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Teleorthodontics and Access to Care: At least 84 Percent of Underserved US Counties Now Have Access to Orthodontic Treatment

Over 60 percent (1,972) of the counties in the United States do not have an orthodontist’s office (US Dept. HHS, 2017).* The American Teledentistry Association previously reported this access to orthodontic care issue (ATDA Position Paper, 2018) and highlighted the promise of doctor-directed at home clear aligner therapy as a legitimate delivery model that could increase access to orthodontic care.  There are now several companies in the doctor-directed at home clear aligner market including SmileDirectClub, Candid Co., Orthly, Smilelove, and SnapCorrect. SmileDirectClub (SDC), founded in 2014, has been the industry leader in providing a robust digital teleorthodontic platform for orthodontists and dental professionals to offer at home clear aligner therapy to consumers.

The ATDA reached out to these five providers of doctor-directed at home clear aligners in order to gather data to assess their impact on access to orthodontic care.**  The only company to enter into a HIPAA compliant relationship with the ATDA was SmileDirectClub, which furnished continuous data from a 3.4 year period of sales.

During that time, SDC served 1,655 counties out of the 1,972 underserved US counties. This represents an 84% geographic increase in access to care in the US.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (2017). National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES). Research report. Washington, D.C.

American Teledentistry Association (2018). Teleorthodontics and Doctor-Directed at Home Clear Aligner Treatment:  An American Teledentistry Association. Position Paper.

 *The National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) National Provider Identifier (NPI) database was searched using the taxonomy code for orthodontics: 1223X0400X. An orthodontic specialist working part-time in a dental practice coded for general dentistry was excluded from this analysis as the ATDA considers locations without a full-time orthodontist as underserved. 

**The ATDA wrote to SmileDirectClub, Candid Co., Orthly, Smilelove, and SnapCorrect asking for them to provide data showing the geographic distribution of patients undergoing doctor-directed at home clear aligner treatment.  SmileDirectClub was the only company that entered into a HIPAA compliant relationship with the ATDA and agreed to provide the requested data.

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