Invisalign took the orthodontic industry by storm in 1997 when they introduced the first-ever clear aligner. No longer did adults need to fill their mouths with metal to achieve straighter teeth. As their popularity grew, an entire field of clear aligner companies followed, and this competition drove evolution.
Invisalign and its competitors didn’t get complacent with the success of their aligners. Rather, they developed new technology and procedures, perhaps none more innovative than at-home aligner treatment. byte is one of the newest at-home teeth alignment companies on the market, but they’re also one that’s sparking new and exciting treatment developments.
Although at first glance byte might seem exactly like Invisalign, their treatment processes are actually quite different. In this review, we’ll dive into the details of how Invisalign and byte actually compare — including several things your dentist might not have told you.
Table of Contents
Over two decades ago, a dental technology company called Align Technology developed Invisalign, the first clear aligner series. Invisalign commanded the clear aligner market for nearly ten years. They quickly implemented an ambitious marketing campaign, partnered with dentists and orthodontists across the country, and had transformed 175,000 smiles by 2004. Today, Invisalign maintains its position atop the clear aligner industry. They partner with 100,000 dentists in 90 countries and have treated over 7 million patients.
Founded in 2018, byte hasn’t treated nearly as many patients, but they have taken impressive steps in reducing treatment times and prioritizing customer service. Co-founder and Chief Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Jon Marashi has a star-studded portfolio of A-list patients. Dr. Marashi started byte to bring his Hollywood-tested treatments to the mainstream. They may be a young company, but they’re making waves with their innovative technology and exemplary customer support, quickly becoming one of the industry’s top competitors and taking the #1 spot in our home aligner rankings.
At-Home vs. In-Office Treatment: The Pros and Cons
As we mentioned above, even though they both produce clear aligners, Invisalign and byte provide fairly different treatments. Invisalign is administered in-office by a dentist, while byte’s aligners are developed remotely by a licensed orthodontist and applied at home.
Which is better? The answer isn’t so straightforward. Each has its own unique advantages and drawbacks.
Pros of In-Office Treatment:
- In-office aligner treatments can incorporate attachments and appliances (like elastics and expanders) that allow them to treat more severe tooth and jaw misalignments.
- Regular office visits allow dentists to carefully monitor your progress and adjust or supplement your treatment if necessary.
- In-office treatments provide more personalized customer service, as you can take any questions or concerns directly to your dentist.
Cons of In-Office Treatment:
- Because you’re also paying for your dentist’s time, in-office treatment is often more expensive than at-home treatments.
- Making regular office visits is more time-consuming and less convenient than at-home treatment.
Pros of At-Home Treatment:
- At-home aligners are, on average, much more affordable than in-office treatments.
- Because they don’t require office visits, home aligner treatments are often more convenient.
- At-home aligner treatments typically take around 6 months to achieve the desired results, while in-office treatments often take around 12.
Cons of At-Home Treatment:
- They’re not able to treat more severe cases of crowding, spacing and bite misalignments like in-office aligners can.
- Depending on the company, customer support isn’t as personalized as you’ll receive with in-office aligners.
The fact is that at-home and in-office aligners are both quality options, but which one you choose largely depends on your unique condition and situation. For example, an in-office brand might be more effective for someone with a severe overbite, while an at-home brand could be preferable for someone with a mild case of spacing and a tight budget.
Invisalign and byte each present their own unique treatments with specific nuances and perks. Let’s dig into the details to find out where each company excels.
Saving money is great, but it doesn’t really matter if the treatment isn’t effective. Along with “how much does it cost?” you should be asking “how well does it work?” Think: overall treatment times, manufacturer reliability, and aligner design. These elements will determine whether or not your clear aligner provider can deliver your desired results within your ideal timeframe. Invisalign and byte are each highly effective, but suitable for different situations.
That said, Invisalign’s versatility and capability to treat a wide variety of severe conditions typically make it the more effective option.
- Can treat almost any condition that braces can by employing orthodontic attachments
- Created by Align Technology, the #1 clear aligner producer
- Aligners are customized and trimmed in a scalloped-fashion to fit the gumline
- Can treat mild-to-moderate cases of crowding and spacing, and some bite issues
- Do not disclose their aligner manufacturer
- Aligners are cut straight across for more power and faster treatment time
What Can They Treat?
Because it doesn’t incorporate office visits and dentist oversight, byte’s treatment is limited to correcting mild-to-moderate cases of crowding and spacing, along with some very minor bite issues. You will need to submit an impression kit so that byte’s orthodontists can determine whether their treatment can achieve the results you want. In the event that you’re not a good candidate, they will let you know upfront. And, you can pursue an in-office treatment like Invisalign instead.
Invisalign can treat just about any condition you may have. Severe crowding, large gaps, underbite, overbite, crossbite, and much more – Invisalign can correct them all. This is because your dentist can enhance your aligners with orthodontic appliances like elastics and expanders. Invisalign even has its own patented additions called Smartforce attachments, which affix to your teeth and induce more intricate, powerful movements. Without a dentist’s oversight, these additions aren’t possible, so they’re not available with byte.
Consider the difficult life of a clear aligner. You bite down on them all day, every day and they have to maintain their shape. This highly-specific shape has been carefully designed to facilitate intricate teeth movements, so if it breaks or relaxes, it will completely lose its effectiveness. This is where reliable aligner materials and construction come into play.
Invisalign’s parent company, Align Technology, is the largest and most experienced clear aligner producer in the U.S. They’ve been creating high-quality aligners since the 90s, and they’re always finding ways to improve their products. Currently, Align Technology and Invisalign use a patented material called “SmartTrack,” which Invisalign claims “moves your teeth more precisely and comfortably.”
Given the quality of their results so far, we assume that byte partners with a trustworthy manufacturer, but they do not disclose that information, so we can’t be completely sure.
All clear aligner companies cut their products one of two ways: straight across the top or scalloped to match the gum line. This cut can influence their effectiveness. byte takes the straight-cut approach, which often allows for a shorter treatment time. It uses the gums as an anchor to exert additional force on the teeth, moving them faster than scalloped aligners. However, Invisalign has its own perks. They trim their aligners to your gum line, but your dentist can use attachments to match the leverage that straight-cut aligners get from overlapping the gums.
It’s worth noting that byte works exclusively with orthodontists to create and oversee your treatment plan. These orthodontists work remotely, but still possess a high level of expertise. For reference, an orthodontist is more specialized than a general licensed dentist. They spend 6 postgraduate years studying the art of moving teeth and crafting smiles. Candid and byte are the only two home aligner companies that work solely with orthodontists.
Invisalign can be administered by either a dentist or an orthodontist, so the choice is up to you. You might prefer to go with your usual dentist (if they’re a provider) so you can have your teeth straightened at the same office where you get them cleaned. Or, you might decide to get a referral for an orthodontist instead.
Both byte and Invisalign use software to scan your teeth, create 3D models of your dental arches, and simulate your treatment plan. Invisalign uses a proven 3D scanner system called iTero, paired with custom software called ClinCheck, which uses algorithms to model ideal movements for each tooth. iTero scanners and ClinCheck software both have long track records of success and pair specifically with Invisalign’s treatment.
Among home aligner companies, byte uses some of the most unique and intriguing technologies. Their Smile Science software considers all of your facial features when crafting your new smile, so the finished product complements your full facial structure.
But the most exciting aspect of byte treatment is “HyperByte”, the technology that’s enabled byte to claim an average treatment time of just 3 months. HyperByte is a unique device that moves your teeth using tiny vibrations, and it’s included in the upfront cost of byte treatment. All you need to do is bite down on this device for 5 minutes a day. This proven technology uses high-frequency (yet gentle) vibrations to stimulate the bone structures in your mouth, allowing for faster and more comfortable treatment.
Straight teeth are great, but not at the expense of your financial well-being. Orthodontic treatments have long presented a significant monetary investment, Invisalign included. But by eliminating the need for office visits, at-home aligner companies have cut their costs nearly in half, making it much more accessible to transform your smile. Even though Invisalign can treat a much wider range of conditions, home aligners like byte are more suitable for anyone who’s on a tight budget.
- No set sticker price, average cost is $3,500-8,000
- Aftercare retainers cost anywhere from $100-300, depending on the dentist
- Financing varies depending on the dentists, may require a credit check or down payment
- $1,895 sticker price
- Aftercare retainers are included in the cost of treatment
- Financing requires a down payment but no credit check (everyone is approved!)
byte’s upfront cost is $1,895, right around the average for home aligners. They aren’t the cheapest option out there, but compared to Invisalign, they’re much more cost-effective. Plus, this cost includes your post-treatment retainers. This is a nice touch considering other companies charge you around $100 for aftercare retainers.
Trying to pin down Invisalign’s price is a bit harder because it varies depending on your specific dentist and the severity of your condition. Generally, the more office visits you require, the more your treatment will cost. But even at its most affordable, Invisalign is still pricier than home aligners. The average course of Invisalign treatment costs between $3,500 and $8,000. Unique circumstances might cause the price to fall outside this range, but in general, that’s what you can expect to pay.
What About Insurance?
Insurance companies will sometimes consider orthodontic treatment purely cosmetic, especially in milder cases often associated with home aligners. But, that’s not always the case. Whether you choose Invisalign or byte, there’s a chance you may get some assistance from your insurer. Rarely will an insurance company cover the entire treatment, but some will contribute to part of the costs, which still helps to make treatment more affordable.
However, Invisalign and byte’s insurance processes are slightly different. Your dentist or orthodontist’s office can receive payments directly from your insurance company, while byte cannot. Instead, byte requires you to pay for your treatment, then apply for reimbursement. Fortunately, in an effort to streamline the process, byte’s customer support team will handle the paperwork for you.
Neither company expects you to have stacks of cash lying around, waiting to be spent. So, they both offer financing and payment plans.
Invisalign doesn’t have company-wide financing policies. Instead, you’ll need to speak with your dentist about their payment plan options, which may or may not require a credit check and/or down payment. Not confident in your credit score? No worries! byte’s payment plan, called bytepay, ensures financing for every customer, regardless of credit score. It requires a $249 down payment, and you’ll pay $83/month for 25 months after that.
We know you’re busy. Between work, family, friends, and (hopefully) some time for self-care, most adults are. When you find a small window of free time, your top priority probably isn’t to spend it at the dentist’s office. It’s simply not as convenient as having your aligners delivered directly to your doorstep.
But office visits alone don’t dictate a treatment’s convenience. You should also consider average treatment times, startup processes, schedule flexibility, and more. byte takes the convenience category fairly easily by allowing you to complete treatment entirely from home.
- In-person consultation with a dentist is required to get started, including X-rays and photos
- Requires monthly office visits to monitor progress and receive new aligner sets
- Average treatment time is 12-15 months
- Does not have a nighttime-only option, only the all-day, 22+ hour schedule
- Ordering an impression kit online is the only way to get started
- Treatment is completed entirely at home– no office visits required
- Average treatment time is 3 months for standard treatment and 6 months for nighttime-only treatment
- Offers a nighttime-only option that only requires aligner wear for 10 hours per day
Before kicking off your treatment, byte needs to confirm that their aligners can deliver the results you’re after. To do so, they will need to get a look at your teeth. This means creating and submitting molds called “impressions.” Your first step will be purchasing an impression kit and submitting the necessary molds. The issue is that most people have zero experience taking dental impressions. So, this process can be somewhat cumbersome, and some customers report needing multiple attempts.
The first step in Invisalign treatment is scheduling a consultation with your dentist or provider of choice. Here, you can learn more about your options and a dental professional will take X-rays and impressions of your teeth. Often, this is much simpler than attempting to take impressions on your own.
The Office Visit Trade-Off
Invisalign’s office visits serve an important purpose. They allow your dentist to carefully oversee and modify your treatment, making it more effective in correcting a wide scope of conditions. But when you finally get some well-earned free time, spending it at the dentist’s office isn’t nearly as exciting or relaxing as the alternatives. That’s why many adults opt for at-home companies instead.
After you’re approved for byte treatment, the company’s orthodontists will design, produce, and ship your aligners directly to your home. You will need to administer the treatment yourself, but it eliminates the need for regular office visits. So, you can spend less time in the patient’s chair and more time doing what you want.
How Long Does Treatment Take?
Here’s where byte really excels. Not only is their treatment time much faster than Invisalign’s, but it’s faster than every other home aligner company as well. On average, three months is all it takes to shift your teeth, thanks to byte’s unique HyperByte device. This mouthpiece uses gentle vibrations to move teeth faster and ensure a better aligner fit. Most other home aligner treatments take almost double the time (~6 months) to deliver the same results.
Granted, this is often because byte is used to treat milder conditions that don’t take as long to correct. Invisalign treats more severe cases than byte, ones that require more drastic or intricate movements. So, Invisalign generally takes 12 months in total, though your treatment time can be somewhat longer or shorter, depending on the severity of your condition.
What About Nighttime-Only Treatment?
Nighttime aligners are a relatively new development in clear aligner treatment. Typically, you must wear your aligners for 22+ hours per day to ensure a successful treatment. However, byte (and SmileDirectClub) recently introduced a nighttime-only option, which only requires you to wear your aligners for 10 hours per day (overnight) instead.
These are actually the same exact aligners that you would receive for regular, all-day treatment. You just follow a different schedule, wearing each set 10 hrs/day for two weeks instead of one. While this flexible schedule makes treatment more convenient, it also extends your overall timeline to 6 months (on average). Plus, not wearing your aligners for an extended amount of time could allow your teeth to shift back to their old positions.
Invisalign doesn’t offer a comparable nighttime-only option. They maintain that for best results, you should wear your aligners for 20-22 hours per day, removing them only to eat, drink, brush, and floss.
One of the main reasons clear aligners are so popular today is because they offer a much more discreet alternative to traditional braces. Any adult who dreads the idea of showing up to a date or job interview with a mouth full of wires now has a variety of other options. Every company’s clear aligners are less noticeable than braces, but if we dig deeper, we find that certain aligners are even less visible than others. And, there are a couple of visual differences between Invisalign and byte that are worth noting.
Keep in mind that different people have different aesthetic preferences, so each person will have their own ideas about what looks best.
- Uses a frosted, textured plastic that better matches your tooth surfaces
- Scallops their aligners to match your gum line
- Reasonably stain resistant
- Supplemental appliances, such as attachments or elastics will make aligners more visible
- Aligners are smooth and translucent, may look artificially shiny
- Uses straight-cut aligners that slightly overlap your gums.
- Reasonably stain resistant
- Attachments are not offered, so aligners stay clear and less noticeable
All clear aligner companies use medical-grade, BPA-free plastics in their products. But, there are two schools of thought when it comes to aligner materials. One is that smooth, translucent plastic makes them less visible. The other is that a textured, frosted surface makes them look more natural. We agree with the second. Invisalign aligners have a textured surface, which better matches the naturally porous and matte surface of your teeth.
On the flip side, byte uses a smooth, clear plastic that can, in our opinion, seem artificially reflective. This, however, is somewhat dependent on personal tastes. Some customers report liking the way these smooth aligners make their teeth “gleam.”
Refer to the “Effectiveness” section above, and you’ll find another section on aligner cut. This design aspect doesn’t just impact effectiveness, though. It also influences visibility. Straight-cut aligners (like byte’s) might be able to move the teeth more quickly, but the slight overlap between aligner and gums can also make them more visible. Invisalign’s aligners are trimmed to match your gum line, so they don’t have the same visible overlap. Plus, Invisalign uses tiny attachments to anchor your aligners in place giving them the comparable (if not better) teeth-moving power.
One of Invisalign’s main appeals is its ability to incorporate other orthodontic attachments to treat severe misalignments and bite issues. These attachments are essential for treating a wide scope of conditions, but they also make the aligners more visible. byte doesn’t have this issue, as its aligners are unable to use supplemental attachments.
Beginning orthodontic treatment can be a nerve-wracking experience. You might be concerned about the potential outcome or wondering whether or not it’s going to work. The good news is that both Invisalign and byte are committed to quality, safe, and satisfactory results. But if something does go wrong, you want to be sure that your treatment provider will address your concerns efficiently and pleasantly. Go with either Invisalign or byte, and you’ll have some of the most responsive, helpful and comprehensive customer support the industry has to offer.
Invisalign Customer Friendliness
byte Customer Friendliness
- Your dentist’s office functions as your primary customer support contact
- Customer satisfaction varies depending on the dentist, but you have the option of speaking with your dentist in-person
- No company-wide policy on refunds or returns, varies depending on the dentist
- Each customer is assigned a “byte advisor” for questions, concerns, etc
- Limited reviews available, but they are mostly positive
- Will work with you to modify your treatment plan if you’re not satisfied
- Offers byte-for-life warranty and will deliver new aligners if you teeth shift in the future (even if it’s been years since your initial treatment!)
Need to get in touch? byte customer service representatives are available by phone, email, text, and webchat from 8:00am to 6:00pm PST. You can also reach out on social media and receive a response within 24 hours. On top of all that, byte assigns each customer their own “byte advisor” who will be your personal contact for questions, concerns, etc. throughout the process.
Invisalign operates its customer support differently. While you can email the company directly, a majority of your questions and concerns will be handled by your dentist’s office. This gives you a direct contact and a level of personalized care that most home aligner companies can’t match.
Customer Support Responsiveness
We compiled all the online reviews we could find to get a sense of the byte customer experience. Being fairly new, they don’t have a lot of reviews so far. But, from what we uncovered, it appears that most byte customers are satisfied with their customer service responsiveness.
Finding reviews for Invisalign’s customer support is a little more difficult since specific dental offices handle their patients’ questions and concerns. We assume, however, that the benefit of having a personal contact makes for a superior customer service experience. Out of all the home aligner companies, byte does the best job creating a comparable experience with their dedicated byte advisors.
Refund & Warranty Policies
Let’s take a look at worst-case scenarios for a second. What do you do if your treatment doesn’t progress as expected? Consider this: you’re two months into your byte treatment plan and you’re simply not seeing the results you expected. Now what?
Since you’ve already begun the program, they won’t offer a refund. But, their orthodontists will work with you, free of charge, to make sure you end up with the smile you want. And after your treatment wraps up, byte guarantees that new smile for life. Their byte-for-life warranty will issue new aligners at any point in the future if your teeth shift again, even if it’s years down the road. No other home aligner company has a warranty like this.
Invisalign’s system makes it easy for your dentist to make mid-treatment adjustments. During your regular office visits, your dentist will assess your progress and make modifications if necessary. In this model, it’s much easier to make changes on the fly to ensure you’ll get your desired results. Check with your dentist or orthodontist to see what types of warranty they offer for your Invisalign treatment.
Which Should You Choose?
Once again, both of these companies offer quality, effective clear aligner treatments. Neither one is clearly or inherently better than the other. Rather, each one has its own strengths and each excels in different circumstances. So, your decision should be based on your unique condition, goals, and expectations.
Who Should Choose byte?
Anyone who wants to correct a mild-to-moderate misalignment ASAP while receiving top-quality care and customer service should consider byte.
Who Should Choose Invisalign?
To correct a more severe condition, or if you’re more comfortable receiving one-on-one care from a dentist/orthodontist, Invisalign is an ideal choice.