SmileDirectClub, an online company that sells invisible aligners for teeth straightening, announced a complete closure on Friday after the company filed for bankruptcy. few months before.
On its website, the company explains that SmileDirectClub customers will no longer be able to receive aligners or customer service, regardless of where they are in the treatment process. The company also expects customers to continue their payments, meaning all existing patients on a payment plan are still on the hook for everything they owe. The average duration of treatment is four to six months, but it can last up to two years for some patients.
Invisible aligners have become a popular teeth-straightening treatment in recent years because clear aligners are a subtler and often cheaper alternative to traditional orthodontic services. Remote companies like SmileDirectClub also do not require in-person appointments, unlike companies like Invisalign, which require some in-person appointments.
But SmileDirectClub has been accused of some unfair practices, including in one lawsuit alleging the company made dissatisfied patients sign NDAs, according to multiple media reports. Shortly before its bankruptcy filing, the company I made a discount in advance payments, Axios reported, encouraging more people to make full payments instead of monthly installments.
SmileDirectClub says in its FAQ that more information will be available “once the bankruptcy process determines next steps,” meaning that expectations around payments and other instructions about how to tie up loose ends—perhaps for people left in the middle of treatment—may change in the future. weeks to come.
Until then, here's what you should know about payments and what to do for treatment.
Do you still need to pay if you are a SmileDirectClub customer?
The company says yes. Patients making payments under the SmilePay plan “are expected to continue making all monthly payments until payment is made in full,” SmileDirectClub states in its FAQ. For people with questions about this, the company advises you to contact Healthcare Finance Direct, which appears to manage SmileDirectClub payments, at 1-877-874-3877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is where it gets a little sticky. In your own information page for SmileDirectClub customers, HFD says it is “hopeful” SmileDirectClub will come up with a plan to support customers and maintain existing treatment plans. But the accounts have been transferred to a new creditor and failure to pay will result in your account going to collections, which hurts your credit score.
“Even though SmileDirectClub is closed, you are obligated to continue paying for the aligners you already received in accordance with the retail installment agreement you signed,” HFD said.
What about retainers or aligners you haven't received yet? HFD says you should continue making your monthly payments, but that the company is reviewing all of your SmileDirectClub accounts and working with the company to ensure that people who never received aligners are “properly reimbursed.” HFD says the same applies to down payments – they're working with SmileDirectClub to ensure customers who didn't receive advances get their money back – but only SmileDirectClub processes these payments, so it's unclear what HFD will be able to do. do about it.
So as of now, it appears that you are probably still legally responsible for payments owed to SmileDirectClub. But as HFD and SmileDirectClub say some details are still in the works, it's possible that could change for some customers. If you would like to try to plead your case with either company, please contact 1-877-874-3877 or email@example.com.
What to do if your treatment doesn't end
If you've already started your teeth straightening journey and still have a long way to go, SmileDirectClub says you should consult your local dentist or doctor for next steps. There are other direct-to-consumer invisible brace companies, such as Byte. There are also Invisalignwhich is a similar concept, but requires some in-person care and adjustments with an orthodontist.
One company, OrthoFX, is offering free consultations and treatment evaluations for people who were SmileDirectClub customers. The company also offers “special financing options and flexible payment plans” for SmileDirectClub customers, according to a press release.
OrthoFX is more of a hybrid model, requiring in-person consultations with a doctor to determine which treatment is right for you and then home shipments of aligners. If you are interested in the consultation, you can fill out the company's online form.
In general, it's a good idea not to end treatment early or start a new treatment without consulting a doctor about the best approach, as the purpose of clear aligners is to change the position of your teeth.