Patients who are welcomed with respect, compassion, and active listening feel safe in your office.

Preparing Your Practice for Former SmileDirectClub Patients

January 5, 2024
4 minute read

In December of 2023, SmileDirectClub shut down global operations and directed their customers to consult a local dentist or orthodontist to continue treatment. What might this mean for your business? 

It might not mean much. Former SmileDirectClub customers opted for direct-to-consumer aligners once, and other DIY dentistry providers are hoping they’ll take the same route again.

But many Dental Service Organizations (DSOs) are preparing their practices to welcome these patients in person, and it’s likely that experiencing the SmileDirectClub(SDC) shutdown personally will lead some people to opt for professional orthodontic care from a local provider. 

How can you prepare to serve former SDC patients well?

Understand the SDC Patient

Research indicates that as household income, education, and age increase, so does the likelihood that people consider direct-to-consumer options. 

This means that former SDC patients are often smart, educated, successful adults, who still value the factors that led them to choose direct-to-consumer aligners: convenience and straightforward treatment plans. Demographic data tells us that while these patients are as able to afford comprehensive orthodontic care as anyone else, they may be more cost-conscious than the average patient. 

What Does the SDC Patient Need Right Now?


You offer compassionate care to every patient, but it’s worth prepping your team to approach former SDC patients with a little extra empathy. They’ve had a bad experience with orthodontics, and while that certainly isn’t your fault, being ready to listen to their story and their hesitations is essential to building a successful relationship. 

Active listening skills, like reflecting a patient’s concerns back to them, can reassure them that you understand. From there, take a proactive approach: we’re sorry this happened to you, and we’re here to help.


We all have pet peeves, and if direct-to-consumer aligners are a sore spot for any member of your team, it’s important to actively prepare to meet former SDC patients with respect. 

Helpful Team Reminders:

  • Treat these patients as you would want a member of your own family treated if they were turning over a new leaf with medical care.
  • Former SDC patients have valid concerns after what they’ve experienced: price, convenience, provider reliability. You have thoughtful, positive answers to all of these concerns, and this is an opportunity to be your very best self as you explain them.
  • Remember: these patients are likely experts in areas where you’re a novice or have made decisions you wish had worked out differently. Treat them the way you would want to be treated in your areas of vulnerability.

Straightforward Answers:

Part of the appeal of direct-to-consumer aligners is perceived simplicity of the treatment plans. As a dental and orthodontic professional, you know that treatment is an art as well as a science, and that there’s nuance to your approach to each case. Consider using initial consults with former SDC clients as an opportunity to streamline your explanations. How concise can you be?

We recommend applying a concise approach to financing conversations too. This is a great opportunity to lay out your options and see how tight each team member can make their elevator pitch! Invite the client to ask questions so that they’re the ones initiating any deep dives into the details.

It can be helpful to remember that if a patient comes on board with you, you’ll have many more opportunities for conversations. Make sure their paperwork says everything it needs to say, and reassure yourself that you can always circle back to a nuance as it becomes relevant.

Convenient Treatment:

Supervised, professional orthodontic care doesn’t have to mean inconvenient care. Make sure to highlight your telehealth and virtual appointment options during the initial consultation.

Affordable Treatment:

All of the providers we spoke with plan to treat former SDC patients as brand new patients and to offer them the same treatment options they would any new patient. Some former SDC patients will certainly opt for comprehensive orthodontic treatment, but if your practice offers a limited option – treatment that focuses on smile correction, not bite correction, for example – this is a great opportunity to spotlight it.

For patients for whom Invisalign is a good fit, passing the savings from Invisalign’s discounted lab fees on to the patient can reduce treatment fees, too. 

How ClearPG Can Help

While we aren’t recommending explicit marketing to former SDC patients right now, this is a good time to mention elements of your practice that appeal to patients drawn to direct-to-consumer orthodontics. These include limited treatment options, telehealth, free initial consultations, and clear aligners.

Your team's warmth and respect for your patients is far more than a marketing strategy, but it is essential to the success of your business. As always, ClearPG is here to listen to your concerns and ideas, and to talk through ways to maximize opportunities for your practice. Please reach out to me or Brandie anytime.