On the surface, SmileDirectClub and Candid might look pretty similar. Both are clear aligner services that take advantage of teledentistry technology to streamline the treatment process. But beyond that, there are some major differences between these companies’ service offerings.
We’re here to help you decipher these differences and determine the features that you find most important. In this comparison review, we’ll take you on an in-depth tour of SmileDirectClub and Candid, providing all the information you need to choose the best clear aligner option for you.
Table of Contents
Overview & Recommendation: Candid Wins
Candid and SmileDirectClub are both convenient alternatives to traditional orthodontic options like braces or Invisalign. With either service, you’ll receive a set of custom clear aligners that gently and incrementally move your teeth into their new positions over the course of about six months. But they’re far from identical options.
Two Great Companies, But Candid Gets Our Vote.
SmileDirectClub was the first company to offer fully-remote clear aligner treatment in 2014. They’ve been around longer and treated many more cases than Candid. However, Candid is simply on another level. They employ an innovative hybrid model that pairs the convenience of at-home care with the hands-on quality of traditional orthodontic treatment.
Why do we rank Candid higher than SmileDirectClub? Two reasons:
- Premium Treatment: Unlike SmileDirectClub, Candid treatment is administered by a local dentist who stays involved from start to finish. Although the process typically only requires two dental office visits, your dentist can track your progress virtually thanks to Candid’s remote monitoring system (CandidMonitoring) and request additional appointments with you if any issues arise. SmileDirectClub offers an in-person touch on a smaller scale by performing teeth scans at their SmileShop locations and dentist partners, but they don’t connect you with a local dentist to be involved throughout the whole course of treatment.
- Excellent Support: Between your local dentist and Candid’s support team (accessible seven days/week via the Candid app), Candid treatment comes with an abundance of support all along the way. On the other hand, SmileDirectClub is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to customer service. Although they’ve recently made some improvements, we’ve heard too many stories from customers who experienced long delays or poor support when something went wrong.
If you have a mild or moderate case of crowding or spacing, both Candid and SmileDirectClub are effective options. Even though neither one can treat severe dental and jaw misalignments that Invisalign can, they both take measures to deliver reliable results. But Candid goes the extra mile, incorporating in-person care and providing regular clinical oversight.
- Involves a local dentist in the entire treatment process, including at least one in-person appointment.
- Provides in-depth clinical oversight every step of the way.
- Their treatment plans can move even the molars when it’s appropriate.
- Cuts their aligners straight across the top for extra power.
- Can incorporate additional office visits if any serious issues arise.
- Treatment is designed and monitored by a fully remote team of orthodontists and general dentists.
- Dental professionals are available for regular Smile Check-ins every 90 days.
- Once partnered with Align Tech to manufacture aligners, but now produces them in-house.
- Trims their aligners to match the gumline.
Candid stands out by including in-person care as part of your treatment. Every Candid patient starts the process in the chair of an in-network provider for onboarding, similar to more comprehensive in-office clear aligners like Invisalign and ClearCorrect. This ensures that Candid receives accurate scans of your teeth and provides a local dentist who will play a role in overseeing your treatment.
After that initial appointment, you’ll use a remote monitoring service (called CandidMonitoring) to send smile images to your dentist and Candid’s clinical team every 14 days, allowing them to evaluate your progress, assess any issues, and request further office visits if anything seems off. By implementing this model of robust remote oversight, Candid has effectively streamlined Invisalign’s model of office visits every 4-6 weeks.
By comparison, SmileDirectClub has a team of general dentists and orthodontists who oversee patient aligner plans remotely, but these professionals don’t provide face-to-face dental care. While they don’t have specific remote monitoring equipment like Candid, SmileDirectClub does allow you to check-in virtually every 90 days, and they also maintain a network of 1,000+ partnering dentists who you can visit for teeth scans. However, these dentists aren’t involved in your treatment after the initial scans like they are with Candid.
In cases that require it, Candid treatment can move all of the teeth, including the molars. In doing so, they can create the necessary space in your dental arches, laying the groundwork to move your front teeth and premolars without negatively impacting your bite. SmileDirectClub, on the other hand, focuses primarily on the front teeth. Their aligners will cover your molars, but they aren’t designed to move them.
That means that Candid treatment is much more comprehensive, taking a holistic approach that’s closer to what you’d get from an in-office option like Invisalign. Of course, not every case requires molar movement, so this might not be a factor for you.
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 its aligners in-house. They’ve implemented a design called “Comfort Sense,” which they describe as a “proprietary soft, medium, and firm aligner plastic progression to ease teeth more comfortably into place.”
Candid used to partner with ClearCorrect, Invisalign’s biggest competitor, but like SmileDirectClub, they’ve moved their production in-house, giving them greater control over their product design and quality. Their aligners are crafted from a premium tri-layer plastic called Zendura FLX.
Candid produces straight-cut aligners that slightly overlap your gums, which can make them more effective, while SmileDirectClub trims their aligners to match your gumline. Straight-cut aligners use the gums as a point of leverage to pivot and push the teeth into alignment. Therefore, home clear aligners that are trimmed to follow the gumline (like SmileDirectClub’s) can be less powerful.
One of the first things many people check when considering clear aligners is their budget. Both options offer savings when compared to more comprehensive aligner options like Invisalign, yet because their treatment involves some in-person care, Candid’s price is higher than SmileDirectClub’s. But there’s more to affordability than just sticker prices.
- $3,500+ price, depending on your dentist’s location.
- Price includes office visits, plus the CandidMonitoring service and equipment.
- You can often enroll in a financing plan through your dentist’s office.
- $2,050 sticker price
- Charges $99 for retainers after treatment
- Impression kit is $59 (or free at a SmileShop location)
- Financing requires a down payment but no credit check (everyone is approved!)
SmileDirectClub charges $1,950 for their full treatment. Candid’s price depends on your dentist’s location and rates, but it’s generally $3,500 or more. However, this cost also includes your CandidMonitoring equipment and in-person office visits.
Both of these treatments are less expensive than comprehensive in-office options, although Candid might be close, depending on your dentist.
Payment Plan Options
As you think about cost, you should also keep in mind how you will finance your treatment. You should be able to enroll in a financing plan with either option, but there are some key differences to note.
- SmileDirectClub’s 24-month financing plan does not require a credit check, so everyone qualifies, but it does require a $250 down payment. After that, you’ll pay $89 per month for 24 months.
- Candid doesn’t offer in-house financing because your dentist will handle all of your payments. The good news is that dental offices often offer payment plans, or they can recommend a third-party financing company for you. If you’re interested in financing your treatment, ask your dentist about the terms of their plans.
Most financing plans include interest, so you’ll pay a bit extra to finance your care when you factor in the interest paid over time. If you can make it work, it’s worth it to pay up front.
Both companies include free whitening to accompany your aligners. Candid’s price also covers their CandidMonitoring service and the ScanBox device, which attaches to your phone to help you take photos of your teeth for the virtual check-ins. SmileDirectClub includes Movemints in their treatment package, small mints that you can chew to help seat your aligners.
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 (along with more than 1,000 dentist partners), convenience is one area where SmileDirectClub shines. Candid is more streamlined than other treatments that incorporate in-person care, like Invisalign, but this is where SmileDirectClub really goes above and beyond.
- Has a network of 200+ dentist partners who will help you kick off your treatment during an office visit.
- Average treatment time is 6-9 months
- 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. Also has 1,000+ dentist partners nationwide.
- Average treatment time is 4-6 months
- Offers a nighttime-only option that only requires aligner wear for ten hours per day.
- Also allows simultaneous aligner and whitening use.
To get started with any clear aligner treatment, you need to submit images of your teeth. How you take those images, however, varies between companies.
SmileDirectClub offers two separate options: impression kits or teeth scans. You can purchase an impression kit from their website for $59 or get a teeth scan at one of their 300+ SmileShops or 1,000+ in-network dentist partners. It’s nice that you can complete the impression kit from home, but it can also be tricky to create molds of your own teeth, so it’s nice that SmileDirectClub offers so many in-person options where professionals can take scans for you.
The first step for Candid is scheduling an office visit with one of their network providers. They have 200+ partnering dentists nationwide who will provide an initial consultation, scan your teeth, take X-rays, and kick off your Candid treatment. Unlike SmileDirectClub’s SmileShops and dental partners, this dentist will remain involved throughout the rest of the process, and might even request that you schedule additional office visits, depending on what your case requires.
The only potential issue with Candid’s model is that it’s only available to people who live near one of their dentist partners. They’re working to expand that network, but for now, if you can’t find one of their dentists nearby, you’ll need to look into other options.
Candid and SmileDirectClub don’t take nearly as long as braces or Invisalign (which can take 12-24 months). Your dentist will explain your specific Candid timeline, but it’s generally around 6-9 months. SmileDirectClub says their average treatment time is 4-6 months, but it all depends on the severity of your misalignment.
SmileDirectClub offers some customers the option to wear aligners only at night, for ten continuous hours per night rather than the typical 22. While nighttime aligners might not work as efficiently as a standard all-day plan, the option to wear aligners only at night can make treatment much easier. Plus, SmileDirectClub’s nighttime plan comes at the same price as their traditional option.
Candid is intended solely for all-day treatment. There may be a small amount of leeway here, but your dentist will most likely require you to wear your Candid aligners for at least 22 hours/day, removing them only to eat, drink, and brush.
If you don’t want to wear your aligners all day long, 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 include teeth whitening products with your aligners, so you can brighten that smile while you straighten your teeth. With some other options, you can only whiten after you complete your aligner treatment. And Candid takes it a step further: they’ll send you a Philips Zoom whitening right after you sign on, so you can whiten your teeth before treatment. However, this premium whitening option costs an extra $299.
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.
- Cut straight across the top.
- Does not incorporate attachments.
- Reasonably stain-resistant.
- Uses a more flexible plastic.
- Trimmed to match your gumline.
- Does not incorporate attachments.
- Reasonably stain-resistant.
Candid molds their aligners from a tri-layer plastic called Zendura FLX, which has a firmer outer shell than SmileDirectClub’s material. This harder plastic makes their aligners more durable and powerful than SmileDirectClub, whose “Comfort Sense” design uses soft, medium, and firm aligners. Firmer aligners tend to fit more snugly, making them a little less noticeable than ones that have become loose.
As we mentioned in the Effectiveness section, SmileDirectClub trims their aligners to match your gumline, while Candid’s aligners are cut straight across the top, slightly overlapping the gums. Even though trimmed aligners might be slightly less effective, they’re also slightly less visible, since there’s no overlap.
In some cases, fully in-person treatments like Invisalign and ClearCorrect will include small attachments affixed to the surfaces of the teeth, which help their aligners exert more force. While these attachments can increase effectiveness, they also make the aligners more noticeable.
Candid and SmileDirectClub don’t include attachments on any of their aligners. And Candid even maintains that they don’t need attachments since their aligner cut and precise 3D-printed manufacturing can replicate similar force.
Both companies make aligners that are resistant to staining, but we would not recommend drinking colored beverages while wearing them.
Patient Experience Comparison
While both companies offer comparable support options and satisfaction guarantees, we find that Candid’s in-person care and robust CandidMonitoring service help them stand out in terms of responsiveness and overall helpfulness. They still don’t offer quite the same intensiveness as more comprehensive in-office options, but Candid is the next best thing.
Candid Patient Experienece
SmileDirectClub Patient Experience
- Offers numerous remote support platforms in addition to your dentist’s office, including video chat and their mobile app.
- Has received excellent customer reviews.
- Provides check-ins every 14 days via their CandidMonitoring service.
- Will work with you to modify your plan if you’re not satisfied.
- Offers numerous support options, including video chat and their mobile app.
- Received some negative reviews in the past, but seems to be turning it around.
- Provides virtual “Smile Check-ins” every 90 days.
- Will work to modify your plan if you’re not satisfied, plus offers a full refund within 30 days of starting treatment.
Candid’s patient support is two-fold. Your dentist will provide the service, and you’ll also have near-constant access to the Candid remote care team, who can answer your questions and bring your dentist into the loop if necessary.
CandidMonitoring gives your dentist and Candid’s team the chance to review photos of your teeth every 14 days and address any issues as they arise. If anything comes up between check-ins, the most convenient way to contact their team is via live chat on the CandidApp. However, service representatives are also available by phone, chat, and email every day (including weekends) from 9am-7pm. If you reach out on social media, expect a response within 24 hours.
SmileDirectClub’s oversight isn’t quite as comprehensive as Candid’s, but they do allow you to track your progress on a mobile app and have regular virtual “Smile Check-ins” with their dental team every 90 days. But if you’ve got any questions or concerns, their support team is available via phone and webchat 24/7.
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 couple of years, SmileDirectClub has drastically improved its service quality and customer support issues—especially with the implementation of their Smile Check-Ins and mobile app. But we still give the edge to Candid. Not only do they provide the personal touch of a dentist, but their support team also appears 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 followed their treatment protocol).
SmileDirectClub offers a 30-day full refund window from the start of treatment. And their Lifetime Smile Guarantee will provide free “aligner touch-ups” afterward. This means a couple of new aligners to further straighten your teeth. To qualify, you must order two sets of retainers ($99) per year and wear them as prescribed.
If you’ve been wearing your Candid aligners as directed and completing all of your CandidMonitoring check-ins, but your teeth aren’t moving as planned, contact your dentist. The benefit of having a local dentist in the loop is that they can potentially bring you back to the office for another examination and come up with an appropriate solution.
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 more than one million smiles to date.
We started tracking Candid shortly after its launch in late 2017. At that 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 customers (as of 2021, the numbers are even higher).
As SmileDirectClub’s popularity skyrocketed, they collected some customer complaints—and even though they currently offer excellent products and attentive service, that dip in customer satisfaction created an opening for Candid to stand out by emphasizing service quality and strong support.
And Candid took full advantage. They provided top-notch at-home treatment, and they’ve continued that single focus on quality by incorporating hands-on care from local dentists in their CandidPro model. Candid already has tens of thousands of satisfied customers to date, and while they aren’t quite as experienced as SmileDirectClub, they’re making major strides forward with their hybrid treatment.
What Are Customers Saying?
When we review a company like SmileDirectClub or Candid, we start out by digging through online user reviews to understand the common issues customers face, and how the company handles them. Here’s how these two services stack up.
Given SmileDirectClub’s multi-year history, there are many genuine online reviews detailing customer experiences with the product. Generally, SmileDirectClub customers feel positive about their experiences, despite some hiccups along the way. Customer support has been hit-or-miss in the past, but the company generally keeps its promises.
Each set of aligners seems well-made (most people don’t need to file down any rough edges or irregularities, unlike some other brands), and the treatment process is reportedly only mildly uncomfortable. Most customers report increased discomfort for the first day or two of each aligner set, especially when removing them after a long period of time. This pain subsides quickly and, for most customers, is not a major concern. A majority complete their treatment and feel satisfied with the results.
For a realistic look at the customer experience, check out the unbiased SmileDirect reviews we’ve gathered from users at various stages of the treatment process. Or, check out some of the video reviews our readers have submitted below!
The “CandidPro” model is so new that online reviews are virtually non-existent. That said, Candid’s fully remote treatment option long inspired rave customer reviews, which speaks to the quality of their results and customer support.
Candid has numerous honest and straightforward online reviewers who don’t appear to be sponsored by the company. The general sentiment from these reviews is that customers feel satisfied and valued.
Most customers had very few issues with their clear aligners and expressed excitement about starting and continuing their treatment. In cases where something went wrong, Candid took care of it efficiently and inspired customer satisfaction in the outcome.
In addition to the unbiased Candid reviews we’ve collected from our readers, we encourage you to check out the video reviews below to get an unbiased look at what real customers have to say. (Keep in mind that these are reviews of Candid’s old fully remote service, not the new CandidPro hybrid model).
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 clear aligner 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:
Seeking the reassurance and effectiveness that comes from in-person care, paired with the ease of at-home treatment.
Choose SmileDirectClub if You Are:
More comfortable purchasing from the most well-established brand name with top-notch convenience. Bonus points if you live near a SmileShop location.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I choose Candid or SmileDirectClub?
They’ll both get the job done, but we like Candid more. Their hybrid treatment gives you the hands-on touch of a local dentist and comprehensive remote oversight. Of course, SmileDirectClub also provides effective treatment, and they’ve got a huge satisfied customer base to prove it. Find out more in our in-depth Candid review and SmileDirectClub review.
How do I get started with Candid or SmileDirectClub?
Every Candid patient begins their treatment by visiting one of their 200+ network dentists, who will provide an initial consultation and teeth scans. This dentist remains involved throughout the entire process. With SmileDirectClub, you can purchase and complete an impression kit or visit a SmileShop location for free teeth scans. You can also schedule an appointment with one of their partnering dental offices, although this dentist won’t be involved in your treatment after the initial teeth scan.
What are customers saying about Candid and SmileDirectClub?
Candid’s patients have loved their experiences with Candid’s old at-home treatment, but their CandidPro model is so new that it doesn’t have any online reviews yet. SmileDirectClub customers generally report satisfactory experiences, although some online reviews report sluggish communication and customer support.
Do Candid and SmileDirectClub offer financing plans?
You should be able to finance your treatment with either option. You’ll make payments to your dentist for Candid service, and many dentist’s offices offer in-house financing plans, or they can at least recommend a quality third-party option. SmileDirectClub’s in-house SmilePay plan doesn’t require a credit check, so everyone qualifies — you’ll just make a $250 down payment followed by 24 monthly payments of $89.
What is the cheapest clear 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 Candid or SmileDirectClub fix overbite, underbite, etc.?
Typically, no. These clear aligners are designed to treat mild and moderate cases of crowding and spacing. Most often, jaw misalignments require a more comprehensive treatment like braces or Invisalign.
How do Candid and SmileDirectClub compare to Invisalign?
Both services use a series of clear aligners to shift your teeth. The main difference is that Invisalign requires you to attend office visits every 4-6 weeks for your entire treatment. Candid provides an office visit to begin treatment and remote oversight throughout, while SmileDirectClub doesn’t require any in-person care. Take a look at our SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign and Candid vs. Invisalign guides for a deeper analysis.
How long does at-home aligner treatment take?
In most cases, six months. Your timeline could be shorter or longer, though, depending on your condition’s severity and how consistently you wear your aligners.
What other options should I consider?
Byte, AlignerCo, and NewSmile are all worth a look. Each one has its own advantages. Byte can achieve more efficient teeth shifts for some customers, AlignerCo offers the lowest prices, and NewSmile is another great value. Read through our guide to the top 5 home aligner companies for more on each option.
How much do home aligners cost?
It depends on which company you choose. AlignerCo, for example, has cut out the bells and whistles to provide effective treatment at just $1,145. While Byte and SmileDirectClub are a bit more. Candid’s hybrid model often costs $3,500+, which is still slightly less than the average costs of 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.