If you’re planning to drop thousands of dollars on your smile, it’s important to know how long your results will last. Innovative treatments like home aligners offer significantly shorter treatment times than braces — and at less than half the cost. But, the home aligner industry is still new, so there’s some debate as to whether home aligners can produce lasting results like traditional orthodontics.
SmileDirectClub was the first company to deliver clear aligners to customers’ homes, and they’ve proven to be both effective and convenient. Yet several factors can affect how long the results of your SmileDirectClub treatment will last.
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How Long Do SmileDirectClub Results Last?
No orthodontic treatment is absolutely permanent. Even with more traditional treatments, like braces, there is always a risk of relapse because whenever your teeth move, they will always have a tendency to shift back.
Moving the teeth from their original position requires a significant amount of force. As a result, your teeth can be unstable after you finish treatment. The first few months following orthodontic treatment are the most crucial time to ensure your teeth stay in place, and it’s up to you to maintain your new smile.
Ultimately, the way you take care of your teeth after treatment will determine how long your results will last. That means diligently wearing a retainer exactly as directed.
However, your smile will become more stable and easier to maintain over time. Teeth typically take about one to stabilize. Then, you can switch to a less rigorous aftercare routine.
Is SmileDirectClub Treatment as Permanent as Invisalign or Braces?
There are conflicting studies on whether SmileDirectClub’s results have a higher risk of relapse than braces or Invisalign. Home aligner treatment is currently the fastest teeth-straightening option available, so it’s only natural to be curious about how long your results will last.
Your teeth may be more unstable following home aligner treatment because home aligners apply significant force to the teeth.
Fortunately, expedited treatment time doesn’t seem to have a drastic effect on the longevity of your results. Instead, patient cooperation after treatment has the most significant impact. So, results from SmileDirectClub can be just as permanent as braces or Invisalign, as long as you wear your retainers and take care of your teeth.
Still, patients with a more severe case of misalignment may have a higher risk of relapse, regardless of the treatment they choose. The best candidates for home aligners have mild-to-moderate misalignments and no bite issues. And since at-home aligner treatment typically makes smaller adjustments, the results are easier to maintain.
How Can I Ensure My Results Last as Long as Possible?
As we previously mentioned, no treatment lasts forever without some sort of maintenance. Still, you can take measures to ensure your SmileDirectClub results will last as long as possible.
1. Wear Your Retainers
After any orthodontic treatment, you’ll need to wear a retainer for life. Without aftercare retainers to hold your teeth in place, they will shift back to their original position. SmileDirectClub offers retainers for $99 after treatment, along with the option of a retainer subscription. And while you aren’t required to purchase retainers from SmileDirectClub, they should be considered a necessity.
If you sign up for their subscription service, SmileDirectClub will send you new retainers every six months. However, they will still cost $99 per set. Your aftercare retainers will look and feel very similar to your treatment aligners, but their only purpose is to keep your smile in place.
2. Maintain Oral Hygiene
A good dental hygiene routine is key to making sure your teeth and gums stay healthy. Poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease and cavities, which could cause your teeth to shift. Gum infection can also make your teeth more difficult to keep in place, so healthy teeth will always have a lower risk of relapse. Your treatment is an investment — you don’t want to ruin it with poor habits and hygiene.
Your retainers will hug your teeth just like your aligners did, and infrequent brushing and flossing can lead to a build-up of plaque underneath them. That’s why you should also clean your retainers regularly to prevent bacteria from spreading.
In extreme cases, poor oral hygiene can lead to daunting dental procedures and, possibly, another round of orthodontic treatment. Extensive cavities may require a root canal and crown, or even an extraction, which would significantly alter your smile. Err on the side of caution and commit to brushing your teeth twice per day and flossing daily after your treatment ends.
Can My Teeth Shift Even If I Wear My Retainers Every Night?
Unfortunately, once you’ve had any orthodontic treatment, your teeth might shift back. So, it’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions carefully to prevent significant relapse.
Immediately after your treatment, you should wear your retainers 22 hours per day, only removing them to eat, brush, or floss. After two weeks, and once your teeth have stabilized, you can switch to wearing your retainers only at night. At that point, wearing your retainers every night is the best way to prevent future relapses. However, caring for your retainers is just as important.
Regularly replacing your retainers is key to ensuring they don’t become loose or less effective, and most aligner companies recommend purchasing new ones twice per year. Sign up for SmileDirectClub’s retainer subscription program and they’ll automatically ship your replacement retainers every six months.
Is SmileDirectClub My Only Option for At-Home Treatment?
Although SmileDirectClub is the biggest and most popular home aligner brand, there are several others to choose from. Each company has its own unique advantages, so shop around until you find one that meets your needs. Our picks for the top alternatives to SmileDirectClub are Byte, Candid, and AlignerCo:
#1: Byte ($1,999)
Byte’s claim to fame is the HyperByte device, a high-frequency vibration device that they include in the cost of your aligner bundle. The HyperByte uses gentle micropulses to help provide a more comfortable aligner fit and encourage faster dental shifts. On top of that, they have affordable prices and give each customer a personal Byte advisor for customer support. They might not have retail locations yet, but they do have financing plans with no credit checks and a nighttime-only option.
Take a look at our in-depth Byte review to learn more.
#2: Candid ($3,500+)
Candid differs from SmileDirectClub in that they use a hybrid at-home and in-person treatment model. After an initial in-person consultation and examination with a local dentist, you’ll check in virtually via their CandidMonitoring service every 14 days for the rest of your treatment. By keeping a local dentist involved the entire time, Candid offers a level of quality care that sets them apart from other services on this list. However, this level of involvement comes with a major trade-off: Candid treatment costs $3,500+, which is significantly more expensive than fully remote options like SmileDirectClub or Byte.
You can find more details on Candid in our full review.
#3: AlignerCo ($895)
If sticking to a tight budget is your top priority, AlignerCo’s industry-low prices are likely a big draw. Not only do they beat every other company’s prices by several hundred dollars, but they offer flexible financing plans too. And they still deliver quality products thanks to their partnership with Raintree Essix, as well as personalized customer service. They’re a fairly young company, but they’ve already established themselves among the competition. If you’re looking for the most affordable service out there, go with AlignerCo.
Read through our full AlignerCo review for more info.
No orthodontic treatment will last forever without proper maintenance, and the longevity of your SmileDirectClub results are ultimately up to you. So, make sure you’re prepared for the upkeep before investing thousands of dollars in your smile.
Teeth-straightening treatment is a big commitment, and it doesn’t stop once you’ve put away your last aligner. If you want to preserve your new smile, you need to practice good oral hygiene and wear your aftercare retainers as instructed. With consistent care and maintenance, your SmileDirectClub results could last a lifetime.
Katelyn K says
I used Smile direct and followed the directions like the kits said and after getting my final retainers and using for 2 weeks after. My teeth still wanted to shift back when I was able to only use them at night. What should I do?
Smile Prep says
Hi Katelyn – If you’re finding that your teeth are shifting since adjusting to wearing only at night, I would recommend returning to wearing your retainer for 22 hour per day use (or as many hours as possible). Although SmileDirectClub only recommends wearing your retainer 22 hours per day for the first two weeks following treatment, depending on the scope of your adjustment and your unique biology, this may not be enough time to allow your correction to fully set. In fact, according to a survey of over 1,000 orthodontists, the average orthodontist recommends that their patients wear a retainer for 18+ hours per day for the first 10 months following treatment (a period referred to as the “retentive phase”).
Rachael Moscato says
Hi, I have completed my smiledirect but have forgotten to wear my retainers a few nights and now they do not fit. Do I have to restart the whole program?
Smile Prep says
Hi Rachael, you should reach out to SmileDirectClub Support. I can’t speak for SmileDirectClub, but if you completed treatment recently, I think it’s likely they’ll be able to provide you with refinement aligners so that you don’t need to start over. This may require you to have your teeth rescanned at a Smile Center or to send in a new impression of your teeth. If you still have your final set of aligners and they still fit, I would recommend using them in place of your retainer so that your teeth don’t shift further out of place in the mean time.