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February 13, 2017

Penn student, business partner launch app to slash cost of invisible aligners

Most people try their best to avoid going to the dentist. When you add in the cost of dental care, the experience becomes downright horrifying. A new app, available only in Philadelphia, is trying to change that.

Orthly, a company run by University of Pennsylvania student Daniel Hanover with founder and CEO Patrick Lee, launched on Tuesday with the promise of making invisible aligners 70 percent cheaper than better-known name brands.

With just "a few taps" on a mobile device, the ambitious startup aims to give its customers teeth-straightening treatments without the hassle. The process ensures health outcomes while eliminating costly dental office visits for patients with mild to moderate cases.

The method includes only two visits to dental offices for scans and X-rays of teeth. However, the company has partnered with local dental practices to lower the cost and will provide transportation via Uber to and from appointments.

Once an orthodontist approves the procedure, Orthly will ship invisible aligners directly to customers. The company offers two payment options: a one-time fee of $1,595 or monthly fees totaling $1,750.

Penn's student-run newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, spoke with the co-founders about the app's launch. Lee explained how he came up with the idea in March 2016 when he was quoted a price of $6,500 for Invisalign:

"If you take a look at an Invisalign treatment case, $2,000 is paid by orthodontists to Invisalign, and that’s how Invisalign makes money. It does not charge customers directly ... And the orthodontists charge the remaining $4,000, and around 50 percent to 60 percent of that goes to office overhead cost, which pays for equipment, rent, employees. Then the rest of that 40 percent goes to labor fees for every-once-a-month checkups. By working directly with manufacturer as a direct consumer company, we are able to get rid of both prices ... and create a new treatment model, where we are able to greatly reduce that $4,000."

Customers are reminded that dental care is provided by board-certified orthodontists and the company is simply cutting out the "middle man" to deliver the product at a lower cost.

If the business venture proves to be a success, the two-person company is looking to expand to other areas.