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Smile Direct Club has been accused of misleading advertising

July 8, 2019
Truth in Advertising Inc. is keeping an eye on Smile Direct Club's advertising about their clear aligners. Find out what TINA's investigations have uncovered.
Chris Salierno, DDS, Chief Editor, Dental Economics

Truth in Advertising ( listed its concerns with claims made by Smile Direct Club (SDC) in its advertising and on its website. In an article that was updated on July 3, primarily focused on two claims.

First, SDC states its service is “three times faster than braces.” They claim their average case takes six months, which means that traditional orthodontics would take 18 months. It isn’t appropriate to make claims about how long orthodontic treatment will take because every case is different. The American Association of Orthodontics correctly addresses this on their website. Direct-to-consumer aligners, doctor-supervised aligners, and traditional braces are significantly different treatment modalities, with different abilities to correct malocclusions and cosmetically straighten teeth. Making a claim that one is faster than another is misleading.

Second, investigated SDC’s claim that their system is designed for “minor to moderate teeth correction . . . ” When a rep filled out SDC’s online questionnaire pretending to be a patient with severe crowding, the person was told he was “a great candidate” for SDC’s aligners. Since the original publication of’s article, SDC has changed its online questionnaire so that the “extreme” category is now called “moderate +.”

I applaud for attempting to hold SDC accountable for its advertising claims, but of course there are several other concerns with direct-to-consumer orthodontics. A recent article on Yahoo Finance provides a comprehensive summary of the legal, ethical, and patient safety issues that have yet to be addressed.

We must continue to advocate for patients and for safe and effective orthodontic therapy. If you know of a patient who has been harmed by direct-to-consumer aligners, please encourage the person to file an individual complaint on the FDA’s MedWatch Voluntary Reporting Form.




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About the Author

Chris Salierno, DDS | Chief Editor, Dental Economics

Chris Salierno, DDS, is the chief editor of Dental Economics and the editorial director of the Principles of Practice Management and Group Practice and DSO Digest e-newsletters. He is also a contributing author for DentistryIQ and Perio-Implant Advisory. He lectures and writes about practice management and clinical dentistry. He maintains a blog to answer patient questions at ToothQuest. Dr. Salierno maintains a private general practice in Melville, New York. You may contact him at [email protected].

Updated Dec. 4, 2020