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Align, Inc announced today that it will supply clear aligners for the industry leading, at home tooth alignment solution SmileDirectClub. In an email to Invisalign providers, Align CEO Joe Hogan says the product supplied to SmileDirectClub will not be labeled as Invisalign and will not include attachments or IPR. The setups Align provides to SmileDirectClub will be limited to 20 aligners or less and Align CEO Joe Hogan also said, “This is not Invisalign. We will not use Invisalign clear aligners or Invisalign technology for this type of at-home treatment model. What can be accomplished with SmileDirectClub aligners and protocols is not the same or equal to what doctors can accomplish with Invisalign aligners, features, and protocols.”

I have long predicted a partnership between Align and SmileDirectClub and I will not hide my excitement at the possibilities this deal opens up for massively increased access to orthodontic care in the United States. The world is changing and technology is revolutionizing how we do everything. Non-invasive services will continue to be decentralized and become more convenient for the consumer. I welcome this change and encourage other dental healthcare providers to exchange their protectionist stance for  one of embracing increased access to care. More access to dental care is good. Period.

I can also tell you with certainty that patient acquisition is and will be the driving force in the modern orthodontic office and the Doctor Referral Program created by this deal will be a serious market force.  This deal between Align and SmileDirectClub is just a sign of the times and a hint of things to come. Those of you who are Invisalign providers and SmileDirectClub ELPs are sitting pretty and can pat yourselves on the back for understanding the world we live in. Change is good!

11 thoughts on “Align Announces Supply Agreement with SmileDirectClub

  1. In reality , we have to pat your back because you motivated some of us to take the plunge. For me it was a good faith plunge that I questioned but still went forward with it.

  2. For those of you who took the first plunge with the Smile Direct Club, what kind of volume are you seeing and revenue?

  3. Can someone clarify for me what the opportunities are for an orthodontist to “participate” with SDC? I’m seeing you all reference that you’re involved, but I don’t understand how and how it profits you. Can someone please explain? Thanks!

  4. Apparently Smile Direct is no longer accepting new providers? Any insight as to whether this new relationship with Align will increase the number of providers?

    1. My understanding is that SDC is accepting a few new providers in areas they need them but not many. No telling what the future holds.

  5. Hi Dr. Ben,

    I’m a mom who is trying to find an affordable solution for my daughter (age 17) with a minor overbite, some lower crowding and a molar that “is a little out of place” — read: not an extreme case. I live in NJ and OMG the pricing is all over the place for invisalign — we just got a quote for $6,000, then I saw an Invisalign “special” advertised online for $2,500 and Smile Direct is rolling in at $1,700.

    I have been at the forefront of marketing technology for 30+ years so I know a disruptive technology when I see one. In my view, the guy charging $6K is still working inside an old pricing model. The guy charging $2,500 is addressing the new market with his pricing and Smile Direct is pushing the envelope as a disrupter.

    Here’s my question — in this post you mention that Invisalign is limiting its supplies to up to 20 trays and “will not include attachments or IPR” — so it seems clear to me that Invisalign is trying to salve the orthodontists by saying — we’ll leave the more complicated cases for you.

    When are more than 20 trays, attachments or IPR required? To make the right decision for my daughter I need to be an educated consumer — I don’t need to become an orthodontist, I just need to understand enough about orthodonture to make an educated decision.

    1. Excellent points and questions. Every human being is different so it’s tough to respond without seeing your daughter but I’ll do my best. About half of Invisalign’s cases are done by orthodontists so it is smart business for Align to have good relations with orthodontists. As a publicly traded company, Align’s goal is to maximize share value and Joe Hogan is doing an incredible job of that. I believe they are doing an excellent job of maintaining the traditional model while exploring new delivery systems.
      As to your daughter and other customers looking for tooth straightening solutions, if she is in good oral health, has no pending dental work and no pain/discomfort/difficulty chewing or swallowing then we are talking about a cosmetic, elective, non-invasive procedure and therefore all options are on the table. I believe the best thing to do is to shop around – visit orthodontists and see what they say (as you have) and, if you want to know what SmileDirectClub can do, then submit her case so you can see the predicted result. SDC does not change overjet or overbite greatly (though aligning lower teeth does often reduce overjet to some degree) so keep that in mind if that is your major concern. I’ve treated many, many cases both ways – sometimes addressing the overjet/overbite and sometimes not, depending on the customer’s desires and willingness to endure what it takes to get the result. Here are a couple articles that may help you in your research:
      http://orthopundit.com/q-a-with-the-largest-smiledirectclub-facebook-group/
      http://orthopundit.com/is-smiledirectclub-appropriate-for-teenagers/
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Good luck!!

  6. …oh and BTW I am not asking you for medical advice. I fully understand you cannot provide that. BUT I am aiming to be able to ask informed questions of the orthodontists we are visiting.

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