If you’re considering home aligner treatment, we can only imagine how excited you are to straighten your teeth. However, the home aligner industry is still young, so it’s only natural to have questions. Fortunately, home aligners are safe to wear and highly effective. Today, they’re one of the most convenient treatments available, and most people report excellent results.
Still, the way you prepare for home aligners is important to ensure your treatment’s safety and effectiveness. Although they’re one of the cheapest options in the orthodontic industry, home aligners are still a significant investment. So, taking steps to prepare will help you feel more comfortable starting treatment.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Get a Dental Exam
Although it’s not a requirement across all home aligner brands, you should receive a comprehensive dental exam before starting any orthodontic treatment.
One of the biggest advantages of home aligner treatment is the lack of office visits. So, we understand if you’re not exactly eager to schedule a dental exam before your treatment has even started.
Still, cavities, improperly placed wisdom teeth, and gum infections are common conditions, and they can all have a significant impact on your treatment’s quality and safety.
Having a dentist thoroughly evaluate your teeth and gums will help make sure your treatment is effective and minimize the chances of anything going wrong. During your appointment, you can also schedule a cleaning and an oral cancer screening, if you’d like. Your dentist will likely also take x-rays of your teeth to check for cavities or decay.
Home aligner treatment doesn’t include any office visits, so you should start in good oral health.
Healthy teeth move the most efficiently and safely. Cavities or infections could prolong your treatment time or make your treatment less effective. Play it safe and schedule an exam before you start home aligner treatment.
Step 2: Choose a Provider
Some home aligner brands may be more popular than others, but there are several providers to choose from. And, each of them has its own unique advantages.
SmileDirectClub is the most famous home aligner company. They were the first to hit the market in 2014, and they’ve treated more patients than all of the other companies combined. Still, SmileDirectClub isn’t the perfect choice for everyone.
byte, for example, currently offers the most innovative technology of any home aligner brand. Using their unique HyperByte device, they facilitate the fastest treatment time available, just 3 months on average. On top of that, byte is the only brand that puts a lifetime guarantee on your smile. So, if your teeth shift, they’ll send you new aligners to readjust them for free — even if it’s been years since your initial treatment!
In fact, byte is our #1 ranked home aligner company. Their unmatched treatment time, plus orthodontist-only network, lifetime guarantee, and convenient nighttime treatment make them a fantastic all-around choice.
For a more detailed look at the top home aligner providers, check out our comprehensive guide.
Step 3: Decide How To Pay For Treatment
Most home aligner brands have fairly similar price tags. Some companies run frequent promotions or offer perks, like free whitening gel, to sweeten the pot. However, the average price for home aligners is $1,900. Although that is less than half the cost of most in-office treatments, like Invisalign, it’s still a big financial commitment.
Almost every home aligner brand offers some sort of financing or monthly payment plan to break that cost into more manageable chunks. SmileDirectClub and byte offer fairly similar plans that are available to every customer, regardless of credit score. Candid also has a $99/month financing plan, but a credit check is required. So, your approval isn’t guaranteed. AlignerCo, the industry’s most affordable brand, offers two different financing plans, one with a credit check and one without.
Unfortunately, insurance usually won’t cover home aligners. So, you’ll typically have to pay for treatment out of pocket. But once again, most home aligner brands will also include free whitening or aftercare retainers in the overall treatment cost.
Step 4: Order an Impression Kit (or Schedule a 3D Scan)
Before ordering your aligners, your chosen provider will need to determine whether or not you’re a good fit for at-home treatment.
The best candidates are people with mild-to-moderate misalignments and no bite issues.
There are two ways to determine your candidacy for home aligner treatment. The first way is to visit the company’s website and order an impression kit. These kits typically cost $50-100 and include instructions to take photos and impressions of your teeth. Once you’ve got an accurate impression, send the kit back to the company for their team of dentists to review. Then, after a few days, you’ll find out if you’ve been approved.
Unfortunately, taking a good impression of your teeth can be a challenge. As an alternative, two brands currently have retail locations where you can schedule a 3D scan of your teeth instead. SmileDirectClub opened their first SmileShop in 2016, and they have over 300 locations nationwide. Candid only has about 25 Candid Studios, but they have big plans for future expansion
For both companies, the 3D scan is completely free and only takes about 30 minutes to complete. So, it’s often more convenient than ordering an impression kit.
Step 5: Get to Know Your Treatment Plan
Once you purchase your aligners, you’ll need to wait a few weeks for the company to manufacture and ship them.
They’ll arrive along with detailed instructions, including how long you should wear your aligners and how long your treatment will take. You’ll probably be excited to get started, but it’s essential that you review your treatment plan and your provider’s instructions before wearing your new aligners.
Most importantly, you should wear your aligners for 22 hours per day, only removing them to eat, drink, or brush your teeth.
You should also clean your aligners daily and brush your teeth after meals. These are the most common instructions, but your provider may provide more.
Your package will also include a customized treatment plan and details on how long you should wear each set of aligners. If you don’t wear your aligners for the required amount of time or if you start a new set too soon, you may not achieve your desired results. So, follow your provider’s instructions carefully to prevent any complications. And, reach out to your assigned dentist or the provider’s customer support team if you have any questions.
Step 6: Ensure You Can Actually Follow Your Treatment Schedule
We briefly mentioned that you’ll need to wear your aligners for a strict 22 hours per day.
Wearing your aligners for less than 22 hours each day will almost definitely prolong the process and make your treatment less effective. This could take some getting used to, but it’s important to adjust your normal routine to accommodate your new aligners.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys snacking throughout the day, you may need to plan your meals more carefully or limit the time you spend eating. You can, however, drink water while wearing your aligners. So, we recommend cutting down on coffee and soft drinks.
Brushing after meals is also important to prevent build-up on your teeth and aligners. Before you start treatment, purchase a travel toothbrush and toothpaste kit to bring with you to work. It may also be helpful to plan the time of day you’ll clean your aligners so that you won’t forget.
If wearing aligners for 22 hours per day sounds like too big of a commitment, you might be better suited for a more flexible treatment, like SmileDirectClub or byte’s nighttime-only plans.
On a nighttime-only plan, you only wear your aligners for 10 hours every night instead of 22 hours per day. Of course, this extends your overall timeline to 10 months for SmileDirectClub and 4-6 months for byte.
Creating a consistent routine for yourself is key to making sure your treatment goes according to plan. Making preparations beforehand will help you feel more confident that you’ve set yourself up for success.
Step 7: Get Comfortable With Being A Bit Uncomfortable
During your treatment, you’ll switch to a new set of aligners about once every two weeks. Each set is meant to move your teeth a tiny bit at a time until they’ve reached the desired position. So, the aligners will feel tight for the first few days of wear. As a result, your teeth will be slightly sore. But, the pain should be bearable.
If you’re particularly sensitive to tooth pain, consider buying Tylenol for relief. Take some when you start wearing a new set of aligners to prevent excessive soreness later in the day. And keep the medicine with you just in case any pain returns. The last thing you want is to be in an important meeting or at a party with sore teeth and gums. Some people even carry pain relievers in the same kit as their travel toothbrush, so they’re always prepared.
What you carry in your aligner kit is up to you. Chapstick, floss, and mouthwash are all great ideas to make your kit more useful. Regardless, it’s vital to pack some sort of travel bag before starting home aligner treatment.
Home teeth straightening is still a new concept, so it’s only natural to wonder how the process works. If you’re getting ready to start home aligner treatment, we’re sure you have plenty of questions. However, researching and preparing for your treatment is the best way to feel more comfortable.
If you don’t know where to start, use this checklist as a guide to plan out your treatment. Check out the top brands’ websites for more details about the home teeth straightening process. You can even visit your regular dentist to discuss your options and make sure home aligners are the right choice for you.