SmileDirectClub and Smilelove have a lot in common. Both clear aligner services offer at-home teeth straightening, and both are significantly more affordable than braces or Invisalign. But when you dig a bit deeper, there are actually some major differences between these companies’ service offerings that aren’t so apparent on the surface.
We’re here to help you decipher these differences and hone in on the features that are most important to you. In this comparison review, we’ll take you on an in-depth tour of SmileDirectClub and Smilelove, and provide all the information you need to choose the best home teeth aligner for you.
Table of Contents
Overview and Recommendation
Bottom Line: Both Companies Offer Big Savings and Great-Looking Options
Smilelove and SmileDirectClub both offer a convenient and affordable alternative to visiting your dental provider for Invisalign treatment. With either service, you’ll receive a set of custom invisible aligners shipped directly to your home. But after that, the differences between these services become more clear.
Two Great Companies, But Smilelove Gets Our Vote
SmileDirectClub was the first company to offer invisible aligners online in 2014. Compared to Smilelove, they have a much longer track record and more established brand… So, it might seem surprising that we prefer Smilelove over the best-known company in the industry.
But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of these providers’ services and perks, we rank Smilelove over SmileDirectClub for two important reasons:
- Orthodontist-only Network: Most home teeth aligner companies work with “dental professionals” but don’t specify what level of expertise these individuals have. We were excited when Smilelove announced that they now work exclusively with licensed orthodontists to design their treatment plans. Orthodontists undergo several years of postgraduate training to become well-versed in the art of crafting smiles, so with Smilelove, you can trust that your teeth will be in the hands of an expert.
- Industry-best Prices: Smilelove aims to be the most affordable home aligner option on the market. Although their official price-point is right in line with the competition, they’re always offering discounts to bring their actual cost down as much as 20% below the industry average.
All that said, there’s a lot to love about SmileDirectClub too — especially when it comes to convenience. SmileDirectClub has more than 300 physical locations nationwide where you can get a free teeth scan, avoiding the whole impression kit process. And if you’re unsure about wearing your aligners for 22 hours per day, SmileDirectClub is one of the only companies that offers a nighttime-only option, so you can choose the plan that works best with your schedule.
At the end of the day, both providers are worth considering, but Smilelove gets our vote of confidence.
Provided you are a good candidate for at-home aligners, both SmileDirectClub and Smilelove can deliver effective results. But if we’re being honest, both companies have their shortcomings when compared to other home aligner options. For instance, we’re unsure about some aspects of SmileDirectClub’s manufacturing process, and a bit skeptical about Smilelove’s aligner cut.
But overall, we think that Smilelove’s orthodontist-only network and reputable manufacturer give them a leg up on SmileDirectClub.
- Works with a network of orthodontists and general dentists
- Once partnered with Align Tech to manufacture aligners, but now produces them in-house
- Also uses a straight cut for more aligner power
- Works exclusively with orthodontists to create treatment plans
- Partners with Essix, a reputable manufacturer, to produce their aligners
- Trims aligners to match your gum line, potentially sacrificing effectiveness
In many ways, your treatment’s effectiveness can rely on the person overseeing your case. This is one of the major ways Smilelove and SmileDirectClub differ.
Smilelove works solely with licensed orthodontists to review, design, and monitor their treatment plans. This is preferable because orthodontists have extensive experience focused specifically on the art of straightening teeth. On the other hand, SmileDirectClub’s network consists of general dentists. These individuals are still licensed, qualified dental professionals, but they don’t have the targeted expertise that an orthodontist does.
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 been known for producing top-quality, highly-effective aligners.
These days, however, SmileDirectClub produces most of its aligners in-house. This introduces a certain amount of uncertainty with regard to the level of quality and effectiveness you can expect when you order from SmileDirectClub.
Alternatively, Smilelove partners with Essix to produce their aligners. Essix plastic is well-known and highly regarded in the dental space, most commonly used to produce very durable retainers. This indicates to us that Smilelove is dedicated to quality in their manufacturing process.
In an effort to make their aligners more discreet, Smilelove scallops them to match your gum line. This seems ideal at first glance, as it does make you aligners slightly less visible – but it can also make them less effective.
SmileDirectClub cuts their aligners straight across the top so that they overlap your gums. Yes, this overlap might be slightly visible, but it serves as an anchor for your aligners, allowing them to exert up to 4x more force on your teeth.
One of the first things many adults check when considering home aligner treatment is their budget. Which provider offers lower prices? Both options are more cost-effective than in-office options like Invisalign, but costs vary among home aligner companies too. And this is where Smilelove really shines, not just in this side-by-side comparison, but also among the rest of its competitors.
When comparing costs, the price tag isn’t everything. You’ll also want to consider payment plan options, where both companies offer some flexibility. Even though SmileDirectClub’s costs are respectable, Smilelove goes above and beyond to provide affordable, accessible treatment.
- $1,895 sticker price
- Charges $99 for retainers after treatment
- Impression kit is $49 (or free at a SmileShop location)
- Financing requires a down payment but no credit check (everyone is approved!)
- $1,895 (usually lower because of promotions)
- Initial payment includes aftercare retainers
- Impression kit is also included in the sticker price
- Financing requires a down payment but no credit check, so there’s a 100% approval rate
SmileDirectClub’s initial cost is $1,895, which looks great until you visit Smilelove’s website. Although their official price-point is $1,895, they’re always running promotions that drop the cost significantly. Promotional discounts considered, Smilelove’s cost averages 10-20% lower than the industry standard.
Smilelove’s upfront price includes your aligners, impression kit, and post-treatment retainers. By contrast, SmileDirectClub does not include retainers in their upfront cost, so you’ll need to purchase them for $99 after you wrap up your treatment. And while you can get your teeth scanned for free at a SmileShop, if you need a SmileDirectClub impression kit, you’ll need to buy one for an extra $49.
Payment Plan Options
As you think about cost, you should also keep in mind how you will finance your treatment. Smilelove and SmileDirectClub each offer a financing option, but there are some key differences between them.
- SmileDirectClub offers a 24-month financing plan, which does not require a credit check but does require a $250 down payment.
- Smilelove’s 6-24 month financing plans go through a third-party company called Affirm. They do require a credit check, but generally do not require a down payment.
If you’re confident in your credit score, Smilelove’s option could be more flexible. But if you don’t think you would qualify based on a credit check, SmileDirectClub’s financing might be the better route. 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 worth it to pay upfront if you can make the finances work!
You’re already on the journey to straightening your teeth, but wouldn’t it be nice to brighten them while you’re at it? Good news: both companies include free whitening in their treatment packages. SmileDirectClub’s “bright on” promises to deliver your “brightest bright” in just one week, and you can use it simultaneously with your aligners.
The downside about Smilelove’s whitening is that you can’t use it until after you’ve completed your treatment, so you might have to wait slightly longer for your ideal smile.
All things considered, Smilelove excels in this category, but both companies offer strong value, especially when compared to Invisalign or braces, which will typically set you back $5,000 or more.
SmileDirectClub does more to provide a convenient treatment than any other home aligner company. From a nighttime-only option to hundreds of physical locations that make startup easy, no one else can touch their level of convenience, Smilelove included. Smilelove is still more convenient than in-office options, but it’s not quite on SmileDirectClub’s level yet.
- Has 300+ SmileShops for free teeth scans as an alternative to impressions
- Takes 4-6 weeks to design, produce, and ship your aligners
- Offers a nighttime-only option that only requires aligner wear for 10 hours per day
- Allows simultaneous aligner and whitening use
- Doesn’t have any physical locations, so you must use the impression kit
- Takes 6-8 weeks to design, produce, and ship your aligners
- Does not offer a nighttime-only plan, only the all-day, 22+ hour wear schedule
- Whitening can’t be used simultaneously with aligners
A home aligner company’s licensed dentist can’t create an effective treatment without getting a look at your teeth. For most customers, this means using an impression kit to make molds of their 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.
If you choose Smilelove, however, creating teeth impressions from home is the only way to get started. SmileDirectClub offers impression kits as well, but their physical locations, called SmileShops, allow you to forego this step. Over 300 SmileShop locations across the country provide free teeth scans that take the place of impressions.
So if you’d rather not deal with the hassle, or if you’re eager to start treatment ASAP, you could pop into a SmileShop instead. This will allow the company to get started on your care plan as quickly as possible.
After you submit your impression kit or teeth scan, each company will get to work on your proposed treatment plan. SmileDirectClub will turn this around within 72 hours of receiving your impressions/scans, while Smilelove takes around weeks to send your plan preview.
After you approve this plan, SmileDirectClub will take 4-6 weeks to produce and ship your aligners, and SnapCorrect will do so in 3-5 weeks. Overall, you’ll be looking at a 4-6 week wait time before you find SmileDirectClub’s aligners on your doorstep, and a 6-8 week wait for Smilelove.
As mentioned earlier, both companies include free teeth whitening as part of your treatment plan. Unfortunately, you’re not able to use Smilelove’s whitening until after you’ve completed your aligner treatment. SmiledirectClub allows you to use their whitening simultaneously with your aligners, making it decidedly more convenient.
Does wearing your aligners for 22 hours per day sound difficult? Would you rather avoid the hassle of removing and replacing them every time you eat?
SmileDirectClub has an alternative: Nighttime Aligners. Take this route and you’ll only need to wear your aligners for 10 hours per day instead. Of course, this will extend the overall treatment time from 6 to 10 months (on average), but if an all-day aligner schedule sounds exhausting to you, this could be a more convenient option.
SmileDirectClub and byte are currently the only two companies offering nighttime-only treatments. Smilelove doesn’t have a nighttime option, but we wouldn’t be surprised if more home aligner companies started introducing their own nighttime treatments soon.
Both of these companies’ clear aligners keep a much lower profile than traditional braces (or even ceramic braces). But this doesn’t mean that they’re exactly the same. In fact, clear aligners can look fairly different from company to company.
SmileDirectClub and Smilelove aligners each have their own benefits and style. We think SmileDirectClub has a slight advantage here, but appearance is a highly subjective category, so it will also depend on your personal preference.
- Uses a frosted, textured plastic that better matches your tooth surfaces
- Uses straight-cut aligners that slightly overlap your gums
- Reasonably stain resistant
- Uses a smooth, translucent, shiny plastic
- Scallops their aligners to match your gum line
- Reasonably stain resistant
Some companies craft their aligners from translucent, shiny plastic while others have a frosted appearance. Still, each company will tell you that their aligners are the best looking. Smilelove, for example, claims that their clear, shiny aligner material is less noticeable than competitors.
On the flip side, SmileDirectClub maintains that their aligners’ matte surface looks more natural. We tend to agree with SmileDirectClub. Your teeth are porous, which gives them a matte surface, and frosted aligners provide a better match. Smooth aligners can be reflective and make teeth look unnaturally shiny.
But as we mentioned, this often depends on personal preference. Some customers actually prefer shiny material because they like the way it makes their smile gleam. You’ll need to evaluate your preferences and decide which material fits them better.
We went over this in the “effectiveness” section, but it’s worth mentioning again since it does have an influence on your aligners’ appearance. Smilelove’s aligners are cut to match your gum line, which makes them slightly less visible than SmileDirectClub’s straight-cut ones that overlap your gums. Remember, though, that straight-cut aligners are often more effective.
Both companies make aligners that are resistant to staining, but we would not recommend drinking colored beverages while wearing them.
Customer Service Comparison
Your teeth and your health are important, so you want a treatment provider that prioritizes you and your concerns. It’s not uncommon to have questions during the home aligner treatment process, so a responsive and caring customer support staff is essential to your overall experience. Whether you’re trying to take a quality impression or just wondering when you’ll receive your aligners, good customer support can help make the process smooth and efficient.
We dug into hundreds of online reviews to learn more about each company’s customer support quality. It appears that both provide solid customer service but also have a couple of areas for growth. That said, SmileDirectClub’s extensive experience and recent improvements give them a small customer service advantage.
SmileDirect Customer Service
Smilelove Customer Service
- Offers standard support options
- 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
- Provides standard support options, plus video chat
- Has received negative reviews for spotty and delayed communication
- Offers prorated refunds if you’re dissatisfied at any point during treatment
SmileDirectClub is available during standard business hours on a variety of support platforms – phone, webchat, and email. If you send them an email, their website says they will respond within 24 hours.
Smilelove offers the same lines of communication but doesn’t list their hours of availability. They do, however, offer video call assistance for “critical steps, such as taking your impressions.”
Responsiveness & Helpfulness
After compiling and analyzing a large number of customer reviews, we discovered that both companies have had some issues with spotty communication and shipping delays.
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, however, SmileDirectClub seems to be making an effort to improve its service quality and customer support issues, and their recent reviews have been more positive.
On top of that, they’ve done a fantastic job creating extensive online resources, from FAQs to informative blog posts, so you can likely find answers to your questions simply by searching their website.
You might think that, as a significantly smaller company, Smilelove would have more attentive customer service, but this isn’t always the case. Customers report that it’s not uncommon to experience a week or more delay in communications and issue resolution. Even so, most customers enjoyed their interactions with Smilelove’s customer support representatives, noting that they were friendly and fair.
Smilelove’s refund policy is where they excel. They’re the only home aligner company on the market that offers a prorated refund at any point in your treatment plan if you’ve followed the treatment requirements but are dissatisfied with your progress.
Even after you’re finished with treatment, you can request a refund, which will be based on a comparison between your actual results and Treatment Preview. They will also create a “refinement” to further realign your teeth for $200.
SmileDirectClub’s refund policy is average for the home aligner industry. They don’t offer prorated refunds like Smilelove, but they will give a full refund if you have a change of heart and cancel treatment within 30 days. At the end of your treatment, if your aligners didn’t deliver the expected results, SmileDirectClub will work with you to further adjust your smile.
SmileDirectClub Company Background
Smilelove Company Background
- Founded in 2014
- Largest home aligner company in the industry
- Has transformed over 750,000 smiles to date
- Founded in 2017
- Dug out a niche as the most affordable home aligner option
- Still small, but has a growing customer base
When they hit the market in 2014, SmileDirectClub was one of the very first home aligner companies available. They helped to build the industry from the ground up and, since their founding, they’ve transformed over 750,000 smiles (and counting) and built more than 300 physical SmileShops across the country. Now, they’re a booming company of over 2,000 employees, the largest of all the home aligner companies we reviewed.
As home aligner popularity started to boom, Smilelove threw its hat in the ring, putting their aligners on the market in 2017. They saw an opportunity to position themselves as the most affordable option in the field, and they jumped in, and quite successfully too.
Still a young company, Smilelove hasn’t yet achieved the long track record, brand recognition, and extent of customer reviews that SmileDirectClub has. Regardless, they have (in our opinion) surpassed their predecessor by offering eye-catching promotional discounts, high-quality treatment, and an unrivaled refund policy.
SmileDirectClub might be the industry’s largest and most experienced company, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. They still provide a reliable treatment, and you can’t deny their brand power, but young companies like Smilelove with impressive pricing and innovations have begun to pass them up. Unless experience is your number one priority, we think Smilelove might be a better option.
Which Home Teeth Aligner Should You Use?
As you can see, SmileDirectClub and Smilelove 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 Smilelove if You Are:
Looking for quality aligners on a budget, and prefer to have an orthodontist design your treatment plan. Cost-conscious shoppers will find a lot to like about Smilelove’s pricing and refund policy.
Choose SmileDirectClub if You Are:
More comfortable purchasing from the most well-established brand name, and aren’t worried about possible delays or subpar customer support. Bonus points if you live near a SmileShop location.