I know it probably seems weird that I am asking you, a dentist, about an online orthodontic service when you sell Invisalign. But, I live clear across the country from where you practice, so you won’t lose any business by telling me the truth. Hahaha. So here is my question. Every time I get on Facebook, I see an ad for Smile Direct Club. They do have quite a few good reviews. But, I thought before I invested in it I would like to get a real dentist’s opinion. Does Smile Direct work?
I’m glad you wrote. And don’t worry, you aren’t the first person to ask about this particular service. My duty is to ensure those who are seeking dental advice from us get the best and understand their options. So, never hesitate to write with questions. Yes, I am not surprised you see the ads a lot. They are heavily advertised. As for the good reviews, that doesn’t surprise me either, but not for the reasons you think.
Recent investigative journalism has uncovered Smile Direct Clubs’ habit of only offering refunds to unhappy clients if they sign a release saying they won’t post any negative reviews and will remove any negative content they have already placed. In other words, we won’t get a true picture of their reviews because patients with bad experiences don’t talk about it in order to get a refund.
However, let me just go into what we know for a certainty about how this program works.
Problem One: Missing Diagnostics
A good dentist will do a full mouth series of x-rays and a comprehensive dental examination. This would include looking for things such as signs of TMJ Disorder, tooth decay, and gum disease. Skipping this step can cause the patient a lifetime of pain and unnecessary dental work that could have been avoided. To me, it is inexcusable to skip this step.
Problem Two: DIY Impressions
In order to get a truly accurate treatment plan, it is imperative the impression is done carefully. That means there will be no bubbles, tears, or other defects. This step is so important that some dentists won’t even allow their assistants to take it. With Smile Direct, they just send you a kit to do your own impression at home. I find it doubtful this will give you the best orthodontic treatment.
Problem Three: Adding Space
Most cases of patients needing braces have crowded teeth. This means they will either need some shaving of a few teeth or some back teeth extracted. This needs to be done by a dentist invested in you and the case. Unfortunately, Smile Direct has a shortcut to this too and I worry about its impact on patients.
Problem Four: Inadequate Follow-Up
When you do a treatment, such as Invisalign through a dentist, you are getting follow up care every two weeks when you are given your new aligners. This prevents so many problems. While the treatment is pre-planned, sometimes our teeth don’t cooperate. Maybe teeth don’t turn the way they are supposed to or more space is needed than we originally thought. Without that follow up, your teeth could end up in a worse position than they were to begin with.
What does this mean for you? Well, you could try Smile Direct Club. It might turn out well for you and you’ll save some money. However, first I would get a complete examination from your dentist just to make sure you don’t have any underlying conditions that could cause a problem. But, you are taking chances. So go into it with eyes wide open.
This blog is brought to you by East Cobb Dentist Dr. Cristi Cheek.