SmileDirectClub and byte have a lot in common. Both clear aligner services offer at-home teeth straightening for significantly less than braces or Invisalign—and both companies also offer nighttime-only clear aligner treatment. While these nighttime options might seem similar at first glance, there are a lot of differences below the surface.
We’re here to help you decipher these differences and hone in on your priorities. In this comparison review, we’ll take you on an in-depth tour of SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners and byte At-Night, providing everything you need to choose the best home teeth aligner for you.
Table of Contents
Overview & Recommendation: Byte Wins
Two Great Companies, but We Give The Nod to byte.
Both of these nighttime options trade the traditional 22+ hour/day schedule for 10-hour overnight wear. But each company handles this innovative treatment differently. While SmileDirectClub’s nighttime aligners are exactly the same as their daytime ones, byte specially designs their nighttime aligners for more power and faster results.
SmileDirectClub might have been the first company to introduce a nighttime option, but we think that byte’s effectiveness, efficiency, and customer service improve on an already-attractive treatment.
Why do we rank byte higher than SmileDirectClub? Two reasons:
- Industry-Fastest Treatment Time: This is where byte truly shines, separating themselves from not just SmileDirectClub, but the entire home aligner industry. Their proprietary HyperByte device, which uses gentle vibrations to shift teeth more quickly. Plus, they specially design their nighttime aligners to exert more power over a shorter amount of time. byte’s standard daytime treatment time is a lightning-fast 3 months, and byte At Night isn’t far behind at 5-6 months.
- Exceptional Customer Support: byte assigns each customer a personal advisor, who checks in to answer questions and concerns throughout the treatment process. Plus, once you’re done with treatment, your smile is insured by their byte-for-life guarantee. That means if your teeth ever shift after treatment, even years down the line, they’ll realign your smile free of charge.
When you’re looking at a nighttime aligner plan, it’s important to look at the company behind the treatment. Read on and you’ll find an in-depth comparison of byte and SmileDirectClub specifically as it pertains to their nighttime-only options.
Is byte Right for You?
Out of all the clear aligners we’ve reviewed, byte is the #1 option we feel most comfortable recommending not only to our readers, but also to our family and friends. They scored 4.7/5 overall based on our 5 review criteria (effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer support) — a higher rating than any other provider.
As we mentioned above, SmileDirectClub designs and manufactures their aligners the exact same way for both daytime and nighttime treatment. The only difference is when and how long you wear them. byte, however, designs their nighttime aligners specifically for an adjusted wear schedule, using thicker plastic for more power.
Then, of course, we have to consider each company’s manufacturing partnerships, design process, and dental team. All things considered, we think byte has the edge.
- Uses specialized designs for nighttime aligners
- Uses both orthodontists and dentists to create treatment plans, but an orthodontist is involved in every case
- Unclear if they have a manufacturing partnership
- Cuts aligners straight across the top for extra power
- Nighttime aligners are identical to daytime ones
- Works with orthodontists and general dentists
- Once partnered with Align Technology to manufacture aligners, but now produces their aligners in-house
- Trims their aligners to match your gumline
So, you send off your impressions and weeks later, receive your aligners. Who, exactly, designed them? Both companies maintain dental networks consisting of state-licensed dentists and orthodontists. byte’s dentists and orthodontists work in tandem to create treatment plans, so you can be confident that an orthodontist will be involved in some way. It’s unclear if SmileDirectClub’s team works the same way or if you’ll get either a dentist or orthodontist.
Why does it matter? Orthodontists receive many years of specialized training so that they can spot and address even the most subtle alignment issues. Having an orthodontist monitoring your care increases the likelihood of an outstanding adjustment, and reduces the risk of something going wrong during your treatment. It’s reassuring that both companies involve orthodontists in the process, but it would be nice if they offered completely orthodontist-directed care.
SmileDirectClub once partnered with Align Technology (the creators of Invisalign) to manufacture their clear aligners. We were huge fans of this partnership, as Align Technology has long produced top-quality, highly effective aligners. These days, however, SmileDirectClub produces its aligners in-house, and they’ve implemented a design they call “Comfort Sense,” which is a “proprietary soft, medium, and firm aligner plastic progression to ease teeth more comfortably into place.” Align Tech aligners are top of the line, but it seems like SmileDirectClub is still producing safe and effective aligners in-house.
byte does not explicitly share their manufacturing partnership, but they clearly communicate that their aligners are made of medical-grade, BPA-free plastic. Based on their excellent product quality, we assume that they work with a reputable producer, at this point, we can’t be 100% sure.
SmileDirectClub has been in the home aligner game longer, there’s no doubt about that. But over the past few years, they haven’t introduced any game-changing technology or modifications. As an established, experienced company, they’ve simply relied on their track record, reputation, and results, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But byte, an upstart in the field, has shown unrivaled ambition by developing and implementing technologies that drastically impact their treatment’s effectiveness. The aforementioned HyperByte is completely unique to byte’s treatment, shortening the overall time frame like no other company can. Plus, unlike other companies, byte uses special software called Smile Science to evaluate your entire facial structure when designing your treatment plan. This allows their dentists and orthodontists to craft a smile that fits your features perfectly.
byte produces straight-cut aligners that slightly overlap your gums, which can make them more effective, while SmileDirectClub trims their aligners to match your gumline. Straight-cut aligners use the gums as a point of leverage to pivot and push the teeth into alignment. Therefore, home clear aligners that are trimmed to follow the gumline (like SmileDirectClub’s) can be less powerful.
byte At-Night aligners are cut slightly thicker than their standard daytime aligners. When combined with longer HyperByte use, this design allows for faster teeth movements over shorter periods of time.
Nighttime Aligner Downsides
During the treatment process, your teeth will likely want to shift back to their original positions when you have your aligners out. Therefore, the longer you have your aligners out, the more your teeth will shift back. With nighttime-only treatment, you’re not wearing your aligners for 14 hours per day, giving your teeth ample time to shift back. The aligners will correct this at night, but the constant back and forth can put additional strain on your mouth, extend your treatment time, and make treatment more uncomfortable.
There’s a small chance that this extra strain on your teeth could, in some cases, lead to injured tooth roots. Keep in mind, however, that this risk is always present during orthodontic treatment, and we assume the dental teams at SmileDirectClub and byte have done their due diligence in affirming that these treatments are safe before bringing them to market.
Because SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners are identical to their daytime ones (they just follow a different wear schedule) their price is the same too. byte, on the other hand, uses different materials and designs to ensure a specialized nighttime aligner experience. As you might expect, this specialty service costs a little more. Still, considering the HyperByte device and fast results, we think byte At Night is well worth it.
- $2,295 sticker price
- Includes aftercare retainers in the initial cost
- Impression kit is $95
- Financing requires a down payment, but everyone is approved
- $1,950 sticker price
- Charges $99 for retainers after treatment
- Impression kit is $59 (or free at a SmileShop location)
- Financing requires a down payment, but everyone is approved
If you’re making a decision based purely on the initial price, SmileDirectClub is cheaper. But there’s a lot more to consider here. SmileDirectClub charges $1,950 for their Nighttime Aligners, while byte At-Night costs $2,295. byte justifies that extra cost by cutting SmileDirectClub’s treatment time in half and including the HyperByte device, which retails for $699.
On top of that, the sticker price isn’t often the number that ends up on the bottom line, because there are other expenses. Take impression kits, for example. SmileDirectClub’s impression kit is $59, whereas byte’s is $95, and neither is included in the sticker price.
SmileDirectClub, however, gives you the option to skip the impression kit by visiting one of their SmileShops for a free teeth scan. byte does not have any physical locations, but they do include retainers in their upfront cost. In contrast, SmileDirectClub charges an additional $99 for retainers at the end of treatment, which increases the overall cost to around $2,000. Even after this give-and-take, byte At-Night is more expensive, but for a lot of customers, the faster treatment time is worth it.
Payment Plan Options
As you think about cost, you should also keep in mind how you might finance your treatment. Again, SmileDirectClub and byte offer very similar options. Both provide financing for all customers, 100% approval guaranteed. Here are the details:
- SmileDirectClub offers a 24-month financing plan ($89/month) that requires a $250 down payment.
- byte’s 29-month plan ($99/month) requires a $449 down payment and also doesn’t require a credit check.
Either company is a great option, especially if you aren’t confident in your credit score. With both services, you’ll pay a bit extra to finance your care when you factor in the interest paid over time by financing, so it’s more cost-effective to pay upfront if you can make the finances work!
We should also note that bytepay automatically includes a 5-year “Smile Protection Plan,” which provides biannual retainer replacement and two free replacements for lost or stolen retainers. This makes byte’s financing even more expensive than SmileDirectClub’s, but post-treatment retainers often cost close to $100 each, you’re getting a good deal either way.
Both companies include free whitening to accompany your aligners, which is a nice touch that allows you to brighten your smile while you straighten your teeth. byte also includes their HyperByte device with your treatment cost. This is a huge benefit to you, as HyperByte is what makes byte’s 5-6 month nighttime aligner treatment time possible. Purchased separately, the HyperByte device costs $699, so you get a great deal with the full aligner package.
In the end, both companies offer strong value, especially when compared to Invisalign or braces, which will typically set you back $5,000 or more.
They might take slightly longer to complete treatment, but a nighttime-only treatment plan is otherwise much more convenient than a standard one. You don’t need to wear them during the day and there’s no hassle in removing and replacing them every time you eat or drink.
These conveniences are the same whether you choose byte or SmileDirectClub, since their nighttime-only treatment schedules are nearly identical. However, each company has its own unique convenience advantages.
- No physical locations that offer teeth scans, so you’ll need to use an impression kit
- Takes 4 weeks to design, produce, and ship your aligners
- HyperByte technology decreases the average nighttime-only treatment time to 5-6 months
- Allows you to use aligners and whitening products simultaneously
- Has 300+ SmileShops for free teeth scans as an alternative to impression kits
- Takes 4-6 weeks to design, produce, and ship your aligners
- Average treatment time is 10 months for Nighttime Aligners
- Also allows simultaneous aligner and whitening use
When getting started with SmileDirectClub or byte, you’ll need to send the company images of your teeth. You can purchase an impression kit from either company and use it to create molds of your top and bottom dental arches. However, impression kits can be difficult, especially considering the fact that most customers have never taken molds of their own teeth. And if you choose byte, this is the only option, so you’re stuck taking your own impression.
Go with SmileDirectClub, on the other hand, and you can visit any of their 300+ SmileShops for a free teeth scan. If you’d rather not deal with the hassle of taking impressions, or if you’re eager to start treatment, you can pop into a SmileShop where a dental assistant will scan your teeth for free. This will allow the company to get started on your care plan as quickly as possible. The impression kit or teeth scan process is the same whether you choose regular or nighttime aligners.
Plus, the SmileDirectClub Partner Network includes more than 1,000 dentists’ offices nationwide, where you can begin your treatment with an in-office consultation and teeth scan, if you’d prefer.
Nighttime Aligner Schedule Advantages
Both companies’ nighttime aligner treatments are going to be more convenient than their standard aligner schedules. First off, on a nighttime-only plan, you don’t need to wear your aligners to work, school, or any other public place. You can simply put them on after dinner and take them out in the morning. People will rarely ever see you wearing them.
Plus, you won’t need to go through the whole process of removing your aligners to eat, then brushing and flossing before putting them back on (unless you’re a late-night snacker). On this plan, it’s super easy to incorporate your aligners into your nightly and morning routines.
As we mentioned earlier, these flexible schedules leave plenty of time for your teeth to shift back. So, while it’s nice to avoid daytime wear, a nighttime-only schedule can ultimately cause some extra strain on your teeth.
The startup process for both regular and nighttime aligners involves some back-and-forth. After you ship your impressions or get your teeth scan, the company will develop a treatment preview and send it back. Then, if you choose to move forward with treatment, they will produce and ship your aligners. You should expect to wait at least a few weeks before receiving your full aligner package, although byte streamlines this process slightly more than SmileDirectClub.
The companies want to ensure your treatment quality and safety, so producing your aligners isn’t necessarily a quick process. You won’t find them waiting on your doorstep the day after finishing your impression kit. Go with byte and you can expect this entire process to take around 4 weeks (depending on how quickly you return your impressions), while SmileDirectClub often takes 4-6.
If you get started at a SmileShop, you may have the option to sign up for a “Fast Track” service, which gets your aligners to your door as fast as possible. However, it also means you need to pay the full treatment cost upfront. And according to some customer reviews, after agreeing to fast-track their aligner production, they weren’t able to see their full treatment plan before receiving their aligners, so make sure you consider it carefully before signing up.
Total Treatment Time
If your primary goal is achieving that new smile as soon as possible, byte offers the industry’s fastest treatment times for both regular and nighttime aligners. On average, customers finish their nighttime treatment in 5-6 months. SmileDirectClub’s nighttime-only treatment usually takes around 10.
When you go with a nighttime-only schedule, you’ll keep your aligners completely out of the public eye. So, compared to standard daytime wear, either of these options is a less-noticeable option. But when you look at the aligners themselves, which ones are more discreet?
Nighttime aligners don’t look any different than regular ones do, but byte and SmileDirectClub use different aligner designs, so they’ll look slightly different in your mouth, depending on which one you choose. Aesthetic tastes vary from person to person, so it just comes down to which one you think looks better, although our opinion is that SmileDirectClub’s are just a little less noticeable.
- Uses a smooth, translucent, shiny plastic
- byte At-Night aligners are slightly thicker than byte’s standard aligners
- Aligners are cut straight across the top
- Reasonably stain resistant
- Uses a frosted, textured plastic that better matches your tooth surfaces
- Trims their aligners to match your gumline
- Reasonably stain resistant
SmileDirectClub fashions their aligners from matte, textured plastic, while byte’s aligners are smooth and shiny. What’s the difference? If you want to know our opinion, it’s that aligners made from frosted plastic are actually more discreet because they mimic the naturally matte surface of your teeth. Shiny material can be reflective and actually more noticeable.
However, this debate is largely subjective and depends on your personal preference. Some customers, for example, appreciate byte’s shiny plastic because they think it makes their smiles gleam. You should consider which you prefer before making your final decision.
To make byte At-Night aligners more powerful, byte specially designed them to be thicker than their All-Day counterparts. Consequently, they could be slightly more visible or cause a tiny lisp. But since you’re just wearing them at night, this isn’t a huge concern.
As we mentioned in the Effectiveness section, SmileDirectClub trims their aligners to match your gumline, while byte’s aligners are cut straight across the top, slightly overlapping the gums. Even though trimmed aligners might be slightly less effective, they’re also slightly less visible, since there’s no overlap.
Both companies make aligners that are resistant to staining, but we would not recommend drinking colored beverages while wearing them. byte’s FAQ page states that their aligners are 88% more stain-resistant than their competitors, but it’s unclear how they determined this.
Customer Service Comparison
When you’re undertaking a newer treatment schedule like nighttime aligners, you might have questions or uncertainties about the process, and that’s totally natural! With that in mind, you’ll want a company that prioritizes customer service and has a support team that’s responsive, helpful, and friendly. Getting quick, satisfying answers to your questions can give you peace of mind and make you feel like a valued customer.
Reviews indicate that SmileDirectClub has had some rough patches with their customer service, but that they’ve made recent improvements to turn it around. byte, on the other hand, has always provided top-notch, personalized support.
byte Customer Service
SmileDirectClub Customer Service
- Offers standard communication avenues (phone, email, Facebook Messenger, and text) and will respond on social media as well
- Provides each customer with a personal byte advisor to answer questions
- Receives consistently positive customer reviews
- The byte-For-Life guarantee ensures your smile forever
- Offers numerous communication avenues, including phone, email, text, and webchat
- Received some negative reviews in the past, but seems to be turning it around
- Will work to modify your plan if you’re not satisfied, plus offers a full refund within 30 days of starting treatment
- Their Lifetime Smile Guarantee ensures your smile forever.
Both companies are available during standard business hours on a variety of support platforms – phone, webchat, text, and email. byte is very active on social media and will respond to questions and concerns there as well.
SmileDirectClub allows you to track your progress on a mobile app and have regular virtual “Smile Check-ins” with their dental team. According to the SmileDirectClub website, this dental team is available via chat and text for questions 24/7.
byte also lets you schedule video calls and phone calls to check in with their care team through your patient portal, although they don’t have an app.
Responsiveness & Helpfulness
Based on many reviews we found, customers generally feel that byte offers more responsive and thoughtful support than SmileDirectClub.
In fact, SmileDirectClub’s customer support has received mixed reviews over the years. Many SmileDirectClub customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the level of support they received or reported frustrating delays in aligner shipments. The volume of negative reviews and Better Business Bureau complaints accelerated around 2017 as SmileDirectClub attempted to grow its business extremely rapidly, creating inconsistencies in its customer support.
Over the past year or so, SmileDirectClub seems to be making an effort to improve its service quality and customer support issues. These efforts appear to be paying off—especially with the implementation of their Smile Check-ins and mobile app—but byte still comes out on top. By all accounts, they’re extremely responsive on all channels.
For example, if you reach out on social media, you can expect a response within 24 hours. Even better is the fact that each byte customer is assigned their own personal advisor, who answers questions and checks in via email throughout the process. It’s like having your own personal guide for the teeth straightening journey.
SmileDirectClub offers a 30-day full refund window from the start of treatment if you have an immediate change of heart. Later on, if you find that you’re not making the progress you expected, they won’t offer a refund, but they will work with you to create new aligners and get your treatment back on track (provided you’ve followed their treatment protocol).
Beyond that, these companies have fairly similar satisfaction guarantees. Either one will work with you to modify your treatment if your teeth aren’t moving as expected, creating new aligners to get you back on track (provided you’ve followed their treatment protocol).
On top of that, both companies have policies that ensure you keep your new smile for life. byte’s is called the Byte for Life guarantee, and SmileDirectClub calls theirs the Lifetime Smile Guarantee. They might have different names, but they operate the same way.
Imagine that your teeth shift five years after you complete treatment. byte or SmileDirectClub will send you new aligners to shift them back. Ten years? New aligners. Twenty years? You guessed it – they’ll send you new aligners. However, to qualify you must order two sets of retainers ($99) per year and wear them as prescribed.
byte Company Background
SmileDirectClub Company Background
- Founded in 2018
- Quickly gained popularity due to their innovative technology and excellent customer service.
- Currently one of the industry’s most promising new companies.
- Founded in 2014
- Largest home aligner company in the industry.
- Has transformed over one million smiles to date.
byte was founded in 2018, so they’re one of the newest home aligner company to hit the market. Even so, they’ve had a quick rise to the top of our rankings because of their innovation and unmatched treatment times. Meanwhile, SmileDirectclub has been a mainstay on the home aligner scene. They helped revolutionize the industry when they started delivering home aligners in 2014, and they’ve remained the largest, most recognizable brand on the market.
At first, we were unsure if byte could compete with an established industry giant like SmileDirectClub, which then had over 2,000 employees and had served over one hundred thousand customers (as of 2021, the numbers are even higher). But byte proved us wrong, jumping at an opportunity to become a formidable company themselves.
Today, SmileDirectClub has maintained its position as the largest home aligner in the country, having transformed over one million smiles to date. But with their bold innovations, fast treatment time, and exemplary customer service, we think that byte has overtaken them, ascending to the top spot in our home aligner rankings.
SmileDirectClub was the first company to introduce a nighttime-only option, showing that they’re still a leader and innovator in the field. Shortly after, byte announced their own nighttime aligner treatment. Customers appear to be satisfied with each company’s nighttime treatment so far, and we wouldn’t be surprised if other home aligner companies started following suit.
Which Nighttime-Only Aligners Should You Use?
As you can see, SmileDirectClub and byte nighttime aligner treatments have a lot in common, but their differences are where you want to focus when making a final decision. If you’re still not sure which clear aligner service to choose, let’s look at a couple of scenarios that might help you figure out which is the better option for you.
Choose byte if You Are:
Looking to complete your treatment ASAP with quality products and excellent customer service, and don’t mind working with a less-experienced company.
Choose SmileDirectClub if You Are:
More comfortable purchasing from the most well-established and convenient brand name, and aren’t worried about a longer treatment time. Bonus points if you live near a SmileShop location.
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.
Who will oversee my nighttime treatment?
SmileDirectClub and byte are both at-home aligner companies, so you won’t schedule and attend office visits with a dentist like you would for Invisalign. However, you will have an assigned professional remotely overseeing your case. Both byte and SmileDirectClub have dental teams that consist of state-licensed dentists and orthodontists.
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?
For SmileDirectClub? No. For byte? Yes. SmileDirectClub’s nighttime treatment uses the same exact aligners as its standard daytime treatment, so the price is identical ($1,950). byte At Night uses aligners specially designed for nighttime treatment and fast results, so it costs slightly more ($2,245).
Do other companies offer nighttime aligners?
Aside from byte and SmileDirectClub, AlignerCo is the only other company that has a nighttime-only option. Depending on their continued success, we will likely see other companies follow suit in the future.
How long do I need to wear my aligners each night?
10+ hours. We realize that you probably don’t sleep for ten hours every night, so just pop them in a couple of hours before bed and you’ll be good to go.
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.