When it comes to adult orthodontic treatment, there’s a general consensus: the less visible, the better. Crowded, spaced, or otherwise misaligned teeth might have you feeling less than 100% comfortable with your smile, but the idea of wearing metal braces might seem like a high price to pay. Luckily, the days of traditional braces as the only avenue to straighter teeth are no longer. Today, many adults opt to straighten their teeth using discreet, removable clear aligners.
If you did some research before arriving at this guide, you’re probably aware that there are a variety of clear aligners out there today — from in-office options like Invisalign to at-home aligner systems like SmileDirectClub. And if appearance is at the top of your priority list, you’re probably wondering: which clear aligner is truly the least noticeable?
While every brand claims their aligners are the most discreet, in reality there’s no objective “best-looking” aligner. Not everyone agrees whether shiny or frosted plastic looks best, or whether a scalloped or straight cut is less noticeable.
Still, there’s no denying that these various aligners contain subtle aesthetic differences, and we have a few recommendations for which ones we think look the best. To keep things concise, we’ve created a shortlist of the 4 best-looking clear aligners available. If you want a broad view of all your options, we encourage you to read on as we discuss what other providers have to offer and why they didn’t make the top 4.
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How Visible Are Clear Aligners?
Every clear aligner company we reviewed uses clear, BPA-free plastic to produce their aligners, which makes them nearly invisible on your teeth, much less noticeable than traditional braces. These aligners are designed specifically for your teeth based on impressions you provide, so they’ll fit snugly over your top and/or bottom arches, nothing jutting out.
Some brands’ clear aligners are completely clear and smooth, while others are “frosted.” It might seem like clear and smooth is the less-visible option, but we found that these options can actually be reflective and that the frosted options better match the natural matte appearance of your teeth. This difference, however, is small, and both options still keep a fairly low profile.
All that said, no clear aligner is 100% invisible. If you look closely, you’ll be able to see the material covering your teeth, but it wouldn’t be noticeable sitting across from a friend. Plus, clear aligners are removable, so if you don’t want to risk them showing up in photos or during a special occasion, you can take them out. Just don’t forget to put them back in!
The 4 Best Looking Clear Aligners
Compared to braces — even clear/ceramic braces — clear aligners are much less visible, regardless of which brand you choose. However, certain companies stand out as even more appearance-conscious, working hard to give their aligners the lowest profile out there.
When you’re considering at-home vs. in-office options, remember that in-office aligners can be outfitted with appliances like elastics and other attachments. This greatly enhances their ability to shift your teeth and jaw, but it also makes them more visible. But here’s the thing about at-home aligners: on their websites, all clear aligner companies are going to say that their product is the best looking. So who do you trust?
We have our own opinion on the topic, based on a whole lot of research, so we’ve ranked our favorite aligners in terms of aesthetics here. But keep in mind that your preference might be different than ours, and that’s okay!
Candid is committed to providing a top-quality product, and this includes their appearance. Their partnership with a highly-reputable producer, orthodontist-exclusive review team, and attention to detail make them a fantastic all-around choice that looks great too.
- Candid’s aligners are slightly “frosted” rather than smooth, which better matches a natural tooth surface.
- Their partnership with ClearCorrect, the nation’s second-largest aligner manufacturer, means that their aligners are consistent in both appearance and effectiveness.
- Candid’s aligners are relatively stain-resistant, but should still be removed before eating or drinking (except water)
- Candid cuts their aligners straight across the top instead of scalloping them to the gumline, which can be slightly more visible, but can also increase their effectiveness.
Candid - The Bottom Line
For a company that prioritizes quality and customer service, plus produces a great-looking aligner, Candid could be an ideal choice.
Special Offer: 65% off the purchase of your Candid Starter Kit
A relative newcomer to the clear aligner game, byte has rapidly ascended the ranks because they offer the fastest treatment time available (3 months on average), and use innovative technology to improve their effectiveness. Plus, their aligners look pretty good too.
- Unlike Candid, byte uses a smooth plastic in their aligners. This can sometimes make your teeth appear unnaturally shiny, but byte customers often like this, as they say that it makes their smiles gleam.
- Byte’s website claims that their aligners are 88% more stain-resistant than their competitors. But you’ll still want to remove them before eating or drinking anything other than water.
- Byte’s “Smile Science” software takes your entire facial structure into consideration when developing your treatment plan, crafting a smile that suits your unique features.
- Similar to Candid, byte’s aligners are cut straight across, not along the gumline. 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 that it makes your teeth seem unnaturally shiny.
byte - The Bottom Line
If you like the idea of a shiny smile and the fastest treatment times in the business, byte might just be a great option for you.
Special Offer: 70% off byte Impression Kit + $100 off aligners
SmileDirectClub is the most experienced, well-known home aligner option on the market. Established in 2014, they’ve transformed over 700,000 smiles to date. They offer attractive aligners and is the only company out there with a nighttime-only option.
- SmileDirectClub uses a slightly-matte plastic in their aligners, which matches the matte surfaces of real teeth.
- Their nighttime-only aligners only require you to wear them for 10 hours per day (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!
- Like most other clear aligners, SmileDirectClub’s are relatively stain-resistant, although you should still remove them before eating or drinking.
- Like Candid and byte, SmileDirectClub’s aligners are cut straight across rather than along the gumline, making them slightly more visible, but also potentially more effective.
- As of Fall, 2019, SmileDirectClub will no longer be working with its longtime manufacturer Aligntech (the company behind Invisalign), so their aligner appearance and quality could change in the coming months.
Smilelove’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 a good looking, highly-discreet aligner. Their marketing campaigns claim that Smilelove aligners are less visible than the competitors, but this is subject to personal preference.
- Smilelove 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.”
- Their aligners are scalloped to match the gumline instead of cut straight across. Aligners that overlap the gums can sometimes be more visible.
- Like many other clear aligners, Smilelove’s are relatively stain-resistant, but that doesn’t mean you should leave them in when you eat and drink.
- 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.
Smilelove - The Bottom Line
Prefer smooth and shiny aligners that fit your gumline? Operating on a tight budget? Don’t pass up Smilelove.
Special Offer: $300 off + free whitening kit
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 can potentially be more visible because they sometimes incorporate additional appliances like elastics and expanders, but on their own, the clear aligners are just as discreet as those from at-home brands.
Honestly, there’s no one right answer, because aesthetic preferences vary from person to person. 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.
SnapCorrect: SnapCorrect is similar to Smilelove in many ways. They’re a relatively new, cost-effective option with fairly inconspicuous aligners. Like Smilelove, their aligners use a smooth, clear plastic and are cut to follow the gumline. This smooth plastic doesn’t quite match a tooth’s natural appearance, but as mentioned earlier, some people prefer this shininess.
You won’t find a ton of online reviews about SnapCorrect because they’re still pretty new, but they can be a good option for anyone who wants a less expensive treatment and likes the reflective shine of smooth plastic aligners.
Six Month Smile Clear Aligners: 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 (as the name suggests) 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: The clear aligner originator 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 4” in appearance. But if your case is severe or complicated, requiring drastic tooth and jaw movements, your dentist may supplant 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.
ClearCorrect: ClearCorrect is the second-largest clear aligner producer in the U.S., trailing only Invisalign. Administered in-office by your dentist, these aligners 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 the more well-established in-office aligner company, 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, leaned in close, examining your teeth, it can be tough to focus on anything other than appearance. You might be dreaming 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 don’t let that tempt you to fixate on it — you’ll want to consider a number of 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?
In addition to appearance, we recommend considering four other factors:
- Customer support
Our comprehensive comparison takes all of 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.
In order 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!