If you’ve ever looked into at-home clear aligners, you’re probably familiar with SmileDirectClub. As the largest brand in the home aligner space, they’re hard to miss — especially considering how heavily they’ve invested in marketing campaigns.
SmileDirectClub is convenient, well-established, and at $1,950, much more affordable than traditional orthodontic treatment… but they’re not the only home aligner company out there.
That’s right — since SmileDirectClub launched in 2014, several competitors have hit the market with unique perks of their own. Some of those ambitious companies have tweaked SmileDirectClub’s winning formula to offer faster, more affordable, or higher-quality home aligner treatment. In this review, we’ll outline the 3 best alternatives to SmileDirectClub and dive into the specifics of their various service offerings.
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byte is a newcomer to the home aligner game, but they’re already contributing innovative technology and delivering efficient results. They don’t have a ton of experience like SmileDirectClub, but they make up for it with their industry-fastest treatment times and personalized customer service, all for a comparable price.
Even as a young company, byte has quickly ascended to the top of our overall rankings. We think they’re a high-quality and well-rounded option for anyone seeking affordable, effective treatment.
- Thanks to their HyperByte device, byte promises the industry’s fastest treatment times – an average of 3 months compared to SmileDirectClub’s 6.
- A state-licensed orthodontist is involved in the creation of every byte treatment. However, their team is comprised of both orthodontists and general dentists.
- After byte transforms your smile, they guarantee it for life. If your teeth shift, even years down the road, byte will design new aligners to readjust your smile. No other home aligner company offers this type of lifetime warranty.
- byte assigns each customer their own personal advisor who checks in throughout the process and answers any pertinent questions.
- As a young company, byte doesn’t have the wealth of experience that SmileDirectClub does, and there aren’t a ton of customer reviews out there to back up their results.
- Unlike SmileDirectClub and Candid, byte doesn’t have any physical locations, so you’ll need to purchase an impression kit to get started.
- byte uses a smooth, translucent plastic in their aligners, which could make them reflective and artificially shiny. SmileDirectClub aligners are frosted, which better matches the natural surface of your teeth.
byte - The Bottom Line
If you want to complete the process ASAP, you’re intrigued by the byte-for-life warranty, but you still want top-quality treatment, make sure to check out byte.
Candid started selling at-home aligners in 2017, making it a few years younger than SmileDirectClub, but they’ve grown rapidly and are currently the second-largest player in the industry. Like SmileDirectClub, Candid has ventured into the physical landscape, establishing Candid Studios across the country to provide free teeth scans.
Plus, Candid has taken steps to deliver an even more effective, higher-quality product and exceptional customer care. They’re the first home aligner company to implement Remote Monitoring, which gives you routine check-ins with your assigned orthodontist throughout treatment.
- Candid’s dental network consists exclusively of orthodontists, whereas SmileDirectClub uses a combination of general dentists and orthodontists.
- Candid partners with ClearCorrect, the second-largest clear aligner producer in the U.S., to manufacture their aligners. SmileDirectClub currently manufactures their aligners in-house.
- While SmileDirectClub’s customer care has been spotty over the years, Candid appears committed to providing excellent support from start to finish.
- Their Remote Monitoring service provides digital check-ins every 7-10 days with your assigned orthodontist throughout treatment.
- Candid’s $2,400 sticker price is more expensive than SmileDirectClub’s $1,950 price tag.
- They offer financing plans for your treatment, but they require a credit check to qualify. In contrast, SmileDirectClub automatically provides financing to every customer, regardless of credit score.
- Candid does not currently offer a nighttime-only option, which SmileDirectClub does.
Candid - The Bottom Line
For an unwavering commitment to product quality, safety, and customer support, Candid is a fantastic option.
Special Offer: $65 off your impression kit purchase
Another young company, AlignerCo has carved out a space for itself as the most affordable home aligner option available. Their sticker price is significantly lower than the rest of the field, and they still manage to deliver high-quality products and results. They’re not very experienced yet, and their customer base is still small, but you simply can’t beat their prices.
- AlignerCo’s $1,145 sticker price is hundreds less than SmileDirectClub and other at-home treatments.
- They don’t require a credit check for their SmileFlex Easy financing plan, so everyone qualifies (their standard SmileFlex plan requires a soft credit check).
- AlignerCo creates their aligners using plastic from Essix, an experienced and well-respected dental products company.
- They’ve received consistent praise for their attentive, helpful customer service.
- AlignerCo doesn’t offer physical locations or a nighttime-only option like SmileDirectClub, so their treatment isn’t quite as convenient.
- Their website boasts orthodontist-designed treatment plans, but AlignerCo actually uses both orthodontists and general dentists. So, you can’t be sure if you’ll have the most specialized professional overseeing your treatment.
- AlignerCo could be slightly slower than SmileDirectClub or other competitors.
AlignerCo - The Bottom Line
When you’re on a tight budget, teeth straightening treatment can seem overwhelmingly expensive, but AlignerCo provides a much more affordable option.
What about Invisalign?
Invisalign is the original clear aligner system and the industry’s most well-established brand. They’ve transformed over 7 million smiles to date, and they’re widely respected by dentists and customers alike. So why aren’t they on this list? Because, while Invisalign might deliver a similar product, on the whole, their processes are quite different.
Unlike the other companies on this list, Invisalign is developed and administered completely in-office by your dentist. At-home systems like SmileDirectClub have licensed dental professionals that develop aligner treatment plans remotely, but customers must administer them from home.
Over 100,000 dentists and orthodontists in 90 countries are trained and licensed to offer Invisalign treatment. Choosing Invisalign would mean that you must make regular office visits for your dentist to monitor and adjust your aligners (if necessary). Further, it also gives them the opportunity to apply attachments like elastics and expanders that induce more intricate tooth and jaw movements.
This makes Invisalign more expensive ($3,000 – $8,000) and more time-intensive (12 months on average), but it also means that Invisalign’s treatment is capable of correcting a wide scope of severe conditions (including bite issues like overbite, underbite, and crossbite). If your condition turns out to be too severe for home aligner treatment, or if you’re simply more comfortable seeing your dentist face-to-face each month, you won’t find a more effective option than Invisalign.
How Should I Evaluate My Options?
This is a basic overview of a few different home aligner options, but choosing one company over another is a multifaceted decision. It’s important to avoid focusing too much on just one aspect of a particular company, like price or treatment time. When evaluating your options, we recommend researching and considering all of the following categories:
- Effectiveness: Who is in charge of your treatment plan? Where are your aligners manufactured? How are they designed? All of these things can influence a treatment’s effectiveness and efficiency. Dig into these details to know whether you’re receiving safe, high-quality products.
- Affordability: If you’re on a budget or just a habitual bargain hunter, low costs might be your priority. This isn’t just the initial cost that you find on a company’s homepage. You should also consider their financing options, payment plans, and what items the sticker price includes.
- Convenience: Eliminating office visits means that all home aligner treatments are more convenient than in-office options, but certain companies take extra steps to be even more user-friendly. Providing various ways to get started and multiple treatment schedules, while reducing wait times, help increase a company’s convenience.
- Appearance: Clear aligners are pretty discreet, but by experimenting with different plastics, surfaces, and designs, home aligner companies have made them even more so. Aesthetics somewhat depend on personal preferences, though, so what looks “best” might vary based on a customer’s tastes and style.
- Customer Friendliness: Because customers complete their treatment entirely on their own, home aligner companies need to be on their customer service game to answer questions and resolve issues. Contact channels, responsiveness, helpfulness, and refund policies all play into the quality of a company’s customer care.
While you should consider all of the aspects above, it’s natural to focus on one or two in particular. That’s why we’ve created guides showing which home aligner companies excel in each category:
Don’t get us wrong – SmileDirectClub is a fantastic option. There’s a reason that so many people have chosen them over the years. They’re devoted to delivering convenient treatment options at affordable prices, and they have the results to prove it. But teeth straightening treatment is an investment, and like any investment, you should consider all the options before making a final decision.
If you saw a company here that caught your attention, dig into further research and reach out to them with any questions. This way, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to make a well-informed, confident decision and get started transforming your smile.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cheapest alternative to SmileDirectClub?
SmileDirectClub offers fairly affordable prices and automatic financing approval, but if you’re looking for the lowest price possible, AlignerCo is your best bet. Their $1,145 sticker price is easily the lowest in the industry. And they offer multiple financing options to make treatment even more accessible. Read our guide on the Most Affordable Clear Aligners to learn more.
What is the most convenient alternative to SmileDirectClub?
When it comes to convenience, it’s tough to beat SmileDirectClub. Their 300+ nationwide SmileShops allow for quick and easy startups, and their nighttime-only aligners are perfect for busy lifestyles. That said, for some people, convenience means the shortest treatment time, in which case byte’s 3-month treatment window would be preferable. Whatever convenience looks like to you, it’s probably covered in our guide to the Most Convenient Clear Aligners.
Which clear aligners are the least noticeable?
This is a difficult one because every company will tell you that their aligners are the least noticeable, and it depends somewhat on personal preferences. In our opinion, Candid produces the most discreet aligners, but byte, SmileDirectClub, and AlignerCo are also good options. Take a look at our “Best Looking Home Aligners” guide and consider your own unique tastes as you make your decision.
Which clear aligners work the fastest?
byte’s average treatment window cuts its competitors’ times in half. Their HyperByte technology, which uses gentle vibrations to facilitate faster teeth shifts, can produce the desired results in around 3 months (on average). Most other home aligner companies take around 6 months to transform your smile.
Which at-home aligner companies offer nighttime-only treatment?
SmileDirectClub, byte, and AlignerCo. byte and AlignerCo charge more for nighttime treatment than daytime treatment, while SmileDirectClub charges the same amount.
Which at-home aligner company is right for me?
Our opinion? byte is the best all-around option. But it depends on your condition and priorities. Recommend evaluating each company’s effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer service. For comprehensive analyses of the top companies, see our top 5 home aligners guide.
Which conditions can at-home aligners treat?
Home aligners are primarily designed to treat mild-to-moderate cases of crowding and spacing, along with some mild bite issues. If your case is severe or includes a jaw misalignment like overbite or underbite, home aligners might not have the capacity to induce the larger tooth and jaw shifts you’re after.
Does insurance cover clear aligner treatment?
It depends entirely on your provider and plan. SmileDirectClub, for example, has partnerships with UnitedHealthCare, Aetna, and Anthem to provide coverage on certain plans. But having orthodontic benefits doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be covered. You should check with your insurance provider to find out for sure.
How do I get started with home aligners?
You’ll need to order an impression kit and create molds of your teeth, then send them to your company of choice. If you go with Candid or SmileDirectClub, you can visit one of their physical locations for a free teeth scan, which replaces the impression kit process.
Are home aligners safe?
Yes! While administering treatment from home might seem daunting, the process is very safe. Home aligner companies use licensed dentists to create your treatment plan and design your aligners.
Even though you won’t meet with them in-person, each company offers robust customer support services if something doesn’t feel quite right. Read our guide to safe home teeth straightening treatment for more information.
Do clear aligners hurt?
Customers often report experiencing tightness or discomfort during the first 1-2 days wearing a new set of aligners, after which the discomfort subsides. Some companies provide “chewies” or other devices to help ensure a more comfortable aligner fit.