On the surface, it might seem like Smilelove and byte have a lot in common. Both clear aligner services offer at-home teeth straightening, and both are newer to the scene than industry giant SmileDirectClub. But when you dig a bit deeper, there are actually some major differences between these companies’ service offerings that aren’t so apparent at first, especially considering Smilelove’s recent shutdown and customer service drop-off.
This guide will cover all the essential facts about byte and Smilelove, including Smilelove’s current predicament and why byte is a better option.
Smilelove has recently faced backlash from customers & the BBB for accepting new orders without being able to fulfill them. We strongly encourage our readers to consider a different provider at this time.
For a list of other affordable clear aligner products, visit our comparison of the 5 best home teeth straightening services.
Table of Contents
Overview and Recommendation
Bottom Line: byte is vastly more reliable and convenient.
For the majority of their short lives, both of these companies have been affordable and effective options. However, since March 2020, Smilelove has completely fallen off the map. They’ve stopped providing products and customer service to customers, even after accepting their payments. Fortunately, byte is thriving as the fastest home aligner company out there. It’s no question: byte is the far better choice.
Why do we rank byte higher than Smilelove? Two reasons:
- Faster Treatment Time: Thanks to their proprietary HyperByte device, which uses gentle vibrations to enable faster teeth movements, byte has the industry’s most efficient treatment times. On average, they can achieve the desired results in just 3 months. Smilelove isn’t even providing treatment right now, so if you purchase it, your timeline will be indefinite.
- Personalized Customer Support: byte’s customer support is a cut above most of the competition. They assign each customer a personal byte advisor, who checks in to answer questions and concerns throughout the treatment process. No other home aligner company does this. Plus, customers repeatedly express satisfaction with byte’s customer care. Smilelove’s customer service, on the other hand, has gone completely dark and hasn’t responded to customer questions in months.
Plus, Smilelove has still been accepting money from customers even though they can’t fill their orders, so byte is really the only way to go.
One of the biggest questions facing you as you investigate home aligner treatments is: how well do they work? All home aligner companies can confidently correct mild and moderate cases of crowding and spacing, but certain ones go a step further by ensuring quality products and processes.
byte facilitates faster treatment times than anyone else while using quality products and innovative technology. Smilelove isn’t currently following through on any of their treatments, which makes them pretty ineffective in our book.
- Works with dentists and orthodontists, but guarantees that an orthodontist will be involved in every treatment.
- Unclear who they partner with for manufacturing
- Cuts aligners straight across the top for extra power
- HyperByte technology decreases the average treatment time to 3 months
- Not currently fulfilling any orders or completing any ongoing treatments.
byte’s dental team includes orthodontists and general dentists, but they work in tandem to create aligner plans, so an orthodontist is involved in every treatment (although it’s unclear how much).
Why does it matter? Orthodontists receive several years of specialized training, so they can spot and address even the most subtle alignment issues. Having an orthodontist contributing to your care increases the likelihood of an outstanding adjustment, and reduces the risk of something going wrong during your treatment.
Smilelove’s team once consisted of only orthodontists. Since their shutdown and reopening, though, it doesn’t appear that these professionals are actively reviewing any cases.
The construction, design, and materials in your aligners can have a huge impact on your treatment’s effectiveness.
Smilelove used to produce all of their aligners using plastics from Essix, a high-quality, well-respected dental supplies company. So, you can be sure that their products are made from sturdy and reliable materials. However, it’s not clear if Essix has chosen to continue their partnership with Smilelove considering the circumstances.
While we assume that they partner with a trusted manufacturer, byte doesn’t disclose who makes their aligners. Even so, we’ve encountered very few reviews that take issue with the quality of byte’s products.
Here’s where byte really runs away with it. They have the fastest treatment out there with a standard timeline of around 3 months. Even their nighttime-only treatment, which lasts 4-6 months, can beat other companies’ timelines.
In the past, Smilelove’s typical treatment time was 6-8 months. Now, since they’re not providing any new treatments, it’s indefinite.
Believe it or not, the way that your aligners are cut can have an influence on their effectiveness as well.
Smilelove trims their aligners to match your gum line, while byte cuts theirs straight across so that they overlap the gums. This overlap might make your aligners slightly more visible, but it also makes them more effective. How? The gums help to anchor your aligners in place, giving them a point of leverage they can use to exert up to 4x more force to move your teeth.
When Smilelove says that their scalloped aligners are less visible, they aren’t lying, but know that it may also make them less effective.
Without the expense of regular office visits and face-to-face dentist care, all home aligner companies are reasonably affordable, but Smilelove has historically gone the extra mile, offering promotional discounts that drop their costs $100 – $400 below the industry average.
Now, however, their price is just average, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the aligners you purchase. byte offers treatment for the same price and you can be confident that you’ll receive it.
- $1,895 sticker price ($2,295 for byte At-Night)
- Includes aftercare retainers in the initial cost
- Impression kit is $95
- Financing requires a down payment, but everyone is approved
- $1,895 sticker price
- Charges an extra $300 for complex cases
- The initial payment includes aftercare retainers.
- Impression kit is also included in the sticker price.
- Financing requires a down payment, but everyone is approved
Early on, Smilelove established themselves as the most affordable home aligner option, the one with frequent $100-400 discounts. But since their closure and subsequent reopening, Smilelove hasn’t given any indication that they’ll resume this pricing model. In fact, they’ve made their aligeners more expensive for certain cases by implementing a $300 Complex Case Adjustment for any case that requires more than 20 steps (40 aligners).
byte also charges $1,895, but doesn’t offer discounts that are quite as hefty. And even though byte’s initial price includes the cost of retainers, it doesn’t cover your impression kit, which is an extra $95.
And if you’re after byte’s nighttime-only treatment (byte At-Night), you’ll end up paying $2,295, which is a bit higher.
Payment Plan Options
Even after discounts, clear aligners aren’t exactly cheap. You might not be ready to pay $1,500 – $1,900 right away, and that’s okay. Each company offers financing plans that can break the cost into more manageable monthly payments.
- byte’s standard $83/month, 29-month payment plan requires a $349 down payment, while byte At-Night requires a $449 down payment, followed by $99 monthly payments. Either way, you’re guaranteed approval for financing. You’ll also get a 5-year “Smile Protection Plan,” which provides biannual retainer replacement and two free replacements for lost or stolen retainers.
- Smilelove’s 12-, 18-, and 24-month plans require a $250 down payment, but just like byte’s, everyone is approved, regardless of credit score. Based on their website, it seems like Smilelove still offers these rates, but we don’t know how long their third-party financing partners will be willing to stick it out with them.
These financing options are fairly similar. Your monthly payments, however, will be different based on which company you choose and the length of your plan. But with either company, you won’t have to worry about passing a formal credit check in order to qualify.
byte’s financing plans have interest, so it can cost more in the long run, so it’s cheaper to pay up front if you can swing it. Smilelove’s plans, on the other hand, have 0% APR, so it costs the same as paying in one lump sum.
Both companies include free whitening to accompany your aligners, which is a nice touch that allows you to brighten your smile while you straighten your teeth. byte also includes their HyperByte device with your treatment cost. This is a huge benefit to you, as HyperByte is what makes byte’s 3-month treatment time possible, and it’s $699 bought separately.
Go with either of these companies and you’ll get a strong value, especially when compared to Invisalign or braces, which will typically set you back $5,000 or more.
If you’re sold on home aligners, it’s likely in part because of their incredibly convenient experience. From impression kit to final smile, you can complete the entire process without leaving your house. Any home aligner company is going to be convenient when compared to in-office options, but byte is especially so. Not only do they maintain an industry-best 3-month treatment time, but they offer other perks that can make the process much more convenient.
Smilelove, however, is the exception. Because they’re not currently providing products or refunds to paying customers, we consider them much less convenient than any other treatment, either in-office or at-home.
- No physical locations that offer teeth scans, so you’ll need to use an impression kit
- Takes 4 weeks to design, produce, and ship your aligners.
- Allows you to use aligners and whitening products simultaneously
- Offers a nighttime-only option that requires aligner use for only 10 hours per day.
- Average treatment time is 3 months (or 4-6 for byte At-Night treatment)
- Not currently fulfilling any orders or completing any ongoing treatments.
Once you’ve decided to dive into home aligner treatment, you’ll probably want to get the ball rolling right away. But before byte or Smilelove can design your treatment plan, they need to get a look at your teeth.
This usually involves creating molds of your top and bottom arches with an impression kit. It sounds simple, but many customers report struggling with this first step. Taking impressions isn’t always easy if you’ve never done it before. But if you choose either of these companies, you don’t have a choice – an impression kit is the only way to get started. Larger companies like SmileDirectClub and Candid have established physical locations where you can get free teeth scans, but byte and Smilelove don’t yet offer this option.
Smilelove is still selling impression kits, but according to customer reviews, their dentists and orthodontists aren’t currently analyzing them to create treatment plans and aligners.
Home aligner companies don’t just transform your smile by realigning it; they also provide whitening products to help it sparkle. Both byte and Smilelove provide free whitening with their treatments, but Smilelove’s whitening process is a little less convenient.
With byte, your straightening and whitening processes are simultaneous. Just pump the BrightByte foam into your aligners and it will whiten all day. Smilelove, on the other hand, doesn’t recommend using their aligners and whitening simultaneously. Instead, they’ll ship you the whitening kit after you’ve completed your treatment plan, so it might take a bit longer to achieve the smile you want.
Because home aligner treatment is a completely remote process, there’s some back-and-forth involved with getting started. The company will send you an impression kit and you’ll return molds of your teeth. Then, if the impressions are acceptable, the company’s dental professionals will develop your treatment plan and send it back to you. At this point, you’ll decide whether or not you’d like to continue with treatment. If so, the company will produce and ship your aligners.
The companies want to ensure your treatment quality and safety, so producing your aligners isn’t necessarily a quick process. You won’t find them waiting on your doorstep the day after finishing your impression kit. Go with byte and you can expect this entire process to take around 4 weeks (depending on how quickly you return your impressions). With Smilelove, you’ll need to wait for when they get their production back up and running, if they ever do.
Think about your life with aligners, wearing them 22+ hours per day, only removing them to eat and drink, switching to a new set every week. Sound reasonable? Great! But if you don’t think you could work this commitment into your schedule, a nighttime-only option could be the right move for you. This is a relatively recent trend in the home aligner industry, and currently, only three companies offer it: byte, SmileDirectClub, and AlignerCo.
The idea is that you wear each set of aligners for 10 hours per day instead of the usual 22, and switch to the next set after two weeks instead of one. Of course, this extends byte’s overall timeline, but not by a whole lot. byte specially crafts their nighttime aligners using designs and materials that can exert more force over shorter periods of time. So, byte At-Night often takes 4-6 months compared to the 3-month average for All-Day treatment. Either way, it’s nice to have a flexible option if you don’t think an all-day schedule will work for you.
Smilelove doesn’t currently offer a nighttime-only option. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if more home aligner companies started jumping on this trend soon.
One of the main reasons many adults choose clear aligners is to avoid all the metal of traditional braces. But each company’s home aligners are unique, so each will look a little different on your teeth. What matters is making sure your aligners suit your aesthetic preferences.
Every person has their own unique aesthetic preferences, so this category is fairly subjective. You’ll want to keep your own likes and dislikes in mind as you consider each company.
- Uses a smooth, translucent, shiny plastic
- Uses straight-cut aligners that slightly overlap your gums.
- Reasonably stain resistant.
- Uses a smooth, translucent, shiny plastic.
- Scallops their aligners to match your gum line.
- Reasonably stain resistant.
In the home aligner industry, there are two prevailing opinions on plastics. The first is that translucent, smooth plastic makes aligners less visible. And the second argues that textured, frosted aligners better match natural teeth surfaces.
We tend to agree with the second opinion, but byte and Smilelove do not. Both companies craft their aligners from clear, smooth plastic. Smilelove states that this clarity makes their aligners better looking than their competitors’ matte ones. While we think that this style can make your teeth look artificially shiny, everyone has different tastes, and some customers prefer it.
In the “effectiveness” section, we stated that Smilelove’s scalloped aligners are less powerful because they can’t use your gums as leverage. Aligners that overlap your gums, like byte’s, can be more effective, but this overlap can also be more visible. Therefore, Smilelove’s design gives their aligners a slight advantage in appearance.
Both companies make aligners that are resistant to staining, but we would not recommend drinking colored beverages while wearing them. byte’s FAQ page states that their aligners are 88% more stain-resistant than their competitors, but it’s unclear how they determined this.
No one will notice your aligners if you’re not wearing them. By providing the option for nighttime-only treatment, byte allows you to avoid wearing aligners in public altogether. So, if you don’t want to wear them at work, school, or other daytime social gatherings, you don’t have to. Smilelove doesn’t have a nighttime treatment, so you don’t have this option.
Customer Service Comparison
As you weigh your options, keep in mind that you’ll be completing this entire process on your own. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have support. Every home aligner company offers customer service options, but they’re not all equally helpful.
Whether you have a simple question about treatment or there’s an issue with your aligners, byte is committed to providing exceptional customer support. Smilelove once had an unrivaled refund policy, but since their shutdown and policy changes, they haven’t been sending their customers refunds or responding to customer service inquiries.
byte Customer Service
Smilelove Customer Service
- Offers standard communication avenues and will respond on social media as well
- Receives consistently positive customer reviews
- The byte-For-Life guarantee ensures your smile forever.
- Provides each customer with a personal byte advisor to answer questions
- According to online reviews, Smilelove’s customer service hasn’t responded to any questions or concerns since March 2020.
byte is available during standard business hours on a variety of support platforms – phone, webchat, email, and will also respond on social media.
Smilelove used to offer support via phone, email, and web chat. Now, however, they only allow current customers to submit support tickets after logging in. And online reviewers say that they aren’t even responding to these tickets.
Responsiveness & Helpfulness
To get a better sense of each company’s customer service experience, we read and watched numerous online reviews. After compiling review data and testing out their support channels for ourselves, we determined that byte’s customer service isn’t just better than Smilelove’s, but better than nearly all of their competitors.
Reviewers indicate that byte’s support team is responsive and friendly, resolving questions and issues efficiently. They assign each customer a byte advisor who is available to answer questions throughout the entire treatment process. No other home aligner company offers a comparable level of personalized support.
Smilelove’s customer reviews used to be generally positive, save for a few complaints about their efficiency. But since March 2020, customers have reported that Smilelove has been completely unresponsive on all platforms.
byte has the home aligner industry’s only lifetime warranty. Their byte-for-life guarantee ensures your smile for life. If your teeth ever shift, they will provide free treatment to correct them, even years down the road. This only applies, however, to the teeth originally affected by your treatment, not any others.
Once again, we should note that customers have reported Smilelove is not currently providing refunds, even for customers who have paid full price and have not received any products.
byte Company Background
Smilelove Company Background
- Founded in 2018
- Quickly gained popularity due to their innovative technology and excellent customer service.
- Currently one of the industry’s most promising new companies.
- Founded in 2017
- Dug out a space as an affordable home aligner option.
- Had a growing customer base before their shutdown.
Smilelove and byte are both relatively young companies who have made waves in the home aligner field through their innovative policies and procedures. Founded in 2017 and 2018, respectively, they each got to work making themselves stand out against industry giants like SmileDirectClub and Candid.
byte is the brainchild of Dr. Jon Marashi D.D.S., whose star-studded patient list includes celebrities like Ben Affleck, Ryan Seacrest, and Kate Hudson. With byte, he brought his A-list orthodontic procedures to a wider base of patients. The HyperByte device, which cuts treatment times in half, and Smile Science technology, which matches your smile with your facial features, garnered immediate attention. Since its conception, byte has grown rapidly in popularity and customers.
Smilelove didn’t rise as rapidly as byte, but this allowed them to focus on occupying a separate industry niche: affordability. While byte has established itself as the most reliable and trustworthy choice, Smilelove aimed to become one of the most cost-effective, providing quality care on a budget. However, due to financial struggles, they had to cease operations, leaving their growing customer base stranded. Right now, we’d advise you to avoid Smilelove, as it appears that they’re not currently delivering products or refunds, and it’s unclear whether their new business model will work out.
Which Home Teeth Aligner Should You Use?
byte all the way. Purchasing anything from Smilelove right now is a huge risk, since there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually receive what you bought. Choose byte and you won’t just get a reliable home aligner service; you’ll get ultra-fast treatment times, high-quality products, and personalized customer service as well.
Choose byte if You Are:
Looking to complete your treatment ASAP with high-quality products and excellent customer service, and don’t mind working with a less-experienced company.
Choose Smilelove if You Are:
Set on working with them despite their recent changes and unresponsiveness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Smilelove out of business?
After some financial struggles and a hard hit from COVID-19, Smilelove shut down their operations in March. Since then, they’ve reopened with a new business model, although they still haven’t provided refunds or started shipping aligners again, even though they’re taking new orders.
Even the Better Business Bureau took notice, giving an official warning to potential Smilelove customers. Check out our “What Happened to Smilelove?” guide for the full story.
Should I choose byte or Smilelove?
Definitely byte. They’re the fastest company on the market, plus they deliver quality care and excellent customer service. Smilelove briefly shut down due to financial difficulties and even though they’ve begun taking new orders, they haven’t provided refunds or shipments to existing customers. Our advice? Avoid them. Read through our full reviews on byte and Smilelove for more information.
How do I get started with byte or Smilelove?
You can start your byte treatment or Smilelove treatment by buying and completing an impression kit. This involves creating molds of your teeth using a special putty, then returning them to the company. Even though Smilelove is still accepting new customers, current customers report that they aren’t shipping products or issuing refunds, so be very careful if you’re considering them.
What are customers saying about byte and Smilelove?
byte customers rave about everything from customer service to their results, so it appears that they provide an excellent customer experience. Smilelove, on the other hand, has received a slew of negative reviews recently from understandably frustrated customers who have not been able to contact Smilelove or get a refund for their suspended treatment.
What is the fastest home aligner company?
byte. Their average treatment takes just 3 months, while most other home aligner companies take around 6. Even byte At-Night takes 4-6 months, right around the industry average.
What is the most effective home aligner company?
The front runners are byte and Candid. Candid’s orthodontist-directed care and Remote Monitoring, along with byte’s lightning-fast treatment time (3 months on average), puts these two a head and shoulders above the rest. Check out other effective treatments in our Top 3 Most Effective Home Aligners guide.
Do byte and Smilelove offer financing plans?
Yes, both have payment plans that make their prices more manageable. The best part is that neither one requires a formal credit check, so everyone qualifies. byte’s bytepay requires a $349 down payment, then $83 per month for 29 months (for standard All-Day treatment). Historically, Smilelove’s plan has been around $79 per month, but it’s unclear how that might change in their new business model.
What is the cheapest home aligner company?
AlignerCo. At just $1,145, their price beats every competitor by a few hundred dollars, and sometimes they run promotions that drop it even lower. And if you can’t pay that up front, you can jump on a financing plan, regardless of your credit score. Check out our complete AlignerCo review for more info, or find other great-value options in our guide to the most affordable home aligners.
Can byte and Smilelove treat underbite, overbite, etc.?
Not usually. Home aligners are designed to treat mild and moderate cases of crowding and spacing. Most often, jaw misalignments require a more robust, in-office treatment like braces or Invisalign, one that has face-to-face orthodontist oversight and incorporates attachments like elastics.
How do byte and Smilelove compare to Invisalign?
Both treatments use a series of clear aligners to shift your teeth. The major difference is that your dentist or orthodontist will administer Invisalign in-office and can incorporate supplement attachments (elastics, buttons, etc.).
As a result, Invisalign can treat just about any condition that braces can. Home aligners don’t require office visits, so they can’t employ attachments and they have a smaller range of treatable cases. Take a look at our Smilelove vs. Invisalign and byte vs. Invisalign guides for a deeper analysis.
How long does home aligner treatment take?
In most cases, 6 months. Your timeline could be shorter or longer, though, depending on your condition’s severity and how consistently you wear your aligners. And if you choose byte, your treatment will move a bit faster. They use “HyperByte” technology to achieve faster teeth shifts, completing most treatments in 3 months instead of 6.
What other companies should I consider?
Candid, AlignerCo, and SnapCorrect are all worth a look. Each one has its own advantages. AlignerCo offers the industry’s lowest prices, SmileDirectClub has the most experience and brand power, and SnapCorrect provides free whitening for life. Read through our guide to the top 5 home aligner companies for more on each option.
How much do home aligners cost?
They go for $1,200 – $2,500, depending on which company you choose. AlignerCo, for example, has cut out the bells and whistles to provide effective treatment at just $1,145. While Candid, who provides extensive Remote Monitoring, costs $2,400. Even the most expensive home aligners are still much cheaper than the $3,000 – $8,000 you’ll pay for Invisalign or braces.
Does insurance cover home aligners?
Sometimes, but not often. Many insurance providers don’t cover cosmetic treatments, which includes home aligners. If your plan includes orthodontic benefits, though, you might receive a partial reimbursement. The only way to know for sure is to contact your provider directly.
Are home aligners 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. PlusDent’s regular virtual check-ins help to prevent any complications or issues throughout treatment.
Do home 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.