What You Should Know about SmileDirectClub

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Moving teeth is a serious business. That is why we believe here at Bloom Orthodontics in Long Beach that it is critical to have an orthodontist involved in your treatment.


However, the introduction of direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies like SmileDirectClub seek to disrupt this relationship and put control of the tooth movement in your hands. Here’s what you need to know about DTC orthodontic treatment. 


Orthodontists are experts in teeth movement.


Orthodontists have at least two years of additional school and training to master tooth movement. It is one of ten specialties in dentistry recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). 


The ADA defines a specialty as an area of dentistry recognized by the governing bodies of the profession.[1] Moreover, the dentists who are specialists are individuals that meet the particular requirements set forth by the governing bodies and uphold the related responsibilities for these specialty areas.[2]   


In May 2018, the ADA adopted the following definition of an orthodontist, paraphrased here:[3] 


Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics are dentists who specialize in diagnosing, preventing, intervening upon, and correcting problems with bites (malocclusion), as well as other nerves, muscular, and bone structure problems for the patient’s developing or mature oral-facial structures. 



DTC Orthodontic Treatment Has Very Limited Orthodontic Oversight.


Many DTC programs have very little interaction with orthodontists. It raises concerns that 


In a DTC situation, you do not have that expertise guiding the treatment, leaving most of it to you. We believe this can have additional risks for your well-being and your oral health. 


Another concern is that many times DTC companies make the patient responsible for taking their impression, which requires biting into a tray of impression material (aka, nasty goop). As the Dental Health Society points out, taking traditional impressions is a skill that takes years to master.[4] Even experts often have to make a second impression to get the information they need to plan for orthodontic treatment.


Finally, the DTC programs have limited help available if the patient has a problem. You can call into the customer service line, but you will be talking to a call center, not a trained dental professional. [5]


The ADA Has Filed Complaints to the FDA and FTC regarding SmileDirectClub.

The ADA agrees with us that SmileDirectClub is dangerous and puts patients at risk. The association filed complaints to the FDA and FTC in the summer of 2019. 


The complaint to the FDA says that DTC companies violated the FDA’s “for prescription-only” language associated with clear aligner therapy.[6] The ADA president explained that SmileDirectClub puts patients at risk without a dentist or orthodontist there to troubleshoot if something goes wrong. 


The complaint to the FTC pointed out specific ways DTC companies participate in deceptive marketing practices to consumers.[7]  The language severely restricts a patients’ ability to have recourse if they have problems. The language also makes claims to treat problems while also denies the product’s ability to handle issues. Furthermore, it suggests that SmileDirectClub patients have the same level of care a traditional dentist would provide, which the ADA says is not valid. 


If You Want a Straighter Smile, See a Pro


We believe that correcting your smile and maintaining your oral health is best left to professionals. However, we respect your right to choose. 


The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has an excellent resource for you to use when weighing your options for orthodontic treatment. They present excellent questions for you to answer during your research that can guide you to the best possible decision on your oral health. From what kind of X-rays will be used to diagnose how often you have time with a dental professional to what sort of risks you assume, this questionnaire can help you make an informed decision about your orthodontic care. 


To download the Questions to Consider flier from the AAO, please click here.


Should you decide that the DTC route isn’t right for you, please see us at Bloom Orthodontics in Long Beach for a free, no-obligation consultation on your modern orthodontic treatment. We will diagnose and make suggestions for your procedure and answer any questions you might have. Plus, you get the bonus of having an orthodontist overseeing your care every step of the way to your new, improved smile. 



  [1] “Dental Specialties.” www.ada.org. Web. 31 December 2019. <https://www.ada.org/en/ncrdscb/dental-specialties>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Specialty Definitions.” www.ada.org. Web. 31 December 2019. <https://www.ada.org/en/ncrdscb/dental-specialties/specialty-definitions>. 

[4] “Smile Direct Club vs. Invisalign: Is there a clear winner?” dentalhealthsociety.com. 8 July 2019. Web. 31 December 2019. <https://dentalhealthsociety.com/invisalign/smile-direct-club-vs-invisalign-is-there-a-clear-winner/>.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Solana, Kimber. “Association files complaint with FTC, FDA against Smile Direct Club.” www.ada.org. 12 July 2019. Web. 31 December 2019. <https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2019-archive/july/association-files-complaint-with-ftc-fda-against-smiledirect-club>.

[7] Ibid. 




To schedule your free consultation today, call Bloom Orthodontics office in Long Beach at 562-421-8883.


Bloom Orthodontics in Long Beach has a long history of improving our patients’ smiles. We provide modern orthodontic treatments delivered with old fashioned excellence in patient experience. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.