“DENTIST, n. A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket.”
Famed American cynic Ambrose Bierce first offered that tongue-in-cheek definition in the late 1800s. But it could hold true today for orthodontists, as well — just asks anyone who’s had to foot the bill for braces for a child or for themselves as an adult!
Now, a group called Candid Co. has a direct-to-consumer model that promises to lower the cost of straighter teeth by up to 65%.
Candid: We’re the ‘Warby Parker of straight teeth’
According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, braces can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $7,000. But Candid’s business model lowers that cost to just around $1,900.
“We’re the Warby Parker of straight teeth,” CEO Nick Greenfield told PYMNTS. For those who aren’t familiar with Warby Parker, it makes and sells high-end yet affordable glasses by cutting out the middleman markup.
That’s the case for Candid, too.
The Candid process starts with going online to order a $95 modeling kit. Using the kit, you make impressions yourself just like an orthodontist would. You also take your own orthodontic photos using your phone.
Then you send the modeling kit back to Candid in a postage-paid envelope.
A licensed orthodontist takes your impressions and the photos of your teeth and maps out a 3D plan showing step-by-step how your teeth will move during the process.
One initial office visit is required so you can complete a dental checkup to identify any potential problems before you get too far into the process.
(By the way, the $95 cost of the modeling kit is fully refundable if the orthodontist doesn’t see a way to improve your smile.)
But once you give Candid the green light, your initial alignment set is 3D printed in clear plastic. In just one month’s time, you can go from sending in your impressions to receiving your aligners and getting started!
Additional alignment sets are printed every two-to-four weeks and mailed to you. You check in remotely with your Candid orthodontist each step of the way. No further in-person visits are required.
The entire process takes an average of six months and saves you commute time since you don’t have to get to the ortho every two weeks for adjustments.
Candid charges either $1,900 paid in full upfront for its services, or you can finance your procedure through the company at $88 per month over 24 months.
You even get premium teeth whitening with every order and a set of free retainers at the end of treatment. Plus, you have the option to buy additional retainer sets at $99 a pop.
3D printing technology is really what makes Candid’s disruptive business model possible.
In the past, we’ve told you about a broke college student who went rogue and 3D printed his own braces for $60! While that may be a bridge too far for most people, Candid offers a way to legitimize that DIY spirit with the helpful oversight and experience of a licensed orthodontist guiding you every step of the way.
Candid CEO Greenfield says his company targets the 18+ crowd people with busy lives. It’s not geared toward pediatric patients because it is harder to predict the movement of a child’s teeth as they grow.