The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) and the American Dental Association discourage the use of direct-to-consumer dental products, including aligners, veneers, mouthguards, snoring appliances, teeth whitening trays, and bleaching products. Self-administered, unsupervised dental treatments have the potential to cause damage and irreversible complications for patients.
The MDS has communicated its concerns regarding DIY or remote orthodontics in letters to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry and the Massachusetts Attorney General.
SmileDirectClub Seeks to Muzzle the MDS
In a recent letter to Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) President Dr. Janis Moriarty, legal counsel for SmileDirectClub (SDC) alleged that communications by the MDS to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry and the Massachusetts Attorney General, as well as its publication of a video expressing concerns over “do-it-yourself” (DIY) or remote orthodontic treatment, constitute false and defamatory statements directed at SDC. SDC demanded that the MDS correct the record, withdraw its letters to the Massachusetts dental board and Attorney General, and cease and desist from making “further defamatory statements.”
The MDS, through legal counsel, has issued a thorough response rejecting SDC’s claims. The MDS response states, “MDS will not be intimidated into silence or inaction when confronted with matters of public health. It will vigorously defend any lawsuit commenced by SDC.” In defending such a lawsuit, the letter states that MDS would “seek full-fledged discovery into SDC’s business practices” and that a “defamation lawsuit would put front and center the intensity and frequency of the real-life involvement of licensed dentists in all aspects of a patient’s treatment under SDC’s low-cost, high-volume model as well as the real-life results experienced by patients.”
The response concludes, “While MDS does not invite litigation, it will not shy away from its mandate to promote oral health. It certainly will not bend to any effort to chill its petitioning and free speech rights. There is a rising chorus of concern around SDC’s treatment model and business. Picking a fight with MDS will not abate this chorus, will not deliver SDC any meaningful relief, and will not set the table for any type of constructive relationship with a non-profit that represents 80% of dentists in Massachusetts.”
Read the full content of both letters below:
How to Talk to Patients About DIY Orthodontics
The MDS encourages you to educate your patients about the benefits of an office visit and the potential risks of these remote DIY options, including bone loss and receding gums, loose teeth, a misaligned bite, and other issues.
Q: If my patient tells me they are considering DIY orthodontics and remote treatment through an online company, what should I tell them?
A: While many patients believe that direct-to-consumer orthodontics sounds simple, the American Association of Orthodontists has published a flier listing questions patients may first want to consider. You can download and print the flier to share with your patients or direct them to the list of questions posted at massdental.org/DIY. You can also share with patients the Summer/Fall 2019 edition of Word of Mouth, which features the cover story, "Online Orthodontics: Too Good To Be True?"
Q: What if my patients have already undergone DIY treatment and encountered problems?
A: If you have seen patients who have experienced injury or adverse results from using mail-order orthodontic devices or other DIY dental treatments, the MDS Dental Practice and Benefits Committee encourages you to direct them to the MDS website at massdental.org/DIY, where they can locate contact information for reporting the issue to state and federal regulators.