You might be surprised to learn that it’s been more than two decades since Invisalign pioneered the very first clear aligner treatment. In fact, clear aligners seem perpetually new and cutting edge because they’re constantly evolving. Since their introduction in 1997, clear aligner companies have continuously worked to develop more effective, convenient, and inconspicuous treatments. But out of all these innovations, arguably the most influential has been at-home aligner systems.
Several young, ambitious companies have created comparable treatments that can be completed entirely from home, and one of the most notable has been Candid. Candid offers high-quality aligner treatment delivered right to your door, eliminating the need for regular dentist office visits. But while Invisalign and Candid’s aligners might look similar, their treatment methods are actually quite different.
If you’re trying to decide between these two treatment options, you’ve landed in the right place. In this review, we’ll dive into the details of how Invisalign and Candid actually compare — including several things your dentist might not have told you.
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Over two decades ago, a dental technology company called Align Tech developed the first clear aligner series, Invisalign, which 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 have transformed 175,000 smiles since 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.
Twenty years after Invisalign first put clear aligners on the market, Candid began their home aligner journey. With a former Lyft executive at the helm, Candid sought to bring the convenience of ride-sharing to orthodontic treatment without sacrificing quality or safety. A couple of key partnerships and a $15 million round of investments empowered them to quickly become the second-largest company in the home aligner space, behind only SmileDirectClub. Candid’s trajectory is straight up, and it appears that they’ll only continue growing.
At-Home vs. In-Office Treatment: The Pros and Cons
As we mentioned above, even though they both produce clear aligners, Invisalign and Candid provide fairly different treatments. Invisalign is administered in-office by a dentist, while Candid’s aligners are developed remotely by a licensed dental professional 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 supplemental appliances (like elastics) 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 about 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 may be more suitable for someone with a mild case of spacing and a tight budget.
Invisalign and Candid each present their own unique treatments with specific nuances and perks. Let’s dig into the details to find out where each company excels.
Aside from choosing an affordable treatment, you also want one that’s going to be effective. If you have specific results in mind, you’ll want a company that can deliver them in a timely fashion. Before starting treatment, confirm that the company is capable of treating your specific condition and consider the quality of their aligner material, manufacturer, and design.
Because it’s able to correct even severe conditions and bite misalignments, Invisalign is generally the most effective option available. While it doesn’t quite measure up to Invisalign, Candid has done an impressive job developing an effective at-home treatment.
- Can treat almost any condition that braces can using orthodontic attachments
- Office visits provide regular evaluations by a dentist or orthodontist
- 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
- Remote Monitoring service provides digital check-ins with an orthodontist
- Partners with ClearCorrect, the nation’s second-largest clear aligner producer, to manufacture aligners
- Aligners are cut straight across for more power and faster treatment time
What Can They Treat?
Like other home aligner treatments, Candid is designed to treat mild-to-moderate cases of crowding and spacing. On their FAQ page, Candid says they “don’t treat severe alignment and spacing issues, and [they] can’t offer bite correction.”
If you have a severe case that includes a bite issue like overbite or underbite, Candid’s website suggests going with an in-office brand (like Invisalign) instead. You can submit an impression kit or get your teeth scanned at a Candid Studio to find out if your condition is treatable by their system.
Invisalign, on the other hand, gives your dentist a chance to monitor your progress regularly, modifying your treatment when necessary. This could include the application of orthodontic appliances like elastics, expanders, and Invisalign’s proprietary Smartforce attachments. These barely-noticeable, tooth-colored shapes attach to your teeth to help your aligners move them more effectively.
With the option for these modifications and direct dentist oversight, Invisalign can handle just about any misalignment out there.
Quality materials and trustworthy manufacturing processes are the backbone of effective aligner treatment, unseen but vital. Poor aligner construction can cause them to break, lose shape, and undo your teeth straightening progress. That’s why both Invisalign and Candid use reputable manufacturers to create their products.
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.”
Candid doesn’t slack in this area either. They have a partnership with Invisalign’s largest competitor, ClearCorrect, to produce their aligners. Founded in 2006, ClearCorrect is the nation’s second-largest clear aligner producer, and they’ve consistently delivered quality products to their customers.
Go with either company and you can be confident that you’ll receive top-quality, structurally sound aligners.
There are two common methods for trimming aligners. Some companies, like Candid, cut their aligners straight across the top so that they slightly overlap the gums. Others, like Invisalign, scallop them to match your gum line. Typically, straight-cut aligners work faster than scalloped ones, as they can leverage the gums to exert more force on your teeth.
However, Invisalign is the exception to this rule. They scallop their aligners, but also have the ability to use small attachments that anchor them in place, matching the effectiveness of straight-cut aligners.
It’s worth noting that Candid 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, byte, and Smilelove are the only home aligner companies that include only orthodontists in their networks.
And 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%. It’s not quite as effective as physical office visits, but it’s the next best thing.
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.
Whether your income is budgeted down to the penny, or you’re just an avid bargain hunter, the high price of traditional teeth straightening treatment might be off-putting. Clear aligners aren’t cheap – they’re an investment in your smile and confidence.
When comparing companies, especially at-home vs. in-office brands, you’ll notice that the price difference can vary significantly. Invisalign might offer more face time with a dentist and treat more severe cases, but Candid is generally much more affordable.
- No set sticker price, average cost is $3,500-8,000
- Aftercare retainers can cost anywhere from $100-300, depending on the dentist
- Financing varies depending on the dentists, may require a credit check or down payment
- $2,400 sticker price
- Offers your first set of retainers free of charge
- Works with a third party provider to provide financing, but a credit check is required
At $2,400, Candid’s upfront cost is the highest among home aligner companies, but it’s still often significantly lower than Invisalign. However, the price you’ll pay for Invisalign depends entirely on your particular dentist and the severity of your condition. A dentist’s time costs money, so the more work they need to put in, the more your treatment will cost. That said, Invisalign typically runs between $3,500 and $8,000. Of course, this might be higher or lower, depending on your specific case.
What About Insurance?
There’s good news and bad news here. We’ll start with the bad: some insurance companies will consider orthodontic treatment cosmetic rather than medically necessary and therefore won’t cover it. However, this isn’t always the case. The good news is that, depending on your insurance plan, you may receive partial coverage for your aligner treatment costs.
Dentist and orthodontist offices can accept insurance payments directly. So, with Invisalign, you likely won’t have to submit any extra paperwork. Candid doesn’t accept direct insurance payments, so you’ll need to apply for reimbursement instead. However, Candid says they will handle this process for you. Still, you’ll need to pay for your treatment, then wait for your reimbursement check in the mail.
Unable to pay thousands of dollars upfront? Not many can, which is why both of these companies offer financing plans. Candid works with a third-party company called Affirm that can provide financing, but requires a credit check, so not everyone will qualify. Typically, these plans consist of a $399 down payment, followed by payments of $99/month for 24 months.
Invisalign doesn’t have one overall financing policy. It defers to the plans of each individual provider, so you’ll need to check with your dentist or orthodontist about their payment plan options.
Sometimes your schedule may be packed with activities and events. Think about your work, family, and social engagements. If your to-do list is already overwhelming, shoehorning in monthly dentist visits might seem impossible. And when you happen to find a little bit of free time, you likely don’t want to spend it in the patient’s chair. After all, it takes time and dedication over several months to effectively transform your smile.
Convenience can mean fast treatment times, low time commitments, flexible treatment schedules, and more. Typically, at-home aligner systems win the convenience category by allowing you to complete the entire process from the comfort of your own 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
- Option of either ordering an impression kit online or visiting a Candid Studio location for a free 3D scan
- Treatment is completed entirely at home– no office visits required
- Average treatment time is 6 months
Like any big undertaking, the first step can be the hardest. Not only is orthodontic treatment a weighty decision, but the physical act of getting started can also be difficult, especially when it comes to at-home treatment. Fortunately, Candid has taken steps to create an easier, less-stressful startup process.
Most home aligner companies require you to purchase and complete an impression kit to get the ball rolling, but this can be fairly difficult. Candid sells impression kits too, but they also have physical locations called Candid Studios, where you can skip the impressions by getting your teeth scanned for free.
To get started with Invisalign, simply schedule a consultation with your dentist or orthodontist to discuss your options. If you want to begin treatment, they can scan your teeth in the office to begin designing your aligners.
The Office Visit Trade-Off
Here’s the deal: Invisalign’s office visits serve an important purpose. They allow your dentist to carefully oversee and modify your treatment, making it more effective. However, they also take time out of your already-busy schedule. It seems like we’re always running from one thing to the next, and carving out time for dentist visits isn’t always convenient. That’s why many adults opt for at-home aligners instead.
Candid doesn’t require any office visits throughout the treatment process, sending everything you need straight to your home. This means you’ll need to administer the treatment yourself, but it also means you won’t have to spend time scheduling appointments, driving to and from the office, and sitting in the patient’s chair.
By implementing a Remote Monitoring system, Candid provides evaluations from your orthodontist throughout the process. Since they just use digital images, these check-ins aren’t nearly as thorough as office visits, but they’re much easier to complete.
How Long Does Treatment Take?
This question is particularly important if you have a tight timeframe. Say your wedding is in eight months, or you have another important event coming up. It’s good to know how long your treatment will take.
Of course, treatment time is somewhat dependent on your condition’s severity, but it can also vary between companies. At-home treatment times are shorter than in-office ones, usually because at-home aligners are used for milder cases. And, this holds true when we look at Candid and Invisalign’s average timeframes.
Candid reports that their average treatment time is around 6 months, and Invisalign generally takes around 12. This doesn’t mean that Invisalign is incapable of shorter turnarounds or that Candid never exceeds half a year. But typically, this is what you can expect. Talk to your dentist or your network orthodontist from Candid to discuss how your unique case might affect this timeline.
When Invisalign first introduced clear aligners, their popularity skyrocketed because they offered a less noticeable alternative to traditional braces. Today, clear aligner companies are still finding ways to make their products less visible and better looking. Although this largely depends on personal tastes, which vary from customer to customer. Invisalign and Candid produce very similar aligners, but there are a couple of small differences to consider.
- 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
- Uses a frosted, textured plastic that better matches your tooth surfaces
- Uses straight-cut aligners that slightly overlap your gums.
- Reasonably stain resistant
- Attachments are not offered, so aligners stay smooth and less noticeable
Both Invisalign and Candid produce aligners that are frosted and textured in appearance. At first, this may seem counterintuitive, but it actually makes them more natural-looking. Your teeth have tiny pores, which makes their surfaces matte, not reflective or shiny. So, translucent, smooth aligners typically don’t match the natural surfaces of your teeth. Textured, frosted aligners, however, mimic your teeth and aren’t artificially reflective.
In the “Effectiveness” section, we discussed how an aligner’s cut can influence its power. But we’re mentioning it here because it can also affect the aligner’s appearance. Even though Candid’s straight-cut design helps to move your teeth more quickly, it may also make them slightly more visible.
Invisalign utilizes a scalloped-cut for their aligners to match the gum line, so there’s no visible overlap with the gums. Invisalign can also incorporate attachments to enhance the aligners’ effectiveness, so it won’t sacrifice the quality of your treatment.
As we mentioned earlier, your dentist can supplement Invisalign treatment with other orthodontic appliances like elastics, expanders, and Smartforce attachments. This makes Invisalign aligners more effective at treating severe tooth and jaw misalignments, but it also makes them more visible. Candid aligners, which cannot incorporate any other appliances, don’t run into the same issue.
Customer Friendliness Comparison
Placing your dental health in a company’s hands is a big decision, so you want to choose one that’s going to take care of you if anything goes wrong. Both Invisalign and Candid deliver reliable, consistent results, but on the off chance that an issue arises, it’s reassuring to know that they will resolve it quickly.
Invisalign gives you in-person care from a dentist, which means personalized, one-on-one customer support. This is tough for any home aligner company to match, but Candid’s responsive and helpful customer support team comes close.
Invisalign Customer Friendliness
Candid 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
- Customer service is available via phone, email, and webchat
- Customer service seems to be a high priority, very few negative reviews or complaints
- Does not offer refunds, but will work to modify your plan if you’re not satisfied
If you go with Invisalign, your dentist’s office will serve as your customer support contact, so you can call, visit or email them during their regular office hours. This is a big advantage because it provides direct access to the person who’s managing your care.
Candid has service representatives available by phone, email, and webchat from 9:00am to 7:00pm every day of the week (including weekends). You can also reach out on social media, and you’ll likely receive a response within 24 hours.
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.
Customer Support Responsiveness
We dug into a ton of online reviews to get a sense of Candid’s customer experience, including common questions and concerns. We found that customers are generally satisfied with their level of customer care. There were very few complaints in this area. Candid has made customer service a high priority. So, if you choose them, you can be confident that they’ll have your back if any problems come up.
It’s a bit harder to assess Invisalign’s customer service because questions and concerns are primarily handled within individual dentist and orthodontist offices. This makes Invisalign’s customer service much more personalized and reliable. Candid is more available and responsive than most other home aligner companies. However, we think that the personalized care of a dentist’s office beats remote customer service.
Refund & Warranty Policies
If you’re someone who imagines worst-case scenarios, you might be wondering what will happen if your treatment doesn’t go as planned. Let’s say you’re four months into your treatment plan and simply not seeing the progress you expected. Unfortunately, Candid will not offer a refund. But since they’re committed to customer satisfaction, their orthodontists will work with you to adjust your plan- free of charge. Remote Monitoring somewhat mitigates this issue by giving your orthodontist regular updates on your progress, so they can ensure that your treatment proceeds as expected.
Even so, Remote Monitoring isn’t as intensive as in-office care. Your dentist will be monitoring and adjusting (if necessary) your Invisalign treatment plan as you go along. They can add or remove attachments or create new aligners on the fly if necessary. Because of this, they’re more able to make course corrections mid-treatment. So, if you’re at any time dissatisfied with your progress, you can speak with your dentist about modifying your treatment plan.
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 Candid?
Anyone looking for fast, convenient treatment that doesn’t sacrifice quality or customer service should take a look at Candid.
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.