Teeth spacing is an extremely common dental condition among adults and children alike. It appears as gaps between teeth and can occur anywhere along the top or bottom dental arches. Rarely does teeth spacing present a dire medical situation, and in many cases it’s totally harmless. The main concerns are dental hygiene (wide gaps can lead to gum decay and infection) and cosmetics, because it can make you uncomfortable flashing your pearly whites.
The good news is that spacing is relatively easy to treat, and there are numerous highly effective options, including home aligners. These innovative companies deliver Invisalign-esque aligners directly to you, allowing for affordable, invisible spacing correction from the convenience of your home. While they sound fantastic, home aligners aren’t a perfect fit for everyone. Consider this guide your roadmap to home aligner spacing treatment: which types of spacing respond well, which companies are the best, and which alternate routes you can take if you decide against home aligners.
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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 involved in traditional orthodontic treatment. But what does the process of home teeth alignment actually entail?
To get the ball rolling, you’ll take impressions of your teeth using the kit your provider sends you (we’ll go over our recommended providers shortly). Then, you’ll mail the impressions back to them for one of their dentists to review. If the dentist in charge of your case determines that home aligners aren’t the right fit for you, the cost of this step (between $49-$99) is fully refundable. Some companies also offer the option of visiting a physical office to get your teeth scanned for free instead of buying a home impression kit.
After this step, your provider will design a series of custom aligners based on your impressions, and send them to you within about one month. From there, it’s up to you to keep up with the treatment plan (wearing your aligners for the required amount of time each day, keeping up with oral hygiene, progressing through the series of aligners as prescribed) to make sure you get the results you were promised!
Are Home Teeth Aligners Effective for Teeth Spacing?
Absolutely! Cases of mild-to-moderate teeth spacing and crowding are home aligner companies’ bread and butter, so most spacing issues are easily corrected by home aligner treatment.
Many cases of spacing are confined to just a few teeth, caused by irregular eruptions or childhood habits like thumb-sucking or tongue thrusting. In these cases, spacing often has no effect on bite alignment and is not complicated by other issues, making the gaps more conducive for home aligner treatment.
Teeth spacing can also be caused by periodontal disease (gum disease). In patients with gum disease, the bone holding the teeth in place begins to deteriorate due to a heavy buildup of plaque. As a result, the teeth begin to shift, often causing them to become loose and displaced.
Teeth spacing cases accompanied by bite issues (like overbite or overjet), or caused by oversized jaw and/or gums, however, are more complicated and may require more robust treatments to achieve the significant jaw and tooth transformations you’re after. Consult your dentist if you think your spacing is compounded by other conditions.
But once again, a large majority of spacing issues are minor, so there’s a good chance that home aligners could be an option for you. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best home aligners for teeth spacing.
What Home Teeth Aligners Can I Choose From?
Home teeth alignment companies might be new to the market, but they’re backed by research and have already achieved a lot of impressive results. While most home aligner systems can effectively correct spacing issues, choosing a treatment is a big decision, and you shouldn’t go all in without doing adequate research. We started that process for you, compiling information on various home aligner providers from across the Internet and narrowing it down to three excellent choices.
Founded in 2018, byte has quickly carved out their unique place in the home alignment market, largely thanks to their co-founder and “Chief Cosmetic Dentist” Dr. Jon Marashi. Dr. Marashi’s claim to fame is his highly personalized approach to crafting smiles on the most famous faces in Hollywood, including Justin Timberlake, Pink, Halsey, and countless others.
Beyond their founder’s vast pool of celebrity endorsements, byte is a hugely attractive option for adults seeking to adjust their teeth as quickly and effectively as possible. byte offers faster results than competing companies thanks to their special “HyperByte” device, which vibrates the teeth to allow them to shift more quickly. Using this device, folks are able to complete treatment in as little as 3 months (half the time most competitors claim).
byte’s upfront cost of $1895 (or financing plans starting at $83/mo) is right in-line with the other major providers, but they’re one of the only companies whose financing options do not require a credit check. Plus, they’ll do all the legwork on your behalf to find out if your FSA, HSA, or dental insurance will cover a portion of your treatment, and let you know what the cost breakdown will look like before you’ve even committed to working with them. These efforts make them that much more accessible for young adults across the country!
Spacing and crowding issues comprise a large percentage of byte’s cases, so the company is confident in its ability to treat them. That said, if you have a severe case or one that’s complicated by a jaw alignment condition, they can’t guarantee you’ll be a candidate. Your first step will be submitting impressions of your teeth so byte’s team of dentists can determine whether their aligners can induce the results you want.
Candid’s dedication to quality makes them well-worth considering for anyone interested in home teeth alignment. Candid is the only other provider that ensures your treatment is overseen by an orthodontist rather than a general dentist. Since orthodontists are more specialized in this particular aspect of dentistry, with Candid you can be certain that your treatment plan is being designed by someone who’s dedicated their life to the art of straightening smiles.
Another testament to this dedication is the quality of the aligners themselves. Based on our research, Candid partners with ClearCorrect, one of the leading clear aligner manufacturers whose product has been FDA-approved since 2009. All in all, with Candid you can trust you’re getting a top-notch product from qualified folks.
Treatment with Candid sits right around the same price-point as byte at $1,900 upfront (or financing starting at $88/mo), and may be covered in part or full if you have some form of dental insurance. However, if you’re considering financing, Candid requires a credit check, which presents a roadblock for some folks.
Candid can effectively treat many spacing conditions as long as that’s the only issue present. Cases accompanied by bite misalignments, however, may or may not be eligible. Just like with byte, a dentist will have to review the condition of your teeth in order to determine your eligibility. However, unlike byte, Candid has physical office locations in several major U.S. cities where you can go to get your teeth scanned for free. This is a great option for folks who live in proximity to one of Candid’s offices and want to avoid the hassle of taking impressions on their own.
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 650,000 customers to date.
SmileDirectClub utilizes the same basic pricing structure as other major brands ($1,895 up front or financing starting at $85/mo), but they’re the only provider besides byte that does not require a credit check in order to pursue financing. Another perk: like Candid, SmileDirectClub has physical office locations where you can get your teeth scanned for free instead of taking impressions from home. But unlike Candid, SmileDirectClub has over 300 “SmileShops” across the country rather than just a handful in major cities.
All that said, there’s always a trade-off when it comes to working with a company of this size. The quality of their customer service is definitely lacking compared to competitors like byte. If you’re put off by hold times or automated responses that don’t quite answer your questions, working with SmileDirectClub may not be the best fit for you.
Just like the previous two companies, SmileDirectClub can treat a majority of spacing cases, but only if spacing is the sole issue. If you also have a bite misalignment, it doesn’t automatically disqualify you, but it does make your case more complex. Either way, the SmileDirectClub network dentists will need to review impressions of your teeth before making the call.
Need More Information?
Choosing a treatment option is a big, personal decision, so of course you’ll want to gather as much information as possible. If any of the services above caught your eye, take a look at our deeper dive into the home aligner world in this comprehensive review of the top 5 options. There, you’ll find information about the advantages and drawbacks of each provider.
What Are My Other Options?
If you discover that you aren’t a candidate for home aligners, or simply want to assess all your options, the good news is that there are plenty of other options out there, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. Evaluate each one and you’ll be able to confidently choose the best route for your unique circumstances.
Braces: There’s a reason why braces have been around for so long: they’re extremely effective. Their durability and sturdiness allows for consistent results and the application of supplemental appliances (like elastics) by your dentist for increasingly intricate tooth and jaw movements. The biggest qualm most adults have with braces is their visibility. But like other treatments, braces have evolved over the years and now you can opt for more discreet types, like clear and sublingual (behind the teeth) braces. The other big drawback is cost, as braces typically cost around $5,000.
Invisalign: Another popular and effective treatment, dentists have been using Invisalign to successfully correct spacing issues for more than two decades. Invisalign’s trays are invisible and removable, plus they’re administered and monitored by a dentist, so like braces, they can employ other dental appliances like elastics or the company’s “Smartforce” attachments to correct accompanying conditions like bite misalignments. Your dentist will also be able to address any underlying issues that may potentially affect your treatment.This additional dentist face-time also ensures that the aligners are functioning correctly every step of the way. The downside is that Invisalign is considerably more expensive than home aligners and even slightly more than braces.
Veneers: In certain, minor spacing cases, veneers can provide instantaneous results. A dentist can bond these small, durable porcelain tabs to your teeth, effectively hiding your gaps. Most often, veneers are used for small gaps in the front six teeth, so they may not be suitable for acute cases or spaces elsewhere on the dental arches. And while they offer instant results, veneers must be replaced after 7-20 years and don’t correct the underlying issue. Veneers also require the irreversible process of “prepping” your teeth by shaving down the enamel, which can result in the weakening of your teeth down the line. If you’re seeking more permanent results, you might think about spending the $500-$2,000 per tooth elsewhere.
Bonding: Bonding is a strong composite resin that dentists use in a variety of procedures. In very minor cases of spacing, it can fill small gaps between teeth, providing a transformed smile in just one office visit. By molding and polishing the bonding resin, your dentist can match it’s color and shape to the surrounding teeth. Like veneers, bonding is a purely cosmetic procedure that doesn’t solve the root spacing issue. However, bonding is typically much less durable than veneers and has the potential to break or crack more easily. Still, if you want instant results without having to move your teeth, it could be a good option. Some dentists will even offer their regular patients temporary bonding for free, so they can try out the treatment before making a commitment.
Teeth spacing might make you want to hide your smile, but the good news is that there’s no shortage of corrective treatments. Any of the home aligner companies outlined here can treat a large percentage of spacing issues without breaking the bank. If you’re interested, there’s little to no risk to get started. Order an impression kit, send in your impressions, and if you’re not a candidate, they will refund your money.
But after all the research, consultations, and option evaluation, the decision is yours to make, whether that means choosing a home aligner system, taking an alternative route, or not pursuing treatment at all. As long as it fits your unique goals, finances, and expectations, be confident in your decision and smile, because you’re on the right track.