SmileDirectClub and Candid have a lot in common. Both clear aligner services offer at-home teeth straightening, and both are significantly more affordable than braces or Invisalign. But when you dig a bit deeper, there are actually some major differences between these companies’ service offerings that aren’t so apparent on the surface.
We’re here to help you decipher these differences and hone in on the features that are most important to you. In this comparison review, we’ll take you on an in-depth tour of SmileDirectClub and Candid, and provide all the information you need to choose the best home teeth aligner for you.
Table of Contents
Overview & Recommendation
Bottom Line: Both Companies Offer Big Savings and Convenience
Candid and SmileDirectClub both offer a convenient and affordable alternative to visiting your dental provider for Invisalign treatment. With either service, you’ll receive a set of custom invisible aligners shipped directly to your home. But after that, the differences between these services become more clear.
Two Great Companies, but Candid Gets Our Vote
SmileDirectClub was the first company to offer invisible aligners online in 2014. It has been around longer and has a larger following than Candid. However, we think Candid’s commitment to top-quality treatment makes their services especially worth considering. In many ways, Candid took SmileDirectClub’s winning formula and made it even better.
Why do we rank Candid higher than SmileDirectClub? Two reasons:
- Orthodontist Supervised: Unlike SmileDirectClub, Candid guarantees that every customer’s treatment plan will be reviewed by an accredited orthodontist. Then, throughout treatment, you can digitally check in with your orthodontist with their Remote Monitoring service. That’s a big deal! Orthodontists receive six years of specialized training learning how to adjust teeth safely and effectively. SmileDirectClub only guarantees that your care is reviewed by a dentist, who may or may not be an orthodontist. These individuals are highly educated and qualified, but don’t have the next-level expertise of an orthodontist.
- Higher-Quality Customer Support: It seems like SmileDirectClub grew a bit too quickly for its own good. We’ve heard too many stories from customers who experienced long delays and poor support when something went wrong. By contrast, Candid is dedicated to exceptional, consistent customer support, and their online reviews reflect this. They make a point of responding promptly if you run into issues.
We think these factors really matter. At the end of the day, it’s not just your money. It’s also your teeth. To us, it makes sense to go with a company that puts you and your teeth first.
Provided you are a good candidate for at-home aligners, Candid and SmileDirectClub both have a good track record for effectiveness. But Candid goes the extra mile once again, promising that your care will be developed and overseen by an orthodontist and partnering with a long-standing, reputable manufacturer.
- Works exclusively with orthodontists.
- Provides routine orthodontist check-ins every step of the way.
- Partners with a reputable manufacturer (ClearCorrect).
- Cuts their aligners straight across the top for extra power.
- Works with orthodontists and general dentists.
- Once partnered with Align Tech to manufacture aligners, but now produces them in-house.
- Also uses a straight cut for more aligner power.
Candid stands out compared to SmileDirectClub by ensuring your care will be overseen by an orthodontist licensed in your state. This is a big deal because orthodontists receive many years of specialized training, so that they can spot and address even the most subtle alignment issues.
Having an orthodontist monitoring your care increases the likelihood of an outstanding adjustment, and reduces the risk of something going wrong during treatment. And Candid has the most extensive orthodontist care of any home aligner company. Using their Remote Monitoring, you’ll send smile images to your orthodontist for each aligner set, which ensures the treatment’s effectiveness and can even reduce your overall treatment time by 30%.
By comparison, SmileDirectClub works with both general dentists and orthodontists to oversee patient treatment plans, so there’s no guarantee that an orthodontist will oversee your case.
SmileDirectClub once partnered with Align Tech (the creators of Invisalign) to manufacture their clear aligners. We were huge fans of this partnership, as Align Tech has long been known for producing top-quality, highly-effective aligners. These days, however, SmileDirectClub produces most of its aligners in-house. This introduces a certain amount of uncertainty with regard to the level of quality and effectiveness you can expect when you order from SmileDirectClub.
Candid, on the other hand, has an ongoing partnership with ClearCorrect, Invisalign’s closest competitor and a trusted partner to thousands of dentists nationwide. Therefore, when you order from Candid, you’ll know you’re getting trusted, high-quality aligners.
Both companies make aligners that cover the gums, which can make them more effective. Not all home aligners cover the gums, but those that do are able to induce more powerful teeth movements. These aligners use the gums as a point of leverage to pivot and push the teeth into alignment. Home clear aligners that are trimmed to follow the gumline are less powerful than those that cover the gums like SmileDirectClub and Candid.
One of the first things many adults check when considering home aligner treatment is their budget. Which provider offers lower prices?
Candid is more expensive than SmileDirectClub, primarily because of their Remote Monitoring services. That said, there are a couple of other important differences in costs and payment options that you’ll want to keep in mind.
- $2,400 sticker price
- Includes retainers for no charge
- Impression kit is $95 (or free at a Candid Studio location)
- Financing requires a credit check and a down payment
- $1,895 sticker price
- Charges $99 for retainers after treatment
- Impression kit is $49 (or free at a SmileShop location)
- Financing requires a down payment but no credit check (everyone is approved!)
Candid is a bit more expensive than SmileDirectClub. A course of treatment with Candid will cost you $2,400, while SmileDirectClub charges $1,895. However, Candid includes a free pair of retainers at the end of treatment, which you’ll definitely want to preserve your investment and keep your teeth looking great. By comparison, SmileDirectClub charges $99 extra for the retainers at the end of your treatment. So, all things considered, the price difference isn’t quite as large as it initially seems.
Payment Plan Options
As you think about cost, you should also keep in mind how you will finance your treatment. Candid and SmileDirectClub each offer a financing option, but there are some key differences between them.
- SmileDirectClub offers a 24-month financing plan, which does not require a credit check, but does require a $250 down payment.
- Candid’s 6-24 months financing plans do require a credit check and often consist of a $399 down payment followed by payments as low as $99/month.
If you’re confident in your credit score, Candid’s option is more flexible. But if you don’t think you would qualify based on a credit check, SmileDirectClub’s financing might be the better route. With both services, you’ll pay a bit extra to finance your care when you factor in the interest paid over time by financing, so it’s worth it to pay up front if you can make the finances work!
Both companies include free whitening to accompany your aligners. Candid also throws in a little tool to help you remove your aligners — this is a thoughtful addition, as it makes the process much easier for any patient with limited dexterity.
Additionally, Candid’s price covers their Remote Monitoring service and equipment. This includes a device that allows you to take intraoral images with your phone and regular digital check-ins with your orthodontist.
Both companies offer strong value, especially when compared to Invisalign or braces, which will typically set you back $5,000 or more.
With a Nighttime-only treatment plan and hundreds of SmileShops across the U.S. that make it easy to get started, Convenience is one area where no other company can compete with SmileDirectClub. Candid’s treatment is convenient in its own right, but this is where SmileDirectClub really goes above and beyond.
- Provides 20+ Candid Studios that offer free teeth scans as an alternative to impression kits.
- Does not offer a nighttime-only option, only the full-time, 22+ hour/day schedule.
- Allows you to use aligners and whitening products simultaneously.
- Has 300+ SmileShops for free teeth scans as an alternative to impressions.
- Offers a nighttime-only option that only requires aligner wear for 10 hours per day.
- Also allows simultaneous aligner and whitening use.
When getting started with SmileDirectClub or Candid, you’ll need to send the company images of your teeth, and there are two ways to go about it. The most common option is to order and complete an impression kit. You’ll use this kit to make a mold of your teeth so the company can develop a custom care plan for your smile.
However, impression kits can be difficult, especially considering the fact that most customers have never taken molds of their own teeth. So if you’d rather not deal with the hassle, or if you’re eager to start treatment, you could instead pop into a SmileShop or a Candid Studio where a dental assistant will scan your teeth for free. This will allow the company to get started on your care plan as quickly as possible.
While both companies offer store locations for free teeth scans, SmileDirectClub has significantly more stores than Candid (SmileDirectClub has more than 300 SmileShops, while Candid has 20+ Candid Studios).
Both Candid and SmileDirectClub include teeth whitening products with your aligners, so you can brighten that smile while you straighten your teeth. With some other options like Smilelove, you can only whiten after you complete your aligner treatment. This makes both Candid and SmileDirectClub more convenient options.
Another feature of SmileDirectClub that makes them more convenient than Candid is that they offer some customers the option to wear aligners only at night, for 10 hours per day rather than the typical 22. While there are drawbacks to nighttime aligners in terms of effectiveness, having the option to wear aligners only at night can make treatment much easier for some customers.
If you don’t want to wear your aligners 22 hours per day or would rather not go through the process of removing and replacing them to eat, SmileDirectClub’s nighttime aligners offer a more convenient option.
Both Candid and SmileDirectClub provide clear aligners that fit the contours of your teeth and appear completely natural, but there are some small differences in the materials they use that impact each product’s appearance.
- Uses a more rigid, durable plastic.
- Reasonably stain resistant.
- Uses a more flexible plastic.
- Reasonably stain resistant.
Candid molds their aligners from a much more rigid plastic than SmileDirectClub does. This harder plastic makes their aligners more durable and powerful than SmileDirectClub’s, and also ensures the aligners fit snugly for longer. Snugly-fitting aligners are a little less noticeable than ones that have become loose. For this reason, we give an edge to Candid’s aligners over SmileDirectClub.
Both companies make aligners that are resistant to staining, but we would not recommend drinking colored beverages while wearing them.
Customer Service Comparison
Candid is the overall winner when it comes to customer service. While both companies offer comparable support options and satisfaction guarantees, we find that Candid stands out in terms of responsiveness and overall helpfulness of company representatives.
Candid Customer Service
SmileDirectClub Customer Service
- Offers numerous support platforms, including video chat.
- Has received excellent customer reviews.
- Provides direct regular access to your orthodontist.
- Will work with you to modify your plan if you’re not satisfied.
- Offers numerous support options, but no video chat.
- Received some negative reviews in the past, but seems to be turning it around.
- Will work to modify your plan if you’re not satisfied, plus offers a full refund within 30 days of starting treatment.
Both companies are available during standard business hours on a variety of support platforms – phone, webchat, and email. Candid will sometimes offer video chat as well.
Note: Candid’s Remote Monitoring service puts you in contact with your assigned orthodontist once every couple of weeks, which allows them to address any issues as they arise. If anything comes up between check-ins, customer support is still available.
Responsiveness & Helpfulness
Based on many reviews we found, customers generally feel that Candid offers more responsive and thoughtful support than SmileDirectClub.
In fact, SmileDirectClub’s customer support has received mixed reviews over the years. Many SmileDirectClub customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the level of support they received, or reported frustrating delays in aligner shipments. The volume of negative reviews and Better Business Bureau complaints accelerated around 2017 as SmileDirectClub attempted to grow its business extremely rapidly, creating inconsistencies in its customer support.
Over the past year or so, SmileDirectClub seems to be making an effort to improve its service quality and customer support issues. These efforts do appear to be paying off, but we still give an edge to Candid. Candid appears to be extremely responsive to customer requests for help or support, and we’ve encountered very few complaints in this department.
Both companies are willing to help customers that are unhappy with their results by adjusting the treatment plan and sending new aligners to get things back on track (provided the customer follows their treatment protocol). SmileDirectClub additionally offers a 30-day full refund window from the start of treatment.
Candid Company Background
SmileDirectClub Company Background
- Founded in 2017.
- Second-largest home aligner company in the industry.
- Made a name for themselves through high-quality products and excellent customer service.
- Founded in 2014
- Largest home aligner company in the industry.
- Has transformed over 750,000 smiles to date.
We started tracking Candid shortly after its launch in late 2017. At the time, Candid was the first serious home aligner alternative to SmileDirectClub.
We were initially skeptical that Candid could truly compete with SmileDirectClub, which then had over 2,000 employees and had served over one hundred thousand of customers (as of 2019, the numbers are even higher).
On the other hand, Candid saw a real opportunity to stand out by offering better service quality. In many ways, SmileDirectClub appears to have grown too quickly, and the quality of their product and customer support has suffered as a result. This unfortunate decision led to many customer complaints, and created an opening for Candid to stand out by emphasizing service quality (e.g. 100% orthodontist overseen) and strong customer support.
And Candid has taken full advantage of that opening. We’ve been pleasantly surprised with what they have been able to accomplish over the past two years. In our view, Candid has lived up to its promise of offering top-notch service quality. Customers are noticing and Candid has grown more and more popular. Today, Candid is the second-largest home aligner company in the business, with thousands of satisfied customers to date. And they continue to discover new ways to ensure high-quality treatment, like their partnership with ClearCorrect and Remote Montoring service.
Which Home Teeth Aligner Should You Use?
As you can see, SmileDirectClub and Candid have a lot in common, but their differences are where you want to focus when making a final decision. If you’re still not sure which business formation service to choose, let’s look at a couple scenarios that might help you figure out which is the better option for you.
Choose Candid if You Are:
Looking for straighter teeth on a budget, but unwilling to compromise on quality of care or support throughout the process.
Choose SmileDirectClub if You Are:
More comfortable purchasing from the most well-established brand name, and aren’t worried about possible delays and subpar customer support. Bonus points if you live near a SmileShop location.