One of the biggest advantages of home aligner companies like SmileDirectClub is expedited treatment time. Home aligners are very similar to products like Invisalign, but you complete treatment entirely from home — and it’s much faster.
SmileDirectClub is the largest and most experienced home aligner brand, and like most home aligner providers, their treatment takes an average of 4–6 months. This timeline, however, depends on your condition’s severity and no two people will have the same experience.
In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the major factors that can affect your SmileDirectClub treatment time, and give you an idea of how long you’ll need to wait before flashing your new smile.
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How Long Does it Take To Get Started with SmileDirectClub?
The first step to getting started with SmileDirectClub is finding out whether you’re eligible for treatment. Home aligners are best for people with mild-to-moderate misalignments and no bite issues, so they’re not a good fit for everyone. You have two options to determine your candidacy for treatment: order an impression kit or visit a SmileShop for dental scans.
Impression kits cost $59, and this price is refundable if SmileDirectClub determines that you aren’t a good fit for treatment. Your kit will typically arrive within a few days, and it will include two sets of putty, trays, and instructions to create accurate molds of your teeth.
Once you’ve created satisfactory impressions, send them back to SmileDirectClub for evaluation. If their dental team approves your case, they’ll send you a digital preview that shows your teeth at every step of the treatment process. Like what you see? Go ahead and purchase your custom aligners through SmileDirectClub’s website.
Unfortunately, creating an accurate impression of your teeth can be challenging. So, SmileDirectClub opened retail locations called SmileShops in 2016 and currently have more than 300 nationwide. Instead of ordering an impression kit, you can schedule a SmileShop appointment and get a free 3D scan of your teeth. This option is completely free and often more accurate than taking impressions on your own.
Once you’ve completed the 3D scan, the process is the same: wait for SmileDirectClub’s team to approve you for treatment, then order your aligners through their website. It typically takes them 4-6 weeks to manufacture and ship your aligners, so you won’t be able to start treatment immediately.
How Long Will It Take To See Results?
SmileDirectClub’s average treatment time is 4–6 months or ten months for their nighttime-only plan. Nighttime aligners are the same aligners you’d receive for regular treatment, but you’ll only wear them for ten hours per day, usually overnight.
The standard SmileDirectClub treatment requires you to wear your aligners for at least 22 hours per day, so you’ll see results and complete treatment quicker. The nighttime-only plan is more convenient for most people, but less wear time means a longer overall treatment timeline.
Most people see changes to their smile within the first couple of months of SmileDirectClub treatment. However, there are a few key factors that can affect your treatment time. The most important factor is the severity of your condition. More complex cases simply require more aligners and more time to correct. So, it will take longer to see noticeable results.
Although it may seem like your treatment time is completely out of your hands, that’s not entirely true. There are things you can do to avoid delays and keep your treatment safe (more on that in a second). Still, you’ll have to wait at least a month or two before you start seeing results.
Most importantly, remember to be patient and never stop wearing your aligners before your treatment is complete. Although you may think your smile has completely transformed, it’s essential to finish your aligner plan to prevent any issues down the road.
How Can I Ensure My Treatment Is As Short As Possible?
As we previously mentioned, the severity of your condition is the primary determining factor for how long your SmileDirectClub treatment will take. However, your cooperation during treatment is also critical.
SmileDirectClub recommends that you wear your aligners for 22 hours per day, only removing them to eat, drink, or brush your teeth. If you don’t wear your aligners for the full 22 hours, your treatment may take longer. You complete SmileDirectClub treatment entirely from home, so following the company’s instructions is key to ensuring safety and efficiency.
Your oral hygiene will affect your treatment time as well. Teeth move most effectively in a healthy environment. So, if you have poor hygiene and develop cavities or a gum infection during treatment, it will delay the process. In extreme cases, you may need to stop treatment to have your hygiene issues and cavities/decay addressed before proceeding.
Avoiding damage to your aligners is also important to ensure a speedy treatment. If you damage or break your aligners, it will stall your treatment while you wait for new ones to arrive in the mail. Plus, you’ll need to pay an additional $50 for the replacements.
To see results as fast as possible, follow SmileDirectClub’s instructions carefully and brush and floss your teeth regularly. Like any other dental treatment, you should take the process seriously and do everything you can to prevent complications.
Does SmileDirectClub Work Faster Than Invisalign?
Yes and no. In-office treatments like Invisalign are best for moderate-to-severe misalignments and can treat almost any issue that braces can. Because these cases are usually more complex, in-office aligners typically take longer than at-home aligners, including SmileDirectClub. Invisalign also offers more attention to detail and precision than home aligners. So, it usually takes longer to achieve more precise movements and changes to a patient’s smile.
The average treatment time for Invisalign is 12–18 months, while SmileDirectClub typically takes just 4–6 months. This is partly because SmileDirectClub is meant for mild-to-moderate cases of misalignment, which take less time to treat. However, the aligners’ design can also have an influence.
Invisalign “scallops” their aligners to match the patient’s gumline, customizing them for more comfort and less visibility. In contrast, SmileDirectClub cuts their aligners straight across so they overlap the gums. This design can apply more force at the gingival area, according to this 2022 study. Invisalign combats this slight disadvantage by using attachments that give their aligners more power. But in a simple straight vs. scalloped cut contest, straight is more powerful.
Overall, if you have an important event coming up this year, SmileDirectClub is probably better suited to your timeline. Just keep in mind that Invisalign may be a better choice if you have a severe misalignment.
Is There a Faster Option?
Home aligners are currently the fastest teeth straightening treatment available. On average, your treatment will last six months — about half of Invisalign’s typical timeframe and a fraction of the time required for braces.
Whether there’s a faster option among other at-home aligner companies is a tough question, since the timeline depends almost entirely on your specific condition.
However, if you’re looking for another efficient at-home option, Byte says their average treatment plan length is just 4–5 months. They include a HyperByte device — which emits gentle, high-frequency vibrations — in every aligner package, and they claim that using it daily may help seat your aligners better, potentially reducing discomfort. Some research also suggests that devices like this can encourage faster dental shifts for some people.
You only need to use this FDA-approved device for five minutes per day to reap its benefits, so it won’t interfere with your daily life. For a more in-depth look at Byte, check out our detailed review.
Treatment time is important to consider when you’re deciding on a teeth straightening treatment. The biggest factor that will affect your treatment time is the severity of your condition, so everyone will have a different experience. However, it’s crucial to choose a treatment that will fit within your ideal timeline.
If you’ve been considering getting SmileDirectClub, schedule an appointment with your dentist to evaluate your teeth and discuss your options. They’ll likely be able to give you an estimated treatment time for several treatment options and help you decide whether SmileDirectClub is the right choice for you.