SmileDirectClub delivers 35,000 face shields and seeks more ways to help during COVID-19 pandemic
Over a matter of weeks, SmileDirectClub, the telehealth company that sends out thousands of teeth straightening devices, has pivoted to deliver face shields for healthcare and other essential workers. Now, after co-founder Alex Fenkell has helped deliver its 35,000th medical-grade face shield, the teledentistry company is looking for even more ways to help during the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the virus hit worldwide, SmileDirectClub had signed a deal to use 60+ high-capacity 3D printers from HP to deliver as many of 50,000 mouth molds each day to serve hundreds of thousands of people who want a straighter smile. These non-BPC teeth molds, created using advanced 3D scans made at the company’s SmileShops, are used over a matter of months — at night or during the day — to align teeth.
But Alex Fenkell and his team, including business partner Jordan Katzman, have changed course and are now delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) to first responders. Using HP’s revolutionary Multi Jet Fusion devices, which are known for printing smooth and hyper-accurate molds, SmileDirectClub is creating essential face shields and selling them at cost to multiple hospitals.
“SmileDirectClub is able to give back in a powerful way – and make this giving part of our story for years to come,” Alex Fenkell told a business website about the company’s role.
So far the popular company, which boasts customers all across the United States, has delivered the face shields to a number of hospitals and health systems, including University of San Francisco, St. Luke’s Health System (Idaho), TN Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), and Brookdale Senior Living. The Sick Kids Foundation in Toronto and Dr. Pepper/Keurig (Texas) have also received the face shields.
But the face shields are just one way Alex Fenkell and company are helping out. SmileDirectClub is also working directly with HP to create a mask made from 3D printers that is reusable as well as a suitable alternative to the much-coveted but hard-to-find N95 mask. Part of the design for this mask includes a replaceable filter.
SmileDirectClub, under Alex Fenkell’s direction, has also donated masks and latex gloves to the company’s army of retail partners, namely Walgreens and CVS. With SmileDirectClub’s SmileShops closed until further notice, essential retailers including CVS and Walgreens, who are helping Americans stay healthy during the pandemic, have benefitted from the gloves and masks.
“We are fortunate to be able to help those in need at this time in many different ways, and I thank our team members and partners who took action quickly to coordinate efforts, and keep our manufacturing operational so that we can bring much needed supplies to the medical community and others,” Dan Baker, Head of Global Supply Chain at SmileDirectClub, said in a statement. “We will continue to do everything we can to help alleviate the strain of these unexpected circumstances however possible.”
SmileDirectClub is also actively seeking businesses and individuals who need the face shields and other PPE to help others. The company is on a quest to find organizations that have essential employees who aren’t at the front line of hospitals, but still need protection. Some of these workers include grocers, pharmacists, and those working at convenience stores.
Another change Alex Fenkell and company have made is to make SmileDirectClub’s unique and proprietary platform available for licensed dentists and orthodontists throughout the United States. This is a huge boost for dentists and orthodontists who typically work in close proximity with patients, and risk catching the virus from patients — or giving it to them.
By allowing licensed dentists to use the platform, it gives dental professionals the opportunity to deliver care to patients. Many patients can’t go into the dentist because of the safety risks involved, but also because a legion of dental practices are shuttered at the moment. As dentistry is not seen as an essential business in some states, many patients have had to suffer pain and discomfort through a misaligned bite or crooked teeth with no real reprieve in sight.
Alex Fenkell and company have built a solid base of customers over the years, building a business model that has reshaped the dental industry, literally and figuratively. Using SmileShops for customers to get their bite scanned — or molds that are sent to homes — SmileDirectClub delivers tooth aligners that gradually change to move teeth into the right place.
The company offers two types of plans, one for aligners that are worn for 22 hours per day, and one for aligners that are worn at night. While the nighttime aligners take around 10 months to get the desired results, the daytime aligners deliver a straighter smile in just 4-6 months.
Many customers gravitate to Alex Fenkell’s SmileDirectClub for the ease of using the clear aligners, unlike painful traditional braces, which can take well over a year to create a straight smile. Another bonus to SmileDirectClub is price, as the company’s aligners cost up to 60% less than traditional braces.