Crowded, spaced, or otherwise misaligned teeth might have you feeling less than 100% comfortable with your smile, but sporting metal braces might seem like a high price to pay. That’s why today, many adults opt instead for discreet, removable clear aligners.
While every clear aligner brand says theirs are the least noticeable, in reality, there’s no objective “best looking” aligner. Still, we have a few recommendations, and we’ve created a shortlist of the four best-looking clear aligners available.
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Comparing Aligner Appearance: What to Consider
Companies customize clear aligners to your teeth based on intraoral scans or dental impressions, so they’ll fit snugly over your arches. They’re all made of clear, BPA-free plastic, which makes them nearly invisible. That said, there are a few things that might make one aligner brand more visible than another.
One major determining factor is whether you choose a traditional in-office aligner brand like Invisalign or an at-home brand like Byte or SmileDirectClub. Why? Because with traditional in-office clear aligners, your dentist can incorporate additional attachments and elastics in your treatment plan, which make the aligners significantly more visible. Since at-home aligner brands don’t offer these additional features, they keep a lower profile.
There are some differences among various at-home aligner brands’ appearance too. Some brands scallop their aligners to match the gum line, while others cut them straight across the top. “Straight-cut” aligners are a bit more noticeable, but there’s also a trade-off: they’re also more effective than scalloped ones. So, many people think the (possible) added visibility is worth it.
Some companies offer aligners that are completely clear and smooth, while others are matte and textured. It might seem like clear and smooth aligners would be the less-visible option, but some people find them too shiny and reflective, while frosted aligners might better match the natural matte appearance of your teeth. This difference, however, is small, and not everyone agrees on which is truly less noticeable.
Our Picks for the 4 Best Looking Clear Aligners
Everyone has different aesthetic preferences, but we’ve done a lot of research on each brand’s aligner appearance. Based on that research, we’ve come up with our own rankings, complete with in-depth information on each company’s materials, design, and treatment offerings. Just keep in mind that your preference might be different than ours, and that’s okay!
AlignerCo’s primary claim to fame is their consistently low promotional prices. And while they often deliver the most cost-effective clear aligner option, they also make highly discreet aligners. Their website claims their aligners are clearer than the competition — whether this makes them better looking depends on your personal preferences.
- AlignerCo aligners use a smooth, translucent plastic that they claim is less visible. Some customers prefer this reflective material because they love the way it makes their smile “gleam.”
- They trim their aligners to match the gum line rather than cutting them straight across. Aligners that overlap the gums are slightly more visible.
- AlignerCo crafts their aligners with plastic from Raintree Essix — an experienced and widely-trusted dental supplies manufacturer — so you can trust that your aligners use top-quality materials.
- AlignerCo also offers a nighttime-only plan called NightOnly, so you can avoid wearing your aligners in public altogether.
- Like many other clear aligners, AlignerCo’s are relatively stain-resistant, but that doesn’t mean you should leave them in when you eat and drink.
- AlignerCo aligners don’t use elastics or buttons affixed to your teeth, which would make them more noticeable.
- Even though some people prefer them, aligners that use smooth plastic can reflect light and make your teeth seem unnaturally shiny. We find that “frosted” aligners better mimic a tooth’s natural matte appearance.
- Scalloped aligners, while less visible, aren’t always as effective as straight-cut ones because they can’t leverage your gums to exert more force.
NewSmile isn’t as well-known or established as competitors like Byte and SmileDirectClub, but they deliver high-quality, attractive aligners at a price that only AlignerCo can beat. Plus, they offer tons of flexibility with their nighttime-only option and accessible financing plans. You might not have heard of them yet, but if you’re looking for discreet aligners at a great price, NewSmile could be a great option.
- Even though NewSmile’s smooth plastic doesn’t perfectly match your natural teeth surfaces, it’s still barely noticeable and some customers appreciate the extra shine in their smile.
- NewSmile customizes their aligners so their edges perfectly match your gum line, so there’s no visible overlap.
- NewSmile aligners are relatively stain-resistant, but you should still remove them before eating or drinking (except water).
- In-office aligners like Invisalign and ClearCorrect sometimes incorporate elastics and attachments — which make them more visible — but NewSmile doesn’t.
- If you choose NewSmile’s Night Aligners, you’ll never have to wear them out in public.
- Smooth, translucent aligners can sometimes seem artificially reflective, although some people like this look.
- NewSmile doesn’t reveal who manufactures their aligners, although we assume they use effective, high-quality materials.
SmileDirectClub has been helping customers correct their mild-to-moderate misalignments from home since 2014, and they’ve transformed more than 1.8 million smiles to date. Their aligners are discreet and their nighttime-only option lets you keep them completely out of the public eye.
- SmileDirectClub uses a slightly-matte plastic in their aligners, which matches the matte surfaces of real teeth.
- SmileDirectClub slightly trims their aligners, but they still overlap the gums. That overlap is barely noticeable, but people nearby might still spot it.
- Their nighttime-only aligners only require ten hours of daily wear (presumably while you sleep) instead of the standard 22 hours per day. So if you’d rather not wear aligners to work, school, or anywhere else, you don’t have to!
- Similar to other clear aligners, SmileDirectClub’s are relatively stain-resistant, although you should still remove them before eating or drinking.
- SmileDirectClub’s aligners don’t use elastics or buttons affixed to your teeth, which can make them more visible.
- Aligners that overlap the gums are more noticeable than scalloped ones that match your gum line.
- Unlike some other at-home clear aligner services, SmileDirectClub charges an extra $125 for retainers at the end of your treatment.
Since being founded in 2018, Byte has provided efficient treatment plans for their customers and contributed innovative technology to the teledentistry space. Byte advertises treatment plans that last 4–5 months on average, plus offers personalized customer support and competitive pricing. On top of that, customers generally love how Byte’s aligners look.
- Byte uses smooth plastic in their aligners. This can sometimes make your teeth appear artificially shiny, but Byte customers often like this, claiming that it makes their smiles gleam.
- Their aligners are fairly stain-resistant, but you’ll still want to remove them before eating or drinking anything other than water.
- Byte’s “Smile Science” software evaluates your entire facial structure when developing your treatment plan, crafting a smile that suits your unique features.
- Go with Byte’s nighttime-only treatment (Byte At Night) and you won’t even need to wear your aligners out during the day, just ten hours overnight.
- Byte won’t affix any attachments to your teeth or add elastics to your aligners, so they maintain a low profile.
- Byte cuts their aligners straight across, not along the gum line. This might make them slightly more visible, but on the flip side, it increases the force they can put on your teeth.
- While some customers appreciate the reflectiveness of Byte’s smooth plastic, others think it makes your teeth seem unnaturally shiny.
Byte - The Bottom Line
If you like the idea of a shiny smile, great customer support, and a specially designed nighttime-only option, Byte might just be a great option for you.
Other Clear Aligners Worth Considering
Once again, if you do your own research on clear aligner appearance, you’ll find a lot of conflicting views. Every aligner company will tell you that their products are the best looking, and often for different reasons. For example, in-office aligners like Invisalign can potentially be more visible because they sometimes incorporate attachments, but on their own, the clear aligners are just as discreet as those from at-home brands.
Aesthetic preferences vary from person to person, so there’s no single right answer. You might like frosted aligners and your friend might prefer smooth ones. It’s all about deciding what you like best and rolling with it. We’ve given you our opinion, but you might have different priorities. So, even though they might not have made the top four, here are a few more companies we think you might want to check out.
Candid’s unique hybrid treatment starts in a dentist’s office, then transitions to remote monitoring via virtual check-ins. This process is more streamlined than regular in-person appointments, while still keeping a local dentist involved from start to finish. You’ll submit photos to your dentist and Candid’s team every 14 days, and each check-in only takes minutes.
Candid’s aligners use a premium plastic called Zendura FLX — which is matte and matches your real teeth — but they cut it straight across the top. Unlike their in-office competitors, Candid aligners can’t incorporate attachments, so they maintain a low profile.
3M Clarity Aligners
3M might be best known for their office and home supplies, but their Clarity Aligners are some of the most effective on the market. They give their orthodontist-only network unique ways to apply extra small attachments, including behind the teeth, hiding them completely. Their aligners have matte surfaces, so they mimic the surfaces of your teeth, but they’re cut straight across, overlapping your gums.
Still, Clarity’s attachment placement options make them one of the most discreet in-office aligner options.
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, Six Month Smiles is administered and monitored in person by a dentist, but like at-home treatments, the average treatment time is six months.
Depending on your specific condition, your dentist might include other attachments like “buttons” to anchor your aligners in place, or elastics to facilitate more intricate adjustments. While these attachments make your aligners more effective, they can also make them more visible.
Invisalign has over two decades of experience crafting smiles, and they’ve developed technology and materials that make their products both more effective and better looking. On their own, Invisalign’s aligners rival this guide’s top four in appearance. But if your case is severe or complicated, requiring drastic tooth and jaw movements, your dentist may supplement your treatment with various attachments, making your aligners more visible.
Even with attachments, Invisalign aligners are fairly discreet, so if you’re concerned about the severity of your condition, give them a look.
Administered in-person by your dentist, ClearCorrect treatment can include “auxiliaries” like buttons, elastics, or other attachments to apply increased or more directional force on your teeth. This makes ClearCorrect more effective for severe cases but also more noticeable.
Invisalign is more well-established, but ClearCorrect claims to charge dentists less for products and lab fees, so they could end up being less expensive for patients (depending on your case and dentist).
What Other Factors Should I Consider?
When you’re looking in the mirror, leaning in close, examining your teeth, it can be tough to focus on anything other than appearance. You might dream of that revamped smile, or imagining how you would look wearing clear aligners. Your aligners’ appearance is the most in-your-face factor, right there whenever you smile or look at your reflection.
But try not to fixate on it — you’ll want to consider several other factors as you make this decision. For example, you might prefer the appearance of one company’s aligners, but does their treatment time frame line up with your goals?
Besides appearance, we recommend considering four other factors:
- Patient Experience
Our comprehensive comparison takes all the above criteria into account. We understand that this is a deeply personal decision, and you may weigh certain aspects differently based on your particular circumstances. Just try not to get tunnel vision on a single aspect and block out all the others, or you could be in for some unwelcome surprises come treatment time!
When it comes to discreet orthodontic treatment, you have a lot of options — and although it may seem overwhelming, remember it’s a good thing! More choices mean you can select a provider that not only matches up with your aesthetic preferences, but your personal goals and your budget as well.
To identify the best fit for you, we encourage you to keep in mind everything we’ve discussed above. With all this information in your back pocket, you’ll be able to dive into a low-visibility treatment plan that’s customized to your needs. Best of luck on your smile journey!