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Our verdict: We thought SmileDirectClub's (SDC) aligners were comfortable and a great, easy solution for mild teeth problems. It took me a few days to adjust to the feeling, but I felt more confident using them compared to when I was using retainers.
While the adjustment period was a little uncomfortable, I thought they felt and looked very natural.
Clear or invisible aligners can straighten mild to moderate cases of misaligned teeth. Unlike braces and in-office aligners such as Invisalign, they provide a more convenient way to straighten teeth.
SDC aligners are also cheaper than traditional braces. They cost $2,250, which is 75 percent cheaper than Invisalign treatment, which can cost up to $8,000.
SmileDirectClub is one of few companies with both in-person dental scans and at-home impression kits. It offers a middle ground between orthodontist installations and do-it-yourself braces by providing doctor-guided treatments.
Here, we will review SmileDirectClub aligners and how they compare with today’s newer aligners, such as ALIGNERCO, Byte, NewSmile, and Invisalign.
SmileDirectClub (SDC) is the first brand to offer at-home clear aligners. It was established in 2014 when there was a demand for safer alternatives to DIY braces.
SmileDirectClub offers aligners that straighten teeth in small increments. These include clear daytime and night aligners that are custom-fit to your teeth.
SDC aligners are prescribed by dental professionals like state-licensed dentists or orthodontists. You get a custom treatment plan, and your progress will be monitored virtually with a teledentistry platform.
Smile Direct Club also offers other products such as:
In addition to dental health products and personalized aligner trays, the company offers custom retainers that keep your teeth straight after aligner treatment.
SmileDirectClub’s clear aligners are designed for people who want straighter teeth. Aligners can treat mild to moderate cases of teeth misalignment, such as:
The company claims its aligners can help with minor bite problems. These include overbite, underbite, and crossbite. While aligners are effective, they are also limited to moving teeth to the desired position.
People with dental health issues, such as severe crowding or spacing issues, jaw problems, and gum disease, may need more than SmileDirectClub clear aligners.
More intensive solutions such as braces and Invisalign treatment may be needed in such cases. Rather than do the guesswork yourself, we recommend consulting a licensed dentist.
We scanned hundreds of customer reviews for SmileDirectClub aligners and them as a company. Here are some things we kept seeing in reviews:
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Follow these steps so you can start straightening your teeth with your SmileDirectClub aligners.
To find out if you’re qualified for aligner treatment, you can take the 30-second Smile Assessment on their website.
The short survey involves simple questions about your dental concerns and past use of braces or invisible aligners. You also have to choose from images that match your dental issues.
Smile Direct Club will use your answers to determine whether aligner treatment is right for you. Remember that only people needing mild to moderate teeth correction can qualify.
This should only take a few seconds.
If you qualify for the assessment, SmileDirectClub will give you two options: order an impression kit online or go to a nearby SmileShop.
You can immediately get started and order an at-home impression kit. The package includes impression trays and a “Smile Stretcher” that pulls back your lips and teeth so you can take clear photos of your top and bottom teeth. It costs $59 upfront.
SmileDirectClub will send the home impression kit to your address at no extra cost. Make sure to follow the steps that come with the box.
Another option is to schedule a 30-minute visit to the nearest Smile Shop. If you book your visit in the next three days after taking the assessment, you will get a free Bright On™ light and teeth whitening pen valued at $49.
SmileDirectClub has over 50 locations in the United States. A technician will take an in-person scan of your teeth during your appointment.
A licensed doctor, dentist, or orthodontist will review your in-person scan or impressions. They will check your teeth to see if they can correct it with invisible aligners.
SmileDirectClub creates 3D images of custom treatment plans if they approve. These 3D images will show you what your teeth may look like after your treatment.
A Smile Guide will present your treatment plan during your free 30-minute visit to a SmileShop. But if you opt for the impression kit, they will email it to you instead.
You can request changes and ask questions during this step. From here, you can decide whether or not you will proceed with your clear aligner treatment.
SmileDirectClub will start creating your prescribed aligners as soon as you process payment. They will be sent to you all at once when they're ready.
Your package will include aligners for the entire treatment. Each tray is pre-designed to shift your teeth in the desired position slowly.
Wear and switch your aligner trays as prescribed in your treatment plan.
Next, download the SmileDirectClub app so you can manage your aligner treatment. Some of its features include:
When you receive your clear aligners, make sure that you register them on the app. Don’t forget to upload photos of your teeth during Smile Check-Ins so you can monitor your progress. Keep doing this until you complete your program.
The average treatment period for daytime aligners that are worn for 22 hours/day is four to six months. However, treatment can last up to ten months or more with night aligners.1
Once you complete treatment, you can stop wearing aligners and switch to retainers. This will keep teeth straightened and prevent them from shifting back into place.
The company offers a retainer subscription program that delivers new SmileDirectClub retainers every six months.
SmileDirectClub daytime and nighttime clear aligners each cost a one-time payment of $2,250. This covers up to ten months' worth of nighttime aligners or six months' worth of daytime aligners.
You can also opt for the monthly payment plan called SmilePay. SmilePay lets you purchase SmileDirectClub aligners for a $250 down payment plus monthly payments of $89 or less for the next 28 months.
Pro tip: With SmilePay, your treatment will cost a total of $2,492. A one-time payment of $2,250 may not be flexible, but it saves you more money.
SmileDirectClub retainers cost $99 per set. Each set of retainers lasts six months.
SmileDirectClub ensures that their clear aligners are effective–and I agree. The company mentions using SmileOS™, an innovative software that utilizes 3D renderings on top of their two million aligner treatment plans database to customize each treatment plan.
With their advanced platform, SmileDirectClub’s dental care team of state-licensed dentists, orthodontists, and doctors can supervise patients' treatment and predict tooth movements more precisely.
I felt my teeth grind against each other less after using the aligners consistently. While it was a big adjustment as I had to keep them in for a while, it became easier and more comfortable.
I was also much less embarrassed compared to when I was using retainers.
SmileDirectClub has garnered a mix of positive and negative reviews on its invisible aligners.
As of this writing, SDC has over 3,000 customer complaints documented on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Most of these complaints involve their products and services, such as:2
Some of these reviews reflect poorly on the company and what they claim to offer.
SmileDirectClub says their aligners are laser-cut to ensure a good fit. Their propriety Comfort Sense™ technology is supposed to safely and comfortably shift your teeth into position by progressing you into wearing soft, medium, and firm plastic aligners.3
Despite these claims, one customer complained of ill-fitting aligners. He said that because of this, his gums now bleed and overlap with his upper front teeth.2
Another user complained that the aligners not only failed to give him straight teeth. He now has crooked teeth at the bottom, which he previously did not have.2
In 2020, NBC News published a story that features customers who had negative experiences with Smile Direct Club:4
In both instances, the customers tried to reach for professional dental support, which SmileDirectClub claims to provide. However, they failed to get in touch with the dentist or orthodontist assigned to them.4
Some customers did leave positive reviews on SmileDirectClub.
A woman from Alabama says that while her top aligners and retainers did not fit perfectly, they still straightened her teeth.5
A 50-year-old woman from Massachusetts who wore metal braces in her late 20s was prescribed Invisalign treatment by her dentist. She opted for SDC aligners instead and is happy with the results.5
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration designates invisible aligners as Class II medical devices. Products that are classified as such should only be available on a prescription basis.
In 2019, the American Dental Association (ADA) warned that SmileDirectClub places the public at risk by providing aligners without a prescription. They also cited other safety issues under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act.6
In the statement issued by ADA, SmileDirectClub does not provide teledentistry, contrary to its claims. The company also has conflicting claims on the effectiveness of its aligners.
According to ADA, the company solicits customers by claiming their aligners treat extreme misalignment. These include overbite, underbite, and crossbite.
Once they complain, the company retracts their initial claim and says they only work for mild to moderate teeth correction.
It’s worth noting that the American Dental Association (ADA) released this statement in 2019. As of this writing, we did not see any such claims on the SDC website.
Customer reviews on SmileDirectClub are also mixed. Some say they received dental support through the teledentistry platform, while others did not.
SmileDirectClub Aligners may be better than traditional braces in some ways.
For instance, SmileDirectClub gives you a practical way to straighten teeth. Everything can be done from home, from buying the impression kit to receiving clear aligners and keeping track of your treatment process.
Unlike traditional braces, you can remove your clear aligners anytime when you’re eating or brushing your teeth. SmileDirectClub daytime aligners can also move teeth in as little as 90 days but at a fraction of the cost.1
According to the company, their aligners can straighten teeth within four to six months.1 It’s comparably shorter than orthodontic treatments, which usually last an average of 24.6 months.7
Overall, teeth aligners, or “invisible braces” as many would call them, provide a cheaper, more convenient, and faster way to straighten teeth.
However, this does not mean they are completely better or more effective than traditional braces or Invisalign treatment.
Smile Direct Club has been selling at-home clear aligners since 2014. In this section, we will compare them with newer aligners from competitors.
|Brand||Price||Length Of Treatment||Offers Lifetime Guarantee?||Impression Options||Type of Treatment|
|SmileDirectClub||$2,250||4-10 months||Yes||- Home kit|
- 3D scan
|ALIGNERCO||$995 to $1,120||4-8 months||No||Home kit||At-home|
|Byte Aligners||$1,999 to $2,399||4-5 months||Yes||Home kit||At-home|
|NewSmile||$1,595||4-6 months||Yes||- Home kit|
- 3D scan
|Invisalign Treatment||$3,000 to $8,000||12 to 18 months||No||In-person scan||In-office|
Both offer teeth aligners for daytime and nighttime use. However, ALIGNERCO has more affordable pricing.
You can purchase ALIGNERCO aligners for a one-time payment of up to $1,120 or less. The total cost of their flexible payment options is also cheaper than SmileDirectClub.
ALIGNERCO treatment usually lasts four to eight months, while the average treatment period for SmileDirectClub is half of that. Keep in mind that “faster” does not mean it’s more effective.
Unfortunately, ALIGNERCO has limited Smile Studios throughout the United States. Smile Direct Club has over 50 Smile Shops across the country that offer free in-person scans and teeth whitening.
Another advantage of Smile Direct Club is that they offer refunds within the first 30 days of starting aligner treatment. ALIGNERCO only provides refunds for customers who purchased an impression kit and didn’t qualify for treatment.
Like Smile Direct Club, Byte aligners are available with one-time and flexible payments. Both also offer daytime and nighttime aligners.
The treatment period of these aligners lasts up to five months, which is faster than SmileDirectClub treatment plans.
Like most competitors, NewSmile and Smile Direct Club sell daytime and nighttime aligners under flexible payment options. Another thing they have in common is a short treatment period of four to six months.
However, SDC has been at this much longer. So, if you prefer a more trusted brand, you might as well buy aligners from Smile Direct Club.
Unlike ALIGNERCO, Byte, and NewSmile, which offer at-home aligners, Invisalign provides in-office aligner treatment. It is a recognized orthodontic treatment that requires frequent visits to dental professionals.
In-office aligners are generally better than at-home aligners such as SmileDirectClub. A licensed dentist or licensed orthodontist will oversee your entire treatment, which will help ensure your safety.
Invisalign treatment is also proven to be an effective teeth straightening method.7 Its only drawback is that it costs significantly more, with prices ranging from $5,000 to $8,000.
We definitely think they're worth it.
While they're not the cheapest option for teeth straightening, they're more affordable compared to other popular invisible aligners on the market.
Not only that, they're comfortable and do the hard work for you over a stretch of time. After getting used to the feeling of them being in my mouth, I found I was grinding my teeth less and feeling more confident.
We used a specific set of criteria to be able to best evaluate SmileDirectClub.