Smile Direct Club has been in the public eye most recently because of their promise to help straighten crooked or misaligned teeth and produce a beautiful smile. The company conducts the majority of its business online through the help of multiple contracted retailers and professionals. This is a virtual business that just recently went public, and this indicates that they're doing quite well in their sector of the business world. We researched the Smile Direct Club to learn more about the beginnings and progression of the business, its legitimacy, and financial standing. For a better picture of the Smile Direct Club, here are 20 things about it that you probably didn't already know.
1. The company is only 5 years old
Smile Direct Club was founded by Jordan Katzman and Alex Fenkell in 2014. It's only been around for five years, but in that short amount of time, the company has grown substantially. They specialize in producing products that help to straighten and align teeth which are crooked or misaligned to offer clients treatment for their smiles, hence the name Smile Direct Club.
2. They're a teledentistry company
Teledentistry is a relatively new concept. You might have heard of Invisalign. Smile Direct Club is a competitor to the brand and they operate much on the same platform. Most of the business is conducted online, but they do have contracts with orthodontic professionals who are officially licensed to practice. Customers enroll for treatment services and pay for the services and then they receive impression kits through the mail. They take impressions of their teeth and send the impressions back to the company where dentists or orthodontists review the teeth molds, adn send the customer back an aligner. This step is repeated several times until the teeth are brought into perfect alignment. Smile Direct Club staff meet with clients in a virtual environment to explain the process.
3. They use 3D technology
We were impressed to learn that Smile Direct Club uses state-of-the-art technology in the creation of their teeth aligners. They use 3D technology to make their clear aligners. This ensures that each aligner made conforms to the precise specifications which are programmed into the computer that oversees the design for the 3D printer.
4. Not all of their business is conducted online
Although the majority of the business that Smile Direct Club conducts is done online in a virtual environment, they also have brick and mortar facilities. The company maintains 200 retail locations. Although the main headquarters is based out of Nashville, Tennessee, the company has placed the retail locations throughout 38 states in the USA. In addition to this, they employ 225 licensed professionals in the field of orthodontics and dentistry.
5. The company went public
Smile Direct Club filed their S-1 paperwork for going public in August of 2019. The company met all of the requirements and within less than a month from the date of filing, Smile Direct Club went public on September 12, 2019. At their Initial Public Offering, the shares were priced above estimates of $19 to $22 per share, selling at $23 per share. This was not a good day for the company because it suffered a 29% loss on the first day, setting a record for the highest loss since the recession hit in 2008.
6. Smile Direct is designed to save consumers the hassle
The original premise behind the Smile Direct Club company is to provide an easy to access diagnostic and treatment plan for achieving an improved smile with straight teeth without ever having to set foot inside a dental or orthodontic office. State licensed dental professionals oversee the entire diagnostics and treatment plan for each individual customer. The aligners are shipped in the mail, customers follow the prescribed plan and check in periodically with photos. Some clients do opt to go into the brick and mortar locations but most enjoy the convenience of doing everything online and through the mail.
7. Smile Direct Club has a blog explaining the benefits of straight teeth
If you're still trying to decide if going with Smile Direct Club is the right choice for you, the company has written and posted a blog. The writing highlights 7 things that you need to know before making your choice. After the 3 minutes read, it was apparent that they had done some significant research about the benefits of a perfect smile and how it can transform your life. A smile can make others around you feel happier and when you know that your teeth are beautiful, your self-esteem and confidence levels are higher and you will naturally smile a lot more.
8. There are different types of aligners and treatments to choose from
According to the Smile Direct official website, there are different treatment options for aligning the teeth. We saw a new nighttime aligner that is just worn at night. It's appealing to think that you can gradually straighten your teeth just by wearing these appliances while you sleep.
9. Smile Direct Club is transparent about pricing
You can easily find a breakdown of the costs for using Smile Direct Club aligners with a comparison of what it would cost to go with traditional braces. On average, traditional braces run between $6,000 to $8,000 depending upon the severity and extent of the issues which need to be fixed. Smile Direct Club Clear aligners take an average of 6 months at a cost of $1,895. If you go with the Nighttime Clear Aligners, the average time that it takes to achieve a new smile is about 10 months. The price is the same at $1,895, which shows significant savings over traditional braces for straightening and aligning the teeth.
10. The company has a $3.2 billion value
We learned that despite the fact that the IPO of Smile Direct Club was disappointing, the company still has a high value. The valuation as of last October 2018, was $3.2 billion. Prior to dits initial public offering, SDC received $380 million in one of its multiple funding rounds.
11. Not all dental professionals support direct to consumer orthodontics
We recently learned that the American Association of Orthodontists has concerns about the platform of providing direct to consumer orthodontic services and products. This includes the products offered by Invisalign and Smile Direct Club. The reason for the concern among dental professionals is because there is a risk of damaging the teeth adn causing gum loss if the process is not done correctly. Some of the damage may not be reversible. There were a total of 36 complaints filed by the AAO in teh last year, and these claims were filed with attorneys general and state dental boards, claiming that Smile Direct Club is in violation of certain statutes and regulations.
12. Smile Direct Club partnered with Align Technology
Align Technology Inc, is a publicly-traded company that manufactures the Invisalign brand clear aligners. Smile Direct Club acquired a 17% stake in Align Technology in 2016 and relied upon them for their supply of clear aligners. Within just one year of the partnership, the two companies experienced issues as Align began marketing the aligners through their own stores as well as walk-in appointments and digital scans to customers. Smile Direct Club alleged the company of violating a non-competition provision and they won a victory against the partner, resulting in the closing of 12 Invisalign centers. Align will not renew its previous agreement with SDC when it ends in 2019.
13. The SDC CEO is involved in several business ventures
David Katzman is the CEO of Smile Direct Club. He is also the founder of Camelot Venture Group. Katzman was appointed CEO of SDC in 2014. He also serves as a managing partner in the venture group. In addition to this his group backs several direct to consumer brands. They also fund Quicken Loans, Simplex Healthcare, ePrize, CleanRest and he is also the vice-chairman for the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team.
14. Smile Direct Club has several big financial backers
Smile Direct Club is backed by several major investors. Katzman's Camelot Venture Group was the first investment firm to fund the startup of the company. This was followed by an investment round which was led by Kleiner Perkins and Clayton, Dubiller & Rice. They raised $380 million funding during this round, which also allowed Smile Direct Club to expand their operations into the country of Canada in November of 2018, making them an international provider.
15. They're backed by a celebrity
Smile Direct has brought a very powerful influencer on board to help promote their products and services. An announcement was made at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards that the company was collaborating with popular artist Shawn Mendes. He is endorsing their "confidence is gained with an amazing smile" campaign.
16. You can find special offers to save more
We also learned that there are a few special promotions available to help you save even more when you enroll in the Smile Direct Club teeth alignment treatment program. There are special promotional coupon codes out there which can give you an additional $100 off of the price of $1,895. In addition to this, the company also offers convenient payment plans that run approximately $85 per month so you can finance the cost without the need to come up with all of the cost of the program upfront.
17. The SDC smile scan is complementary
Smile Direct Club offers a free smile scan when you visit one of the brick and mortar locations. First, you must make an appointment at one of their shops, but you can do this online in just a few seconds. Next, you just show up at your appointment and the technicians will give you a free 3D scan of your smile. This is just the first step, but it lets them know approximately how to proceed.
18. You don't wear the aligners when you leat
The regular aligners (not the nighttime aligners) are worn approximately 22 hours per day. You need to take them out when you eat, brush your teeth and then put them back in. This process continues for about 6 months in most cases. The aligners may be changed out every week or every other week, depending on how quickly the teeth begin to realign.
19. Smile Direct Club services aren't recommended for everyone
Although there are thousands of satisfied customers who give SDC great reviews there are some who would not benefit from the use of the service. People who have complicated dental issues or those with missing teeth or cavities will need to see a regular dentist and have the necessary treatment completed. Wearing the clear aligners on damaged or decaying teeth an lead to even greater dental complications. This is why it's important to check with your local dentist to ensure that you're a good candidate for direct to consumer dental alignment.
20. Smile Direct Club is still a controversial company
Although this company is still legally operating and it has secured multiple excellent reviews, some dental professionals still maintain reservations. There are concerns that using this service could lead to serious dental issues. Out of the 36 complaints which have been filed against the company by the American Association of Orthodontist, only five of them have been resolved and the other 31 are still pending. This has stirred up a bit of controversy for the Smile Direct Club Company, but they're still offering services in most states within the USA and for residents of Canada as well. Not all dental professionals are against the use of this service, but the AAO represents some 19,000 professionals in the field, so it's at least worth checking with your service provider. Although the controversy does exist, we could find no evidence of any consumer-based complaints filed against Smile Direct Club.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson