13 / 12 / 23

Smile Direct Club Bankruptcy—So… It Happened.

So…It Happened…

When I published an article about SmileDirectClub (SDC) filing for bankruptcy back in October, things didn’t look good.

Despite all the warning signs, the direct-to-consumer ortho provider reassured UK patients that it was business as usual, and founders were confident they could pull off a plan to raise $60M to pull SDC from the brink of its Chapter 11 filing.  

However, on Friday, December 8, news broke that the lenders and creditors couldn’t be persuaded to get on board with the plan.

“When it came to the founder-led bid, it was really a Hail Mary,” SDC’s attorney Spencer Winters told US Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez. “We pushed very, very hard this week, and it just didn’t come together.”

As a result, SDC is closed for business in the US and UK, and it looks likely that the worst-case scenario outlined in my original article is now a reality as thousands of patients who shelled out for treatment are left high and dry. 

Smile Direct Club – What We Know

SDC is Closed. 

A notice on Smile Direct Club’s now-defunct website informs patients: “SmileDirectClub has made the incredibly difficult decision to wind down its global operations, effective immediately…Aligner treatment is no longer available through our telehealth platform. For existing customers, we apologize for the inconvenience, but customer care support is no longer available.”

It adds that SDC dentists can no longer perform 60-day check-ins and advises patients to seek advice from another dentist if they want to continue treatment. 

New Orders Won’t Be Shipped

The closure notice on SDC’s website informs patients that treatment is no longer available and any orders that have not already been shipped have been cancelled.

Payment Plan Patients Must Still Pay Up

Patients who took out Smile Direct Club’s monthly SmilePay plan are still expected to keep up with payments. Customers are directed to a US helpline (handily inaccessible from the  UK) and email address.  

There are No Such Things as Lifetime Guarantees

Smile Direct Club offered a lifetime guarantee on treatment. Obviously, the company can no longer honour this agreement, which just goes to show— a proper cast-iron lifetime guarantee is as rare as rocking horse poop.

More Info to Come on Refunds 

The closure notice states it will release more information about refunds as the bankruptcy proceeding proceeds. It seems likely that patients will be added to SDC’s list of creditors—a common practice when winding up companies. If I were an SDC patient, I wouldn’t hold my breath right now…     

SDC Was Accepting Patients Right Up to D-Day

I was able to kick off treatment at Smile Direct by purchasing an impression kit as late as October 6.

Despite expressing concerns when booking my appointment in the name of research, I was told by their advisor Lewis that the Chapter 11 filing was a simple US financial restructuring that wouldn’t affect UK patients.

My Impression Kit? Never Came.

My Appointment Confirmation for October 6.

If you’re reading this, Lewis, I’m still waiting on my impression kit. Call me…

Within days of the news breaking, stories of patients who signed up after the October bankruptcy filing losing their outlay on treatment are already emerging. This patient told the BBC he lost £800 on a half-price offer with SDC on treatment purchased while the company was fighting for its future.

Tons of Ortho Patients Have Nowhere to Go

The story above is one of many now flooding the media about patients who’ve either paid for treatment but not started or are mid-way through with no prospect of receiving more aligners.

What You Can Do

Some of my savvy clients are already running campaigns to support SDC patients in getting what they paid for through significantly discounted clear aligner treatment. 

Take a look at my original article for more ideas and strategies to help the thousands who’ve been let down.


  1. Prav

    Thanks for your wise words Ross!

    Starting from scratch is the only way, I guess treat that patient as if they have just walked into your clinic for the first time!

  2. Ross Hobson

    For those who are thinking of ‘doing the right thing’ for SDC patient can I reinforce Eddie Crouch/ BDA’s advice – CAUTION!!

    A while ago I ‘acquired’ over 1500 ortho pts in treatment with no records . The pressure and stress on my team (who where utterly fantastic) and myself was unreal.

    Some hard earned advice if you are taking a SDC case on:

    1. You MUST start from scratch
    2. Take records – full set of scans / impressions and photographs inc photos of any appliances / aligners patient has been wearing
    If there is anything written in form of treatment plan etc take a copy
    3. Take any appropriate X-rays eg OPG to check for root resorption
    4. Plan the case as if nothing had been done before
    5. Be candid and honest with patient, taking time to explain what and why you are going to provide treatment wise
    6. IF in doubt refer to a specialist

    Some of the SDC cases may go legal (law suit and/or GDC) so you must have full and comprehensive records at the start to be able to protect yourself as well as recording where you are starting from

Your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Prav

Prav is a healthcare business growth consultant and dental practice owner who loves helping businesses and individuals to develop and grow.