This Time, It’s War: ADA vs. SmileDirectClub

On June 27th of this year, the American Dental Association filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against SmileDirectClub (SDC), alleging substandard provision of services as well as “unfair and deceptive practices.”

You can read an article about the complaint here.

SmartBox reports on these kinds of developments as we believe that dentistry is personal. The impersonal model of “care” allegedly provided by SDC falls well short of what dental patients need and should expect. 

The ADA previously filed “a petition dated April 25 [that] focuses on SmileDirectClub’s noncompliance with the FDA’s prescription-only requirement with respect to plastic teeth aligners and how such conduct poses dangers to public health and safety.”

We’ll have to see how the FTC complaint and the FDA petition fall out, but another reason for this post is that SDC exemplifies a growing trend to commoditize certain aspects of dentistry – to the detriment of patients and dentists alike. 

Let’s Get “Un-Commoditized”

SDC’s main selling points in its provision of clear plastic aligners are convenience and price – essentially the same “value” proposition that corporate dentistry uses. Those points hit private dentists who provide clear aligners right in the pocketbook.

Essentially, patients are viewing clear aligners – and dentists –as commodities.

Until and unless your dental prospects see the true value in obtaining clear aligners from you, they’ll continue to believe they’re getting a great deal from the cut-rate providers. It’s your job to educate prospects in your area by laying out the reasons they should choose you rather than a low-price provider.

Every aspect of your marketing, your social media, your paid ads, your direct mail campaigns, and even your practice’s phone interactions must differentiate you from what prospects see as the great mass of dentists.

It’s Not About You – It’s About Them

As a group, dentists are justifiably proud of their education, post-grad training, memberships, and certifications. Those appear prominently on dental websites, not infrequently in more than one place.

Your better prospects don’t care. They don’t care about which dental school you went to, they can’t tell the difference between post-grad programs, your memberships are meaningless to them, and they might have a slight grudging respect for certifications.

Patients aren’t looking for the best hands in the business. They’re looking for a dentist who they feel they know, like, and trust as the dental “expert” to solve their oral issues. Expert is in quotes because it’s based on their perception, not on any claim by you.

What you’re offering prospects is a relationship as well as improved smiles, comfort eating, and lives. Now, not every potential dental patient wants that kind of relationship with a dentist. Typically, those are the ones that SmileDirectClub and corporate dentistry appeal to. And those aren’t the patients you want or need if you’re going to grow your practice.

Helping create long-term, trust-based relationships with quality patients is something that SmartBox has done for more than 4,400 dentists. With enough of those patients in your funnel, you’re insulated against the SDC’s of the world.