Author’s Blurb: Become is one of several teledentistry players in Malaysia, but they’ve got a catch—you need no monthly dentist visits for their service. This made me curious. How can you get orthodontic treatment without those regular visits?
Invisible braces have been the saviour for those who want to ‘fix’ their smile, but don’t want to commit to traditional metal braces.
But Vivien Bresson, co-founder and CMO of Become, still noted one small problem within the industry.
“The incumbent in the market for invisible braces is priced between USD$3,000-7,000 (RM12,000-29,000) which corresponds to about 3 to 10x the median individual monthly income in Malaysia.”
She’s talking about Invisalign’s prices, one of the more popular brands for invisible braces in Malaysia.
If you’re concerned about wearing traditional braces as a young adult and are too broke to get clear braces—this might seem like a battle you can’t win.
But Become begs to differ.
Putting Their Money Where Their Mouths Are
Become is a teledentistry startup that wants to create a fair middle ground.
With other international competitors like Invisalign and Singaporean based Zenyum, Become isn’t doing anything new per se.
How they’re setting themselves apart then is by cutting out in-person visits to middlemen, who are usually dentists/orthodontists, for assessments.
“We digitalise the process through the impression kit or 3D scan booking, the treatments (before and after simulations), and the remote monitoring follow-ups,” said Vivien.
Zenyum requires you to visit a dental clinic for a consultation (after a free, online pre-assessment), while Invisalign requires you to go to the dental clinic from pre-assessment until post-treatment.
“One of the first challenges we experienced was to find the right price point for the Malaysian market. Offering the product cheaper than alternatives wasn’t sufficient, so we ran some competitor analysis,” said Vivien.
What they found was that regular physical dentist visits significantly contributed to high costs.
By eliminating that, Become keeps their prices lower than their competition. In replacement, they offer two different assessment options.
The first way, you are sent an impression kit (which costs an additional RM199) for you to complete from home. This video explains how to use it.
The other option (if the first one seems like too much work), is to opt for going for a free 3D scan at one of their becomeStudios™. Currently, they only have one located in KL and one in Johor Bahru.
In case the quality of your impressions are inaccurate (your bite isn’t deep enough, gum lines are not clear), a second kit would be sent to you for free.
We condensed a list of the main things you can expect from Become compared to Zenyum and Invisalign, two popular brands for invisible braces around Malaysia.
|Pricing||RM5,799||RM5,599*||Quotation based, but can range from RM12,000-29,000|
|Pre- Assessment Type||– Impression kit delivery (an additional RM199)|
– Free 3D scan at their studio
|Free online assessment (uploading photos)||Dentist Visit|
|Dentist Visits||None||2+||As recommended by the dentist|
|Post-Treatment Retainers||First set provided for free||An additional cost of about RM600||As recommended by the dentist|
*Editor’s Update: Previously, we were informed by Zenyum’s staff that the price of RM5,599 was only a promo for the month of February, and that it would revert back to its original price of RM6,699 in March. However, the team has since reached out to us to clarify that RM5,599 is now the permanent price.
While Zenyum’s pre-assessment is also free and their base pricing for the braces themselves is RM5,599, before you can officially receive the braces, you’d need to go to a clinic for a consultation which will cost you RM350.
Add to that the additional cost of RM600 for post-treatment retainers, and their overall pricing becomes slightly higher than Become’s.
However, it is fair to say that Zenyum’s pricing takes into consideration the access to their mobile app too, where patients are able to directly converse with their care team and doctors throughout their treatment.
Through it, patients can also monitor the progress of their treatment.
Quality Still Assured
Not going to the dentist’s office doesn’t mean that your progress is left unsupervised though.
Vivien explained that they work with orthodontists every step of the way, from creating a treatment plan to simulating what your teeth should look like at the end of the treatment.
If their orthodontists determine that clear braces aren’t for you after receiving your kit results—you’d get a 100% refund on your RM199 investment.
“We work with orthodontists that have a minimum of 5 years experience with invisible braces itself,” explained Vivien.
Of course, this is all done remotely to ensure that minimal costs are incurred.
Disclaimer: We’ve never tried this treatment before so we can’t speak for its effectiveness. Therefore, as with all other medical treatments, it is at the patients’ own risk to do their due diligence when choosing which treatments they think would best suit them.
If you’re already wondering whether or not this looks too good to be true, I’m with you.
As affordable as teledentistry startups may be—there are certain limitations to what they can do.
It is clearly stated on Become’s website that their service is for minor to moderate teeth corrections.
Therefore those with severe overcrowding, over and underbites, large gaps and irregular tooth shapes are not their target market.
Become’s braces don’t overpromise on what they deliver, and Vivien made very sure of that.
“We are not going to deny that this is a cosmetic treatment first, and that’s why we only move the front teeth of the customer,” she stated.
The ‘Clear’ Path Ahead
But during their team’s research on clear braces, Vivien learnt to not underestimate the power of aesthetics and vanity.
At the moment of writing, Vivien said they’ve seen healthy revenue growth of about 38% since August 2019.
Funnily enough, we went in thinking our competitors would actually be traditional metal braces, but we learnt that most adults would rather choose to not align their teeth at all than wear metal.Vivien Bresson, co-founder and CMO, Become.
From a customer-facing side, Become is still working towards getting more Malaysians on board with the idea of affordable, clear braces.
“We focus on producing a lot of educational content on our website whether through video, blog articles or infographics,” Vivien said.
When asked what was in store for Become in the near future, she shared that they were aiming at offering even lower prices for their customers.
“In the future, we want to also expand to other dental services such as whitening and scaling (via partners), and to democratise other health-related propositions. Invisible braces are just the beginning.”
Bottom Line: Not having to go to the dentist for the braces is great for keeping prices low, but I would imagine that the whole process of performing your own assessments is also time-consuming. Also, to avoid user error, I think that pre-assessment with the free 3D scan would be the best way to go.
*Editor’s Update: Parts of this article have been amended since publishing to reflect better factual accuracy.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Become