“The patent further strengthens the telehealth dentistry pioneer’s efforts to bring affordable, accessible oral care to more people through its … teledentistry platform and direct-to-consumer business model,” the Nashville company said in a statement.
“The patent ensures no clear aligner competitor will be able to duplicate SmileDirectClub’s unique model for 18 years.”
Chief Executive David Katzman said in the statement that “this patent is recognition that SmileDirectClub offers an innovative way for consumers to access oral care that is safe, doctor-directed and convenient.”
The patent includes scheduling an appointment at a SmileShop, sending the scheduling confirmation to the customer, conducting the intraoral scan, generating a treatment plan, receiving approval of the treatment plan by a licensed dentist or orthodontist, producing aligners in accordance with the treatment plan, and sending those aligners to the customer.
Meanwhile, “SmileDirectClub is making plans to slowly reopen its SmileShops beginning in May in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Ireland, as local governments begin to lift business restrictions,” the company said.
SmileDirect didn’t specify the timing of the reopenings but said it would supply all staff “with face shields and other personal protective equipment along with staggered appointment times, temperature scans and other social-distancing measures to ensure a safe, sanitary experience upon reopening.”
SmileDirectClub closed its shops in March, dedicating some of its 3D printing capacity to producing personal protective equipment for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The company’s shares recently traded at $6.66, up 24%. After the surge, the shares are down 52% over the past three months, compared with a 10% slide for the S&P 500.