Monday, July 15, 2019

ADA Files Complaint about SmileDirectClub withFederal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection


For those of you who didn’t hear or see the announcement, on Thursday July 11th the American Dental Association announced that they have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection regarding the business pratices of Smile Direct Club.  The press release does a better job of describing the situation than I can so I’ll let you read it direct from the ADA.

The ADA is a strong advocate for the public and the profession. We are also strong advocates on the issue of direct to consumer orthodontic aligners.  For that reason, the ADA has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against SmileDirectClub, L.L.C. (SDC).
In compiling its citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration, the ADA identified a number of advertising and marketing claims of SmileDirectClub. The ADA believes these are false and misleading, and constitute substantive deceptive acts under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.”
Therefore, on June 27, the American Dental Association (ADA) sent a complaint letter to the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection citing the following practices of SmileDirectClub that the ADA believes to be deceptive:Informing customers they have recourse against SDC via arbitration when, in the same document, SDC hides a “small print” provision obligating the customer to waive any and all rights the customer “or any third party” may have against SDC;
Encouraging consumers to become customers by telling them individually and directly that SDC aligners will correct their overbite, underbite, and crossbite conditions or their “extreme” malocclusion, and then, when customers complain, SDC invokes other SDC documents that state its aligners cannot treat bite conditions at all and can only treat mild to moderate teeth misalignment, not “extreme” misalignment; and,
Claiming that SDC customers receive the same level of dental/orthodontic care as actual dental patients when actually SDC and its “affiliated dentists” provide virtually no care and, contrary to its prominent and repeated claims, SDC does not use teledentistry.
The ADA considers it our duty on behalf of the public to make the regulatory agencies aware of concerns with direct to consumer orthodontics.
We will continue to keep you apprised of developments.

Jeffrey M. Cole, D.D.S., M.B.A.
American Dental Association

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