The abrupt closure of Smile Direct Club has left numerous patients stranded, halfway through their orthodontic treatments. The potential for lasting damage to their teeth and bone structure was a foreseeable event, according to Dr Guilherme Xavier, a board-certified orthodontist and lead at Dulwich Dental Office.
The dental industry has long advocated for stricter regulation of these unlicensed, makeshift clinics that promise affordable teeth straightening solutions. As the proverb goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. This situation was a disaster in the making.
While Smile Direct Club did fulfill their commitment to some patients by providing more affordable teeth straightening, these were typically cases with mild misalignments and good gum health. However, even these individuals are now facing the dilemma of having invested in their treatment with no clear path for reimbursement or continuing their orthodontic care.
This outcome does not come as a shock to the numerous dentists who unsuccessfully petitioned the General Dental Council for enhanced regulation. Smile Direct Club employed numerous strategies to evade disciplinary actions. The unfortunate consequence of this trend of budget-friendly solutions is a group of patients now facing possible gum disease, relapse, or even tooth loss.
Patients are unlikely to find success in any legal action against Smile Direct Club, given the comprehensive disclaimers in their initial contracts.
For those impacted by the closure, the first step is not to panic. Specialist orthodontists will conduct initial assessments to develop new treatment plans. These may include starting anew or integrating previous adjustments.
Aligners might still be an option, but traditional braces could be more suitable in certain cases. Seeking advice from a board-certified specialist orthodontist is advisable. Dr Xavier is currently offering genuine consultations at Dulwich Dental Office, Dental Care Centre, and Camden High Street Dental, all based in London.
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Dr Guilherme Xavier is a recognised specialist orthodontist with the General Dental Council and previously served as an Academic Clinical Lecturer and honorary specialist registrar in Orthodontics at King’s College London.