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Bottom Line: Both Companies Offer Big Savings and Convenience
Candid Co. and SDC both offer a convenient and affordable alternative to visiting your dental provider for Invisalign treatment. With both services, you’ll receive a set of custom invisible aligners shipped directly to your home. From there, the differences between these services become more clear.
Two great Companies, but Candid Co. gets our vote
Smile Direct Club was the first company to offer invisible aligners for online order in 2013. It has been around longer and has a larger following than Candid Co. However, we think Candid Co. deserves a careful look. In many ways, Candid Co. took Smile Direct Club’s winning formula and made it even better.
There are two main reasons we rated Candid Co. higher than Smile Direct Club:
- Orthodontist Supervised: Unlike SDC, Candid Co. guarantees that every customer’s treatment plan is reviewed by an accredited orthodontist. That’s a big deal! Orthodontists receive years of specialized training learning how to adjust teeth safely and effectively. Smile Direct Club only guarantees that your care is reviewed by a dentist, who may or may not be an orthodontist.
- Higher Quality Customer Support: It seems SDC grew a bit too quickly for its own good. We’ve heard too many stories from SDC customers who experienced long delays and poor support from the SDC team when something went wrong. This is one area where Candid Co. really makes a point of setting itself apart. Candid Co. makes a point of responding promptly if you run into issues.
Overall, we think these factors really matter. At the end of the day, it’s not just your money. It’s also your teeth. We think it makes sense to go with a company that puts you and your teeth first.
One reason you might still consider Smile Direct Club
Candid Co gets our overall nod, but there is one major reason you may still prefer SDC: financing. While companies offer the opportunity to spread out the cost of care, SDC’s financing option is much better. Candid Co. offers financing through a third party, which means you’ll be subject to a credit check and interest fees. By contrast, SDC offers direct financing, enabling you spread out payment without credit checks or interest payments.
Detailed Side-By-Side Comparison
Still undecided? Read on for a more detailed overview of the unique differences between Candid Co and Smile Direct Club with regard to value, product and service quality, convenience and customer support.
Up front, Candid Co is a bit more expensive than Smile Direct. A course of treatment with Candid Co will cost you $1,995, while Smile Direct charges $1850. However, the $150 price difference is a bit misleading as Candid Co 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. Smile Direct charges $99 extra for the retainers.
As you think about cost, you should also keep in mind how you will finance your course of care. Candid Co and Smile Direct club each provide a financing option, but there are some key differences.
- Smile Direct Club offers a 24 month financing plan, which does not require a credit check, but does require a $250 down payment.
- Candidco’s financing 6-24 month financing plans do require a credit check, but generally do not require a down payment. With both services, you’ll pay a bit extra to finance your care; it’s worth it to pay up front if you can afford it.
Ultimately, we feel that both products offer strong value, especially when comparing against Invisalign or braces, which will typically set you back $5,000 or more.
Product & Service Quality Comparison
Although CandidCo and Smile Direct Club are both startups, they are able to delivery extremely high quality invisible aligners by partnering with established and well respected dental technology suppliers.
Smile Direct Club is partners with Align Tech, the creators of Invisalign. When you purchase Smile Direct, you are essentially getting the same product, just without the routine of visiting a dental care provider.
Candid Co is partnered with Clear Correct, Invisalign’s closest competitor and a trusted partner to thousands of dentists across the country.
Align Tech and Clear Correct have each developed sophisticated technology to convert a mold or scan of your teeth into a series of aligner trays that will safely and gradually re-position your teeth. Candid Co and Smile Direct leverage these suppliers to do most the heavy lifting in terms of prepping your course of care and physically manufacturing your invisible aligners.
However, the mouth is complex system and this software is not 100% reliable. Smile Direct Club and Candid Co both recognize that it is critically important for a dental practitioner to review your case and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan before shipping your aligners.
This is where Candid Co really shines by arranging for an orthodontist to review and oversee each and every case. This is a big deal as orthodontists receive many years of specialized training so that they can spot and address even the most subtle tooth alignment issues. Having an orthodontist oversee your care increases the likelihood of an outstanding adjustment, and reduces risk that something goes wrong during treatment. By comparison, Smile Direct Club only guarantees that a dental professional (who typically will not have the specialized training of an orthodontist) will oversee your care.
Convenience is one area where no other company can really compete with Smile Direct Club.
When getting started with Smile Direct Club, there are three different ways to send the company images of your teeth.
The most common option is to have a teeth impression kit sent to your home. The impression kit is used to make a mold of your teeth so Smile Direct Club can make a care plan for your smile.
However, if you’re eager to start treatment, you could instead pop into a SmileCenter (a Smile Direct Club branch) where a dental assistant will scan your teeth so they can get started on your care plan as quickly as possible.
Your third option is to stop by a participating Macy’s store to pick up a New Smile Kit which includes three different sizes of impression trays (so you can find the right fit).
With Candid Co – your only real option is to order an online impression kit and wait until it arrives in the mail in about a week.
Customer Support Comparison
Candid Co. is the big winner here. The team is extremely responsive to customer requests for help and advice. They are also available to help you take your at-home impressions before you start treatment through a video chat. If something goes wrong with your impressions, you can order a second set for half the original cost and apply that cost toward the cost of treatment.
By comparison, Smile Direct Club’s customer support has received mixed reviews. Some customers are dissatisfied with the level of support they receive and experience frustrating delays in receiving their aligners. The volume of negative reviews accelerated around 2017 as Smile Direct Club attempted to grow its business extremely rapidly, creating kinks in its customer support.
Over the past year or so, Smile Direct seems to be making an effort to improve its service quality and customer support issues. These efforts do appear to be yielding improvement, but we still give an edge to Candid Co.
We started tracking Candid Co shortly after its launch in late 2017. At the time, Candid Co was the first serious home aligner alternative to Smile Direct Club.
We were initially skeptical that Candid Co could truly compete with Smile Direct, 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 Co saw an real opportunity to differentiate on service quality. At the time, with rapidly growing consumer demand for a more affordable alternative to misaligned/braces led Smile Direct Club emphasize rapid growth at the expense of product and service quality. This unfortunate decision led to an outpouring of customer complaints, and created an opening for Candid Co to stand out by emphasizing service quality and strong customer support.
We’ve been pleasantly surprised with what Candid Co has been able to accomplish over the past two years. Candid Co appears to have lived up to it’s promise of service quality, as the service grows increasingly popular and generally quite positive reviews can now be found all over the web.