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Three hands hold up invisible aligners for your teeth from Smile Direct Club, and another hand holds up a purple box from Smile Direct Club that reads “Smiling is contagious, join the club.” Photo illustration by Ashlie Juarbe

How SmileDirectClub straightens smiles without anxiety-filled trips to the orthodontist

Is teledentistry the answer for straighter smiles without the dental anxiety (and steep price tag)? Here’s how it works.

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Few things are as sure to elicit a groan as an upcoming dentist appointment. But for some people, it’s not just an annoyance — it’s a disturbing experience. Researchers estimate that nearly 6 in 10 adults experience dental anxiety, a condition that can put you on edge even during a cleaning.

Dental anxiety is more than a typical aversion to the dentist, though. It manifests in an array of physical and emotional symptoms that may be impossible to ignore. People with dental anxiety might lose sleep the night before an appointment, cry at the thought of an oral exam and panic during a procedure.

Finding ways to cope with dental anxiety is critical to keeping your teeth and gums healthy (after all, those cavities aren’t going to fill themselves). But let’s get real: Clean teeth and a disease-free mouth are the bare minimum, and most of us want perfect pearly whites that gleam when we grin. And that might require some extra help, such as a teeth-straightening treatment. For decades, people with dental anxiety were forced to choose between the emotional turmoil of confronting their fears and getting additional treatments, or living with smile-induced disappointment.

A purple box from Smile Direct Club that says “Open for a lifetime supply of confidence,” with aligners inside.

Enter teledentistry: SmileDirectClub is on a mission to revolutionize orthodontics by making it faster and more affordable to straighten your teeth with clear plastic aligners from the comfort of your own home. On average, the treatment is 60 percent less expensive than other teeth-straightening options. Best of all, SmileDirectClub assigns a dentist or orthodontist, licensed in the customer’s state, to each case to oversee and monitor the entire treatment process from start to finish through its teledentistry platform.

Getting started is simple. Customers can drop in to one of the company’s 300-plus SmileShops to get their teeth scanned with a high-tech camera that creates a 3-D image of their mouth. These SmileShops boast a warm, friendly vibe and none of the scary drill sounds or unpleasant odors of a typical dentist office. Still feeling nervous about an in-person visit? SmileDirectClub has a solution for that. Customers can order an impression kit to get the process started from their home. Rather than getting scanned by a camera, customers bite down on putty-filled trays to create impressions of their mouth and mail them in.

Shortly after receiving the scan or impressions, SmileDirectClub will email customers a 3-D visualization of what their smile will look like at the end of the process and a proposed plan for straightening their teeth. Treatments take six months on average, but since SmileDirectClub personalizes the plan for every customer, it may take more or less time.

Once you’re happy with the schedule and potential results, you pick a payment plan (either $1,895 at once or a $250 deposit and $85 per month for 24 months) and SmileDirectClub immediately gets to work creating the smooth, BPA-free plastic aligners. In just a few weeks, a big purple cube will arrive at your door with the entire treatment, plus a few bonus items like vanilla lip balm and premium teeth-whitening pens. You can pop in the first set of trays that day.

Every one to two weeks, you’ll switch to a new set of aligners, noticing improvements every step of the way. And even though you move through the treatment independently, you’re never alone — your assigned dentist from SmileDirectClub will periodically ask for updated photos of your mouth to ensure the teeth are mapping to the plan.

After finishing the last set of trays, you can then buy a retainer for $99 to preserve that smile. No stressful office visits, no surprise bills, no dental anxiety — just the smile you’ve always deserved.

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