Invisalign changed the teeth straightening game in the late 90s, then SmileDirectClub changed it again when they started delivering clear aligners to customers’ homes in 2014. In doing so, they pioneered a cheaper, more convenient treatment that can transform smiles without a single office visit.
Even though they started in the United States, SmileDirectClub’s rapid growth allowed them to expand worldwide, including to Australia. But they’re not the only option available. In this guide, we’ve gathered all the information you need to decide if SmileDirectClub is the right home aligner treatment for your smile.
Table of Contents
What is SmileDirectClub?
SmileDirectClub is an online company that offers affordable teeth aligners, delivered to your door. They started in the U.S. but expanded rapidly, and now you can get SmileDirectClub treatment in nine different countries. SmileDirectClub’s clear aligners look and feel similar to Invisalign — they fit the contours of your teeth perfectly and have a much lower profile than traditional braces. However, unlike Invisalign, treatment doesn’t require a single trip to the dentist’s office. Instead, SmileDirectClub’s licensed dentists will develop your treatment plan remotely and ship you the aligners to administer at home.
SmileDirectClub is primarily a cosmetic treatment. If your case is severe, or if you have a bite misalignment (like overbite or underbite) it certainly doesn’t preclude you from treatment; however, the results you want might require the intensive in-office care of braces or Invisalign.
When SmileDirectClub first hit the market in 2014, the concept was groundbreaking — they were the first company to offer home-based clear aligner treatment on a wide scale. Before that, a handful of dentists across the U.S. sold custom clear aligners via mail order, but only a small customer base knew about it. Today, SmileDirectClub has served over 1.5 million customers, making it one of the most popular clear aligner companies in the world.
Recently, SmileDirectClub has expanded their market share by opening retail stores in cities across Australia. Now, potential customers can visit a local “SmileShop” to have their teeth scanned and treatment plan prepared free of charge.
How Does SmileDirectClub Work?
To ensure that their aligners can deliver your desired results, SmileDirectClub will send you a special kit to collect a 3D impression of your teeth. Or, if you live near a SmileShop location, you can schedule an appointment for a free teeth scan. These preliminary impressions or scans help SmileDirectClub’s dentists determine whether their aligners can effectively correct your misalignments.
If you’re a suitable candidate, SmileDirectClub’s licensed network dentists will use the impression to develop your customized treatment plan. After getting your approval, they will design, manufacture, and mail out your aligners. Then you’re good to go! Wear them for at least 22 hours per day and they will shift your teeth into the desired position over 4–6 months. Or, opt for their new Nighttime Aligners and wear them ten hours per night for ten months.
Is SmileDirectClub a Good Option? Our Perspective.
Even though SmileDirectClub and other at-home aligners offer more flexibility, convenience, and financial freedom than traditional orthodontic treatments, they aren’t a perfect solution for everyone. Like all home teeth aligners, SmileDirectClub’s aligners can only treat mild-to-moderate cases of crowding and spacing, along with minor bite issues.
For these conditions, the company can deliver impressive transformations for less time and money than in-office treatments like Invisalign. Our research shows that a majority of SmileDirectClub users are ultimately satisfied with their treatment results.
In our comprehensive comparison of Australia’s top at-home aligner companies, SmileDirectClub came in at #3. We based these rankings on an extensive five-point analysis of each company’s effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer experience.
We’ve provided a lot more detail on how SmileDirectClub stacks up category by category, but here’s a quick summary of the biggest pros and cons:
- While not as experienced as Invisalign, SmileDirectClub has been in business for longer than other at-home clear aligner companies, and they’ve transformed more than 1.5 million smiles to date.
- SmileDirectClub has SmileShops all across Australia. You can visit one of these locations to get your teeth scanned and determine your candidacy for treatment, free of charge.
- SmileDirectClub allows patients to monitor their progress through a mobile app and schedule virtual check-ins with dental professionals throughout treatment.
- SmileDirectClub’s nighttime-only treatment plan only requires ten hours of daily wear instead of the usual 22.
- They back up their treatment with a lifetime guarantee. As long as you continue purchasing new retainers and wearing them as prescribed, they’ll create new aligners if your teeth ever shift out of place.
- SmileDirectClub has a mixed track record of customer service quality. Some past reviews warn of long shipping delays and inconsistent communication when issues arise during treatment.
- SmileDirectClub’s remote monitoring isn’t as frequent as other at-home aligner services, and not nearly as intensive as the in-person oversight you’d receive with a traditional option like Invisalign.
- SmileDirectClub charges an additional $165 fee for retainers after treatment. In contrast, competitors like Byte and SmilePath offer this important after-care service for free.
Who is a good match for SmileDirectClub?
Looking to purchase at-home clear aligners, but unsure which company is the best fit for your goals? SmileDirectClub could be an ideal choice if you’re someone who prefers to purchase from an established brand name and wants extensive guarantees and refund policies. Bonus points if you live near a SmileShop location.
SmileDirectClub can’t correct the same scope of severe conditions that in-office treatments like Invisalign and ClearCorrect can. However, scroll through reviews from customers with mild crowding or spacing issues, and you’ll notice a trend: satisfaction and impressive smile transformations. But while final results are crucial, how you get there is just as important.
SmileDirectClub can only treat mild and moderate misalignments.
Like most other at-home aligner systems, SmileDirectClub can effectively correct mild crowding and spacing, and potentially slight bite issues, but their treatment can’t handle severe cases and jaw misalignments.
In-office clear aligners like Invisalign provide hands-on care from a dentist over a longer period of time, and can incorporate attachments that encourage more complex shifts, allowing them to treat a wider scope of dental and jaw issues.
A licensed dentist will review and approve your SmileDirectClub treatment, and they’ll monitor your progress every 90 days.
When you order SmileDirectClub, a dental technician trained in 3D teeth modeling software will develop your treatment plan. Then, a licensed dentist will review your case and approve you for treatment.
During your treatment, you’ll submit photos of your teeth every 90 days so that SmileDirectClub’s team can monitor your progress and make adjustments to your wear schedule if necessary. It’s reassuring to have these regular check-ins, but SmileDirectClub’s system isn’t as robust as clear aligner treatments that incorporate in-person care or more frequent virtual check-ins.
Align Technology (Invisalign’s parent company) no longer produces SmileDirectClub’s clear aligners.
For a long time, SmileDirectClub worked with Align Technology to produce its clear aligners. Align Tech is one of the most trusted clear aligner manufacturers out there. Producer of Invisalign, Align Tech’s patented technology minimizes the discomfort associated with tooth and jaw shifts. It is our understanding that Align Technology also provided SmileDirectClub with the software they use to model teeth movements.
But, unfortunately, the SmileDirectClub-Align Tech collaboration is over. Now, SmileDirectClub manufactures their aligners in-house, and so far, their production has been excellent. They’ve implemented “Comfort Sense” technology, which they describe as a “proprietary soft, medium, and firm aligner plastic progression to ease teeth more comfortably into place.” While still a new development, it seems like this design could mean more comfortable treatment for patients.
SmileDirectClub’s aligners overlap your gums, giving them extra power.
As part of their “Comfort Sense” design, SmileDirectClub trims the tops of their aligners, but they still overlap your gums. This might make them slightly more visible, but it also increases their power, since they can leverage the gums to apply up to four times the force of scalloped aligners.
Braces and Invisalign aren’t cheap, and sometimes insurance won’t cover them, which leaves you to pay several thousand dollars out of pocket. Fortunately, SmileDirectClub and other at-home options provide a more affordable alternative. Home aligner products typically cost $2,000–$3,000, significantly less than Invisalign or braces, which can set you back $4,500–$9,000. Yet SmileDirectClub isn’t quite as affordable as some of its at-home competitors.
SmileDirectClub’s total cost is $2,825, which is higher than other Australian home aligner companies.
When purchased with a single payment, SmileDirectClub costs $2,825. That’s still much less than traditional in-office treatment, but at-home competitors like SmilePath and EZ Smile are cheaper. Additionally, you’ll need to pay $79 for an impression kit, but you can avoid this expense by getting a free scan at a local SmileShop (if you live near one).
Although retainers are required for post-treatment maintenance, SmileDirectClub does not include them in the sticker price. So, you can expect to pay an extra $165 at the end of your aligner treatment for retainers, which you need to replace every six months. Byte, SmilePath, and EZ Smile include retainers in the initial price, so there are no surprise costs at the end.
SmileDirectClub makes financing available to all of its customers through SmilePay — no credit check required.
While SmileDirectClub is much cheaper than braces or Invisalign, not everyone has $2,825 lying around, so many patients opt to finance their treatment. To take advantage of SmilePay, you just need to put down $299, then you’ll pay $119 per month for 24 months.
Best of all, SmilePay does not require a credit check, so everyone has access to a transformed smile. Byte, EZ Smile, and SmilePath also guarantee that customers will qualify for financing. If you aren’t entirely confident in your credit score, financing plans like SmilePay can still make treatment possible.
SmileDirectClub throws in free whitening with your aligner treatment.
Similar to other at-home aligner companies, SmileDirectClub includes a teeth whitening kit with your purchase. And you can use it simultaneously with your aligners. Just five minutes a day, they say, will get your teeth to their “brightest bright” in one week.
It’s not easy to fit regular dentist visits into a busy schedule — especially when you have to take time off work — and it’s not exactly fun either. Plus, Invisalign usually takes around 12–18 months and braces can take up to two years. If you have a big event coming up this year (not two or three years down the road) SmileDirectClub is the better option.
At-home teeth straightening is, in general, more convenient than seeing a dentist every few weeks, but SmileDirectClub goes above and beyond to make teeth straightening as accessible and user-friendly as possible.
SmileShops that provide free teeth scans make it easier than ever to get started.
The first step for most home aligner companies is making moulds of your teeth using an impression kit. It might seem simple enough, but many customers say creating accurate impressions is surprisingly difficult. It’s not uncommon for customers to make multiple attempts, which can delay the start of treatment by a few weeks.
SmileDirectClub gives you another option. You can visit one of their eight retail locations across Australia, called SmileShops, to receive a free teeth scan instead. This ensures a perfect impression in one try and helps to expedite your start date. After a professional takes the quick scan, you’ll leave the SmileShop with free whitening gel and the excitement of having jumpstarted your teeth straightening journey.
Once SmileDirectClub receives your impression or scan, within 72 hours they will send you a “Smile Plan” — a preview of how your teeth will look post-treatment. If you like what you see, you can approve the plan and get the ball rolling. But if the plan doesn’t match your expectations and goals, there’s no obligation to move forward.
Start to finish, treatment takes 4–6 months on average, or ten months for the nighttime-only option.
Most people see their new smile in around half a year — a pretty standard timeline for the home aligner industry. Still, it’s a lot faster than in-office treatments, which can take 12–18 months. Choosing nighttime aligners extends that timeline to around ten months (on average) since you’ll be wearing your aligners for less time each day.
Nighttime-only aligners take convenience to the next level.
Some people can’t (or don’t want to) wear their aligners for 22+ hours per day. To make treatment more flexible and accessible for these customers, SmileDirectClub offers a nighttime-only aligner series that only requires ten hours of daily wear, presumably while you sleep. If you’re a regular snacker or have an on-the-go lifestyle, this could be a huge convenience.
SmileDirectClub includes whitening with your treatment plan, so you can whiten your smile while you transform your teeth.
One final thing to consider is teeth whitening. Most of the top home aligner systems (including SmileDirectClub) offer a whitening product as a free add-on. Simply apply the whitening gel inside your aligners and your teeth will get visibly brighter while they are realigned.
Adults seeking straighter teeth might be self-conscious about sporting metal brackets to an interview, date, or special occasion. That’s why many opt for less-noticeable options like clear aligner products instead. Consequently, all clear aligners score well in the aesthetics category, and SmileDirectClub is no exception.
Every clear aligner company uses transparent, BPA-free plastic, but each brand looks slightly different due to variations in materials and manufacturing processes.
SmileDirectClub aligners are “frosted” and textured.
This might seem counterintuitive, but it actually gives them a more natural look than alternatives like EZ Smile, which use a shiny plastic. Teeth are naturally porous and these pores make them look matte. Textured or frosted aligners match this natural appearance more closely than their smooth counterparts, which can look artificially shiny.
Yet everyone has different preferences, and some people like the way that smooth, transparent aligners give their smile more shine.
SmileDirectClub aligners overlap the gums instead of following the gum line.
This overlap is barely visible, but some people might still notice it. “Scalloped” aligners that match your gum line are more discreet, but aligners that overlap your gums are more effective since they can use your gums as anchors and exert up to four times more force on your teeth. So, you’re sacrificing some visibility, but you’re getting more effective aligners.
SmileDirectClub’s aligners are reasonably stain-resistant.
All clear aligners are susceptible to stains from food and beverages, so it’s important to remove them before eating or drinking anything other than plain water. SmileDirectClub aligners are reasonably resistant to staining, although we certainly wouldn’t recommend drinking coffee or red wine with your aligners in.
SmileDirectClub aligners don’t incorporate attachments, preserving their low profile.
When administering Invisalign, a dentist can incorporate elastics and special attachments that help their scalloped aligners make more intricate teeth movements. Attachments make the aligners more effective, but also increase their visibility.
Since home aligners like SmileDirectClub don’t involve in-person office visits, these attachments are not possible. But that also means there’s no extra hardware on your teeth.
Nighttime-only treatment lets you avoid wearing your aligners to work, school, or other social gatherings.
Clear aligners are very discreet, but they still aren’t 100% invisible. From up close, others may notice that you have your clear trays in. Moreover, it’s common for aligners to cause a slight lisp, especially for the first few days after changing to new trays. If you have a job where this may be an issue, SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners may be a better fit.
SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners might also be a perfect option for anyone who feels uncomfortable wearing aligners during the day or who doesn’t like removing and replacing them to eat and drink.
Dental treatment is expensive, and you only have one set of teeth. It’s important to feel completely confident that your treatment provider will treat you right and have your back if anything goes wrong. As a fully remote treatment, SmileDirectClub can’t provide the personalization and reliability that comes with in-office care, but they do maintain strong return and refund policies.
SmileDirectClub’s customer support has had struggles in the past, but they’ve improved drastically since then.
SmileDirectClub has a lot of customers, and it’s not easy to give each one individualised support, especially without in-office care. This is, perhaps, why they’ve received some negative reviews about their responsiveness. Most of these reviews are from a few years ago, back when SmileDirectClub was growing rapidly, and it appears that they’ve turned it around since then — their more recent reviews report consistently positive customer support experiences.
They’ve also pulled together a whole bunch of useful information in their extensive online resources, so you can find answers to most common questions without contacting them directly.
They provide regular check-ins with dental professionals and consistent access to their care team.
Despite customer care shortcomings in the past, SmileDirectClub appears to be making big strides forward. They now provide a mobile app where you can track your treatment progress and contact their customer service team via text, video, chat, email, and phone (they say this team is available 24/7).
Additionally, they’ve implemented virtual Smile Check-ins every 90 days, where you’ll submit photos of your teeth so that their dental team can monitor your progress and address any concerns you have. It’s a nice touch, although it’s not quite as robust as in-office treatments like Invisalign.
Refunds and return policies make SmileDirectClub a safe bet. Plus, they guarantee your smile for life.
Despite the complaints about customer service delays, most customers are satisfied with SmileDirectClub’s refund policy. If they determine that you’re not a suitable candidate for treatment based on your impression kit (or teeth scans), they’ll refund the price of your kit and any money you prepaid on aligners.
Let’s say you are approved for treatment and get started on a treatment plan, but change your mind right away. Cancel your treatment in the first 30 days for any reason and you’ll receive a full refund (excluding your impression kit). After that, they’ll issue prorated refunds for unopened aligners, and if you follow your aligner plan and complete all your required check-ins, but aren’t happy with the results, SmileDirectClub dentists will work with you to extend your treatment with more aligners, free of charge.
And SmileDirectClub doesn’t stop there. If your teeth shift any time after you’ve finished treatment, even years down the road, their Lifetime Smile Guarantee will provide new aligners to restore your smile — as long as you’re approved by one of their dentists. To maintain eligibility, you need to purchase their retainers twice a year and wear them as prescribed.
What are SmileDirectClub Customers Saying?
Given SmileDirectClub’s multi-year history, there are many genuine online reviews detailing customer experiences with the product. SmileDirectClub customers often report positive experiences, despite some hiccups along the way. Customer support has been hit-or-miss in the past, but the company generally keeps its promises.
Most people don’t need to file down any rough edges or irregularities on their aligners, and reviewers only report minor discomfort when starting a new aligner set — especially when removing them after a long period of time. This pain subsides quickly and, for most customers, is not a major concern. A majority complete their treatment and feel satisfied with the results.
Alternatives to SmileDirectClub
While SmileDirectClub is a high-quality clear aligner company, there are other at-home and in-office options to consider. Invisalign is the primary in-office option, and while it is more expensive than home aligners, dentists can achieve more advanced teeth movements with additional attachments. If you’re set on completing treatment from home, there are also several other home aligner options that are worth considering.
Invisalign vs. SmileDirectClub
For more intensive cases of teeth and jaw misalignment, you can’t beat in-person care, and Invisalign may be an ideal option given its versatility and comprehensiveness. In-person oversight from a dentist allows for supplemental attachments, elastics, and other appliances that induce more significant and/or complex tooth and jaw movements. If you have a bite misalignment or a severe case of crowding or spacing, SmileDirectClub’s home aligners might simply be too limited for the results you’re after.
In addition, if customer support is one of your top priorities, Invisalign may be a better option for you. You’ll have one-on-one time with your dentist every 4–6 weeks to discuss any concerns.
Byte vs. SmileDirectClub
Byte is newer to the home aligner market than SmileDirectClub. Even so, they stand out in their innovation — they offer a treatment plan that can deliver final results in an average of four months, thanks in part to their HyperByte device, which can encourage faster dental shifts for some customers.
Like SmileDirectClub, Byte offers nighttime-only treatment and 100% approval on financing. It seems like Byte has combined some of the best perks other companies offer, and that’s why they’re our top choice for home aligner treatment. They don’t have any retail stores or provide consistent oversight, but if a short treatment timeline is most important to you, Byte may be a good option.
EZ Smile vs. SmileDirectClub
If you’re on a tight budget (or just love great deals) EZ Smile might be a good choice. Their $2,149 price is hundreds lower than SmileDirectClub and most other clear aligner competitors.
Plus, they offer flexible financing plans and a 90-day money-back guarantee. They don’t have the experience and brand power that SmileDirectClub does, nor do they have a nighttime-only option, but anyone looking for an affordable treatment should consider EZ Smile.
SmilePath vs. SmileDirectClub
At just $1,899,SmilePath aligners are among the most affordable you’ll find, and their frequent discounts and flexible financing plans make them even more budget-friendly. They don’t sacrifice quality either — you’ll still get reliable products and customer support. SmilePath might not have any physical locations or regular oversight, but their prices and results make them worth a look.
Out of the top Australian home aligner products we reviewed, we rank SmileDirectClub #3 overall. If you are looking for the most convenient option or an experienced, widely respected brand, then SmileDirectClub could be ideal for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can SmileDirectClub correct my condition?
It depends. SmileDirectClub is extremely effective in treating mild and moderate cases of crowding and spacing, but it might not be able to correct jaw misalignments like overbite, underbite, crossbite, etc. The only way to know for sure is to complete an impression kit or visit a SmileShop.
What about Invisalign?
The clear aligner industry giant has its own set of unique benefits, most notably in-person care. During regular face-to-face checkups, your dentist or orthodontist can make adjustments to your treatment and add attachments that allow Invisalign to treat a wider scope of cases. SmileDirectClub is faster and less expensive, but Invisalign is a great option if your condition is severe or you’d prefer to meet with your dentist in person.
How much will I end up paying?
Even though SmileDirectClub’s sticker price is $2,825, numerous factors can influence cost, including discounts, financing, insurance, refinements, and more. In most cases, you won’t end up paying exactly $2,825, but it will likely be close. And don’t forget that you’ll need to purchase retainers for an additional $165 after your treatment is done.
How do I get started?
Before anything else, SmileDirectClub’s dental team needs to take a look at your teeth. You can either submit an impression kit or visit a SmileShop for a free teeth scan. They’ll use these moulds or images to determine if you’re a good candidate and craft your treatment plan.
How long will it take?
Go with SmileDirectClub and you’re likely looking at a treatment window of 4–6 months (or ten months for Nighttime Aligners). But don’t mark it on your calendar just yet. Your treatment could take shorter or longer depending on your condition’s severity.
Does insurance cover SmileDirectClub’s treatment?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Certain providers label at-home aligners a “cosmetic” treatment and refuse to cover it. But if your plan includes orthodontic benefits, you might receive partial coverage. Check with your insurance provider to see if you can get partial reimbursement for your treatment.
What is the most effective clear aligner company?
It’s tough to beat the power and versatility of in-office options like Invisalign and ClearCorrect. With hands-on care and orthodontic attachments, a dentist can use them to treat severe misalignments and even bite issues.
Do clear aligners hurt?
When you switch to a new aligner set every two weeks, you might experience some discomfort for the first day or two, but after that, you’ll hardly notice them.
Is home aligner treatment safe?
Yes! While administering treatment from home might seem daunting, the process is very safe. Home aligner companies use state-licensed dentists and orthodontists to create your treatment plan and design your aligners. Even though you won’t meet with them in-person, each company offers robust customer support services if something doesn’t feel quite right.