A lot of young adults today wish they had straighter teeth, but don’t have the time or money to spend on traditional orthodontic treatment. If that sounds like you, you may be a good candidate for home teeth straightening.
Online services like SmileDirectClub ship custom clear aligners directly to their patients for a fraction of the cost of braces or Invisalign. Sometimes referred to as “invisible aligners” or “invisible braces,” clear aligners are much less noticeable and more comfortable than traditional braces. At-home teeth aligners also work much faster than traditional braces and don’t require ongoing dental visits.
If you’re considering buying clear aligners online, you have several options. One of the longest-standing and best-known providers is SmileDirectClub, having served over 700,000 customers to date. However, over the past couple of years, several new companies have begun offering compelling alternatives.
So which should you choose? It’s not an easy question — but luckily, we’ve done some of the legwork for you. Based on our extensive research, we’ve reviewed and ranked the best home teeth aligner companies in the industry, and outlined the important details that set them apart. Read on to find out which provider might be the right fit for you.
Table of Contents
Candid: Best Overall Quality
Candid is our top-recommended home teeth-straightening solution. Though newer and less established than SmileDirectClub, Candid is growing rapidly in popularity and earning lots of positive reviews. By working exclusively with orthodontists and a reputable manufacturer, they consistently deliver top-quality results for their users.
- Your treatment plan will be designed by a licensed orthodontist who has undergone several years of specialized postgraduate training. Most clear aligner companies work with dental professionals who have not received the same level of training, and may not be able to offer the same treatment quality.
- Based on our research, Candid appears to have partnered with ClearCorrect, the second-largest manufacturer of invisible aligners in the U.S. You can feel confident that your aligners will be well-designed and high quality.
- Candid holds video interviews with all new customers prior to treatment. This is to ensure the orthodontist overseeing your care gets a complete picture of your bite and dental health, enabling them to design the most effective treatment plan. Other providers simply ask for photos of your teeth.
- Candid’s customer support is a cut above most of the competition. In online reviews, customers testify that Candid support didn’t leave them hanging when something went wrong or if they simply needed help getting used to their aligners.
- Customers who choose to finance their care may be subject to a credit check. byte and SmileDirectClub, in comparison, offer financing without a credit check.
- Candid has a shorter track record and fewer customer reviews than SmileDirectClub.
Candid - The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for straighter teeth on a budget but don’t want to compromise on quality of care, Candid is an excellent option.
Special Offer: 65% off the purchase of your Candid Starter Kit
byte: Best Customer Experience
byte is the newest clear aligner company of the bunch, but they’ve made some impressive moves in their short life so far. This company has made customer experience a top priority with their efficient treatment time (three months) and a focus on individualized treatment. Like Candid, they work only with orthodontists to develop their treatment plans.
For now, we marked byte down slightly because there just aren’t yet enough user reviews to fully verify byte’s product claims, but we’re excited to see what they do in the coming years.
- Like Candid, byte works exclusively with orthodontists to offer the highest possible treatment quality.
- byte offers faster results than competing companies. Using their special HyperByte device (more on this in our detailed review), you can finish treatment in just 3 months.
- Their byte-for-life guarantee ensures your smile forever. If your teeth shift after you complete your treatment, they will give you new aligners to realign your smile for free, even if it happens years after your original treatment!
- byte’s financing plan does not require a credit check.
- Since byte is still a new company, it will take time to fully vet their service quality.
- byte doesn’t currently have any retail locations. You’ll need to order a kit and take your own teeth impressions to get started.
byte - The Bottom Line
If you like the idea of completing treatment as quickly as possible, byte’s team of licensed orthodontists will be able to design your ideal treatment plan.
Special Offer: 70% off byte Impression Kit + $100 off aligners
SmileDirectClub: Biggest Brand
SmileDirectClub was one of the first companies to offer at-home clear aligner treatment and continues to be the most popular option. Founded in 2013, SmileDirectClub has raised over $60 million from investors and has treated over 100,000 patients.
- Works directly with Align Tech, the makers of Invisalign and the largest clear aligner manufacturer in the world, to produce their invisible aligner kits. When you order from SmileDirectClub, you’re getting industry-leading clear aligner technology.
- SmileDirectClub has over three hundred SmileShops located across the U.S. You can visit one of these centers today to have your teeth scanned and get approved for treatment. Other providers require you to mail in an impression of your teeth – a slower and more cumbersome process.
- Offers guaranteed treatment financing over 24 months. No credit check required.
- SmileDirectClub has a below-average track record where it comes to the quality of service and customer support. Online reviews warn of long shipping delays and inconsistent communication when issues arise during treatment.
- Your smile plan and progress are not overseen by an orthodontist, meaning you may not get the best result possible.
Smilelove: Most Affordable Overall
Smilelove is the second-newest business we identified that sells at-home teeth straightening kits (after byte). Smilelove is catching people’s attention with their frequent promotional discounts and generous customer satisfaction guarantee.
- Smilelove aims to be the most affordable provider in the industry. While their official price-point is right in line with competitors, they run consistent promotions to make their aligners significantly more affordable (the lowest we’ve seen is $1,495).
- They’re the only home aligner company that offers a prorated refund if you aren’t happy with the progress of your treatment plan.
- Following in Candid and byte’s footsteps, Smilelove recently announced that all of their treatment plans are now designed by licensed orthodontists.
- Smilelove is still quite small and doesn’t have a well-established track record yet. At this stage, their user reviews are limited and difficult to verify.
- They’re frequently changing their prices and other aspects of their service offering, which can be confusing for users to navigate.
Smilelove - The Bottom Line
If price is your top concern, Smilelove is worth considering. Although they aren’t as well-established as some of their competitors, their satisfaction guarantee reduces some of the risk involved in giving them a shot.
Special Offer: $300 off + free whitening kit
SnapCorrect: Lowest Upfront Price
SnapCorrect has been offering affordable home aligner treatment since mid-2017. Although they’re less well-known than some of the services above, we wouldn’t be surprised to see SnapCorrect rise through the ranks in coming years.
- SnapCorrect partners with RaintreeEssix, one of the largest dental equipment suppliers in the industry. This partnership suggests to us that SnapCorrect’s aligners are of reliable quality.
- At $1,749, their official price-point is the lowest in the industry.
- SnapCorrect’s aligners come with free whitening gel for life.
- SnapCorrect’s reviews are even more limited than Smilelove’s. At this point, it’s somewhat difficult to pin down the quality of their customers’ experiences.
- In our experience, SnapCorrect’s customer support team is not as responsive as many of their competitors.
How Should I Evaluate My Options?
Reading through this review, it’s possible that one aspect of at-home aligner treatment sticks out to you. Perhaps you like the idea of getting the lowest-possible price point, or maybe you want the fastest treatment available.
Keep in mind that not all home teeth aligners are equal, so it’s important to consider a number of 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:
- Customer support
Our top 5 rankings are based on all of these criteria combined, but if one of them sticks out as a priority to you, we’ve also ranked them based on each one individually.
When you’re on a tight budget, orthodontic treatment can seem financially out of reach — but home aligners are surprisingly affordable. Because they take office visits out of the equation, home aligners eliminate the costs associated with face-to-face dental care. However, cost varies from provider to provider, so some home aligners may be a better fit for your budget than others.
The least expensive clear aligners available are Smilelove and SnapCorrect — but there’s more to the equation than a provider’s upfront price-point. We dive into the nitty-gritty details in our review of The Most Affordable Clear Aligners to help you get the most bang for your buck.
Compared to traditional orthodontic treatment, home teeth straightening is highly convenient because the process is completed remotely. Still, some home teeth aligners are more convenient than others. When you dig into the various providers, you’ll notice some variation in their service offerings that make starting or completing treatment quite a bit easier — such as free teeth scanning or expedited treatment times.
When it comes to convenience alone, our top-rated providers are SmileDirectClub and byte. For a detailed look at how all the details shake out, check out our review of The 3 Most Convenient Clear Aligners.
With any orthodontic treatment, you want to be sure you’ll get the results you’re after — otherwise, what’s the point of pursuing treatment at all? For this reason, we consider effectiveness above all other factors when making our home aligner recommendations.
Your provider’s product design, level of expertise, and quality of materials all play a role in the effectiveness of your treatment. (And of course, so does the condition of your teeth!)
We compare the most effective home teeth aligners alongside in-office treatment options like Invisalign in our review of The 3 Most Effective Clear Aligners.
Every home aligner company we reviewed makes their aligners from clear, BPA-free plastic, but each one uses a slightly different process and design. Consequently, certain brands can be more or less visible than others. These discrepancies are small, but might influence your decision if your goal is to find the most discreet treatment option out there.
For an in-depth look at these aesthetic differences, check out our review of The 4 Best-Looking Clear Aligners.
You never want to think about something going wrong with your treatment, but if something does, it’s important to know your provider will take care of it in a kind and timely manner.
Even if you just have a simple question or concern about the treatment process, it’s comforting to know you have a responsive customer support team to lean on. We took thousands of user reviews into account to determine which companies offer the most responsive and caring customer service.
Pros and Cons of Home Teeth Alignment
As we’ve discussed, home teeth aligners are more convenient and affordable than in-office options like braces or Invisalign. But this doesn’t mean they’re an appropriate choice for everyone. If you have a severe case of misalignment or a complicated bite condition, you may benefit from face-to-face dental care.
To help you decide is home teeth alignment is right for you, take a moment to evaluate these pros and cons:
- Home teeth aligners cost significantly less than traditional orthodontic treatment -- typically somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 the cost of braces or Invisalign.
- By eliminating the need for monthly office visits, home aligners free up some time in your schedule. However, you should still go to the dentist before beginning treatment to make sure you don’t have any cavities (or anything else that needs addressing).
- Treatment only takes around six months to complete, which is significantly shorter than the average duration of in-office treatment.
- Home aligner treatment is designed to be as discreet as possible. Some providers have even started offering a nighttime-only option for people who want to keep their treatment truly under wraps.
- Home aligners are only designed to treat mild to moderate cases of spacing and crowding, and minor bite issues. They aren’t effective for severe cases of misalignment.
- Your provider won’t take x-rays of your teeth before creating your treatment plan. Before getting started, we recommend visiting your local dentist to make sure there isn’t anything problematic going on beneath the surface of your teeth or gums.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions we get about home teeth aligners.
How do home aligner companies prepare my treatment plan?
After you submit your impression kit or teeth scans, a dental professional will analyze them and use specialized software to create digital models of your teeth and aligners for every stage in the process. Candid and byte’s networks consist solely of specialized orthodontists, while others use general “dental professionals.” The company will send you digital images of the treatment plan for your approval before beginning production.
How long does home aligner treatment take?
For most companies, the average treatment time for most cases is six months. byte is the exception, as their HyperByte technology allows for a faster 2-4 month treatment window.
How do I get started with home aligner treatment?
You will need to order an impression kit from your chosen home aligner company. The kit includes putty and trays, which you’ll use to make molds of your top and bottom dental arches, before mailing them to the company. This process can sometimes be difficult, so certain companies (Candid and SmileDirectClub) offer physical locations where you can get free teeth scans from professionals.
Which conditions can home aligners treat?
Home aligners are primarily designed to treat mild-to-moderate cases of crowding and spacing, along with some mild bite issues. If your case is severe or includes a jaw misalignment like overbite or underbite, home aligners might not have the capacity to induce the larger tooth and jaw shifts you’re after.
How often do I need to wear my home teeth aligners?
You’ll need to wear your aligners for at least 22 hours per day, removing them only to eat and drink. The exception to this is if you pursue nighttime-only treatment with SmileDirectClub or byte. This alternative treatment schedule only requires you to wear the aligners at night (10 hours total).
What if my treatment doesn’t go as planned?
Each home aligner company has different refund and warranty policies. In most cases, you cannot receive a refund after you begin treatment, although the company may work with you to adjust your plan and develop new aligners. Smilelove is the only company we reviewed that offers prorated mid-treatment refunds.
Are financing/payment plans available?
Most home aligner companies offer both financing and payment plans. A few partner with a third-party company called Affirm, which provides financing but requires credit checks to qualify. SmileDirectClub and byte both offer their own financing options for which everyone qualifies.
What are home teeth aligners made of?
All the home aligner companies we reviewed use clear, BPA-free plastic to make their products.
What happens after my home aligner treatment is complete?
At the end of your home aligner treatment, you’ll receive custom-fit retainers to keep your teeth from shifting back to their original positions. Your provider will recommend wearing your retainers for close to 24 hrs per day for a period of about 2 weeks. After that, you’ll only have to wear them at night. Some providers include retainers with the initial cost of treatment, while others charge an additional $80-100 for them after treatment is finished.
Does it hurt to wear home teeth aligners?
Customers often report experiencing tightness or discomfort during the first 1-2 days wearing a new set of aligners, after which the discomfort subsides. Some companies provide “chewies” or other devices to help ensure a more comfortable aligner fit.