Teeth straightening has become so popular in Singapore that another clear aligners brand has arrived on our sunny shores. Joining the likes of Invisalign, Zenyum and WonderSmile, SmileDirectClub — originating from Nashville, United States of America — is boasting an impressive 1 million satisfied grinners under their belt to date.
With cute packaging with “Open for a lifetime supply of confidence” printed boldly, SmileDirectClub is determined to win the hearts of budget-conscious, busy Singaporeans — especially those with dental visit jitters.
SmileDirectClub has partnered up with local private dental chain Nuffield Dental, founded by Dr. Samintharaj Kumar, to provide professional dental care to their customers amidst its hands off, teledentistry approach.
We speak to Dr Samintharaj Kumar from Nuffield Dental and Victor Tesniere from SmileDirectClub to find out more.
1. How does SmileDirectClub’s clear aligners work to straighten teeth?
Dr Kumar: SmileDirectClub partners with Nuffield Dental to provide safe, effective dentist-prescribed clear aligner treatments for people with mild to moderate crowding and spacing issues.
In Singapore, you can schedule to visit a SmileShop at any of the three Nuffield Dental locations: Harbourfront Centre, One Raffles Place Mall and Wheelock Place to check your suitability first.
Victor: At a SmileShop, your teeth goes through 3D imaging. A Singapore registered dentist then approves the treatment plan, and the clear aligners will be manufactured via 3D printing at SmileDirectClub’s facility in the US.
The treatment plan comprises different sets of clear aligners, which target the gradual movement of teeth into desired positions. All of which will be shipped directly to you. You will have to wear your clear aligners for 22 hours daily. Overall, the treatment will take 4 to 6 months on average.
2. Are clear aligners as effective as braces?
Dr Kumar: Yes. Research by Dr. Marc Ackerman from Harvard Dental School found that teleorthodontic treatment with clear aligners is just as clinically effective as braces when it comes to correcting overcrowding or spacing issues.
Victor: Complex cases may still require traditional orthodontia treatment (i.e. braces). The dentist will have to determine a person’s eligibility for clear aligners so it’s best to book an appointment at the SmileShop to evaluate suitability.
3. Who is SmileDirectClub aligners suitable for?
Victor: In general, candidates with mild to moderate crowding and spacing issues are most suitable to receive the SmileDirectClub treatment. Candidates must also be over the age of 12.
4. What is SmileDirectClub’s clear aligners made of? How does it compare to other clear aligner brands like Zenyum and Invisalign in Singapore?
Dr Kumar: SmileDirectClub’s clear aligners are made of BPA-free, smooth plastic with matte finish. They are made in SmileDirectClub’s own manufacturing facility in the USA, allowing full control over its product, unlike its competitors.
Also, we pride ourselves on convenience. All aligners in the treatment plan are sent to the customers in one shot so they can just change aligners according to the treatment plan on their own. We use a telehealth platform, so there are no in-person visits at all required once treatment commences. All check-ins if any happens remotely, saving the hassle of frequent in-person clinic visits.
5. Why is SmileDirectClub aligners priced so affordably?
Victor: We removed the extra costs from in-clinic visits and passed on the savings to our customers. SmileDirectClub’s clear aligner therapy is priced at up to 70% less than traditional braces and also cheaper than other clear aligner brands in the market.
6. Walk us through the entire process of a smile transformation with SmileDirectClub.
Victor: (1) Visit one of the three SmileShops conveniently located at Nuffield Dental clinics for a 3D imaging of your teeth. You will also have an in-person consultation with a Singapore-registered dentist during the appointment. Afterwhich, you’ll receive a complimentary lip balm and bright on premium whitening and LED accelerator light sample to get started on your journey towards a brighter smile.
(2) After a Singapore-registered dentist approves the treatment plan, manufacturing of the SmileDirectClub aligners begins in SmileDirectClub’s USA facility.
(3) The clear aligners are shipped to your doorstep in an “all in one” blurple box. An assigned dentist will have regular virtual check-ins.
(4) After 4 to 6 months when the treatment is complete, you are encouraged to order a set of retainers from SmileDirectClub to wear at night to maintain straight teeth.
7. Tell us a bit more about the SmileDirectClub x Nuffield Dental partnership and what it entails.
Victor: The partnership was a natural fit for us. Nuffield Dental’s focus on personalisation aligns well with SmileDirectClub’s mission to change people’s smiles in a convenient, affordable and accessible way.
Nuffield Dental’s use of technology to improve and enhance patient care also aligns well with our focus on telehealth innovation. Nuffield has 10 locations across Singapore and provide a full dentist service, giving our SmileDirectClub customers access to more than clear aligners should they need it.
8. Why should one choose SmileDirectClub over the other clear aligner brands for their teeth straightening solution?
Victor: SmileDirectClub is committed to the mission to help people achieve a smile they love. We have over 1 million customers worldwide to date, and this is 50 times more smiles than our direct-to-consumer competitors.
Compared to our competitor brands, SmileDirectClub controls the entire customer experience, from the appointment booking, aligner production to customer care. There is no middlemen. Unlike our competitors, it’s our prices are affordably fixed for all. This means no hidden costs or top-ups due to your treatment length or complexity. We even have freebies such as a whitening set that can get your teeth up to 5 shades whiter in just one week. We also have the Smile guarantee, where customers are free to return their aligners within the first 30 days of their Smile Plan for a full refund. SmileDirectClub also have retail presence, making it easy for our customers to reach out to us at our shops.
9. What does wellness mean to you?
Victor: To me, wellness is having a healthy work-life balance. Adding more physical activities to my daily life is a simple but important way to boost my well-being. Also, one of the best things I love about living in Southeast Asia is that there are so many good, affordable massages to recharge!
Having a more beautiful, straighter smile not only boosts oral health, but also self-confidence. I believe that when you feel confident, you tend to go on to make decisions that are good for you and your health. It can also give you a positive outlook on life, increasing your mental and emotional well-being.
Dr Kumar: Wellness is actually part of Nuffield Dental’s motto — “Live Life Well”. And as a dentist, wellness to me embodies harnessing science and technology to improve my patients’ lives by taking care of their teeth, so they can live life to the fullest.
SmileDirectClub vs Invisalign
If you’re still wondering which brand to choose for your teeth straightening treatment (since wfh anyways), we’ve also rounded up some comparison facts for you.
SmileDirectClub’s clear aligner therapy treatment takes about 4 to 6 months on average. In comparison, Invisalign states on their website that it would take 12 to 18 months on average, three times the amount of time.
The SmileDirectClub clear aligner treatment costs a one-time fee of $2,500. If you opt to pay in instalments, it will cost you $350 (down payment) + $115 monthly for 24 months which will total up to $3,110.
In comparison, Invisalign would cost you about three times more. Expect to fork out about $8,000. This is because Invisalign is made of a patented SmartTrack material, giving a comfy, snug fit for the end user. This cost is heftier because it also includes consults with your dental specialist once every 6 to 8 weeks to monitor your teeth progress and health.
Keep in mind that teledentistry brands like SmileDirectClub have effectively removed dental visits that are expensive and time-consuming to be able to charge such affordably low prices for something that has always been a medical procedure.
SmileDirectClub vs Zenyum
Again, SmileDirectClub seems to boast the shortest treatment time out of all the clear aligner brands, promising an average treatment time of 4 to 6 months. In comparison, local clear aligner brand Zenyum states that it takes about 3 to 9 months on average for a smile transformation.
For the cost of the clear aligner treatment, we found that Zenyum’s is priced slightly cheaper compared to SmileDirectClub — at a cost of $2,400 one-off. This makes Zenyum the most affordable clear aligner brand in Singapore at present.
Our personal take is that teeth straightening with SmileDirectClub is probably best for those with minor teeth adjustments to be made. You also don’t see a physical dentist to do a thorough check of your oral health before you begin. During your consult at a SmileShop, the dentist or therapist on duty would only take a look at pictures of your teeth condition and an X-ray of your teeth.
Pro tip: before you begin your teeth straightening journey with SmileDirectClub, we’d recommend to schedule a visit to your dentist separately to do a thorough check of your oral health to make sure all’s good. Or you could also book an appointment with Nuffield Dental directly.
Our personal SmileDirectClub review is that some aligners in the treatment package can get rather tight and uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s because all the aligners are pre-manufactured beforehand using technology to predict your teeth movement, and thus allow for some slight margins of error.
If you embark on your teeth straightening journey with SmileDirectClub, you’d get all your aligners for the next 4 to 6 months at one shot. Though it’s convenient because all you have to do is change aligners according to the schedule they give in the box, call us kiasu but we’d prefer to have a professional dentist check on our teeth and dental health every once in a while — just to make sure our teeth and gums are in good shape.
We’d recommend popping in for physical visits to the dentist once every two to three months in your teeth straightening journey. Just to ensure everything is going well. After all, nothing triumphs having a trusted doctor personally review and check your teeth and bite regularly — healthcare is so accessible here in Singapore there is really no excuse not to. Sometimes, that extra bit of effort can make all the difference in your health and well-being.
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