New Mexico dentists warn against SmileDirectClub

New Mexico dentists and dental organizations are urging state legislatures to investigate the legality of SmileDirectClub's do-it-yourself dentistry, according to KOB-4.

Despite SmileDirectClub's "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau, there have been more than a thousand customer complaints over the past three years. Orthodontists nationwide have warned against moving teeth without X-rays and in-person appointments.

“If any of the diagnostic steps are missed there could be some potential complications that could be irreversible to the patient’s bite, to teeth and to the overall health of their oral structures,” Albuquerque, N.M. orthodontist Taylor Usitalo, DDS, told KOB-4.

SmileDirectClub is a teledentistry company, employees told KOB-4, that send 3D images and molds to 240 dentists across the country. These dentists then develop a treatment plan for patients and send patients aligners. Dentists are cautioning that this form of dentistry is not legal in New Mexico.

The American Association of Orthodontists has submitted complaints with numerous state dental boards, including New Mexico. At a recent meeting, AAO attorney Andrew Wiltsch urged an investigation of the business, claiming SmileDirectClub is operating illegally in New Mexico. The AAO referenced New Mexico's "teledentistry" definition that states a dentist uses "health information technology in real time to provide limited diagnostic and treatment planning services in cooperation with another dentist," reports KOB-4. However, the dental board has not taken any action against SmileDirectClub.

"The companies providing the digital platform for administrative services are in complete compliance with the laws of New Mexico. A digital scan is nothing more than a three-dimensional topographical photograph of the teeth and gums," Marc Bernard Ackerman of the American Teledentistry Association, which includes Smile Direct Club as a member, told KOB-4.

New Mexico lawmakers proposed expanding the definition of teledentistry earlier this year. The bill would have allowed dentists to provide care to patients without being in the same location. However, the governor vetoed the bill.

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