Mail-order dental care has arrived in Quebec — and dentists are concerned

Smile

It seems that in the Internet age, you can get orthodontic treatments done by mail order, without having to visit with an actual orthodontist.

A Nashville-based company called SmileDirectClub opened a Montreal-area office just a few weeks ago. It advertises its services heavily online — a cheaper, easier way to get your teeth straightened.

Clients would visit an office — which the company calls a "smile shop" — to get their mouths scanned. An orthodontist would review the scan, and then manufacture clear plastic aligners which are then mailed to the patient, and all this, for a fraction of the cost of conventional orthodontic treatments — up to 60 per cent less, according to some of the company's ads.

But if that description of the service sounds convenient and innovative, it's setting off alarm bells in Quebec's dentistry community.

Dr. Barry Dolman, the head of the Quebec Order of Dentists, says the service is risky, because there's no physical examination involved. He also says it's a clear violation of the Order's regulations.

"The patients are not being examined, x-rayed, in order to [determine] that they have any disease process, decay, problems with their gums," Dr. Dolman says, "and you need to have that before articulating a treatment plan."

SmileDirectClub boasts that its treatments don't require regular followup checkups — something Dr. Dolman says is necessary for effective alignment treatments.

The Order says it has already received complaints about the service.

CJAD 800's Matt GIlmour contributed to this report.