Every aspect of modern life is trending toward convenience, and the orthodontic industry is no exception. In recent years, at-home aligner companies have taken convenience to the next level, allowing users to straighten their teeth from the comfort of their own homes.
Every home aligner company has its own perks, but when it comes to convenience, some have an undeniable advantage. In this review, we’ll discuss the three most convenient clear aligner providers and dive into each one’s unique perks. If you want a broad view of all your clear aligner options, read to the end for a few other options.
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At-Home Aligners Overview: What Makes Them So Convenient?
To understand what makes at-home aligner systems so convenient, we need to understand how they’re procedurally different from in-office systems.
At-home aligner treatments are developed by dental professionals then shipped directly to you, and you apply them yourself. In-office aligners, on the contrary, are administered and monitored in person by a dentist or orthodontist during regularly scheduled office visits. Administering aligner treatment 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 often faster — an average of six months compared to Invisalign’s 12–18 month window (potentially shorter, depending on your case). This is largely because at-home aligners can only 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 plans, and ensuring overall ease of application.
The 3 Most Convenient Clear Aligners
As we’ve already mentioned, at-home aligners’ convenience stems from 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 help you transform your smile quickly and easily.
SmileDirectClub: Easiest Startup Process
SmileDirectClub is the most experienced, well-known home aligner option on the market. Established in 2014, they’ve transformed more than 1.5 million smiles to date. Their convenience primarily comes from their startup process, which is more streamlined and personalized than the competition, plus 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.
- Thanks to partnerships with CVS and more than 1,500 dentist’s offices nationwide, SmileDirectClub is expanding their physical presence quickly and making it easier than ever to get started.
- SmileDirectClub also offers a nighttime-only option, which only requires ten hours of wear per day rather than the usual 22. This option increases your overall treatment time to ten months (on average).
- Like Byte, SmileDirectClub includes whitening gel with treatment, which you can use simultaneously with your aligners.
- SmileDirectClub’s mobile app makes it easy to track your progress and chat with their support team.
- 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.
- In the past, SmileDirectClub has received mixed reviews about their customer support responsiveness and helpfulness, but they’ve made big strides forward in that area recently.
SmileDirectClub - The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to get the ball rolling on treatment quickly and you like the idea of working with a well-established company, SmileDirectClub could be a great option for you.
Byte: Shortest Treatment Plans
Since they entered the clear aligner scene in 2018, Byte has been using innovative technology to enhance their treatment’s effectiveness and efficiency. Thanks to their high-frequency vibration device, the “HyperByte”, Byte boasts an average treatment plan length of just 4-5 months.
Plus, they have a nighttime-only treatment option for an even more convenient alternative to traditional clear aligner treatment. For all these reasons, we consider Byte to be among the most convenient clear aligner services available today.
- Byte’s treatment plan length is 4-5 months on average, thanks in part to their HyperByte device. There’s evidence that this device, which uses gentle high-frequency vibrations, can encourage faster teeth shifts and a better aligner fit.
- After you submit your impression kit, you’ll typically wait four weeks before beginning your treatment, which is a pretty quick turnaround compared to Byte’s competitors.
- Their alternative nighttime-only treatment (called Byte At-Night) only requires you to wear your aligners for ten hours per day — presumably while you sleep — instead of the usual 22+ hours for standard treatment. However, this will increase your overall treatment time to five months on average and cost a few hundred dollars more ($2,399).
- Byte includes teeth whitening foam 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.
- The My Byte app lets you get reminders to change your aligners, upload photos of your teeth for review, track your HyperByte usage, and live chat with customer support, all in one place.
- Unlike 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.
- Byte doesn’t require customers to complete any virtual check-ins, so their oversight isn’t as robust as some competitors. They recommend uploading monthly photos of your teeth, but only require it if you have certain conditions.
Byte - The Bottom Line
It’d be great if Byte had physical locations, but their generous aligner bundle and nighttime-only treatment option still make it a highly convenient choice.
AlignerCo: Most Budget-Friendly
If your idea of convenience is avoiding major changes to your budget, AlignerCo is a stellar option. As an at-home clear aligner service with efficient treatment times and a nighttime-only plan, they’re already a pretty convenient option. While they might not offer quite the same startup flexibility as some competitors, you’d be hard-pressed to this much convenience at a better price.
- AlignerCo can correct mild-to-moderate misalignments in an average of 4–6 months, although your timeline depends largely on the complexity of your condition.
- Their NightOnly plan allows you to decrease your daily wear from 22 hours to just ten, although it will likely extend your overall treatment timeline to 6–8 months.
- AlignerCo approves every customer for financing with the SmileFlex Easy plan (their standard SmileFlex plan requires a soft credit check).
- AlignerCo’s prices are among the lowest in the clear aligner industry, and they offer flexible financing plans, which makes it pretty convenient to fit treatment into your budget.
- AlignerCo doesn’t offer 3D teeth scans like SmileDirectClub does, so you’ll have to get started with an impression kit. (They do have one retail location in Long Island, New York, but they don’t offer dental scans there.)
- While their customer support is generally very responsive, they don’t have as many channels of communication as the competition, relying mainly on email, phone, and webchat.
- After you complete your impression kit, it can take three weeks to receive your smile projection, then another 4–5 to get your full aligner package.
AlignerCo - The Bottom Line
AlignerCo doesn’t have the physical presence of some at-home aligner companies, but they deliver safe, efficient treatment that will fit nicely into your budget.
Special Offer: Get $275 off AlignerCo treatment (Early Black Friday Sale).
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 base your decision 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.
Candid: Candid’s unique hybrid treatment starts in a dentist’s office, then transitions to remote monitoring via virtual check-ins. This process is more streamlined than regular in-person appointments, while still keeping a local dentist involved from start to finish. You’ll submit photos to your dentist and Candid’s team every 14 days, so dental professionals will have their eyes on your teeth more frequently than with other in-office options — which require office visits every 4–6 weeks — yet each check-in only takes minutes.
Candid is still best-suited for mild and moderate misalignments and generally only takes around 6–9 months overall. The average cost is $3,500 or more, depending on your dentist’s rates.
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.
Its extended timeframe 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.
SureSmile: SureSmile is another in-office aligner treatment, so it typically takes longer and involves more trips to the dentist than at-home options. However, they say that their treatment takes 40% less time than conventional methods (aka braces), and some patients might only need to go in for office visits every three months — less often than other in-office treatments — but that all depends on your dentist and your specific misalignment.
They offer an unlimited plan called Complete, along with a pay-per-aligner plan called Select, so you and your dentist can choose the best option for your smile. And studies have shown that SureSmile patients don’t frequently need refinements, which extend your treatment time.
3M Clarity Aligners: 3M Clarity is one of the most powerful in-office options out there. Dentists can place their smaller attachments behind your teeth, or multiple attachments on a single tooth, allowing for complex shifts. But they’re also fairly pricey, averaging around $5,000.
3M Clarity treatment can take anywhere between six and 24 months, depending on your case and dentist, and they’ve developed an app that makes it easy to track your treatment — although it doesn’t replace your in-person office visits. They also have a lot of providers, so you’ll likely have one near you.
Invisalign: Along with ClearCorrect, SureSmile, and 3M Clarity, 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. As the creator of the original 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 $3,000 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.
Six Month Smiles: If you like at-home aligners’ six-month time frame but prefer one-on-one care from a dentist, check out 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 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. Dentists typically only use Invisalign Express for mild misalignments, often recommending it for people who fail to wear their retainers after braces. Treatment typically costs between $1,800–$3,500 and ranges from five to ten months in duration.
In most cases, Invisalign Express corrects issues in 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.
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 invest in orthodontic treatment, 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 experience
Our comprehensive comparison takes all 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, SmileDirectClub, and AlignerCo are undoubtedly the most convenient options because they take less time than traditional orthodontics, and they don’t require ongoing office visits. However, they’re not right for everyone. If you have a particularly severe misalignment, you might need a more comprehensive option like Invisalign.
To identify the best fit for you, 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!