Yes, we are helping many people achieve the smile of their dreams, but others are being ruined.
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I see those people daily! The reputation for accepting just about anyone even in later stages of the process pervades online reviews about the company, as well. In one example, a customer says:. We will update this report should they write back with an answer. See Appendix A for all the questions we asked the company and for our somewhat odd interaction with investor relations.
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With the benefit of experience, professionals can take more effective impressions or scans and can avoid common dangers and pitfalls. Contrary to the approach of using experienced professionals, SmileDirectClub mails customers impression molds and instructs them how to do it themselves.
Here is one of several YouTube videos of a SmileDirectClub customer trying to figure out the at-home process:.
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Following the molds, the company then instructs customers to take pictures of their teeth. It is hard to imagine that these pictures and impressions, performed almost entirely by untrained first-time customers using their phones in their living rooms or bathrooms, are of the highest quality. More on this later. Would you trust someone who has never done it before to take them? Even highly skilled dental assistants occasionally make poor impressions, necessitating retakes. Sometimes medical procedures go wrong even under the care of professionals.
But when medical procedures go wrong at home, users are generally unprepared. We read multiple online reviews from SmileDirect customers whose impression molds got stuck. The customers then needed to find various ways to pry the molds free from their mouths. In one example, a user had his molds get stuck in both his gums and a bracket he had for a missing tooth. After running around in a panic for 30 minutes , unable to breathe , the individual was forced to take emergency dentistry into his own hands, cutting the mold out of his mouth with wire cutters.
Per the Facebook post emphasis added :. Then came bottom to get it impressed. I did everything correct and had waited til I can pull it off.
Fun part came after this. The mold got stuck in my gum and bracket for my missing tooth. After almost 30 mins of running around with drool coming out of my mouth, I had to grab my tools from my tool box and cut this mold into a bunch of little pieces. I could not breath due to the mold pushing down on my tongue. If it was not for smart thinking I would have messed my teeth up even more. We followed up with the individual and asked him for more information about the experience.
He told us:. I did my research before I even purchased the kit to make sure that the bridge my dentist inserted would not interfere with the molding. I could not get the molding off at all. It had actually seeped below my bridge and was stuck it actually got so bad I had to resort my way into cutting near my gum line just to free my bridge from it getting ripped out. To this very day I still get calls, texts and emails telling me I need to turn in the moldings. These days, digital scanners are much more common than using impression molds.
Dr. Ralph Reilly
Per an orthodontist we communicated with:. A digital scan is much more accurate. In New York State, only a certified dental assistant, or doctor, is permitted to make a digital scan for the purpose of fabricating a medical device. Among those horror stories, were times when customers would lose a tooth — or teeth — in the midst of getting a scan to see if they were eligible for SDC. And there would be a lot of blood — and both instances are not something that you really can prepare for.
Customers that lost teeth in the store generally had issues with loose teeth and gums that would normally preclude them from orthodontics to begin with.
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Once again, the issue seemed to arise from a lack of screening procedures and a lack of oversight from a dentist. SmileDirect states that a U. This is true, but according our conversations with former employees and a recent class action lawsuit, such approvals appear to be mere token involvement. In fact, to the extent that U. We reached out to SmileDirect to confirm whether this is still in fact the process and will update this report should they write back with an answer. SmileDirect also does not use onshore licensed medical professionals to set up treatment plans.
Rather, the company conducts all of its treatment planning operations in Costa Rica. It makes it difficult to fathom how the actual licensed dentists are much more than a rubber-stamp along the way. Traditionally, during clear aligner treatment the type of product SmileDirect offers , aligners are shipped to the dentist supervising the patient.
The visit also gives patients a dedicated doctor to answer questions and guide them along the way. Contrary to that guided procedure, SmileDirect sends aligners to its customers by mail. SmileDirect groups and message boards are littered with customers advising each other on DIY dentistry topics like which nail files to purchase to file down their aligners and how to adjust aligners at home:.
We spoke to a former SmileDirect customer service representative as part of our research who informed us that customers are often under the mistaken impression that the Dental Team consists of dentists. Once again, SmileDirect customers hoping for medical advice from a dentist seem to be under the wrong impression. Part of the reason customers are under the wrong impression about the Dental Team is because they are provided very little information about who they are speaking with.
We were told that customers are essentially kept in the dark :. The only email or number for the dental team was the generic DentalTeam smiledirectclub.
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The former representative continued, telling us the only place customers got a name was the one that was appended to their Smile Plan, and that even as an employee of the company they were largely in the dark about names of people on the Dental Team emphasis added :. The only thing I could ever see was the name of the person that created the plan, that was really it. Meanwhile, every dentist or orthodontist that we spoke to disagreed with this statement. We think consumers, regulators, and the media will soon wake up to the realization that this assertion made by the company is wrong at every turn.
One of the key selling points for SmileDirect seems to be its customer review ratings. Third-party review sites show ratings ranging from 2. The company claims in its prospectus that it has an average rating of 4. As a clinician, which is one of the more popular employments for hygienists, you might evaluate patients' dental health history, personally examine patients' teeth and give reports and recommendations to dentists, take x-rays, clean teeth, apply preventive care, advise patients, and deliver anesthesia.
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All of these tasks are designed to both provide direct care to patients and to assist the dentist in the providing of services to many patients within a practice. Once patients leave the dentist's office, however, there is little a clinician can do to help them. But if you have a degree as a dental hygienist you can also help the public by helping to promote healthy oral habits as a health promoter or consumer advocate.
Beyond the dentist office, there is a looming industry of oral care, and individuals are needed to develop new products by designing and testing them. And individuals are also needed to assess the array of products that already exist. Oral care educators are also required at schools that train upcoming oral hygienists and other fields, and even companies, insurance providers, and government agencies are interested in compensating those knowledgeable individuals who can provide them with the tools, education, and advice needed to fulfill their specific organization's function.
It's uncommon for dentists and dental hygienists to catch their hand in the drill, as Johnny Carson so memorably suggests. It's very common, however, for dental hygienists to save patients a lot of pain when they can apply their skills towards cleaning, advising, and informing individuals about the condition of their teeth.
With your Associate's Degree as a dental hygienist, you can take advantage of many different kinds of careers that smart consumers recognize as being very helpful and very necessary to their health.