The British Dental Association (BDA) has revealed that Smile Direct Club had ‘just five UK-registered dentists’ supervising its reported 65,000 patients.
The BDA is unsure whether these clinicians were UK-based or covered by appropriate professional indemnity. As a result, the association has called for urgent reform to stop the next direct-to-consumer aligner company from putting patients at risk.
UK dental leaders have also stressed that the profession relies on the General Dental Council (GDC) to prosecute illegal practice of dentistry. Therefore, they urged the regulator to look into similar businesses both now and in the future to protect the health of the public.
This comes after the news that Smile Direct Club has shut down weeks after filing for bankruptcy. The company confirmed that all current orders have been cancelled and patients will not be receiving anymore aligners.
Its statement reads: ‘Smile Direct Club has made the incredibly difficult decision to wind down its global operations, effective immediately. For new customers interested in Smile Direct Club services, thank you for your interest, but aligner treatment is no longer available through our telehealth platform.
‘For existing customers, we apologise for the inconvenience, but customer care support is no longer available. Thank you for your support and letting us improve over two million smiles and lives.’
Minefield for dentists
In addition, Smile Direct Club has recommended its patients find a local dentist to take responsibility for their treatment. However, the BDA has stated that this could prove to be a minefield for dentists ‘given potential cases of inappropriate treatment’.
As a result, it has urged the General Dental Council (GDC) to ensure dentists who complete Smile Direct Club patients’ treatments are not liable for the company’s mistakes.
BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘It beggars belief that five dentists would be enough to provide continuing care for the company’s reported 65,000 UK patients. It shows why change is needed, so that the public are protected, and corners are not cut.
‘This could prove a minefield for any dentist stepping up to help. We need assurances that any clinicians attempting to undo damage will not be liable for mistakes made by this company.
‘A full clinical assessment isn’t a nice to have or an optional extra – it should be required no matter what. If we’re going to protect patients the basics of decent care must be in place for all.’
Read more on Smile Direct Club
- Smile Direct Club files for bankruptcy – what does this mean for dentistry?
- Uncovering the truth behind Smile Direct Club
- Smile Direct Club shuts down following bankruptcy
- Smile Direct Club files for bankruptcy
- Smile Direct Club – an exclusive interview with its chief clinical director.
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