Every aspect of modern life is trending toward convenience, and the orthodontic industry is no exception. 20 years ago, a company called Align Tech came out with a more comfortable and convenient alternative to traditional braces, which we all know today as Invisalign. Even more recently, at-home aligner companies like SmileDirectClub have taken the meaning of convenience to the next level, allowing users to straighten their teeth from the comfort of their own homes.
Historically, many adults have avoided orthodontic treatment because they didn’t have the time or energy to pursue traditional treatment options. To eliminate this obstacle, modern clear aligner companies strive to make treatment easy and approachable for everyone — no matter how jam-packed your schedule may be.
Every provider has its own perks, but when it comes to convenience, some undoubtedly win out over others. In this review, we’ll discuss the 3 most convenient clear aligners on the market, and dive into the unique perks each one offers. If you want a broad view of all your clear aligner options, we encourage you to read on as we discuss what other providers have to offer (and why they didn’t make the top 3).
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What Makes Home Aligners More Convenient?
To understand what makes at-home aligner systems so convenient, we first need to understand how they’re procedurally different from in-office systems.
At-home aligner treatments are developed by dental professionals and shipped directly to you. Then, you follow detailed instructions to apply them yourself. In-office aligners, on the contrary, are administered and monitored in person by a dentist. This means you need to schedule office visits at regular intervals. Applying aligners at home means you don’t need to find time in your busy schedule to see the dentist each month.
Plus, at-home treatment times are generally faster, six months (on average) compared to Invisalign’s 12-18 month window (potentially shorter, depending on your case). This is largely due to the fact that at-home aligners are developed to correct milder cases of crowding and spacing that require less intensive treatment. Certain at-home aligner brands, however, have taken convenience a step further, reducing startup times, expediting treatment times, offering nighttime-only treatments, and ensuring overall ease of application.
The 3 Most Convenient Clear Aligners
As we’ve already mentioned, at-home aligners are generally more convenient because of their shorter treatment times and lack of office visits. Still, certain companies have gone above and beyond to provide an exceptionally convenient experience. These clear aligner brands have made it their goal to deliver the most convenient treatment so that you can transform your smile quickly and easily.
byte – Fastest Treatment Time
byte burst onto the home aligner scene in 2018 and in their short existence, they’ve already used innovation and technology to enhance their treatment’s convenience, particularly when it comes to timeframes. This company might be young, but they’ve already positioned themselves as one of the most convenient and efficient options available.
- byte’s treatment time is, on average, three months, around half the time of competitors. This is largely due to a proprietary device called “HyperByte,” which gently vibrates your teeth for faster shifts and better fitting aligners.
- After you submit your impression kit, you’ll typically wait four weeks before beginning your treatment, a shorter turnaround time than all of their competitors.
- Their alternative nighttime-only treatment only requires you to wear your aligners for 10 hours per day (presumably while you sleep), instead of the usual 22+ hours for standard treatment. This will, however, increase your overall treatment time to around 6 months.
- byte includes teeth whitening gel as part of your initial treatment package. Just pump it into your aligners and you can whiten and straighten your teeth at the same time.
- Unlike Candid or SmileDirectClub, byte doesn’t have any physical locations where you can go for free teeth scans, so you’ll need to complete an impression kit from home.
SmileDirectClub - Most Retail Locations
SmileDirectClub is the most experienced, well-known home aligner option on the market. Established in 2014, they’ve transformed over 700,000 smiles to date. Their convenience primarily comes from their startup process, which is easier than any competitors, and their nighttime-only option.
- SmileDirectClub has 300+ physical “SmileShops” nationwide, where you can get a free teeth scan and avoid dealing with potentially-difficult impression kits.
- Because of a partnership with CVS, SmileDirectClub is expanding their physical presence quickly and will be opening 100+ new SmileShops in 2019.
- SmileDirectClub also offers a nighttime-only option, which only requires 10 hours or wear per day rather than the usual 22. This option increases your overall treatment time to 10 months (on average).
- Like byte, SmileDirectClub includes whitening gel with treatment, which you can use simultaneously with your aligners.
- Usually, SmileDirectClub manufactures and ships your aligners 4-6 weeks after you submit a teeth scan or impression kit, although some customers report delays in this wait time.
- Online reviews indicate that SmileDirectClub’s customer service is somewhat less responsive and helpful than many competitors.
Candid - Second-Most Retail Locations
Even though they’re younger than SmileDirectClub and not quite as fast as byte, Candid shows an exemplary commitment to convenience through their physical locations and quick turnaround times. Beyond that, Candid is a great all-around option that focuses on quality treatment and products.
- Candid Studios are available in all major cities and offer free teeth scans, and the company plans to add 50+ more locations in 2019.
- Like its counterparts in the top 3 shortlist, Candid also includes whitening with its aligners, so you can whiten that smile throughout the process.
- Based on online reviews, Candid’s customer service is more responsive and helpful than its competitors.
- As a newer company, Candid doesn’t have as many physical locations as SmileDirectClub, but they’re expanding rapidly.
- Candid doesn’t offer a nighttime option, so you’ll need to go with the typical 22+ hr/day route.
Other Clear Aligners Worth Considering
Between a busy schedule and social life, your free time is precious, so it’s understandable that you want to protect it. At-home aligners are typically convenient options no matter which one you choose, and in-office options can be as well, depending on your case and dentist. That said, you shouldn’t make a decision based on convenience alone. Just because a particular treatment is convenient doesn’t mean it’s automatically the best choice for your unique situation.
Below are a few other clear aligner providers that might not have made our top three, but we think are still worth considering because of their other unique advantages.
Smilelove: When you’re on a tight budget, teeth straightening might seem like a luxury you simply can’t afford, but Smilelove’s goal is the be the most cost-effective option available. They continuously offer promotions that can drop their price ~$100-300 below their competitors. On top of that, they’re the only company that offers prorated refunds for any aligners you don’t use if you’re dissatisfied with your progress.
However, after you submit your impression kit, Smilelove often takes 6-8 weeks to develop your treatment and deliver your aligners, slightly longer than the industry standard. And while they include free whitening gel, it’s incompatible with their aligner material, so you’ll need to wait until your treatment is complete to whiten your teeth. But if these drawbacks don’t put you off and you can’t resist the promotional pricing, Smilelove could be a solid option.
SnapCorrect: Another smaller company, SnapCorrect also uses pricing to its advantage. An upfront price of $1,749 makes it more affordable than treatment from firmly entrenched companies. And Snapcorrect prioritizes appearance as well, offering free whitening gel for life and advertising a clearer, less-visible aligner than its competitors.
However, SnapCorrect’s small size means that it has a less-established track record than some of its peers. Aside from that, after you submit your impression kit, it can take 2-3 weeks before you see an initial treatment plan. By comparison, SmileDirectClub completes this step in 72 hours. But if the lack of verifiable reviews and quick turnaround times don’t bother you and you like the price point, SnapCorrect is worth considering.
Six Month Smiles Clear Aligners: If you like at-home aligners’ six-month time frame but prefer one-on-one care from a dentist, take a look at Six Month Smiles. Like Invisalign and ClearCorrect, Six Month Smiles aligners are administered and monitored in person by a dentist, which means you’ll need to spend time each month in the office. But like at-home aligners, the average treatment time (as the name suggests) is six months, so it’s more convenient for people who want a quicker fix.
According to their website, average costs are $3,500 – 5,000 but vary depending on the dentist. However, the treatment isn’t quite as robust as other in-office brands like Invisalign, so Six Month Smiles might not be a viable option if you have a more severe case.
Invisalign Express: Unsurprisingly, Invisalign offers its own express treatment option. Invisalign Express is typically only used for mild misalignments, often recommended for people who fail to wear their retainers after braces. Treatment typically costs between $1,800 – $3,500 and ranges from 5 to 10 months in duration.
In most cases, Invisalign Express is used for issues confined to the front six teeth (top and bottom), so if your condition extends beyond that, you might want to pursue other options. Even so, it’s frequently a viable treatment option for mild cases of teeth crowding or spacing.
ClearCorrect: As an in-office aligner system, ClearCorrect requires a larger time commitment than any of the at-home options. But as a trade-off, the option for your dentist to add supplementary appliances makes it capable of more powerful teeth and jaw shifts.
While its extended time frame might be inconvenient for customers with mild cases of spacing and crowding, but beneficial if you have a bite issue or severe case. ClearCorrect claims that they charge dentists less than Invisalign for aligner products and lab fees, so your dentist might pass these savings along to you, by charging less for treatment.
Invisalign: Along with ClearCorrect, Invisalign has the heaviest time commitment of all the options listed here, as it requires frequent office visits and often has a longer treatment window. But it’s also the most well-established and reputable. Creator of the clear aligner, Invisalign has over 20 years of successful smile transformations under its belt.
Like other in-office options, Invisalign is more effective at treating intensive cases of tooth and jaw misalignments. It runs from $3,500 to $8,000 depending on your case and dentist, although many people think that the company’s reputation, innovation, and a dentist’s personal care are well worth it.
What Other Factors Should I Consider?
If you’re like many young adults today, you have precious little time in your schedule, and you’re not looking to waste any of it. However, in order to truly minimize the amount of time and energy you’re investing in orthodontic treatment, it’s a good idea to keep a variety of factors in mind.
For example, one company might make it easy to get started, but does their treatment time frame match your goals? Another might have a low upfront cost, but is their customer service up to par?
In addition to convenience, we recommend considering four other factors:
- Customer support
Our comprehensive comparison takes all of the above criteria into account. We understand that this is a deeply personal decision, and you may weigh certain aspects differently based on your particular circumstances. Just try not to get tunnel vision on a single aspect and block out all the others, or you could be in for some unwelcome surprises come treatment time!
As you continue the search for your ideal treatment option, remember that there are many things to consider. Home aligners like byte and SmileDirectClub are undoubtedly the most convenient treatment method because they take less time than braces or Invisalign, and they don’t require ongoing office visits. However, they’re not right for everyone. If you have a particularly severe case of misalignment, you might need a more comprehensive option, like Invisalign.
In order to identify the best fit for you, we encourage you to keep in mind everything we’ve discussed above. With all this information in your back pocket, you’ll be able to dive into a safe and convenient treatment plan that’s customized to your needs. Best of luck on your smile journey!