For an adult with an active lifestyle, wearing clear aligners for 22+ hours per day can be a barrier to starting treatment. If you can’t bear the thought of wearing your aligners all day, every day, SmileDirectClub’s nighttime aligners might be an appealing alternative.
But would nighttime-only aligners work for you? We’re here to help you get a clearer image of how SmileDirectClub’s nighttime-only aligners work, as well as outline some other nighttime-only treatment options worth considering.
Table of Contents
Are SmileDirect's Nighttime Aligners Legit?
In a word: yes. SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners are a safe and effective option for adults with mild cases of crowding, spacing, and other common dental misalignments.
That said, an important trade-off to keep in mind is treatment speed. SmileDirect’s Nighttime Aligners take twice as long to straighten your teeth. So if you’re looking for the fastest possible smile transformation, they might not be the right fit for you.
How are Nighttime Aligners Different?
Although SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligner treatment schedule looks quite different from their standard one, it appears this is the only variation. The nighttime aligners you’ll wear aren’t designed or manufactured any differently from the standard ones. In fact, they’re the very same aligners you would wear for regular, 22 hr/day treatment – you would just use each set for two weeks instead of one, extending the overall timeline.
We spoke with a SmileDirectClub customer support representative, who confirmed that their Nighttime Aligners are identical to standard ones in every way except their daily wear schedule. According to this representative, “the only difference is that Nighttime Clear Aligners allow you to safely straighten your teeth with only 10 hours consecutive wear each night over 10 months on average.”
So, what did we gather from this research? You’re receiving the exact same aligners that you would for SmileDirectClub’s standard treatment. They just come with different usage instructions, directing you toward a more convenient schedule – ten hours per night, commonly while you sleep. So choosing between regular and nighttime-only aligners is primarily a decision of which schedule and timeline you prefer, as the aligners themselves aren’t any different.
Quick Note: Unlike SmileDirectClub, byte has designed a unique product specifically for nighttime wear. byte’s At-Night aligners are made of a thicker, grind resistant material to deliver safe and efficient results in just 4-6 months on average.
Advantages of Nighttime Aligners
If you didn’t think that at-home clear aligner treatment could get any more convenient, guess again! Nighttime-only aligners take this convenience to a whole new level. Just take a look at a few of the advantages:
1) Nobody Has To Know
There’s no doubt that clear aligners are already much more discreet than traditional metal braces. Modern clear aligners blend in very well and are hardly noticeable unless you’re getting up close and personal. Still, they’re not completely invisible and can sometimes create a slight lisp. Looking for the most low-key treatment? Nighttime-only usage means that you won’t have to wear anything during your workday, lunch outing, social gathering, or any other daytime activity. You’ll only wear your aligners overnight, while no one else is around.
2) Worry-free Eating and Drinking
Every time you eat, you need to remove your aligners. After you’re finished, you’ll have to brush and floss before putting them back in to maintain good oral hygiene. Since you typically eat several times throughout the day (excluding the intermittent fasters out there!), you’ll be removing and reapplying your aligners often. Unless you’re a frequent midnight snacker, Nighttime Aligners can avoid this whole routine. You can simply pop them in after dinnertime and forget about them until the next morning.
3) Easy to Incorporate Into Your Evening Routine
Forming a routine is the easiest way to stay consistent with your aligners. This consistency is key for ensuring your treatment’s effectiveness no matter which company you choose. Otherwise, you run the risk that your aligners could stop fitting correctly, which can extend the duration of your treatment by several months and require costly modifications to your treatment plan.
Nighttime Aligners make it incredibly easy to follow a plan. Whether you’re a night owl or an early riser, it’s pretty effortless to introduce Nighttime Aligners into your bedtime routine. After brushing your teeth and flossing, simply pop in your aligners and do your typical nighttime activities. Wash your face, read a book, journal, catch up on some work, do the dishes, or just climb right into bed. In the morning, you can remove your aligners and go about your day.
Drawbacks to Nighttime Aligners
At this point, nighttime-only aligners might sound too good to be true, but they’re not without flaws. Before you make your final decision, it’s important to understand the drawbacks that come with this unique treatment schedule.
1) Longer Correction Time
SmileDirectClub estimates that most Nighttime Aligner treatment plans will last roughly 10 months. This is 3-4 months longer than their standard, day-time option. If you’re hoping to improve your smile ASAP, whether for a specific event like a wedding or because you just can’t wait for your new, more comfortable smile, you’re likely better off going with an all-day treatment plan. It might require more discipline, but you’ll enjoy a shorter overall treatment window.
Quick Note: If you’re sold on nighttime treatment but don’t like the idea of wearing your aligners for upwards of a year, there are other options. byte’s nighttime-only treatment plans last just 4-6 months on average.
2) Treatment May Be More Uncomfortable
Since Invisalign developed the first clear aligner treatment, plans have required patients to wear them 22+ hours per day. This hasn’t changed in two decades because there’s a good reason for it. When you remove the aligners, your teeth start to shift back to their original positions. The longer you go without them each day, the more your teeth shift. Not only does this slow down treatment, but it also puts additional strain on your teeth, constantly shifting them in and out of their new position. This can cause additional discomfort and if you’re a light sleeper, it could mean some restless nights.
There’s one more thing we should add here: the extra strain on your teeth may carry a small, added risk of injuring your tooth roots. This is always a risk (albeit, a very small risk) when undergoing any kind of orthodontic treatment, and we have to assume the good folks at SmileDirectClub took appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of nighttime aligners before bringing them to market.
All the same, for years dentists and orthodontists have been advising their patients to keep aligners in place as much of the day as possible. It’s not just to speed up treatment, but also to support a safe and healthy adjustment process. If you’re as cautious about your teeth as we are about ours, this is something you’ll probably want to consider before signing up for a nighttime-only plan.
3) Only Suitable for Minor Misalignments
In general, at-home aligners are better-suited for milder cases of crowding and spacing. As an even less intensive treatment, nighttime-only aligners are not designed to effectively treat more severe cases. In fact, SmileDirectClub explains on their blog that Nighttime Aligners are not well-suited for patients with moderate-to-severe crowding, spacing, or bite misalignments. If you have a more substantial issue, there’s a good chance you may not qualify for nighttime-only treatment. Even if you do qualify, you may not be able to achieve the same quality of outcome that you could with regular, all-day aligners
Plus, because of the additional back-and-forth wiggling involved with Nighttime Aligner plans, your teeth may be more likely to shift back to their original positions after you wrap up treatment. This is an especially big risk if you don’t consistently wear your post-treatment retainer – which is a good habit no matter which provider and treatment you choose.
Is SmileDirectClub The Only Option for Nighttime Treatment?
As we learned from SmileDirectClub’s customer support staff, the nighttime-only treatment features the same aligners as standard treatment. So, couldn’t other clear aligner companies do the same thing?
Yes, they could.
In fact, two other home teeth alignment companies, byte and AlignerCo, have developed their own lines of nighttime-only aligners, called byte At-Night and NightOnly, respectively.
Like SmileDirectClub’s treatment, byte At-Night requires 10 hours of continuous wear (typically overnight). But unlike SmileDirectClub, byte designs their nighttime aligners to make them more effective on this adjusted wear schedule. byte At-Night aligners are slightly thicker, which helps them exert more power overnight. They’re crafted to work with byte’s HyperByte device and deliver results in just 4-6 months.
The downside of byte At-Night is its price. At $2,295, it’s more expensive than SmileDirectClub’s nighttime option and byte’s standard treatment.
AlignerCo’s nighttime treatment uses the same model as SmileDirectClub’s. It’s the same aligners as you would get for all-day treatment, just worn on a different schedule. You’ll wear the aligners for 8-10 hours per night over a period of 8-12 months. They also cost slightly more, $1,345 instead of $1,145.
Aside from these three, no other companies offer this kind of alternative treatment. We can only assume that other providers haven’t yet tested and evaluated nighttime-only plans enough to offer them with a clear conscience. They may be wary of a treatment schedule that could be less comfortable, effective, or efficient. This is completely understandable but, given that nighttime-only treatment doesn’t require the use of different aligners (simply a different schedule), we still wouldn’t be surprised if more companies jumped on the bandwagon in the future.
Still Undecided? Here’s Our Recommendation.
Home aligner treatment takes some discipline. Without regular dentist face-to-face time, there’s no one holding you accountable for wearing your aligners properly. It’s up to you and you alone. When thinking about your schedule and tendencies, you might not be confident that you could follow the standard, 22-hour-per-day protocol. In this case, going with Nighttime Aligners could make a lot of sense. But generally, we think most people are better off going with a standard, all-day plan, even if it’s a little less convenient.
SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners might have the same price tag, but the nighttime-only option isn’t as effective. At the end of the day, given the amount of time and money you’re going to end up paying for any orthodontic treatment plan, it’s probably worthwhile putting up with some extra inconvenience to get the very best result possible.
Compare Your Nighttime-Only Treatment Options
SmileDirectClub isn’t the only company offering nighttime-only clear aligner treatment. byte also offers nighttime aligners, and according to our research, they offer more bang-for-your-buck than Smile Direct does.
Unlike SmileDirectClub, byte has designed a unique product specifically for nighttime wear. byte’s At-Night aligners are made of a thicker, grind resistant material to deliver safe and efficient results in just 4-6 months on average.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are nighttime aligners as effective as daytime treatment?
When it comes to your end results, yes. Nighttime aligner treatment can achieve the same smile transformations that daytime treatment can. However, nighttime treatment moves slower because you’re wearing your aligners for less time each day.
How are SmileDirectClub’s nighttime aligners different from their standard ones?
The aligners themselves are exactly the same. The only thing that’s different is how long you’ll wear them. Instead of wearing each aligner set 22 hours per day for one week, you’ll wear each set 10 hours per day for two weeks.
How long does nighttime treatment take?
It depends on which company you choose. SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners take 10 months (on average), byte At-Night delivers results in just 4-6, and AlignerCo’s NightOnly aligners take 8-12 months.
Am I a candidate for nighttime aligners?
If you have a mild case of crowding or spacing and no jaw misalignments, then you’re likely eligible for nighttime treatment. To find out for sure, you’ll need to complete and submit an impression kit or visit a SmileShop.
Do nighttime aligners cost more?
Not with SmileDirectClub. Their nighttime treatment uses the same exact aligners as its standard daytime treatment, so the price is identical ($1,950). byte-At-Night costs $2,295 and AlignerCo’s NightOnly treatment costs $1,345, which are both slightly higher than their normal prices.
How does SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners compare to competitors?
byte and AlignerCo are SmileDirectClub’s only competition in the nighttime aligner market. And while SmileDirectClub is less expensive (byte At-Night costs $2,295), byte is much faster, delivering results in just 4-6 months. AlignerCo’s treatment takes longer, but it’s also the cheapest of the bunch at just $1,345.
How long do I need to wear my aligners each night?
10+ hours. We realize that you probably don’t sleep for ten hours, so just pop them in a couple of hours before bed and you’ll be good to go.
Can I switch from daytime to nighttime aligners mid-treatment?
SmileDirectClub allows you to change treatment schedules in the middle of your treatment, since both options use the same aligners. This isn’t an option for byte, since they use a different type of aligner for nighttime treatment. AlignerCo doesn’t specify if this is an option, so you would need to ask your supervising dentist.
Are nighttime aligners safe?
For a vast majority of cases, yes. Nighttime treatment, however, allows your teeth to partially shift back during the day before correcting them again at night. This back and forth has a tiny risk of damaged tooth roots, but these cases are extremely rare.
Do nighttime aligners hurt?
Most customers find home aligners fairly comfortable. Nighttime aligners allow your teeth to shift back and forth a bit more, which can cause some additional discomfort. But you’ll be asleep most of the time you’re wearing them anyway.