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SmileDirectClub is shutting down. Where does that leave its customers?

by Andrew Wright
4 comments
Orthodontic Concerns

SmileDirectClub, a company that once promised to revolutionize the oral-care industry by providing clear dental aligners as an alternative to braces, is now shutting down its global operations and discontinuing its teeth-aligner treatments. This move has left existing SmileDirectClub customers with numerous questions and limited answers. The company is no longer offering customer care support, and details regarding potential refunds are currently scarce. Furthermore, dental organizations and orthodontists have raised concerns about the safety of “direct-to-consumer” dentistry.

Company Background and Closure Reasons:
SmileDirectClub, founded in 2014, aimed to offer clear dental aligners directly to consumers, touting them as a quicker and more cost-effective option compared to traditional braces. In 2019, when the company went public, it was valued at approximately $8.9 billion. However, over time, the company’s stock value plummeted due to continuous losses, with a staggering $86.4 million loss in 2022. The need to attract more customers to prove business growth, combined with legal challenges from the orthodontics industry, created significant challenges for the company. In September, SmileDirectClub filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with nearly $900 million in debt. Ultimately, it couldn’t secure a partner to inject enough capital to sustain its operations, leading to the decision to shut down.

Impact on Existing Customers:
Existing SmileDirectClub customers are now in a state of uncertainty. The telehealth aligner treatment is no longer available, and customer orders that were yet to be shipped have been canceled. The “Lifetime Smile Guarantee” has also been discontinued. Customers who use Smile Pay are still expected to make payments, causing additional confusion and frustration. Customer-care support has ceased, and the company has advised consumers to seek further treatment from their local dentist or orthodontist. More information about refund requests will be provided once the bankruptcy process determines the next steps and additional measures for customers.

Prospects for Customer Compensation:
There is skepticism about whether customers will receive compensation. Those who signed up or made payments after the company’s September bankruptcy filing may be prioritized, but it’s uncertain how much money will be available for distribution. Customers who are still paying for services they received before the closure will likely remain obligated to fulfill those payments.

Orthodontists’ Perspective:
Orthodontic professionals have expressed concerns about direct-to-consumer aligners, highlighting potential health risks. These treatments often do not require in-person visits to a dentist or orthodontist, relying on consumers to take molds or digital scans of their teeth. This approach can lead to oversight of crucial aspects of oral health, potentially resulting in health consequences. Orthodontists stress the importance of proper monitoring during orthodontic treatment, emphasizing its complexity and individualized nature.

While telehealth has a place in dental care, it should adhere to safety guidelines and maintain a patient-doctor relationship. Remote monitoring between treatments can enhance convenience and reduce cost barriers, but an initial in-person evaluation is essential for more permanent procedures, like orthodontic treatment.

In conclusion, SmileDirectClub’s closure has left its customers in a challenging position, with uncertainties regarding refunds and ongoing payments. The orthodontic community continues to emphasize the importance of patient safety and professional supervision in dental treatments, especially in the context of direct-to-consumer orthodontics.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Orthodontic Concerns

Q: What led to SmileDirectClub’s decision to shut down?

A: SmileDirectClub’s closure stemmed from a combination of factors, including substantial financial losses, legal battles with the orthodontics industry, and the inability to secure a partner willing to provide the necessary capital to sustain the company’s operations.

Q: How does the closure impact existing SmileDirectClub customers?

A: Existing customers are facing uncertainty as the telehealth aligner treatment is no longer available. Orders that hadn’t been shipped were canceled, and the “Lifetime Smile Guarantee” has been discontinued. Customers using Smile Pay are expected to continue making payments. Customer-care support has also ceased.

Q: Will customers receive refunds after the closure?

A: Details regarding refunds for SmileDirectClub customers are limited at this time. The company has stated that more information about refund requests will be provided once the bankruptcy process determines the next steps and additional measures for customers.

Q: What are orthodontists’ concerns about direct-to-consumer aligner treatments?

A: Orthodontists have expressed concerns about direct-to-consumer aligner treatments, highlighting potential health risks. These treatments often lack in-person supervision and may overlook critical aspects of oral health, potentially leading to health consequences. Orthodontists stress the importance of proper monitoring during orthodontic treatment due to its complexity and individualized nature.

Q: Is there a place for telehealth in dental care?

A: Yes, there is a place for telehealth in dental care, but it should adhere to safety guidelines and maintain a patient-doctor relationship. Remote monitoring between treatments can enhance convenience and reduce cost barriers. However, for more permanent procedures like orthodontic treatment, an initial in-person evaluation is essential.

More about Orthodontic Concerns

  • [SmileDirectClub Shuts Down: What Customers Need to Know](insert link)
  • [SmileDirectClub’s Financial Challenges and Bankruptcy](insert link)
  • [Orthodontists’ Concerns About Direct-to-Consumer Aligner Treatments](insert link)
  • [Telehealth in Dental Care: Balancing Convenience and Safety](insert link)

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4 comments

SeriousScribe December 16, 2023 - 10:19 pm

Orthodontists rite abt safety concerns, DIY dentistry not good. Dentists need supervise.

Reply
InfoSeeker December 16, 2023 - 11:57 pm

Telehealth can b gud, but gotta be careful, need in-person check for permanent stuff!

Reply
JohnDoe December 17, 2023 - 10:32 am

wow, smileDirectClub is closin down, what a mess for the customers!! hope they get refunds??

Reply
BizNewsFan December 17, 2023 - 12:16 pm

So, SmileDirectClub was valued high but lost so much money? Not surprised, tough biz world.

Reply

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