Selfie Trend In Age Of Social Media Is Benefitting SmileDirect Club

Possessing a brilliant and powerful smile has assumed paramount interest in the age of the selfie. And now an American firm called SmileDirectClub has set out to reap benefits from this trend.

Teeth aligners – a type of clear, plastic braces, is sold by the company through the mail-order delivery format and the company is now valued at $8bn.

Since it was founded in 2014, the company claims to have served more than 700,000 people, said the company went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange earlier this week. The company tripled its revenues in 2018 compared to the year before – increasing revenues from $146m to $423m.

And the firm is still in an expansion mode and hopes to make it big with partnership with a number of major chains such as CVS and Well Pharmacy. The company entered the United Kingdom for the first time this summer and opened its first offices in the country after it had expanded business to Canada and Australia. The company said that more new international markets are on its radar.

“This is a very large market that we’re going after,” SmileDirectClub chief financial officer Kyle Wailes said in a television interview. “We’ve got many, many countries that are on the roadmap for next year and beyond.”

The IPO form the company generated funds of about $1.3bn for SmileDirectClub as its shares were priced $23-a-piece – which was higher than the original target. The floatation valued the company at over $8bn.

However its share prices fell sharply with the start of public trading.

The company is yet to make profits and reported a loss of $74.8m last year. There have also been criticisms of the company from the medical community with allegations that local laws are being flouted by the company because there is no in-person oversight of orthodontic treatment that it provides. Medical practitioners have also said that this puts the patient at risk because changed bites, gum loss and other problems could arise because of moving teeth improperly.

Complaints with dental boards and regulatory authorities in 36 states have been filed by the American Association of Orthodontists. Complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration have also been filed by the American Dental Association.

Its business practices have been vigorously defended by SmileDirectClub and the company has said that licensed professionals regularly review the treatments meted out to customers. The company has also said that it also often turns away those people who are viewed to be in need of more serious treatment.

While clear plastic braces have been in existence for long, the business strategy of SmileDirectClub does away with the traditional dentists and orthodontists, which the company claims, makes the services its offers more convenient and affordable. Impressions of their mouths at home can be made by customers and mail them to the company or personally visit one of the over 300 stores of SmileDirectClub to scan their mouth.

The growing demand for orthodontia has benefited the company which has recently expanded into other products, say analysts. The trend of people trying to ensure that they have the so called white, toothy smiles that is critically important to post selfies on the social media has benefited the company.

And it is not only the Americans who are seemingly obsessed with their teeth.

“We think a lot of it is driven by the selfie phenomenon,” says Justin Ishbia, managing partner at Shore Capital Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm that specialises in health care investments. “This is a trend that is not going away.”

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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