Buyers Beware!

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

Dear Visitors to the Spring Lake Dental Group website,

Have you seen those advertisements on television supporting your gaining orthodontic treatment through aligners from SmileDirectClub? How could you not? They’re everywhere. The positives they claim through their therapy is straight teeth through orthodontic movement with no orthodontic visits and the cost of therapy will be substantially less.

Sounds great, right? Buyer beware! By excluding an orthodontist from your treatment, many pitfalls may be experienced.

I recently received a mass making from the co-founder and CEO of SmileDirectClub, Mr. Alex Fenkell. He was writing this email to members of my profession asking for input and assistance in allowing his business model to grow. He was addressing the issues of a citizen’s petition filed with the FDA by the American Dental Association and its president., Dr. Jeffery Cole, DMD, which stated that do-it-yourself orthodontics should be regulated more rigidly.

Orthodontics is recognized as one of the ten dental specialties and requires an additional two or three years of training past the four years of dental school, after four years of undergraduate work. The problems associated with malocclusion, dental and facial orthopedics, neuromuscular function and pathology as well as temporo-mandibular joint function and pathology are numerous and complex. Just moving teeth into an uncrowded and esthetic position is not without its risks and can lead to many, massive problems. Problems such as: headache, pain on function, limited opening ability, myofascial pain and dysfunction, clicking and popping of the joint, gum recession, teeth sensitivity, malocclusion, gingivitis, periodontal bone loss and unstable retention.

As this marketing strategy has been very successful and appealing, we have already seen in our practice, many patients experiencing these issues. When this happens to you, who do you turn to? Not to SmileDirectClub. Yes, they ask you to certify that you are under the care of a general dentist and that you have had a check-up in the last six months, but there is no communication between SmileDirectClub and Spring Lake Dental Group concerning their treatment to our patients. There is a nationally certified specialty of orthodontists for a reason. This business model of Mr. Fenkell’s, who incidentally is not a dentist, carries with it a great deal of risk for patients who are looking for convenience and money saving benefits.

The profession of dentistry is not looking to restrict free trade and competition. But the profession was built on the trust and confidence if the general public and to betray that trust now would be problematic for all.