my brick-and-mortar and telehealth patients decide to move forward with their treatment plan, we create a customized treatment plan for care for their in-office and virtual visits respectively. My patients know they are not on their own and are backed by a clinical team of specialists committed to seeing them get the smile they want. To insinuate that the network of SmileDirectClub-affiliated dentists and orthodontists, of which I am a part, are disengaged from the process, is simply not true and goes against the ethical oath that providers take to practice dentistry.

It is my opinion that these misconceptions are released to create noise and confusion in the market, and it's unfortunate because they can stand in the way of providing much-needed dental care to patients. We must stop this nonsensical swirl of mistruths and get back to doing what is most important –straightening patients' teeth, improving both their oral and overall health, and helping them regain the confidence to smile.

Benefiting Patients & Practices Alike

During my time as an orthodontist, I’ve seen many changes in our industry - from the services we offer, to the treatment plans we provide, to the networks that help dental professionals extend our reach. These advancements are unequivocally helping our industry evolve and provide better dental care as well as more access to that care. Our first obligation as doctors is to provide care for patients; certainly not to engage in conduct that blocks that care. That’s why misconceptions surrounding these initiatives are so harmful.

When I began working with SmileDirectClub, I was optimistic about the future and the effects on my patients and my practice. Within weeks, it became apparent that it was the right course of action. From the get-go, I was able to offer clear aligner treatment plans to patients who may not have been able to afford or otherwise access these services any other way. I saw patients who never imagined that they could have an attractive smile, and finally be able to have their teeth straightened without breaking the bank. These very personal and very real experiences that I get to see day in and day out are truly humbling, and the ability to be a part of these life-changing transformations continues to be a driving force for me to work with and advocate for SmileDirectClub.

Creating Long-Term Patient Relationships

Another huge advantage to working with SmileDirectClub is the patients and the practice growth I have experienced due to my affiliation. Not only do I get to guide my telehealth patients through their journey to straighter teeth, but also many of my SmileDirectClub patients have been converted into patients in my own practice. And as a provider, that’s what it’s all about–helping more patients receive high-quality dental treatment and maintain healthy smiles for life.

A good example is my patient, Tim, who came to see me for SmileDirectClub aligners and was so pleased with the care he received, he transferred to my practice for a permanent retainer, on his lower arch to maintain his smile, and for all his ongoing dental needs. SmileDirectClub is opening doors for Tim, and other patients, to receive the dental care they never thought possible and I’m proud to be part of the process.

Moving the Dental Industry Forward

Just as most of the healthcare industry, dentistry has gone digital. Now, more patients have a direct line to dental services, such as clear aligners, and the ability to connect virtually with providers without having to go directly into their offices. The embracing of teledentistry has opened opportunities for even more patients to receive teleorthodontic treatment. That is especially important as many areas in the United States do not have a single orthodontist’s office. Where you live shouldn't determine your dental destiny, and with today’s technology, it does not have to.

Teledentistry has proven to be a valuable tool to expand access, reduce costs, and empower patients with more choices without sacrificing the quality of their care. While this treatment approach may appear different, thanks to technology, it is not DIY, or “mail order,” and absolutely requires a licensed dentist or orthodontist to oversee every step of the way.

Innovative dental providers such as SmileDirectClub are standing up and disrupting how and where people can receive care. The company disrupted the status quo and is at the forefront of providing effective and transparent teledentistry to patients across the country.

Finally, we need to shut down the inaccuracies and right the wrongs of misinformation. It’s a fact that treatment through SmileDirectClub is a proven solution for straightening teeth, and all cases are overseen by dentists or orthodontists, with at least 4 years of brick-and-mortar clear aligner experience. SmileDirectClub has contributed to my success as an orthodontist, and I look forward to working with them in the future, providing more patients with a smile that makes them proud.

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