Candid and Smilelove have a lot in common. Both clear aligner services offer at-home teeth straightening, and both are newer to the scene than industry giant SmileDirectClub. 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 Candid and Smilelove, and provide all the information you need to choose the best home teeth aligner for you.
Table of Contents
Overview and Recommendation
Bottom Line: Both Companies Offer Big Savings and Convenience
There’s a lot to like about both of these companies. Compared to in-office treatments like Invisalign, either one is a convenient and affordable alternative. Choose Candid or Smilelove and you’ll receive a set of custom invisible aligners shipped directly to your door. But those are just the basics. When we dig further into the details, these companies aren’t quite as similar as they might seem.
Two Great Companies, but Candid Gets Our Vote
Smilelove is the most affordable option out there, but cost is just one aspect of home aligner treatment. When you take everything into consideration, we believe that Candid is the more effective and convenient option. They go above and beyond to ensure top-quality treatment.
Why do we rank Candid higher than Smilelove? Two reasons:
- Customer Support: Candid’s customer support is a cut above most of the competition. In online reviews, customers testify that Candid support didn’t leave them hanging when something went wrong or if they simply needed help getting used to their aligners. The quality of Smilelove’s customer support appears to be a bit more hit-or-miss.
- Product Design: When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of Candid and Smilelove’s aligners, we prefer Candid’s design. Their aligners appear frosted rather than shiny, which most users find to be less visible. Candid’s aligners are also cut straight across at the top, while Smilelove’s are scalloped. Although some providers claim a scalloped cut makes the aligners less noticeable, a straight cut is thought to exert more pressure on the teeth and allow for faster and more effective teeth movements.
All that said, there’s a lot to like about Smilelove as well, especially when it comes to cost. Smilelove aims to be the most affordable provider in the industry. Although their official price point is right in line with the competition, they run frequent promotions to bring their actual cost down $100-400 below the industry average.
But at the end of the day, this decision isn’t just about money. It’s also about your safety and well-being, and we trust that Candid puts the safety of their customers first.
Home aligners are generally effective at treating mild-to-moderate cases of crowding and spacing no matter which company you choose.
Even so, Candid and Smilelove have each taken great strides toward superior effectiveness by filling their dental network with highly-specialized individuals and partnering with reputable aligner manufacturers. While both companies deliver effective treatments, Candid’s extensive experience and Remote Monitoring service give them a slight advantage.
- Has a network made up exclusively of orthodontists
- Provides routine orthodontist check-ins with Remote Monitoring
- Partners with a reputable manufacturer (ClearCorrect)
- Cuts their aligners straight across the top for extra power
- Also works solely with orthodontists to create treatment plans
- Partners with Essix, another reputable manufacturer, to produce their aligners
- Trims aligners to match your gum line, potentially sacrificing effectiveness
Both Candid and Smilelove want to ensure that your treatment is of the highest quality, so every case is handled entirely by a licensed orthodontist, from design to oversight.
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 monitoring your care increases the likelihood of an outstanding adjustment, and reduces the risk of something going wrong during your treatment.
Other providers ensure your treatment plan will be designed by a dental professional, but don’t promise that it’ll be an orthodontist. You’ll still receive care from a qualified, knowledgeable individual, but not necessarily one that has an orthodontist’s specialized experience and skill set.
Candid goes a step further and gives you access to your orthodontist throughout the treatment process. With their Remote Monitoring system, you’ll use a special device to send intraoral images to your orthodontist every 7-10 days. This way, they can regularly evaluate your progress, and Candid claims that it can even decrease your treatment time by up to 30%.
The construction, design, and materials in your aligners can have a huge impact on your treatment’s effectiveness.
A high-quality aligner is the beginning of an effective treatment. Candid partners 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, consistently high-quality aligners.
Smilelove aligners are manufactured by Essix, an established, widely-trusted dental supplies producer. Even though Essix is a respectable company, they don’t have quite the same depth of experience creating clear aligners that ClearCorrect does.
Believe it or not, the way that your aligners are cut can have an influence on their effectiveness as well.
Smilelove trims their aligners to match your gum line, while Candid cuts theirs straight across so that they overlap the gums. This overlap might make your aligners slightly more visible, but it also makes them more effective. How? The gums help to anchor your aligners in place, giving them a point of leverage they can use to exert up to 4x more force to move your teeth.
When Smilelove says that their scalloped aligners are less visible, they aren’t lying, but know that it may also make them less effective.
One of the first things many adults check when considering home aligner treatment is their budget. Which provider offers lower prices? This is where Smilelove shines, offering the lowest prices of all the companies we reviewed.
Considering the quality of their treatment, Candid offers decent value, but Smilelove is a consistent favorite for anyone on a tight budget who’s looking for a cost-effective option. However, affordability isn’t one-dimensional. Make sure to also look beyond price tags to consider financing options and other perks as well.
- $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 (usually lower because of promotions)
- Initial payment includes aftercare retainers.
- Impression kit is also included in the sticker price.
- Financing requires a down payment but no credit check, so there’s a 100% approval rate.
Smilelove has made it their goal to offer consistently lower prices than the rest of the home aligner field, and so far they’ve succeeded. Their listed price is $1,895, but they’re always running promotions that drop that price significantly. This upfront cost includes your aligners, impression kit, and post-treatment retainers.
Promotional discounts considered, Smilelove’s cost averages 10-20% lower than the industry standard. By contrast, Candid charges $2,400, and this cost includes retainers, but not the impression kit. You can, however, skip the impressions by visiting a Candid Studio for free teeth scans.
Payment Plan Options
The initial cost isn’t everything, though. Most people don’t have $1,500-2,000 of disposable cash in their pocket, so financing is an important part of aligner affordability. Both of these companies offer financing, but there are subtle differences between their plans:
- 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.
- Smilelove offers 12-24 month plans that require a $250 down payment followed by monthly payments as low as $62.
Both financing options offer some flexibility and break the total cost into manageable chunks, although Smilelove’s might be a better option if you’re not confident in your credit score. With either one, 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 upfront anyway if you can make the finances work!
Both companies include free whitening to accompany your aligners, which is a nice touch. Candid also throws in a little tool to help you remove your aligners — this is another 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.
Because they eliminate the need for office visits and deliver aligners directly to your home, either of these companies will provide a more convenient treatment than in-office options like Invisalign. But when we get down to details, Candid’s physical locations and faster turnaround times make them a more convenient choice than Smilelove.
- Provides 20+ Candid Studios that offer free teeth scans as an alternative to impression kits
- Takes ~5 weeks to design, produce, and ship your aligners.
- Allows you to use aligners and whitening products simultaneously
- Doesn’t have any physical locations, so you must use the impression kit
- Takes 6-8 weeks to design, produce, and ship your aligners
- Aligners and whitening products cannot be used simultaneously
Once you’ve decided to dive into home aligner treatment, you’ll probably want to get the ball rolling right away. But before Candid or Smilelove can design your treatment plan, they need to get a look at your teeth.
This usually involves creating molds of your top and bottom arches with an impression kit. It sounds simple, but many customers report struggling with this first step. Taking impressions isn’t always easy if you’ve never done it before. But if you choose Smilelove, you don’t have a choice – an impression kit is the only way to get started.
Candid, on the other hand, has streamlined the process by constructing Candid Studios across the country, physical locations where you can receive free teeth scans. Not only is this easier, but it’s also faster, since the Candid Studio will send your digital scans to the company immediately. However, if you don’t live near a Candid Studio, you’ll need to complete an impression kit.
Home aligner companies aim to provide a complete smile transformation, one that includes whitening, not just straightening. So, both Candid and Smilelove offer free whitening treatment with your aligners.
Candid allows you to straighten and whiten your teeth simultaneously – just pump the foam into your aligners, put them on, and go about your day. Smilelove’s procedure is a little less convenient. Their aligner material is incompatible with their whitening product, so you can’t start the brightening process until after you’ve completed your aligner plan.
After submitting impressions or teeth scans, it’s time to play the waiting game. Creating a full treatment plan isn’t necessarily a quick process. It requires the dentist or orthodontist to carefully examine your teeth, decide the best course of action, then craft an entire series of aligners that will achieve your desired outcome.
So, don’t expect to find aligners waiting in your mailbox two days after you send your impressions. Even if the process isn’t immediate, you’ll want to know when you can expect your treatment to begin, but the timeline is different for each company.
On average, Candid takes 2 weeks to develop your treatment plan and 3 more to manufacture and ship your aligners, a total wait time of 5 weeks. Choose Smilelove and you’ll likely wait 6-8 weeks in total. They take around 3 weeks to develop your plan and another 3-5 to produce and mail your aligners.
Glance over the websites of various home aligner companies and you’ll find a number of them claiming to have the “best looking” or “most invisible” aligners, and each for different reasons. This is because aligner aesthetics is a largely subjective category and every customer has their own preferences.
Still, that won’t stop us from giving our own opinion, one we’ve formed through extensive research. We believe that, while both companies provide highly-discreet options, Candid makes the better-looking aligner. Here’s why.
- Uses a frosted, textured plastic that better matches your tooth surfaces
- Uses straight-cut aligners that slightly overlap your gums
- Reasonably stain resistant
- Uses a smooth, translucent, shiny plastic
- Scallops their aligners to match your gum line
- Reasonably stain resistant
Examine Candid and Smilelove aligners side-by-side and the first thing you’ll notice is a difference in material. Candid’s aligners have a frosted, textured appearance while Smilelove’s are smooth and translucent.
On Smilelove’s website, they state that this makes their aligners less visible than those created by their competitors, but we respectfully disagree. Your teeth are porous, so their surfaces are naturally matte. Therefore, aligners with a matte appearance (like Candid’s) look more natural, and smooth aligners can make your teeth look artificially shiny.
That said, aesthetic preferences vary from person to person, and some customers actually prefer translucent aligners, which they say make their smile “gleam.”
We mentioned this in the “Effectiveness” section, but it’s also worth noting here. Candid’s straight-cut aligners are more effective, but they’re also slightly more visible. Someone in close quarters could potentially see where the aligner overlaps your gums. Aligners cut to match your gum line, like Smilelove’s, are less visible, but it’s up to you whether this advantage is worth the reduced effectiveness.
Both companies make aligners that are resistant to staining, but we would not recommend drinking colored beverages while wearing them.
Customer Service Comparison
As you weigh your options, keep in mind that you’ll be completing this entire process on your own. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have support. Every home aligner company offers customer service options, but they’re not all equally helpful.
Candid has some of the best customer support in the entire industry. Whether you have a simple question about treatment or there’s an issue with your aligners, they’re committed to providing exceptional customer support. Smilelove has an unrivaled refund policy, but their everyday customer service has some room for growth.
Candid Customer Service
Smilelove Customer Service
- Offers numerous support platforms, including video chat
- Provides access to your orthodontist throughout treatment
- Has received excellent customer reviews
- Will work with you to modify your plan if you’re not satisfied
- Provides standard support options
- Has received negative reviews for spotty and delayed communication
- Offers prorated refunds if you’re dissatisfied at any point during treatment
Candid is available during standard business hours on a variety of support platforms – phone, webchat, email, and sometimes video chat. Smilelove provides the same channels (except video chat), but doesn’t list their specific hours of availability.
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
To gain a more comprehensive view of the customer experience, we dug into online reviews for both companies. In general, we found that customers are more satisfied with Candid’s support than Smilelove’s.
Candid appears to be extremely responsive to customer requests for help, and we’ve encountered very few complaints in this department. Most customers report that Candid’s support team is courteous and helpful in resolving issues quickly.
Additionally, Candid has cultivated a large amount of helpful information on their website, from an extensive FAQ section to a blog with tips and guides about home aligner treatment. So, if you have a basic question, there’s a good chance that you can find an answer online and won’t even need to contact customer service.
But as we sorted through Smilelove reviews, we found complaints about their responsiveness. Some customers reported delays of a week or more in solving issues. While these delays can be frustrating, customers noted that Smilelove’s service representatives are friendly and caring. The company has also developed online resources like an FAQ page and blog, but they aren’t quite as extensive as Candid’s.
They might not be as responsive, but Smilelove’s refund policy is unbeatable. They’re the only home aligner company that offers a prorated refund during or after treatment. So, if you diligently follow the treatment plan but you’re not happy with the results, you can still get part of your money back.
Candid doesn’t offer refunds after you’ve begun your treatment, but their orthodontists will work with you free of charge to adjust your plan and get your treatment back on track.
Both companies provide a full refund for any expenses incurred if you’re not approved as a candidate for treatment.
Candid Company Background
Smilelove Company Background
- Founded in 2017
- Has grown to become the second-largest home aligner company in the industry
- Made a name for themselves through high-quality products and excellent customer service
- Founded in 2017
- Dug out a niche as the most affordable home aligner option
- Still small, but has a growing customer base
Candid and Smilelove both started up in 2017, but have taken fairly different routes since then. Through key partnerships and an unmatched standard of care, Candid quickly ascended the home aligner ranks to become the second-largest company in the space, behind only SmileDirectClub.
Over the past couple of years, Candid has garnered investments and expanded into the retail space, strengthening its already formidable brand. They’ve established themselves as one of the most trustworthy, customer-focused home aligner companies out there, one that will go the extra mile to deliver high-quality products/services and ensure your safety. As more customers continue discovering Candid, we expect the company to keep growing and delivering excellent results.
Smilelove didn’t expand as rapidly as Candid, and they’re still a relatively small company, but this allows them to focus on occupying a separate industry niche: affordability. While Candid has established itself as the most reliable and trustworthy choice, Smilelove has become the most cost-effective one, providing quality care on a budget. And customers are taking notice, turning to Smilelove as a less expensive alternative to larger companies like Candid and SmileDirectClub.
Saving money is great, but we’re not convinced that Smilelove’s lower costs surpass Candid’s dedication to quality, effectiveness, and safety. As Smilelove continues to grow, they might start to catch up in these areas, but we haven’t seen it yet.
Which Home Teeth Aligner Should You Use?
As you can see, Smilelove 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 quality of care or support throughout the process.
Choose Smilelove if You Are:
Seeking the most affordable option available, intrigued by the prorated refund policy, and don’t mind working with a smaller company.