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 dig further into the details and you’ll find some clear differences between them.
Two Great Companies, but Candid Gets Our Vote
SmileDirectClub was the first company to offer invisible aligners online in 2014. They’ve been around longer and have a larger following than Candid. However, we think Candid’s commitment to top-quality treatment gives their service the edge. 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 Directed: Unlike SmileDirectClub, Candid guarantees that every customer’s treatment plan will be designed by a licensed orthodontist. 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.
- Superior 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. They’ve made some major improvements, but Candid has always been dedicated to exceptional, consistent customer support, and their online reviews reflect this. They make a point of responding promptly if you run into issues. Plus, their comprehensive CandidMonitoring service and CandidApp give you consistent access to Candid’s clinical and customer support teams.
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, providing regular clinical oversight and promising that your care will be developed by an orthodontist.
- Works exclusively with orthodontists.
- Provides in-depth clinical oversight every step of the way.
- Their treatment plans incorporate all of your teeth, including the molars.
- Cuts their aligners straight across the top for extra power.
- Works with orthodontists and general dentists.
- Dental professionals are available for regular Smile Check-ins.
- Once partnered with Align Tech to manufacture aligners, but now produces them in-house.
- Trims their aligners to match the gumline.
Candid stands out compared to SmileDirectClub by ensuring your care will be developed by an orthodontist licensed in your state. This is a big deal because orthodontists receive several years of specialized training, so that they can spot and address even the most subtle alignment issues.
Having an orthodontist designing your care increases the likelihood of an outstanding adjustment, and reduces the risk of something going wrong during treatment. And Candid has the most intensive remote monitoring service of any home aligner company. Using their CandidMonitoring service, you’ll send smile images to their clinical team for each aligner set, which allows them to evaluate your progress, assess any issues, and bring in your orthodontist to make any necessary adjustments.
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. While they don’t have specific remote monitoring equipment like Candid, SmileDirectClub does allow you to check-in virtually every 90 days, and their dental team is available seven days a week to field questions.
Candid’s treatment has the ability to move all of your teeth, including the molars. In doing so, Candid is able to create the necessary space in your dental arches, laying the groundwork to move your front six teeth (AKA the “social six”) 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’s treatment is much more comprehensive, taking a holistic approach that’s closer to what you’d get from an in-office option like Invisalign.
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 they call “Comfort Sense,” which is 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 adults check when considering home aligner treatment is their budget. Which provider offers lower prices?
Candid and SmileDirectClub have pretty similar sticker prices. That said, there are a couple of other important differences in costs and payment options that you’ll want to keep in mind.
- $1,895 sticker price
- Charges $99 for retainers after treatment
- Impression kit is $95 (free at a Candid Studio location or if you purchase the full treatment)
- CandidMonitoring equipment and service is included
- Offers in-house and third-party financing plans. Both require a credit check, although nearly everyone qualifies for the in-house plan.
- $1,950 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!)
A course of treatment with Candid will cost you $1,895, while SmileDirectClub charges $1,950. Both companies charge $99 for retainers at the end of your treatment, so you should anticipate a slightly higher final cost with either company. However, Candid also includes their CandidMonitoring equipment and service in the sticker price.
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’s 24-month financing plan does not require a credit check, but does require a $250 down payment, followed by payments of $89/month.
- Candid’s 36-month financing plan does require a credit check, but they accept almost everybody. This plan requires a $199 down payment followed by payments of $65/month.
Candid also offers financing through a third-party company called Affirm, which requires a more selective credit check, but comes with 0% APR and doesn’t require a down payment. But if you don’t think you would qualify based on a credit check, either company’s in-house 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, 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. SmileDirectClub includes Movemints in their treatment package, small mints that you can chew to help seat your aligners.
Candid’s price also covers their CandidMonitoring service and equipment. This includes a ScanBox device that allows you to take intraoral images with your phone and regular digital check-ins with Candid’s clinical team.
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’s treatment is certainly convenient, 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.
- Average treatment time is 6 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 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 because 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 only has 20+ Candid Studios). Plus, the SmileDirectClub Partner Network includes more than 1,000 dentists’ offices nationwide, where you can begin your treatment with an in-office consultation and teeth scan, if you’d prefer.
Note: If you get started at a SmileShop, you may have the option to sign up for a “Fast Track” service, which gets your aligners to your door as fast as possible. However, it also means you need to pay the full treatment cost upfront. And according to some customer reviews, after agreeing to fast-track their aligner production, they weren’t able to see their full treatment plan before receiving their aligners, so make sure you consider it carefully before signing up.
One of the biggest advantages at-home aligner treatments have over in-office options is their speed. Candid and SmileDirectClub don’t take nearly as long as braces or Invisalign (which can take 12-24 months). Both companies take an average of 6 months to complete treatment. On their website, SmileDirectClub says that treatment can take as little as 4 months, although that’s likely for very minor cases.
Another feature that makes SmileDirectClub more convenient than Candid is that they offer some customers the option to wear aligners only at night, for 10 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 treatment comes at the same price as their traditional treatment.
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 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.
- Reasonably stain resistant.
- Uses a more flexible plastic.
- 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.
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 their clinical team.
- 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 – chat, email, and phone.
The CandidMonitoring service puts you in contact with Candid’s clinical team 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 seven days a week via text and chat.
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. According to the SmileDirectClub website, this dental team is available via chat and text for questions 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 year or so, SmileDirectClub seems to be making an effort to improve its service quality and customer support issues. These efforts appear to be paying off—especially with the implementation of their Smile Check-ins and mobile app—but we still give the 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 followed their treatment protocol).
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).
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 led to some customer complaints—and even though they’ve improved since then—it 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 few 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 comprehensive, orthodontist-directed treatment plans and their CandidMonitoring service.
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 seems to be hit-or-miss, but the company generally keeps its promises. Although, it may take some extra effort on the customer’s end.
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!
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. Often, these customers chose Candid because they appreciated having an orthodontist’s oversight and the convenience of Candid Studio teeth scanning.
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.
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:
Looking for straighter teeth on a budget, but unwilling to compromise on the quality of care or customer support throughout the process.
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 CandidMonitroning service, orthodontist-directed care, and excellent customer service make Candid a great choice for anyone who values effectiveness and safety. 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?
Option one: you can get started with Candid or SmileDirectClub by purchasing and completing an impression kit. This involves using a special putty to create molds of your teeth. But both of these companies also offer physical locations where you can get your teeth scanned for free instead. If you live near one of these SmileShops or Candid Studios, this is often a quicker, easier process.
What are customers saying about Candid and SmileDirectClub?
Candid’s customers often love their experiences, expressing satisfaction with their pricing and Candid Studio procedures. SmileDirectClub seems to provide a satisfactory experience for most customers, although some online reviews report sluggish communication and customer support.
What is the most effective home aligner company?
That honor goes to Candid. They work with licensed orthodontists to design and oversee treatments. That orthodontist-directed care, combined with their ability to move all the teeth (including molars) and regular clinical oversight from their CandidMonitoring service, puts Candid head and shoulders above the rest. Check out other effective treatments on our Top 3 Most Effective Home Aligners guide.
Do Candid and SmileDirectClub offer financing plans?
Yes, both have payment plans that make their prices more manageable. Choose Candid’s plan and you’ll need to qualify via a credit check (although almost everyone is approved). With this plan, you’ll pay a $199 down payment, then as low as $65 per month for 36 months.
Candid also offers financing through a third party called Affirm, which requires a credit check but no down payment and comes with 0% APR. There’s no credit check for SmileDirectClub’s SmilePay plan, but it requires a $250 down payment followed by 24 monthly payments of $89.
What is the fastest home aligner company?
byte. Their average treatment takes just 3 months, while most other home aligner companies take around 6. Even Byte At-Night takes 4-6 months, right around the industry average. Our detailed Byte review has a lot more info.
What is the cheapest home 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.?
Not usually. Home aligners are designed to treat mild and moderate cases of crowding and spacing. Most often, jaw misalignments require a more robust, in-office treatment like braces or Invisalign, one that has face-to-face orthodontist oversight and incorporates attachments like elastics.
How do Candid and SmileDirectClub compare to Invisalign?
Both treatments use a series of clear aligners to shift your teeth. The major difference is that your dentist or orthodontist will administer Invisalign in-office and can incorporate supplement attachments (elastics, buttons, etc.).
As a result, Invisalign can treat just about any condition that braces can. Home aligners don’t require office visits, so they can’t employ attachments and they have a smaller range of treatable cases. Take a look at our SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign and Candid vs. Invisalign guides for a deeper analysis.
How long does home aligner treatment take?
In most cases, 6 months. Your timeline could be shorter or longer, though, depending on your condition’s severity and how consistently you wear your aligners. And if you choose Byte, your treatment will move a bit faster. They use “HyperByte” technology to achieve faster teeth shifts, completing most treatments in 3 months instead of 6.
What other companies should I consider?
Byte, AlignerCo, and NewSmile are all worth a look. Each one has its own advantages. Byte has the industry’s fastest treatment times, 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?
$1,200 – $2,200, depending on which company you choose. AlignerCo, for example, has cut out the bells and whistles to provide effective treatment at just $1,145. While Candid and Byte, who provide industry-leading technologies, are a bit more. Even the most expensive home aligners are still much cheaper than the $3,000 – $8,000 you’ll pay for 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.