20 key teledentistry moves dental companies made in 2020

The teledentistry field has grown in 2020 more than it has in previous years, as many patients feel safer seeing a dentist via virtual visit to avoid the possibility of being exposed to the novel coronavirus.

Below are 20 key teledentistry moves dental companies made in 2020, as reported by Becker's Dental Review.

  1. Clear aligner therapy company SmileDirectClub announced plans Jan. 14 to sell its clear aligners directly to dentists and orthodontists through a wholesale channel.

  2. SmileDirectClub said that it made several updates to its consumer experience model to bring greater transparency to club members and provide effective training to staff. Some changes included simplified refunds, automated manufacturing and updated pre-screening requirements.

  3. Sarasota, Fla.-based DSO Dental Care Alliance launched a teledentistry platform in late March.

  4. As many dental offices throughout the country had postponed all non-essential appointments due to the pandemic, SmileDirectClub announced April 6 that it will open its teledentistry platform to all licensed dentists and orthodontists.

  5. Irvine, Calif.-based Onsite Dental partnered with Virtual Dental Care April 11 to implement the company's Teledentix platform.

  6. SmileDirectClub partnered with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield May 6 to expand in-network coverage. The move means the company now offers coverage for its clear aligner therapy to patients under three major insurance providers, as it partnered with UnitedHealthcare and Aetna in April 2019.

  7. On June 5, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island extended teledentistry coverage through the end of July, recognizing that in-person visits are not a viable option for many patients who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

  8. Dental insurance provider DentaQuest teamed up with dental technology company MouthWatch June 15 to offer the TeleDent teledentistry platform to more than 70 practices across Alabama, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.

  9. UnitedHealthcare Dental rolled out a new teledentistry platform June 24 to help dentists provide virtual care amid the pandemic and reduce preventable emergency room visits.

  10. SmileDirectClub partnered with Irvine, Calif.-based Smile Brands as part of its direct-to-office treatment model. The move allowed SmileBrands dentists to offer SmileDirectClub clear aligner treatment, with a 3D scan or physical impression performed in the office and treatment completed using the SmileDirectClub telehealth platform.

  11. SmileDirectClub said Sept. 17 it will be developing a $34 million manufacturing facility in Columbia, Tenn., which will create 600 new jobs. The plant is the company's third expansion in Tennessee in the last three years.

  12. SmileDirectClub received patents for its electric toothbrush and Bluetooth-powered aligner case. The electric toothbrush features interchangeable aligner heads that can clean invisible aligners, and the case uses Bluetooth location technology to ensure aligners are never lost.

  13. Adam Schulhof, DMD, teledentistry startup Grin's CEO, said in October that his company had shipped out about 5,000 units of its teledentistry system since the pandemic began.

  14. Teledentistry company The TeleDentists partnered with healthcare services provider FlexCare Digital Health Oct. 13 to offer its services to more employees.

  15. The American Dental Association amended its teledentistry policy during its 2020 House of Delegates meeting on Oct. 19.

  16. SmileDirectClub on Oct. 22 partnered with Dallas-based Deca Dental, integrating the DSO's more than 100 affiliated practices into its network.

  17. Candid, a New York City-based teledentistry company that delivers clear aligners to patients, welcomed dental industry veteran Brian Ganey as senior vice president of sales Nov. 5.

  18. SmileDirectClub added Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based DSO Unified Smiles to its partner network Nov. 19.

  19. SmileDirectClub partnered with U.S. dental insurance provider MetLife Nov. 23.

  20. SmileDirectClub partnered with Arlington, Texas-based DSO Altius Healthcare Management Dec. 2, meaning more than 1,000 affiliated practices across the U.S. now offer the company's aligners.

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