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SmileDirectClub Shuts Down Global Operations: What Existing Customers Need To Know?

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(CTN News) – Shortly after declaring bankruptcy, SmileDirectClub has announced the closure of its global operations, putting a halt to its teeth-aligner treatments. This leaves existing customers with numerous inquiries and scant available information.

The company has ceased customer care support and provides minimal details about potential refunds.

Dental organizations and orthodontists caution against safety issues associated with “direct-to-consumer” dentistry.

Overview of SmileDirectClub and Reasons for Closure:

SmileDirectClub, established in 2014 and catering to over 2 million people, aimed to revolutionize oral care by offering clear dental aligners as a quicker and more affordable alternative to braces.

Initially valued at $8.9 billion in 2019, the company faced financial challenges, losing $86.4 million in 2022.

The combination of financial struggles, legal battles, and industry pushback made it difficult for the company to remain competitive, ultimately leading to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September.

SmileDirectClub

Impact on Existing Customers:

Existing SmileDirectClub customers face uncertainty as the company discontinues its telehealth aligner treatment. Customer orders that haven’t shipped are canceled, and the “Lifetime Smile Guarantee” is no longer valid.

Customer-care support has ceased, with the company directing consumers to consult local dentists or orthodontists for further treatment. Refund details are pending, subject to the outcome of the bankruptcy process.

Outlook for Customers and Legal Implications:

Liquidation is imminent for SmileDirectClub, raising doubts about compensation for customers. Newer customers post-bankruptcy filing may receive priority, while those with ongoing payments may still be obligated to fulfill them.

The “Lifetime Smile Guarantee” may not have legal repercussions post-closure, emphasizing the importance of warranties being dependent on the company’s lifespan.

Concerns Raised by Orthodontists:

Dental associations globally have long cautioned against “DIY” dentistry, expressing reservations about direct-to-consumer aligners. These treatments lack in-person supervision, potentially overlooking crucial aspects of oral health.

Orthodontists emphasize the complexity and individualized nature of moving teeth, warning of harm without proper monitoring.

Former direct-to-consumer aligner patients often seek reevaluation from orthodontic practices due to issues like gum disease and bite problems.

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Telehealth in Dentistry:

While telehealth has a place in dentistry for remote monitoring between treatments, concerns persist about the lack of direct supervision and patient-doctor relationships.

Orthodontists advocate for teledentistry within safety guidelines, endorsing remote check-ins with dentists but emphasizing in-person consultations before embarking on more permanent treatments like orthodontic care.

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