The SmileDirectClub (SDC) offers BPA-free, clear aligners direct-to-customer. Over the course of 6 months each customer gradually shifts their teeth to the desired position with several sets of custom clear aligners. SDC is partnered with Camelot Venture Group, a private investment group.
The main difference between Align Technology’s Invisalign clear braces and the product offered by SDC is that SDC clear braces cost less and do not require in-person visits to an orthodontist. SDC has more than 300 “SmileShops”, located at CVS and Walgreens (US), and locations in UK, Canada, Puerto Rico and Australia. Tooth impressions can be taken at “SmileShops” or by ordering an at-home impression kit. Company staff, orthodontists and technicians, located in Costa Rica, prepare a treatment plan, approved by the customer and then finally approved by a state-licensed US-based orthodontist. A series of aligners are shipped from a US facility. One facility is located in Tennessee and another is being built in Texas. The list price for SDC aligners is under $2000. The treatment timeframe is 5-10 months, which is shorter than with Invisalign (12-24 months).
SDC has in-house financing with a “no credit check” option at 17% APR ($250 downpayment). This covers the cost of aligners and then $85 monthly payments occur over 24 months. Data show that 65% of customers use their payment plan system called SmilePay.
SDC has been criticized by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and several state dental boards. Complaints have been filed alleging regulatory violations by the company. AAO argues that its business model does not do enough to protect patients since they do not see the treating orthodontist during the process. Sean Murphy, general counsel for the AAO said that there are risks to moving teeth inappropriately.
SDC has been involved in dozens of lawsuits and complaints in the US and also filed a lawsuit against dentists in the province of Manitoba, Canada in 2019. SDC and SDC Canada Inc. accused the dental association of making “false or misleading statements” about the company and misleading and intimidating dentists.
SmileDirectClub's revenues come in at $432.2 million, a significant uptick from just $147 million the year prior.