“We both had these full metal wire mouths full of braces,” says SmileDirectClub co-founder Fenkell. “Later, as business partners we reflected back on that early incident, and figured there had to be a better way to go about this.”
Extremely high costs
They decided to explore the invisible aligners market, but both soon realized that the potential of 3D printing and telehealth had not been discovered yet. They were shocked by the costs of the process and the fact that these costs were making people not get braces.
“This is an industry that’s been so expensive for so long,” Fenkell explains. “There are 50 million people in the United States who are looking for a better smile. That was the thesis behind this work and why we got into the industry.”
“First digital brand for your smile”SmileDirectClub offers custom-made invisible aligners, 3D-printed using BPA-free plastics. At home, the customer makes a molding of his own teeth using a home impression kit from SmileDirectClub. It is then mailed back to the company along with some digitally uploaded photos.
The customer gets an expert review from a licensed dental professional and then gets a custom aligner created and mailed back. According to Fenkell this solution is “about 70 percent less expensive” than other invisible aligners.