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The Past, Present, and Future of Straight Teeth

How Better Access to Care Is Changing Orthodontics As We Know It

By Dr. Ben Burris

I don’t believe in a two-tiered system when it comes to healthcare where those who can afford it get great care and others do not. It’s offensive. That being said, the pragmatist in me will admit that it’s far better to have a two-tiered system than to have the vast majority of the population with no access to care.

What am I talking about?

Allow me to give you some perspective. For almost a century, orthodontists were the only professionals who offered braces and other devices to help people get straight teeth and the smile of their dreams.

The advent of the orthodontic specialist certainly advanced the science and art of smile creation, but their total dominance of the field and limited numbers have always caused an access-to-care issue and severely limited the number of people who could get braces. This also kept prices artificially high due to the limited supply.

In the last couple decades of the 20th century, general dentists began taking on orthodontic patients in significant numbers. This expanded access to orthodontic care and even created downward pressure on pricing among orthodontists, and those are always good things! However, this created a two-tiered healthcare system where those who knew better and could afford it go to orthodontists and others settle for orthodontic treatment from a general dentist. It’s not ideal, but it resulted to more people getting orthodontic treatment and increased affordability. So, again, the pragmatist in me will say this is an overall win.

The interesting thing to remember is that all the progress and increased access discussed thus far still only allows a very small percentage of Americans to take advantage of the awesome technology available to improve their smiles. Whether it’s metal braces, clear braces or invisible aligners, less than 3% of Americans have orthodontic treatment in any given year. And they must disrupt their lives regularly to physically go to an orthodontist’s office to do so.

The vast majority of Americans cannot afford the time or money to do this. The vast majority of Americans who don’t like their smiles suffer in silence and put their hand over their mouth when they smile or laugh because orthodontic treatment is not a realistic option for them. That is unacceptable.

Today, the combination of technology, communication systems, economies of scale and access that is SmileDirectClub is revolutionizing how the majority of Americans get their teeth straightened. Under the supervision of a licensed dentist, in the comfort of your own home, for an extremely affordable price, almost anyone can now get that smile they’ve always dreamed of.

Whether you’re a mom who is constantly waiting for “your turn,” a kid who is made fun of at school, a young professional who wants to move up the ranks, or John Q. Public who’s just ready to feel better about the face you see in the mirror, this model can help.

Better is better. I still don’t like a two-tiered healthcare delivery system, but I know as SmileDirectClub continues to grow and revolutionize dentistry, we will see the resulting massive expansion of access to dental care have the same impact as dentists starting to do orthodontics, only on a much larger scale. The more affordable treatment will get technically better and better, and the traditional dentists and orthodontists will get less expensive! Expanded access and lower pricing is what America is built on, and it’s very exciting to think the free market will finally level the playing field in dentistry.

But forget about the future, SmileDirectClub can help you get a much better smile conveniently, affordably and NOW! Lots of people can’t afford the time or money to go see the orthodontist. Braces are expensive! We are so very proud to bring SmileDirectClub to market because we know it will help millions of people get the smile they want but would never have without it! What are you waiting for?

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About Dr. Burris

Ben Burris is an orthodontist by training and an activist for increased access to care by choice. A devout contrarian, Burris is known for taking on controversial and even distasteful topics and is willing to stand, unflinchingly, in opposition to the majority viewpoint whenever he believes it necessary. You can see more from Ben and contact him at OrthoPundit.com.

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