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SmileDirectClub, LLC
Founded2014; 8 years ago (2014)
FoundersJordan Katzman
Alex Fenkell
RevenueIncrease $750 Million(2019)[2]
Number of employees

SmileDirectClub is a teledentistry company. The company was co-founded in 2014 by Jordan Katzman and Alex Fenkell. It is based in Nashville, Tennessee.[3][4]


SmileDirectClub produces 3D-printed clear aligners.[5] SmileDirectClub aligners are a competitor of traditional braces and clear alignment companies like Invisalign.[6]

Communication with licensed orthodontic professionals and other SmileDirectClub staff takes place virtually. Impression kits are sent to customers, after which teeth molds are reviewed by dentists or orthodontists who oversee the treatment process. The company reportedly works with 225 licensed professionals.[7]

While most business and dentistry is conducted online, the company has 300 retail locations across the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.[8][9]


Entrance to a SmileDirectClub SmileShop

The company initially partnered with Align Technology as an exclusive third-party distributor for its aligners.[10] After a dispute over violation of a non-compete clause claiming Align "misused confidential SmileDirectClub information and violated its fiduciary duties," Align was ordered by an arbitrator to close its retail locations and return its ownership stake in SmileDirect.[11] Align filed an additional arbitration to recoup amount the value of the ownership stake. In 2021, the arbitrator has ordered SmileDirectClub to pay Align $43.4 million (plus $2.1 million in interest) for the ownership stake.[12]

In October 2018, SmileDirectClub raised $380 million in an investment round led by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Kleiner Perkins, for a $3.2 billion valuation according to Bloomberg.[13] SmileDirectClub was initially funded by Camelot Venture Group. NBA player Draymond Green was an early investor in the company, investing in 2015, after personally using its products.[14]

The company expanded into Canada in November 2018,[15] and expanded into the UK and Australia in 2019.[9][16]

During the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, SmileDirectClub announced a collaboration with singer Shawn Mendes on campaign to show "that confidence is gained with an amazing smile."[17]

In April 2019, CVS announced that the company would add SmileDirectClub locations to hundreds of CVS stores.[18] In May 2019, HP and SmileDirectClub announced a partnership to produce over 20 million 3D-printed molds over the following year.[19]

SmileDirectClub celebrating the company's IPO listing on NASDAQ

In August 2019, the company filed S-1 paperwork to go public.[20] On September 12, 2019, the company went public by offering initial shares at $23, above the expected price of $19-$22 per share. SDC's IPO opened at $20.55[21] and closed at $16.67 after the first day, a 28% loss from the initial shares offering.[22] After the loss, the CFO of the company has stated that the focus of the company will remain the same despite market evaluations.[23]

SmileDirectClub was awarded a business-model patent on the process used to plastic aligners for customers on April 28, 2020. SmileDirectClub sued a competitor Candid Care, calling it "a copycat model". U.S. District Judge Colm Connolly invalidated the patent.[24]

On April 14, 2021, the company was the subject of a cyberattack. In a filing, the SmileDirectClub reported that they were "able to successfully block the attack, no ransom was paid, and the Company's systems and operations are back online and performing normally." The estimated cost was $10 million to $15 million in revenue "from the cyberattack and the associated downtime in treatment planning and manufacturing."[25][26]

On August 3, 2021, a workplace shooting occurred at the company's manufacturing facility in Nashville. Two security guards and a manager were injured by the gunman, 22-year-old employee Antonio King, who was then shot and killed by responding police officers. SmileDirectClub released a statement after the shooting, saying it was saddened by the events.[27][28]


The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has filed complaints with 36 state dental boards, alleging that SmileDirectClub violates regulatory standards.[29][30] According to SmileDirectClub representatives, 12 of the cases have been closed and no adverse legal action has been taken against the company.[31] The AAO has stated that only five states confirmed closed cases.[31]

In September 2019, a group of customers filed a class-action lawsuit against the company claiming SmileDirectClub engaged in false advertising and violating FDA regulations. Due to a clause in SmileDirectClub's consent forms that require disputes to be resolved via arbitration, all but two plaintiffs in the lawsuit withdrew.[32][33]

In January 2020, the New York Times published an article revealing SmileDirectClub's usage of non-disclosure agreements worked to limit information about customers’ dissatisfaction with its products, including medical concerns. The company sued Lifehacker's parent company for defamation and libel after the site published an article that outlined the risks of its products. It also sued state dental boards after making it harder for SmileDirectClub to operate. SmileDirectClub's chief legal officer defended the company's actions stating, “when we believe that there is an organized campaign to damage our reputation amongst consumers, dentists and/or investors, we will defend ourselves and our mission to democratize access to care every chance we get.”[32]

In March 2020, CBC News's Marketplace released an investigative report where they found the company had made misleading claims about their aligners and gave questionable treatment plans. Marketplace sent four potential customers wearing hidden cameras to SmileDirectClub locations in the Toronto area. While SmileDirectClub approved all four patients for treatment plans, orthodontists asked to review the treatment plan said that none should have been approved. In one case, the orthodontist said that the proposed treatment plan could increase the likelihood of chips and wear. SmileDirectClub's disputed this assessment and stated that the treatment plans would all result in an improved smile appearance. Following the investigative, SmileDirectClub released a list of changes that they were making to the company, including increased trainings, changes to their forms so customers better understand they need to visit a dentist six months prior to starting treatment, and making the contact information for treating doctor available as soon as they are approved for treatment.[34]

SmileDirectClub filed a $2.8 billion lawsuit against NBC News in May 2020 accusing the news organization of broadcasting a story with errors in it. The NBC Nightly News story cited patients who complained of pain after receiving SmileDirectClub's treatment. One patient featured in the story said her orthodontist diagnosed her with a crossbite “possibly caused by” the company's aligners. Another patient gave testimonial that his dentist said SmileDirectClub's aligners “moved his teeth so fast that it caused some of them to detach from the bone.” SmileDirectClub's lawsuit claims the story contained more than 40 false and misleading statements. An NBC News spokesperson responded in a statement about the lawsuit, "we stand by our reporting and believe this is a meritless claim.”[35][36]


  1. ^ Sandy Mazza. "SmileDirectClub announces 2,010 new jobs, $217M investment in Nashville HQ". Tennessean. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  2. ^ "Smile Direct Club Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2019 Financial Results". 25 February 2020.
  3. ^ "Teeth-straightening startup SmileDirectClub gets $3 billion valuation in new fundraising". CNBC. 10 October 2018.
  4. ^ Stinnett, Joel (11 October 2018). "Nashville company raises $380 million at $3.2 billion valuation". Nashville Business Journal. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Orthodontics Startup SmileDirectClub Gets $3.2 Billion Valuation". 10 October 2018.
  6. ^ Tindera, Michela. "Bracing For Competition? Cheaper Challengers Enter Invisalign's $1.5 Billion Market". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  7. ^ "Teeth-straightening startups can be a cheap alternative to braces. But orthodontists have their doubts". Chicago Tribune.
  8. ^ Sarah Toy. "SmileDirectClub went public: 5 things to know about the teeth-straightening startup". MarketWatch. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  9. ^ a b Kevin Truong. "Dental company SmileDirectClub files to go public". MedCityNews. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  10. ^ "Align Technology to Supply Non-Invisalign Clear Aligners to SmileDirectClub in North America". Align Technology. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  11. ^ "Arbitrator gives SmileDirectClub huge win over Align". Nashville Post. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  12. ^ Stinnett, Joel (March 16, 2021). "Arbitrator rules SmileDirectClub must pay Align Technology more than $45 million". Retrieved 2021-06-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Wolf, Janine (2 November 2018). "Healthcare Startups Have Raised More This Year Than in 2012 And 2013 Combined". Forbes. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  14. ^ Michael LoRé. "Draymond Green Set For Another Big Pay Day As SmileDirectClub Goes Public". Forbes. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  15. ^ Taylor, Paul (12 November 2018). "Are DIY orthodontics safe?". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  16. ^ Simon Evans. "US giant aims to take a bite out of high orthodontic bills". Financial Review. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  17. ^ Staff (6 February 2019). "Shawn Mendes to Launch SmileDirectClub Partnership With TV Spot During Grammys". Variety. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  18. ^ "CVS moves into dental care with teeth-straightening service SmileDirectClub". LA Times. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  19. ^ Tia Vialva. "HP AND SMILEDIRECTCLUB TO 3D PRINT 20 MILLION 3D PRINTED CLEAR ALIGNER DENTAL MOLDS PER YEAR". 3D Printing Industry. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  20. ^ Rose Dickey, Megan (16 August 2019). "SmileDirectClub files to go public amid concerns from dental associations". TechCrunch. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  21. ^ "SmileDirectClub opens for trading". Yahoo Finance. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  22. ^ Osipovich, Alexander. "SmileDirectClub Plunges 28% on First Day of Trading". WSJ. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  23. ^ Ross, Katherine (2019-09-12). "SmileDirectClub CFO on Going Public, SmilePay and Competition". TheStreet. Retrieved 2019-09-13.
  24. ^ Yasiejko, Christopher (December 7, 2020). "SmileDirectClub Patent on Business Is Invalidated by Judge". Retrieved 2021-06-11.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ Lenihan, Rob. "SmileDirectClub Tumbles on Cyberattack News". TheStreet. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  26. ^ Nakrosis, Stephen (2021-05-03). "SmileDirectClub Shares Fall After Company Reports Cybersecurity Incident". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  27. ^ Baird, Brittney (August 3, 2021). "3 employees shot, suspected gunman killed at workplace shooting on Antioch Pike". WKRN-TV. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  28. ^ Impelli, Matthew (August 4, 2021). "Bodycam Video of Fatal Smile Direct Club Shooting Prompts Officer Investigation". Newsweek. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  29. ^ Wolf, Janine (23 September 2018). "Orthodontists aren't smiling about teeth-straightening startups". The Mercury News. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  30. ^ "Getting Your Teeth Straightened at a Strip Mall? Doctors Have a Warning". 20 September 2018.
  31. ^ a b "The Cutthroat World of Orthodontic Invisible Aligner Startups". Racked. 8 August 2018.
  32. ^ a b Griffith, Erin; Eavis, Peter (2020-01-21). "This Company Says It Will Fix Your Smile. It May Shush You if It Doesn't". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  33. ^ Stinnett, Joel (December 19, 2019). "All but two plaintiffs drop class action lawsuit against SmileDirectClub". Retrieved 2021-05-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  34. ^ Cowley, Jenny (March 28, 2020). "Hidden camera investigation finds misleading information, questionable treatment plans from SmileDirectClub". CBC News.
  35. ^ Coleman, Justine (2020-05-18). "SmileDirectClub files $2.8B lawsuit against NBC". TheHill. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  36. ^ ""Things didn't feel right": SmileDirectClub's dental aligners cause problems". NBC News. Retrieved 2021-05-03.

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