Venice-based Two Front Corp., a digital platform to match orthodontists starting their careers with established dental practices, announced on May 31 that it had secured $3.5 million in seed financing.
The funding round was led by San Francisco venture capital firm Craft Ventures.
Two Front was launched in late 2019 by orthodontist Ingrid Murra. While Murra was in a residency program for orthodontists, she saw that some in the program had racked up more than $500,000 in debt as dental students, which made trying to come up with enough capital to launch an orthodontics practice very difficult.
Murra said in the funding announcement that she sought to relieve this burden by establishing a platform that matched early-career orthodontists with practices that had extra dental chairs and wanted to offer in-house orthodontics services.
Under Two Front’s model, the orthodontist doesn’t have to pay the overhead of setting up a practice, while the dental practice receives a pre-determined fee for each patient the orthodontist treats. Once the match is made, Two Front provides its participating orthodontists with assistance in scheduling patients, setting up payment plans for those patients and other back-office functions.
“We give independent orthodontists (who would go deeper into debt) to start their own traditional brick and mortar practices a way to start their own hybrid practice,” Murra said. “This is the private practice of the future without the overhead.”
Murra said another goal of launching Two Front was to combat the increasing market penetration of companies that provide direct-to-consumer mail-order teeth aligners and other orthodontic appliances, such as Nashville, Tenn.-based SmileDirectClub. These direct-to-consumer companies have proliferated in recent years because of the high cost of traditional orthodontic treatments. In many cases, these treatments are deemed cosmetic and thus ineligible for insurance coverage.
While SmileDirectClub does make dentists and orthodontists available to its customers through telehealth services, Murra said other orthodontic appliance mail order companies don’t have any orthodontists on board.
She said in the announcement that while these mail-order services may be more affordable, some “pose major risks to teeth health and negatively disrupt the clear aligner market.”
Having people see an orthodontist in a dental-office setting reduces the chances of negative outcomes, she said.
In the funding announcement, Two Front said it would use the $3.5 million raised to “build out its team, operating system and platform, and obtain its goal of signing on 100 dental office partners in Los Angeles by the end of the year.”
After that, the announcement said, the company plans to enter other major metro markets, such as New York, Miami, and Dallas.