The days of metal braces as the only avenue to straighter teeth are no more. Thanks to the innovation of clear aligner systems, often referred to as “invisible braces,” adults looking to transform their smiles now have more options than ever.
The clear aligner market can be split into two categories: at-home aligners (like SmileDirectClub) and in-office aligners (like Invisalign). Each type is effective but offers different advantages and drawbacks. There’s simply not one universal “best” — the right treatment for you ultimately depends on your unique circumstances, priorities, and smile goals. Read on as we discuss the six best clear aligners on the market, the difference between at-home and in-office clear aligner treatment, and some tips for evaluating your options.
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At-Home vs. In-Office Aligners: What’s the Difference?
Before we dig into the various clear aligner companies and analyze their unique benefits, it’s important to understand the distinction between the two major types. At first glance, at-home and in-office aligner products look the same. Both are clear plastic trays that fit your dental arches snugly, present very little visibility, and gradually shift your teeth with each new set in the series. However, while their appearance might be similar, their applications are quite different.
In-office aligners like Invisalign must be directly administered by a dentist or orthodontist. This means you’ll schedule monthly office visits so your doctor can monitor your progress and make adjustments if necessary. In certain cases, these visits might include employing other dental appliances to induce more intricate tooth movements.
As the name suggests, at-home aligner treatment takes place completely from the comfort of your home. A licensed dentist or orthodontist will develop your treatment remotely, then the company will ship your aligners directly to you. Over the course of 3–6 months, you will administer the aligner series on your own. While much more convenient and affordable, at-home treatment doesn’t allow for the use of additional dental appliances (which may be necessary for more complex cases).
The 6 Best Clear Aligners
Byte: Best At-Home Aligners
If you’re drawn to at-home treatment, Byte offers an excellent value. For just $1,895, you’ll receive a custom clear aligner treatment plan designed by a state-licensed dentist or orthodontist, along with a generous treatment package that includes free whitening, aftercare retainers, and a proprietary device called “HyperByte.” Byte’s main claim to fame, the HyperByte is a high-frequency vibration device designed to provide a more comfortable aligner fit, and it can also encourage faster dental shifts for some customers.
Like all at-home clear aligner services, Byte is only designed to treat mild-to-moderate cases of misalignment, so if you have a severe case, you should consider one of the more comprehensive options on this list. That said, if you’re simply looking to address a cosmetic dental concern, we think Byte is the best treatment option available.
- As a completely remote treatment, Byte is much more convenient than traditional in-office clear aligners, which require monthly visits to the dentist.
- Byte’s high-frequency vibration device, the “HyperByte,” provides a more comfortable aligner fit and can induce faster teeth shifts for some people. Dentists charge upwards of $1,000 for similar devices, but Byte includes it for free in their aligner bundle.
- Byte’s $1,895 sticker price is much less expensive than traditional in-office clear aligners like Invisalign. Plus, they offer financing for just $82/month, and everyone qualifies.
- Byte’s “At-Night” plan provides an even more flexible and discreet treatment option by requiring only ten hours of continuous wear per day. However, Byte makes their At-Night aligners from a thicker, grind-resistant material, so they cost more than the All-Day aligners.
- Their Byte-for-Life guarantee states that if your teeth ever shift after completing treatment, they’ll give you new aligners to realign your smile for free (as long as you purchase retainers every six months and wear them as instructed).
- Byte treatment focuses primarily on the front teeth and is best suited for correcting mild-to-moderate cases of misalignment. For more comprehensive treatment, traditional in-office options like Invisalign are a better choice.
- Although Byte’s treatment plans are designed by licensed dentists, you won’t have direct access to your doctor throughout treatment. Some at-home aligner companies provide remote monitoring, but Byte only recommends sending monthly photos of your teeth — they don’t require it.
Candid: Best Hybrid Service
Unlike any other provider on this list, Candid combines elements of in-office and at-home care. They started as a fully remote clear aligner service, but have since shifted to a hybrid treatment model.
Candid patients will begin their treatment in the office of a local dentist, who will stay involved from start to finish. However, unlike traditional options like Invisalign, only two in-person visits are necessary during Candid treatment — one at the beginning and another at the end. This is thanks to their “CandidMonitoring” system, which allows you to send bi-weekly photo updates to your provider so they can track your progress remotely.
- Candid’s treatment plans can straighten all your teeth, including the molars. Fully remote clear aligner services like Byte focus primarily on the front teeth and premolars.
- Services like Byte don’t offer the peace of mind that comes with having a local dentist oversee your treatment. With Candid, you can access your local provider throughout the entire process.
- Every 14 days, you’ll use the CandidMonitoring system to take images of your teeth and send them to Candid and your dentist. This is a significantly more streamlined process than you get with in-office aligners like Invisalign, which require regular in-person dental visits.
- In addition to your local Candid dentist, you’ll also have access to Candid’s support team via their mobile app seven days a week.
- Since you’ll need to visit a local Candid dentist to get started, treatment is only available if you live near one of Candid’s 300+ network providers.
- Although Candid treatment involves in-person care, it’s still not as comprehensive as systems like Invisalign. Completely in-person treatments let your dentist incorporate elastics or attachments in your treatment plan to make more complex adjustments, but Candid treatment doesn’t currently allow for this level of customization.
- As a hybrid service, Candid is a lot more expensive than fully remote options like Byte. However, it’s still often less expensive than Invisalign.
ClearCorrect: Best Comprehensive Invisalign Alternative
Even though it hasn’t been around as long as Invisalign, ClearCorrect still boasts a strong track record of results. They’re one of the largest clear aligner producers in the U.S. Their products are extremely similar in appearance and application to Invisalign, and they’ve been FDA-approved since 2009.
Like other in-office aligners, they require regular office visits and boast more power than at-home alternatives, with the ability to treat even complex misalignments. They don’t have as many providers as Invisalign, but they often cost less.
- ClearCorrect’s in-office application allows for the addition of Engagers — tiny, tooth-colored shapes that assist with complex tooth movements, similar to Invisalign’s Smartforce attachments. This means that ClearCorrect can treat a variety of severe dental and jaw misalignments.
- ClearCorrect charges dentists less for their aligners and lab fees than Invisalign, encouraging dentists to pass along these savings to their patients.
- Like Invisalign, ClearCorrect can be administered by a general dentist (not necessarily an orthodontist), which makes treatment more convenient.
- ClearCorrect has multiple pricing models—including one where you pay per aligner—so your dentist can choose the one that best suits your condition.
- Treatment with ClearCorrect usually takes at least one year, which is significantly longer than home aligner treatment.
- Even though it could be less expensive than Invisalign, at $3,000–$6,000 ClearCorrect is significantly pricier than home aligners.
- Like Invisalign, ClearCorrect’s frequent office visits can be time-consuming.
SmileDirectClub: Most Convenient
They’re the largest and most experienced at-home aligner brand out there, and since 2014, they’ve transformed over 1.5 million smiles. With a strong retail presence, a nighttime-only option, accessible financing, and a do-it-all mobile app, they’ve engineered a supremely convenient treatment.
As a fully remote company, they can’t treat severe misalignments, but they can tackle mild and moderate cases with relative efficiency, and at a much more affordable price than traditional orthodontics.
- Some at-home aligner companies require you to make molds of your teeth to get started, but SmileDirectClub has 300+ SmileShops and a network of 1,500+ dentist’s offices where you can start your treatment with a teeth scan instead of an impression kit.
- SmileDirectClub’s $2,050 price tag is much more affordable than in-office alternatives.
- Like Byte, they offer a nighttime-only plan, which only requires ten hours of daily wear compared to the 22 hours per day required by Invisalign and other aligner brands.
- SmileDirectClub provides financing and payment plans to every customer, no credit check required.
- They offer prorated refunds for unused and unopened aligners at any time during treatment. And afterward, their Lifetime Smile Guarantee covers your smile for life — as long as you purchase new retainers every six months and wear them as advised.
- Similar to other home aligner treatments, SmileDirectClub can’t treat the same scope of conditions that in-office aligners can. They’re limited to mild/moderate cases of crowding and spacing.
- Their customer care has received a mixed bag of customer feedback over the years, and their remote support is less personalized than in-person care.
- Even though SmileDirectClub’s $2,050 price tag is a lot more affordable than Invisalign, it’s higher than many of their at-home rivals.
NewSmile: Best Budget Aligners
All at-home clear aligners are more affordable than their in-office counterparts—that’s a big part of their appeal. But NewSmile boasts even lower prices than most of their at-home competition. They only started in 2020, but their attractive sticker price, discounts, remote oversight, and interest-free financing have already earned them a reputation as a budget-friendly, yet high-quality treatment.
- With a $1,495 price tag, NewSmile has one of the lowest sticker prices in the industry. Compared to Invisalign and braces, most patients save a few thousand dollars.
- While many budget-friendly options skip all the extras to keep costs low, NewSmile includes your impression kit, retainers, and whitening kit. That’s a couple of hundred dollars’ worth of bonus products.
- Most people finish treatment in just 4–6 months, which is significantly faster than in-office options.
- NewSmile offers nighttime-only treatment where you wear your aligners for just ten hours per day (mostly while sleeping) instead of the standard 22. It’s more convenient and discreet than all-day treatment.
- You’ll upload videos of your teeth to the NewSmile app every two weeks and their dental team will use them to keep you on track. It’s not as robust as in-person care, but it still provides consistent oversight.
- NewSmile doesn’t have retail locations in the U.S. so you can’t get an in-person scan. You’ll have to use their impression kit, which can be challenging.
- Since NewSmile is a younger company, they don’t have a lot of reviews. What’s out there is mostly positive, but we’re excited to see more feedback come rolling in.
- If you have a severe misalignment, NewSmile might not be able to correct it.
Invisalign: Most Experience
Famous for producing the world’s first widely available clear, removable teeth aligners, Invisalign is the most established and prolific clear aligner brand in the U.S. For over more than two decades, they’ve helped patients achieve the smiles they’ve always wanted.
Administered by a dentist during regular office visits, Invisalign’s hands-on care and Smartforce attachments empower their aligners to correct even severe cases of crowding, spacing, and bite misalignments. They’re a lot more powerful than at-home aligners, but also more expensive and time-consuming.
- Invisalign treatment achieves the same impressive, powerful results as traditional braces, but without a single metal bracket, and for approximately the same price.
- With more than two decades of successful smile transformations under their belt, Invisalign is the oldest and most experienced clear aligner producer.
- Invisalign typically works faster than traditional braces.
- Treatment can be administered by a general dentist (rather than an orthodontist) and they have more providers than any other in-office clear aligner brand.
- Dentists can add Invisalign’s proprietary Smartforce attachments, elastics, and other dental appliances to your treatment plan to correct more complex conditions (including moderate-to-severe teeth crowding and a variety of bite misalignments).
- Invisalign is significantly more expensive than most at-home aligner brands ($5,000 on average), which presents a potential obstacle if you’re on a tight budget.
- Treatment with Invisalign requires regular office visits, so it’s a more substantial time commitment than at-home treatments.
- Invisalign’s 12–18 month average treatment time may be shorter than braces, but it’s significantly longer than home aligner treatment.
Which Clear Aligner Option is Best for You?
We totally understand if seeing all these options feels overwhelming, especially since they look so similar at first glance. At the end of the day, we believe that two clear aligner services stand above the rest: Byte and Candid.
Choose Byte if:
You want the best overall value, excellent customer support, and the potential for a short treatment timeline.
Choose Candid if:
You want the convenience of at-home treatment with the hands-on touch of a local dentist.
Other Clear Aligners Worth Considering
If you’ve searched for clear aligner companies online, you know that there are plenty more out there. Just because they aren’t in our top six doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider them. The companies above are great options, but other providers offer unique perks that might make an even better match for your specific circumstances. Below are a few more we think are worth your time.
SureSmile: SureSmile is one of the oldest clear aligner companies on the market. They got their start making intuitive archwires for lingual braces before releasing aligners in 2007, and even though they come with the same in-person care as Invisalign, their aligners often cost slightly less. Plus, they give dentists more ways to customize your treatment, and they don’t force doctors to use a specific intraoral scanner, making their treatment more accessible.
Interested? Read our full SureSmile review.
3M Clarity Aligners: 3M is probably better known for home and office supplies than orthodontics, but their Clarity Aligners boast incredible teeth-moving power, thanks to the unique way they can incorporate attachments and two different premium plastics. Plus, 3M produces Clarity Clear Braces, so they can offer combination treatment for the limited number of cases their aligners cannot address on their own. They’re one of the priciest options on the market, but many customers think their superior effectiveness is worth it.
For a lot more important info, check out our in-depth 3M Clarity review.
AlignerCo: If you’re looking for the lowest prices, look no further. AlignerCo’s sticker price is just $1,145, hundreds lower than the competition. Plus, they have two separate financing plans, one of which doesn’t require a credit check, so everyone qualifies. AlignerCo crafts their aligners with plastic from Essix, a reputable producer of dental supplies, and reviews photos of your teeth every two weeks. They might not have a ton of customer reviews online, but anyone after a highly affordable treatment should consider AlignerCo.
For more key details, read through our AlignerCo review.
Six Month Smiles: If you like at-home aligners’ six-month time frame but prefer one-on-one care from a dentist, take a look at Six Month Smiles. Like Invisalign and ClearCorrect, it’s administered and monitored in-person by a dentist. The average cost is $3,500–$5,000, but varies depending on the dentist. The company offers clear aligners for simple crowding and spacing, and clear braces for more complex movements. Both the aligners and braces wrap up treatment within six months. Even with their clear braces, treatment isn’t quite as robust as in-office clear aligners like Invisalign.
How Should I Evaluate My Options?
Reading through this review, it’s possible that one aspect of clear aligner treatment sticks out to you. Perhaps you like the idea of getting the lowest price point, or maybe you want the fastest treatment available.
Keep in mind that not all clear aligners are equal, so it’s important to consider several factors as you make your decision. For example, one company might have great reviews, but does their treatment time frame match your goals? One might offer lower costs, but is it a lot less convenient to get started?
As you evaluate your options, we recommend considering five factors: effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer support. Evaluating these five will give you a holistic view of each treatment, so you can confidently decide which is the best for your teeth, budget, and priorities.
While you should consider all the aspects above, it’s natural to focus on one or two in particular. That’s why we’ve created guides showing which home aligner companies excel in each category:
You’re on a journey to reach your smile goals, and this is just the beginning. Having read this guide, you have a great foundation on which to make a well-informed decision.
We encourage you to analyze the pros and cons of all the clear aligner options discussed above, and consult a dentist for a professional option. This way, you can confidently enter treatment knowing that by the end, you’ll get to see and feel the exact results you were hoping for!