When Invisalign first hit the orthodontic scene over 20 years ago, many people were skeptical about its ability to match the effectiveness of traditional braces. But over the years, those skeptics have fallen by the wayside. Clear aligners have proven to be an effective, reliable treatment option for a range of dental conditions.
Today, the rise of at-home aligner systems has made it possible for adults to transform their smiles for a fraction of the cost, and without a single office visit. This guide will break down your home aligner options brand-by-brand and outline the 3 most effective ones. Want a broad view of all your options? Read on to see what other providers have to offer and why they didn’t make the top 3.
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How Do At-Home and In-Office Options Compare?
There’s no doubt that at-home aligners are more convenient than in-office ones. After all, you can do everything from home without a single appointment. But there are certain benefits that you can only get from one-on-one care from your dentist.
In-office treatments require regular appointments so your dentist can check your progress and make adjustments to your plan, if necessary. These adjustments might include the addition of appliances and attachments (like Invisalign’s “Smartforce” attachments) that can induce more drastic or complex tooth and jaw movements.
This option means that in-office aligners can usually treat a wider scope of severe crowding, spacing, and bite issues than at-home ones can. Because of this, severe bite issues like underbite and overbite often respond better to more robust in-office treatments, and they might not even be candidates for at-home aligners.
On the flip side, at-home treatment is most often faster and easier than in-office care, because the aligners are shipped to your home and you administer them yourself, no appointments necessary. In the end, whether you go with in-office or at-home treatments depends heavily on your unique condition and priorities.
The 3 Most Effective Clear Aligners
Now we’ve come to the rankings. It can be difficult to compare the effectiveness of in-office and at-home aligners because their procedures are so different. But while in-office aligners are generally more effective in treating severe cases, certain at-home brands have made great strides in effectiveness as well. Without further delay (drum roll please) here are our top three most effective clear aligners.
#1: Invisalign – Most Versatile
Is it any surprise that the clear aligner originator tops this list? Not only has Invisalign been transforming smiles for 20+ years, but they’ve developed innovations over that time to increase the effectiveness of their aligners, allowing them to treat a broad spectrum of conditions and severities.
- As the longest-standing clear aligner company, Invisalign has had over two decades of experience refining their products and methods.
- Regular office visits allow your dentist to evaluate your treatment’s effectiveness and make adjustments on an ongoing basis.
- Invisalign’s “Smartforce” attachments, tiny tooth-colored shapes that induce more complex movements, which allow for treatment of more complicated, severe cases.
- Invisalign claims that research shows their aligner material, SmartTrack, makes for more controlled, predictable tooth movements.
- Invisalign’s treatment time is often longer than at-home aligners, 12-18 months on average (although it could be faster in mild cases).
#2: 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 effectiveness, significantly reducing treatment time. This company might be young, but they’ve already positioned themselves as one of the most effective options available, primarily because of their efficiency. They’re our top-ranked home aligner company, in large part because of their superior effectiveness.
- 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.
- A state-licensed orthodontist is involved in creating every byte treatment, although these orthodontists work collaboratively with general dentists.
- Using a unique software called SmileScience, byte considers your entire facial structure when developing your plan. Other companies look only at your teeth and jaw.
- Their byte-for-life guarantee ensures your new smile forever. So if your teeth shift after treatment, byte will send you new aligners for free.
- Currently, byte doesn’t disclose the name of their manufacturer, so it’s difficult to evaluate their production quality.
- As a relatively new company, byte has less experience than most competitors.
byte - The Bottom Line
If you want to complete your treatment as quickly as possible and are intrigued by innovative technologies and lifetime warranties, byte could be a fantastic option for you.
#3: Candid – Overall Dedication to Quality
While it doesn’t quite match byte’s treatment time, Candid provides premium products and expert treatment development. It’s a well-balanced option that boasts experience, specialized staff, quality manufacturing, and more, prioritizing your safety and satisfaction.
- Candid is more established and experienced than most other at-home aligner companies, having already transformed tens of thousands of smiles.
- Candid’s treatment plans are developed and monitored only by orthodontists, not general dentists.
- Candid is the only home aligner company to offer Remote Monitoring. With this service, you’ll regularly send digital teeth scans to your orthodontist ensuring that your smile stays on track. This can also decrease your overall treatment time by up to 30%.
- Candid partners with ClearCorrect, the second-largest clear aligner producer in the U.S. (behind Invisalign), ensuring a top-quality product.
- Their aligners are cut straight across, not scalloped to match the gumline, which allows them to apply up to 4x more force.
- At an average of six months, Candid’s treatment time is twice as long as byte’s, but still significantly faster than in-office treatment.
Candid - The Bottom Line
If you appreciate knowing that you’re getting a top-notch product and direct contact with your specialized orthodontist throughout the treatment process, Candid is an overall great option.
Special Offer: 50% off the purchase of your Candid Starter Kit
Other Clear Aligners Worth Considering
While our top three choices truly stand out in their effectiveness, they aren’t the only treatments that can yield impressive results. Other companies might not have made our shortlist, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth considering. Each aligner company, whether at-home or in-office, has its own unique advantages that could make it a great fit for you.
Below are a few companies that didn’t make our top three, but that we think you might still want to consider.
ClearCorrect: Another in-office brand, ClearCorrect offers similar services and treatment plans to Invisalign. Like Invisalign, it’s often much more effective than at-home aligners for severe cases due to the direct dentist oversight and the possibility for additional attachments.
Despite their status as the second-largest clear aligner manufacturer in the U.S., ClearCorrect still isn’t quite as experienced or established as Invisalign. But because they charge dentists less for aligners and lab fees, sometimes ClearCorrect is the more affordable option.
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 to $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.
Six Month Smiles: 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 is administered and monitored in person by a dentist. But like at-home treatments, the average treatment time (as the name suggests) is six months. According to their website, average costs are $3,500-5,000 but vary depending on the dentist.
The company offers both clear aligners, for simpler crowding and spacing cases, and clear braces for cases that require more complex movements. Both the aligners and braces wrap up treatment within six months. Even with their clear braces, the treatment isn’t quite as robust as in-office clear aligners like Invisalign.
AlignerCo: When you’re on a tight budget, teeth straightening might seem like a luxury you simply can’t afford, but AlignerCo’s goal is the be the most cost-effective option available. Their sticker price is just $1,145, hundreds lower than the competition. On top of that, they have two separate financing plans, one of which doesn’t require a credit check, so everyone qualifies. Both plans allow you to pay off your aligners in under a year.
They have a manufacturing partnership with Essix, a reputable producer of dental supplies. But they don’t guarantee that an orthodontist will oversee your case since their network also contains general dentists. And due to their small size, there are fewer customer reviews available to evaluate their effectiveness. But if you love their industry-best prices, AlignerCo is still worth a look.
SmileDirectClub: Founded in 2014, SmileDirectClub is one of the originators of the at-home aligner revolution, and they’ve remained firmly entrenched in the market. To date, they’ve effectively transformed 700,000 smiles, making them by far the most experienced company we’ve reviewed.
Despite their long track record, SmileDirectClub doesn’t offer the advantage of working exclusively with orthodontists like Candid. This isn’t to say their dental professionals are completely ineffective, but you won’t get the same level of expertise. Even so, you can’t deny their experience and, combined with their 300+ physical locations nationwide, SmileDirectClub has a lot to offer in its own right.
SnapCorrect: Another smaller company, SnapCorrect also uses pricing to its advantage. An upfront price of $1,749 makes it more affordable than treatment from some 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.
SnapCorrect uses unlicensed “dental technicians” in the treatment design process, which means you’re not guaranteed to have the most qualified professionals working on your aligners. And like AlignerCo, their small size means a less-established track record of effectiveness than most competitors. But if the lack of verifiable reviews doesn’t bother you and the price point looks enticing, it’s worth considering.
What Other Factors Should I Consider?
Effectiveness is crucial, but you’ll want to consider a number of aspects as you make your decision. For example, one company might work with specialized orthodontists, but does their treatment timeframe match your goals? Another might have great reviews, but does their price point fit into your budget?
In addition to effectiveness, 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!
When it comes to clear aligner treatment, you have a lot of effective options — and although it may seem overwhelming, remember it’s a good thing! More choices mean you can select a provider that matches up perfectly with your personal preferences, priorities, and of course, your budget.
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 effective treatment plan that’s customized to your needs. Best of luck on your smile journey!