I have been asked several times over the past year about a new company called Smile Direct Club, formerly Smile Care Club. You may have seen their advertisements on social media or on the internet. It has taken me a few months to finally decide that this topic may be worth talking about. Specifically, I hope to answer your main questions, what is it and is it worth your investment?
What is Smile Direct Club?
In a nutshell, Smile Direct Club utilizes a few of the basic tools that orthodontists and orthodontic labs have been utilizing for decades. Dental impressions and clear aligners with the end goal of straightening teeth. The entire process involves receiving a do-it-yourself impression kit, making your own mold of your top and bottom teeth, and taking several of your own photos of your bite. Mail that in to the company and if you have done a decent enough job you will then receive a series of clear aligners designed to straighten your teeth. No x-rays are evaluated and there is no guarantee that a dentist or orthodontist is planning your treatment. Smile Direct Club advertises 70% less cost compared to what you would pay at the orthodontist office and a prorated refund on unused clear aligners if you are not happy with treatment. With tooth movement limited to the front teeth, a total estimated treatment time of roughly 6 months or less. Sounds pretty good right? Or maybe someone has taken this whole "selfie" trend to the next level?
Does it Work?
Whenever pressure is placed on a tooth, or teeth, continuously over a period of time they will undoubtedly move. So, whether you get your dental impression done by a skilled professional or you do it yourself, clear aligners can be manufactured and when worn properly they can move your teeth. So what's the big deal?
Is Remote Orthodontic Treatment Worth Your Investment?
You may be wondering at this point where I stand on this topic. Well, it's not my goal to convince you one way or the other. I leave that up to you to decide. Furthermore, this article isn't targeting any particular company.
You may find it important to know that I haven't used Smile Direct Club or any other remote orthodontic company. The reason is simple. I am unique among orthodontists in that I manufacture clear aligners for my patients at my private office using digital impressions, digital tooth movement software, and 3-D printing. Rest assured, I do have firm skill and knowledge in regards to the process of clear aligner orthodontic treatment, including it's strengths and limitations. Whether it be with braces or clear aligners, I am specialty trained to properly diagnose and treat all orthodontic problems and every associated condition. So, is your homemade dental impression and tooth selfies all there is to obtaining your perfect bite?
Who's Your Orthodontist?
First, I think every patient should be physically examined by an orthodontist to correctly diagnose their unique and individual orthodontic needs. Diagnosis and treatment planning is unquestionably the single most important part of the process. As an orthodontist having treated thousands of patients, believe me when I say there is more to it than just straight teeth. Every patient that I examine for orthodontic treatment receives a complete smile analysis. The initial exam, including evaluation of x-rays, provides critical information for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. I consider the age of the patient, jaw alignment and growth pattern, underlying health factors, gender, ethnicity, current dental health and tooth position, oral habits, facial aging considerations, lip posture, micro- and macro-esthetics, smile arc, facial balance, airway considerations, removal or non-removal of permanent teeth, alterations in tooth shape and sometimes tooth width, missing or extra teeth, three dimensional tooth positioning, previous dental and orthodontic work, and of course retention of the final tooth and jaw position. The list goes on and is specific to each patient.
Second, don't settle for mediocracy, especially when it comes to your smile and health! Be wise before being lured in by the attractively low cost of remote orthodontic treatment. Keep in mind that it is always more expensive to do orthodontic treatment twice as opposed to having it done right the first time. How confident are you that your remote dental lab has your smile and health at the top of their priority list? Who is that person diagnosing and transforming your smile and what training does that person have? Is that person even a dentist or orthodontist? What happens if treatment isn't going as you hoped? What will you do if you develop some of the common negative side effects, such as posterior open bite, as a result of your clear aligner treatment? Are they just taking your money and "gettin' er' done'?"
Third, I find great value in the doctor-patient relationship where treatment progress is closely monitored and final results are meticulously dialed in. As an orthodontist, I find significant importance in evaluating treatment progress and addressing questions and concerns for each of our patients during their scheduled appointments. Your smile will only be as good as the doctor that diagnoses and performs your orthodontic treatment. The orthodontic specialty is an art and it goes without saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Be selective in who you place your trust in transforming your smile.
Our Guarantee and Commitment to You
The good news is, we offer the technology and skill to straighten your teeth with both clear aligners and braces, affordably! Clear aligners can be a great tool for minor tooth movement, typically limited to the front teeth, or for minor relapse from not wearing retainers after orthodontic treatment. If you are attracted to what Smile Direct Club or any other remote orthodontic lab has to offer then look no further. Why pay for orthodontic treatment without the oversight of an orthodontist? We guarantee high quality orthodontic treatment and are committed to keeping it affordable.
Your Clear Aligner Treatment at Rucker Orthodontics in Temecula!
- A Proper diagnosis and treatment plan
- Better dental impressions that are obtained digitally, no putty
- Professionally obtained, high quality digital photos of your teeth, including before & after photos
- Better fitting clear aligners that are comfortable and guaranteed to move your teeth more predictably
- A doctor-patient relationship and a friendly team
- Treatment that is started, monitored, and finished by an orthodontist
- Overall treatment times limited to 6 months or less
- A final set of retainers, including bonded or permanent retainers, to maintain your final tooth position
- Affordable pricing that is comparable to any remote orthodontic lab, including Smile Direct Club
- We can help you utilize your HSA, FSA, and/or dental insurance benefit (including determining your insurance benefit and filing a claim on your behalf)
*There are limitations as to what clear aligners are able to correct. Not everyone is a candidate for this type of orthodontic treatment and braces may be required. Call our office today to schedule your exam and consultation!
NOTE: The author, Dr. Jonathan Rucker, is a certified specialist in orthodontics (Orthodontist). His private orthodontic practice, Rucker Orthodontics, is located in Temecula, California. He received a Bachelor of Science degree at Brigham Young University, his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) from the Medical College of Virginia, and his orthodontic specialty training at Saint Louis University Center for Advanced Dental Education. He is a certified Damon Braces provider and a preferred Invisalign specialist. He offers the most advanced techniques available in modern orthodontic treatment to ensure his patients have a positive and memorable experience while giving them the best possible results.