A dental aligner startup is going national in an interesting way, expanding beyond its pilot program in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Starting with a unique focus on affordability, the company adds some noteworthy tech to the mix. While the cost of similar clear-aligner treatments from well-known providers is often in the $3,000 range, Str8‘s plan costs $1,234, and possibly a little less, as Str8 gives $100 discounts to customers who have had dental cleanings in the past 12 months. How’s that for an incentive for going to the dentist?
Str8 is able to offer treatment at a price below the market norm with a direct-to-customer (D2C) approach; founder Dr. Misee Harris, a pediatric dentist, built her own lab in Jonesboro to eliminate middlemen and staffed it with dentists, doctors, and behavior health professionals. Str8 also has a dedicated fabrication facility in Canada that manufactures its custom Str8aligners.
How does Str8 work? It begins with an in-person visit with a doctor to see if you’re a good candidate for the aligners. Using an intraoral scanner, or by creating a physical impression of your teeth, your doctor will take the 3D measurements needed to make your custom-fit aligners. The scans go to Str8’s Technical Centre and the Str8 team creates a virtual treatment plan with your doctor before crafting your first set of aligners. The devices are made from an FDA-certified, bio-compatible clear plastic called Zendura FLX. While treatment plans vary by person, generally you wear a set of aligners day and night for seven to 14 days, changing for a new set as your teeth gradually shift into alignment.
Digital technology plays an important part in the process. Beyond the option to have virtual visits with dental professionals, Str8 has an app that’s designed to help keep treatment on track, monitoring how long you wear your aligners each day and notifying you if you haven’t worn them long enough. Using the app, you can make changes to your treatment plan, such as the number of days you wear each set of aligners, and snap teeth selfies to track your progress, watching your smile transform in detail over time. All the data that’s collected can be shared with your doctor, who is also available to chat via the app.
Few people like going to the dentist. But if the trip can put $100 in your pocket — at the same time that you’re getting your teeth aligned for an affordable price — maybe programs like Str8’s can bring more and better dental health to more folks.