If you’re one of the many adults seeking corrective treatment for your crowding, home aligners are an excellent option. These systems offer inconspicuous, affordable crowding treatment from home, so they’re ideal for busy adults on a budget.
But it’s important to do some research before diving into treatment. This guide will discuss the types of crowding that home aligners can treat, a few of the best home aligner brands for teeth crowding, and some alternatives in case home aligners aren’t a good fit for you.
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What Is Teeth Crowding?
Crowding occurs when there isn’t enough space in the dental arches, causing tooth displacement, overlap, and rotation. While it most commonly appears in the front six top or bottom teeth, it can occur anywhere on the upper or lower dental arches.
Although most cases are not cause for serious medical concern, teeth crowding can make flossing and brushing more difficult. Plus, it can make you doubt yourself and your smile. Those are reasons enough to get your teeth straightened, but they’re not the only potential symptoms.
Since crowded teeth distribute your bite pressure unevenly, they can cause jaw pain, headaches, and uneven wear on your enamel. They can also trap plaque in hard-to-reach places, making them harder to clean. That puts you at greater risk of cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health concerns.
What Causes Teeth Crowding?
Crowding is often an issue of insufficient space — like a jaw that’s too small for the teeth, or simply too many teeth for the space available. This forces them to compete for space, often pushing together and overlapping.
However, crowding can also occur if you lose your baby teeth too early or too late. Losing them prematurely can cause your permanent teeth to drift, while losing them too late can make them erupt at an irregular angle.
Finally, teeth can shift and crowd as we get older. As the jaw bone and its connecting ligaments weaken with age, it’s quite common for middle-aged and older adults to notice crowding — especially overlapping bottom front teeth — that may not have been present at a younger age.
How Do Home Teeth Aligners Work?
Home teeth aligners are exactly what they sound like: aligners designed to treat dental concerns from home, without the added cost or hassle of making regular trips to the dentist. But what does the process of home teeth alignment actually entail?
To get the ball rolling, you’ll usually take impressions of your teeth using a kit from your provider (though some offer in-person scans as well). Then, you’ll mail the impressions back to them for their team of dentists to review. If the dentist in charge of your case determines that home aligners aren’t the right fit for you, the company will often refund you for the cost of the kit — usually around $49–$99.
After this step, your provider will use your impressions to design a series of custom aligners, and you should receive them in about one month. From there, it’s up to you to wear your aligners for 22+ hours each day — or ten hours if you choose a nighttime-only plan — keep up with your oral hygiene routine, and progress through the series of aligners as directed.
Can Home Aligners Fix Teeth Crowding?
Yes! Home teeth aligners were originally developed as a more discreet solution to minor or moderate crowding and spacing issues, so they could work for you.
Cases that stem from irregular teeth alignment — not an undersized jaw or bite misalignment — are often simple fixes and great candidates for home aligner treatment.
But if your jaw is too small for all your dental eruptions, it can also cause teeth to overlap, twist, and protrude at different angles. A disharmony between teeth and jaw may occur alongside a bite condition (like overjet or overbite), making treatment somewhat more complex. This doesn’t mean home aligners are completely ineffective in these cases, but you might be seeking skeletal and dental shifts that require a more robust treatment plan. It’s best to have your smile evaluated by a dental professional first if you think your case may be too complex for home aligners.
The Best Home Aligners for Crowding
Perform a quick Google search for home aligners and you’ll find a handful of companies offering quick, convenient, and affordable at-home treatment. But each provider is different, and some are simply more versatile and reliable than others. We’ve combed the Internet for information on these companies and developed a profile for each.
We’ve narrowed our list down to three of the best home aligner options for crowding issues:
Byte is one of the most innovative aligner treatments on the market. They provide a high-frequency vibration device called HyperByte — which is intended to reduce discomfort — and claim their average treatment plan length is just 4–5 months. Plus, they put a lifetime guarantee on your smile, and for those who’d prefer not to wear aligners all day, they offer “At-Night” aligners designed with thick, grind-resistant plastic.
- Byte claims their average treatment plan length is just 4–5 months.
- Byte includes their high-frequency vibration device, the HyperByte, in the cost of your aligner bundle. There’s evidence that devices like this may provide a more comfortable aligner fit and faster dental shifts for some people.
- The Byte-For-Life guarantee provides new aligners if your teeth ever shift, as long as you continue purchasing and wearing their retainers as directed.
- Their financing plans don’t require a credit check, so everyone qualifies.
- Byte-At-Night only requires ten hours of continuous wear per day instead of the usual 22.
- Byte includes one set of aftercare retainers for free.
- Byte doesn’t currently have any retail locations, so you’ll need to order an impression kit to get started.
- Byte’s $1,999 price tag is just average for the industry.
If your crowding condition is mild or moderate in severity, Byte can probably deliver the results you’re after. Of course, not every case is eligible, so you’ll need to submit impressions of your teeth for Byte’s team of dentists to review before proceeding with treatment.
Want to see what real Byte customers have to say? Check out these authentic reviews from customers who used Byte for teeth crowding.
Candid has blazed a trail in the world of tooth alignment by blending elements of traditional and remote care. Their hybrid at-home and in-office treatment model kicks off with a dentist visit, where you get an examination and digital scan. After that, you’ll complete regular check-ins using the CandidApp and CandidMonitoring kit — no additional office visits required.
- Candid has a network of 300+ dentists, and they’re adding more all the time.
- The local dentist who examined you in-person will collaborate with Candid throughout the entire treatment process. Fully remote teeth alignment services like Byte and SmileDirectClub don’t offer this benefit.
- Since your dentist performs a 3D scan, you get to skip the impression kit.
- CandidMonitoring lets your dentist and Candid’s team evaluate your progress every step of the way, helping your treatment stay on track.
- Candid’s aligners are made from Zendura FLX plastic, so they’re flexible, durable, and powerful.
- Candid treatment typically costs $3,500+, which is more than any other at-home aligner company and pretty similar to most in-office treatments
- Financing varies between doctors, but isn’t always available.
Candid can confidently treat mild-to-moderate crowding cases that are uncomplicated by bite misalignments or other conditions. Their aligners can treat some bite issues, but usually only minor ones. Like Byte, a dentist will have to review the condition of your teeth in order to determine your eligibility. However, unlike Byte, you’ll be getting that review in person from a dentist you choose.
SmileDirectClub is easily the best-known brand of home teeth aligners on the market today. They’ve been straightening teeth since 2014 and served over 1.5 million customers to date. With over 100 SmileShops and a nighttime-only treatment option, they’re a highly convenient service. Plus, they have a lifetime smile warranty and extensive refund policies.
- SmileDirectClub has over 100 SmileShops and 1,000+ partnering dentists located across the U.S. where you can get a free teeth scan and skip the impression kit.
- Through SmilePay, every customer can receive financing, no credit check required.
- SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners allow you to complete your treatment by wearing aligners for just ten hours per day.
- Their Lifetime Smile Guarantee will provide new aligners if your teeth shift out of place in the future, as long as you purchase two sets of retainers every year and wear them as directed.
- SmileDirectClub issues full refunds within the first 30 days of treatment and partial refunds after that.
- SmileDirectClub has a mixed track record of customer service quality.
- They charge an additional $125 fee for retainers after treatment.
All that said, SmileDirectClub’s aligners have shown effectiveness in treating mild-to-moderate crowding. Submit your teeth impressions and a licensed dentist will determine whether to get the ball rolling on your treatment.
Want to see what real SmileDirectClub customers have to say? Check out these authentic reviews from customers who used SmileDirectClub for teeth crowding.
What Are My Other Options?
Everything you’ve read so far might make home aligners sound like an unrivaled solution to teeth crowding. And while it’s a great option for many crowding cases, it’s not the only one. If you discover that you’re not a candidate for home aligners, or you’d simply be more comfortable with in-person treatment, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the alternatives.
The longest-standing crowding treatment, braces are sturdy, consistent, and can achieve impressive results. Since an orthodontist will administer and monitor your braces treatment in-office, they can also add various appliances — like elastics, palatal expanders, forsus springs, and more — to facilitate more drastic or complex tooth and jaw movements.
When they think of braces, many adults picture the traditional, highly visible metal brackets, but that’s not the only option anymore. Now, they come in lower-profile styles, like clear braces or lingual braces (which go behind the teeth). Braces’ average price is much higher than home aligners — around $3,000–$7,000 — but they can definitely deliver dramatic, versatile results.
Invisalign was the first widely available clear aligner treatment, and it’s been correcting teeth crowding for over two decades. If you’re looking for clear aligner treatment, but don’t feel comfortable doing it at home, Invisalign could be a great option. It’s administered entirely during office visits with your dentist, so they can course-correct along the way by implementing appliances like elastics or Invisalign’s Smartforce attachments.
This increased facetime with your dentist may provide more confidence in your smile transformation, but it will come at a higher price — $3,000–$8,000 on average.
If you’re set on in-office clear aligner treatment, but aren’t sold on Invisalign, look into ClearCorrect, one of Invisalign’s biggest competitors. Their process is almost identical to Invisalign — your dentist or orthodontist will evaluate your condition, then administer the aligners and evaluate your progress during regular office visits.
These aligners can also incorporate attachments to treat severe cases and bite misalignments. ClearCorrect isn’t as experienced or prolific as Invisalign, but they charge dentists less for lab fees and have multiple plans — including one where you pay per aligner — so your treatment might be more affordable.
Another one of Invisalign’s oldest competitors, SureSmile launched its clear aligners in 2007. It can treat the same scope of misalignments as Invisalign, and the company says that their patients are less likely to need refinements after treatment. Despite this, they boast lower prices and, since they don’t have a specific mandatory scanner, providers can save money and pass those savings on to you.
3M Clarity Aligners
3M — the company behind Scotch Tape and Post-Its — creates clear aligners with incredible teeth-moving power thanks to their unique attachment placement. Clarity Aligners are only available to orthodontists, who can use two different proprietary materials to deliver a treatment highly customized to your condition. Since 3M also makes Clarity Clear Braces, orthodontists can also design a combination treatment that uses them simultaneously with aligners.
Teeth crowding might have you stressing about your smile, but don’t worry — plenty of treatments that give you newfound confidence in those pearly whites, including home aligners. Companies like Byte and SmileDirectClub are revamping the way adults with teeth crowding transform their smiles, offering a convenient, unobtrusive, and affordable solution. If one or more home aligner providers caught your eye, order an impression kit and if you’re not a candidate, they’ll provide a full refund.
Of course, your teeth are solely your business, and choosing a treatment (or declining treatment altogether) is a personal decision. Using the research in this guide, paired with a dentist’s consultation, you’ll be equipped to choose the ideal treatment path for your lifestyle, finances, and brilliant smile.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best treatment for teeth crowding?
It depends on your specific case and circumstances. Braces are a popular solution, particularly for severe crowding and cases that involve a bite misalignment. Invisalign is similarly powerful and a good option for people who want or need in-person care, but would rather avoid brackets and wires. If you have a milder case, you can also complete treatment remotely with an at-home clear aligner service like Byte or SmileDirectClub.
What causes dental crowding?
Crowding typically comes from insufficient space — because your jaw is too small for your teeth, your teeth are too big, or you have extra teeth. When these teeth compete for limited space, they can overlap each other. It can also develop from losing baby teeth too soon or too late.
Can crowded teeth get worse?
Yes. As your teeth continue to push on each other, and as your misalignment continues to cause uneven wear on them, your crowding can worsen. Additionally, the bone density loss that comes with age can shrink your jaw, pushing your teeth even closer together.
What happens if you don’t fix crowding?
In the near term, it probably won’t cause any serious issues. However, crowded teeth can wear down your enamel unevenly, leading to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health concerns.
How long do home aligners take to fix crowding?
At-home aligner treatment typically takes around six months, but it depends almost entirely on the severity of your crowding. Minor cases can take just a few months, while severe ones might take even longer — or require a more robust treatment, like Invisalign or braces.
What are the best at-home aligners?
In our opinion, it’s Byte. They deliver efficient treatment times for many customers, provide a nighttime-only option, and put a lifetime guarantee on their results (see our full Byte review for an in-depth look). There are some other good brands on the market, and the best one for you depends entirely on your preferences and circumstances. Check out our guide to the five best at-home aligner companies for a full comparison.
How much do clear aligners cost?
It depends on which clear aligner treatment you choose. If you go with an in-office treatment like Invisalign, it will cost (on average) between $3,000 and $8,000. At-home aligner services like Byte and SmileDirectClub, on the other hand, are somewhat less expensive, costing $1,000–$2,500 on average.
Do clear 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.