The Florida Board of Dentistry closed an investigation into SmileDirectClub and its business model on January 10, 2020. According to the company, Florida is the eighteenth state to reject complaints made against it.
“We are pleased that the Florida Board of Dentistry has rejected and closed the American Association of Orthodontists’ complaint against SmileDirectClub, verifying that SmileDirectClub is operating in full compliance with Florida law and is not engaged in the corporate practice of dentistry through its operation of SmileShops or marketing activities,” said Susan Greenspon Rammelt, SmileDirectClub chief legal officer and executive vice president of business affairs.
However, the American Association of Orthodontists notes that the investigation that was closed on January 10 did not pertain to one of the 36 complaints that the organization filed against SmileDirectClub in 2017. Instead, the investigation was related to a complaint filed against an individual practitioner in late 2018.
“In 2017, the AAO filed complaints with 36 state dental boards and attorneys general, alleging specific statutory and regulatory violations by SmileDirectClub. Those statutes and regulations are in place to protect public health and safety,” said Katie Maassen, AAO director of marketing and communications.
“Many of the complaints filed by the AAO are still being reviewed in their respective jurisdictions, and the AAO will continue to provide relevant information to dental boards in the interest of public health and safety,” said Maassen.
“The AAO has also sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration, sent a petition to the Federal Trade Commission, and filed two amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) briefs in SmileDirectClub’s federal lawsuits in Georgia and Alabama,” said Maassen.
“The AAO has taken the foregoing actions in the interest of patient health and safety. Orthodontic treatment is not merely a product. Rather, it is a complex medical process. The AAO believes it is in the best interest of consumers to have orthodontic treatment conducted under the direct and ongoing, in person supervision of a licensed orthodontist,” said Maassen.
“Our company seeks to cooperate with and provide information to state dental boards to educate their members as to how our teledentistry platform works and demonstrate that it is the state-licensed dentists who are responsible for all aspects of clinical care,” said Greenspon Rammelt. “It is great to have the support of dental boards like the State of Florida Dental Board who welcome the access to care that today’s technology and our platform creates.”
Before deciding to proceed with direct-to-consumer orthodontic treatment, Maassen said, the AAO encourages patients to consider several questions about treatment.