‘Direct to consumer’ comes to Ireland

Irish and British orthodontic societies issue guidance

The Irish Orthodontic Society has issued guidance in the wake of the launch in Ireland and the UK of SmileDirectClub, a US start-up offering a ‘direct-to-consumer’ aligner service.

SmileDirectClub has opened in 16 cities across the UK, including Belfast, and last month it announced branches in Dublin and Cork. The company is investing $380m in its UK operations and plans to employ more than 300 people, including dentists, orthodontists, and dental nurses.

SmileDirectClub has “pioneered a unique teledentistry platform to connect customers with an affiliated network of registered dentists or orthodontists who direct all aspects of clinical care using SmileDirectClub’s platform,” it said.

However, the Irish Orthodontic Association said: “Specialist orthodontists believe that the best short-term price and long-term value in orthodontics is achieved by minimising the risks and maximising the benefits. We believe this is best achieved by working directly with patients face to face before, during and after treatment, to support them in achieving the best outcome.”

Speaking at a press conference during the British Orthodontic Society’s annual conference in Glasgow earlier this year, its president, Jonathan Sandler, said: “In my professional opinion, if you embark on any orthodontic treatment without a suitably trained clinician taking the time to examine you and make appropriate recommendations, you could be in danger of having serious conditions missed, as well as inappropriate and dangerous treatment carried out.”

In the US, the American Association of Orthodontists has lodged complaints about SmileDirectClub with dental boards and regulatory authorities in 36 US states. In contrast, SmileDirectClub has filed a lawsuit against the Dental Board of California, alleging harassment and intimidation of its employees and customers.

A spokesperson for SmileDirectClub said the services it offers are not ‘do-it-yourself’ or ‘over the counter’ and referred to a page on its website (smiledirectclub.com/doctors) that details the standards adhered to by its products and its network of professionals.

BOC 2019 report, click here.

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Published: 5 November, 2019 at 07:32