Smilelove has been an up-and-comer in the home teeth straightening game since 2017, but recently they’ve fallen on hard times. After ceasing operations in response to COVID-19, it’s still unclear whether or not Smilelove will be able to get out of the mud for good.
This review is up-to-date with everything you should know about Smilelove at this point in time, as well as the most reliable (and affordable) Smilelove alternatives we recommend.
Smilelove has recently faced backlash from customers & the BBB for accepting new orders without being able to fulfill them. We strongly encourage our readers to consider a different provider at this time.
For a list of other affordable clear aligner products, visit our comparison of the 5 best home teeth straightening services.
Table of Contents
What’s Going On With Smilelove?
According to a late-April Instagram post, Smilelove was struggling financially even before COVID-19 hit — and after that, operations came to a complete halt. The following month, Smilelove released a list of operational changes and plans for reopening, which included a price increase and reduced staff.
In a recent email to customers, they said that they’re currently unable to process refunds, which is understandably concerning. However, a May 21 blog post stated that one of Smilelove’s partners had agreed to fulfill all new orders, and that for every new order, they can also fulfill at least one existing order. While not an ideal solution, it’s still a way forward.
But the Better Business Bureau isn’t sold on Smilelove’s new plan. Utah BBB President Jane Rupp recently warned against doing business with Smilelove:
“What Smilelove is saying is that they can’t afford to service current customers who have paid. But, they are taking money from new customers, even if they may never be able to restart operations again. Putting any money into Smilelove right now is a huge risk for consumers.”
We tend to agree with this statement from the BBB and would advise our users to choose a safer & more reliable clear aligner service at this time.
Smilelove vs. byte (Our #1 Recommendation)
With Smilelove on the rocks, you’ll want to go with a provider that’s much more reliable, and we recommend byte. Their aligners are the same price as Smilelove’s, and their unique HyperByte vibration device cuts your treatment time in half.
byte is the #1 option we recommend not only to our readers, but to our family and friends. For a closer look, read our in-depth byte review below.
Smilelove Company Background
Smilelove started as an online company that ships customized clear aligners to your door, offering a convenient and affordable way to straighten your teeth and build confidence in your smile. These aligners are similar to Invisalign’s — they comfortably fit the contours of your teeth and are much less visible than traditional braces.
Unlike Invisalign, Smilelove’s treatment program doesn’t require a single trip to the dentist. One of their licensed dental providers will instead develop and oversee your treatment remotely. Smilelove is primarily a cosmetic treatment. It’s limited, by design, to mild-to-moderate cases of teeth crowding and spacing, along with some minor bite issues.
Somewhat new to the clear aligner game, Smilelove started transforming smiles in 2017. However, they joined an already-crowded field that now includes competitors like byte, Candid, SmileDirectClub, AlignerCo, and Snapcorrect, who all offer similar services.
Early in their operation, Smilelove turned heads with their big discounts. But since COVID-19 hit in early 2020, they’ve completely fallen off the map, failing to deliver aligners or refunds to paying customers. Further, according to online reviews, they haven’t even responded to customers’ inquiries about treatment, deliveries, or refunds.
Even though they’ve admitted they can’t yet provide aligners or refunds to current customers, Smilelove is still accepting payments from new customers, a highly troubling practice. The Better Business Bureau recommends that you avoid them, and so do we.
How Does Smilelove Work?
To get treatment started, Smilelove asks customers to purchase and complete an impression kit, which involves taking molds of your teeth. In the past, you would send these impressions back and Smilelove’s team of dentists would use them to determine your treatment candidacy and design your aligners.
Even though Smilelove is still selling impression kits on their website, customers have reported that they’ve been accepting payments without delivering any products or refunds.
Pros & Cons of Smilelove
Our extensive research revealed that when they were still operational, Smilelove users generally report positive results and satisfaction with the overall experience. However, reviews from Spring 2020 express a lot of disappointment and frustration with Smilelove’s lack of customer service. This is due to their current financial situation and the COVID-19 outbreak. They claim that they’ll be able to resume production soon but at this point, we’re not so sure that will happen.
We base our aligner company evaluations on a comprehensive five-point comparison of each company’s effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer support. This guide contains a lot more detail on how Smilelove has historically stacked up category by category, but here’s a quick summary of the biggest pros and cons:
- While Smilelove’s official price-point is right in line with competitors. In the past, they’ve run sales that dropped the price as much as $400 (although we’re unsure if these sales will continue with their new pricing model).
- Before their restructure, Smilelove was the only home aligner company to offer prorated refunds. But it’s unclear whether they will continue this policy in their new model.
- Following in Candid and byte’s footsteps, Smilelove guarantees that all treatment plans will be designed by licensed orthodontists.
- 100% of Smilelove’s customers are approved for financing, no credit check required. Plus, their plans have 0% APR.
- Smilelove is still quite small and doesn’t have a well-established track record yet. At this stage, their user reviews are limited and difficult to verify.
- Smilelove doesn’t have physical locations like Candid or SmileDirectClub, so getting started can be slightly more difficult.
- Customer reviews indicate that their customer support isn’t quite as responsive as the competition.
- As part of their recent changes, Smilelove has implemented a “Complex Case Adjustment” that charges an extra $300 for cases that require 40+ aligners.
So, Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons?
We don’t think so. Although Smilelove has begun accepting orders again, it’s unclear whether or not they’ll be able to turn things around for good. Because of this uncertainty, Smilelove is a risky choice right now.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other affordable home-based clear aligners out there. We encourage you to read our comparison of the top 5 home teeth straightening services before making a final decision.
Orthodontic treatment is an investment of your money and time, so you don’t want to dive in headfirst with confirming that it can deliver the desired results. Smilelove has proven effective for many patients in the past, but their current lack of service and questionable business practices make them an ineffective option.
Smilelove claims they employ a team of licensed orthodontists who craft and oversee treatment plans. Other home aligner companies employ general dentists, who are still licensed and qualified, but not as specialized as orthodontists. It appears, however, that these orthodontists aren’t actively designing treatments. Customers who have purchased and submitted impression kits (even ones that paid upfront for the entire treatment) are not receiving treatment plans or aligners.
Smilelove’s aligners use plastics from Essix, an experienced and trusted dental product supplier.
Using quality materials is the first step toward producing durable and reliable aligners. For this reason, certain companies partner with reputable manufacturers to create their products. Candid, for example, works with ClearCorrect, the nation’s second-largest clear aligner manufacturer. Smilelove’s website indicates that their aligners use Essix-brand plastics. Essix has been producing dental products since 2005 and is well-respected in the industry.
Smilelove had an effective operation in place, and many customers received high-quality treatment during that time. While they still might have the blueprints for effective home aligners, you can’t currently trust their management.
Historically, the high price tag for braces and Invisalign has made getting straighter teeth a substantial financial burden. Making matters worse, health insurers seldom cover this type of treatment, and dental insurance will typically reimburse just a small fraction of the cost.
Smilelove established themselves as a young company by offering frequently-discounted prices that ranked among the best in the business. Recently, they’ve suspended these discounts and even added a Complex Case Adjustment for more severe conditions. Still, their prices are about average for the industry.
Smilelove’s price point is in line with the industry average and lower than a few competitors.
The total cost to purchase an aligner kit from Smilelove is $1895, which is pretty average for the industry. SnapCorrect’s $1749 starting cost and AlignerCo’s amazing $1145 price both have it beat. In the past, Smilelove offered frequent discounts and sales that gave customers $100 – $400 off and firmly entrenched them as one of the most affordable options. We don’t know, however, whether they will continue running these sales when they reopen for business.
As part of their new pricing model, Smilelove has also introduced a “Complex Case Adjustment.” If your assigned orthodontist determines that your case will take more than 40 aligners, Smilelove will add $300 to your treatment’s price, bringing the total to $2,195. This price is higher than every other home aligner company except Candid ($2,400) and byte At-Night ($2,245).
Smilelove also includes your first set of retainers and impression kit with the purchase price, which will save some money at the beginning and end of your treatment. Other services like SmileDirectClub do not include retainers in the initial price, and instead upsell the retainer at the end of treatment for around $100.
Smilelove has historically offered financing with 0% APR for all customers, no credit check required.
While Smilelove is much cheaper than braces or Invisalign, not everyone has nearly $1,900 saved in a cookie jar or under their mattress. But in an effort to widen access to their aligners, Smilelove offers treatment financing with 0% APR to all customers. Recently, they announced that their financing options would no longer require a credit check, so everyone qualifies, regardless of credit score. To take advantage of this option, you will need to make a $250 down payment.
Again, as they plan to resume operations, Smilelove will be implementing a new pricing model. It’s currently unclear whether they plan to keep this financing plan or not.
Once the most affordable treatment out there, now Smilelove’s prices are just average.
Aside from the cost, one of the biggest barriers to pursuing a more comfortable smile is traditional orthodontics’ heavy time commitment. Between work, family, friends, and hopefully some time for fun, we all lead busy lives. Your schedule might be packed full and monthly office visits aren’t likely how you would choose to spend your precious free time.
By shipping the aligners directly to your home, home aligner companies do away with the monthly office visits. Most home aligner companies guarantee treatment completion in half a year or less, compared to the typical 18 months for braces and 12 months for Invisalign.
Unfortunately, Smilelove’s convenience went out the window when they stopped delivering aligners to paying customers. If they ever start back up again, they’ll be a reasonably convenient treatment but for now, they’re actually more inconvenient than anything.
Smilelove offers fewer “startup” options than other leading brands.
Taking that first step can be the most difficult part of the process for Smilelove customers. We mentioned the impression kit earlier, but how does it work? Smilelove will send you a special putty in the mail and it’s your job to mix it, bite down, and create a mold of that great smile. Sounds simple enough. But, as many customers find out, it’s easier said than done. Smilelove once offered thorough support to help impression-takers through the process, but since their customer service has gone dark, it’s no longer available.
SmileDirectClub and Candid have retail locations throughout the U.S. where you can schedule an appointment to get your teeth scanned. This is a quicker, easier option for anyone who lives near one of these brick and mortar locations, and many customers prefer it. Smilelove, however, doesn’t offer this kind of service.
Smilelove’s production has stalled and doesn’t look like it will begin again anytime soon.
As we’ve already stated in this guide, Smilelove is still accepting payments, but they’re not producing any aligners. They claim that one of their partners has agreed to help out with production, but they can only deliver treatments if they receive new orders. This is pretty concerning and, if you ask us, not a trustworthy business practice.
If you do order from Smilelove, be prepared to wait indefinitely for your products.
Smilelove has historically been a convenient way to straighten your teeth, but their lapse in production and support has made them inconvenient and frustrating to current customers.
If you cringe at the thought of sporting highly visible brackets and wires to a special occasion or just in everyday life, you’re not alone. Most adults opt for more discreet options when choosing a teeth alignment treatment, and this is where home aligners excel. A key selling point of all clear aligner products is that they are much less noticeable than braces. For this reason, all clear aligners products score well on appearance in our rankings, and Smilelove is no exception.
That said, not all clear aligners are created equal in terms of appearance. They are all made from transparent, BPA-free plastic, but each brand looks a bit different due to variations in materials and manufacturing processes.
Smilelove claims their aligners are less noticeable than competitors, but we’re not convinced.
Smilelove advertises their invisible aligners as “virtually invisible” and less noticeable than competing brands. This claim is based on two unique product characteristics:
- Smilelove aligners are made from a shiny, translucent plastic material. By comparison, SmileDirectClub and Candid aligners are frosted in appearance.
- Smilelove aligners are trimmed to fit along the curves of your gum line, while most other home aligner products are trimmed to fit a couple of millimeters over the gumline.
Marketing claims aside, is Smilelove actually less visible than competing brands? Perhaps, but we’re skeptical. Smilelove isn’t lying – their aligners are more transparent, but this also means that they’re reflective and may cause your teeth to look unnaturally shiny. Some customers actually feel that Smilelove’s aligner material is more noticeable than frosted aligners from brands like Candid and SmileDirectClub because the slightly-opaque aligners aren’t as reflective.
Using scalloped aligners does indeed make them less visible, but it could also make them less effective. Invisalign cuts their aligners to each patient’s gumline, but this is because a dentist can place special attachments on the teeth that anchor the aligners in place. Since there are no office visits involved, Smilelove doesn’t use any attachments. Other brands don’t scallop their aligners, but overlapping the gums can help the aligners stay in place and increase their teeth-moving power. This isn’t to say that Smilelove aligners will always be less effective, but sometimes this decreased visibility can come at a cost.
Similar to other clear aligners brands, take out your aligners before eating and drinking to avoid stains.
All clear aligners are susceptible to stains from food and beverages — that’s why it’s important to remove them before eating or drinking anything other than plain water. As clear aligners go, our current understanding is that Smilelove aligners are reasonably resistant to staining, although we certainly wouldn’t recommend drinking coffee or red wine with your aligners in.
Dental treatment is expensive, and you only have one set of teeth. So it’s important to feel confident and secure in your treatment provider. You want to be sure that they will care for you and have your back if anything goes wrong.
When it comes to customer care, here’s what we discovered about Smilelove:
Smilelove’s customer support was responsive before, but now it’s non-existent.
Since Smilelove shut down their operations in March 2020, customer reviews indicate a complete drop-off in communication and support. This is frustrating for paying customers, although this silence appears to be circumstantial and we assume that their customer service will return to normal if they resume operations. The problem is that we don’t know if they ever will.
However, in the new business model that Smilelove advertised on their blog, they said they’ll be revamping their approach to customer support. They plan to give each customer a specific, personal support representative who can check in and answer questions before, during, and after treatment. But according to customer reviews, they’ve still been incredibly hard to reach.
Smilelove no longer offers refunds, even for customers who have not received any products.
According to a May 2020 email to their customers, Smilelove is not currently offering any refunds. Whether you’ve completed treatment or haven’t received any aligners yet, you shouldn’t expect any money back. If they restart their operations, they might re-implement their refund policy, but there’s no guarantee that will happen.
It looks like Smilelove has completely abandoned their customer service (at least for the time being), and we’re unsure when they might begin responding again.
What are Smilelove Customers Saying?
If you look at Smilelove’s reviews before 2020, their customers generally feel positive about the experience. In particular, reviewers noted that customer support was very helpful, though not the fastest to respond. And it appears that Smilelove did a great job explaining the treatment to their customers, showing which teeth will move with each aligner set. Many customers felt reassured by this thorough and thoughtful approach.
But post-2020, you’ll find a lot of frustrated customers, largely because of Smilelove’s closure and subsequent lack of communication and refunds. Many of these reviewers pre-paid or signed up for a financing plan but never received refunds. Their concerns are completely valid, although we assume that this stalled communication and lack of service is purely circumstantial. We hope that their customer service resumes as soon as they restart their operations.
Below are two of the most helpful user reviews we came across. Hopefully, they help you in the decision-making process!
Alternatives to Smilelove
Considering Smilelove’s current status, we strongly recommend choosing a different company, and there are several other in-office and at-home options to consider. Invisalign is the primary in-office option. While it is more expensive than home aligners, dentists can use clear aligner attachments to achieve more advanced and intricate teeth movements. The home aligner field, however, is slightly more crowded, and there are a few options worth considering.
Invisalign vs Smilelove
For more severe cases of crowding, spacing, and bite issues, in-person care can’t be beat. If you’re worried about the severity of your condition, Invisalign could provide more desirable results. Given Smilelove’s limited capacity for drastic teeth and jaw movements and no options for special attachments, it can’t match the robustness and versatility of Invisalign treatment.
SmileDirectClub vs Smilelove
SmileDirectClub stands out as the largest and most popular at-home clear aligner brand. They also offer retail locations, which makes it easier to get the ball rolling, depending on where you live. They’ve also transformed over 750,000 smiles so far, making them the most experienced home aligner company on the market. We think that Smilelove’s affordability and orthodontist-only network make them a slightly better option, but if your priority is proven results and a long track record of good reviews, check out SmileDirectClub.
byte vs Smilelove
byte is newer to the home aligner market than Smilelove, but their innovation in that short time is undeniable. Their HyperByte system allows for a three-month treatment time on average, half that of Smilelove and other competitors. And their byte-for-life warranty guarantees your smile forever. These perks are a large part of why we think they’re the best home aligner option. But this faster treatment will cost you slightly more. If fast turnaround time is most important to you, byte may be a good option.
Candid vs Smilelove
Candid also works exclusively with orthodontists to prepare their treatment plans, which helps ensure treatment quality and safety. They’re the only company that provides Remote Monitoring, so you can digitally check in with your orthodontist every step of the way. Additionally, we think Candid offers a more customer-friendly service than Smilelove. Looking for an all-around solid option that’s convenient, affordable, and relatively fast? Take a look at Candid as well.
How Does byte Stack Up to the Competition?
Smilelove’s business arc has been tragic and disappointing. Once the industry’s most affordable option, they’ve suffered financial difficulties and halted production, leading to a whole bunch of (rightfully) frustrated customers. Currently, they’re not a viable option for treatment.
We can’t in good conscience recommend Smilelove right now, but we invite you to check out the top five home-based clear aligner products we reviewed. byte and Candid, our #1 and #2 ranked home aligner companies, are also excellent options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Smilelove offer discounts?
They used to offer $100-400 discounts regularly, but right now, their price seems like a steady $1,895. We’re unsure if these discounts will continue as part of Smilelove’s new pricing model, but if they are, keep an eye out for great deals.
Can Smilelove correct my condition?
It depends. Smilelove is extremely effective in treating mild and moderate cases of crowding and spacing, but it might not be able to correct jaw misalignments like overbite, underbite, crossbite, etc.
The only way to know for sure is to complete an impression kit. Smilelove’s orthodontists will analyze your condition and determine whether they can correct it.
What about Invisalign?
The clear aligner originator has its own set of unique benefits, most notably in-person care. During regular face-to-face checkups, your dentist or orthodontist can make adjustments to your treatment and add attachments that allow Invisalign to treat a wider scope of cases.
Smilelove is faster and less expensive, but Invisalign is a great option if your condition is severe or you’d prefer to meet with your dentist in person. Our Invisalign review has a ton more information if you’re interested.
How much will I end up paying?
When you choose Smilelove, you’re already getting a great value. But even if you snag a $1,495 sale price, you likely won’t pay that exact amount. It will be similar, but numerous factors can influence the overall cost. Read through our guide on the true cost of Smilelove for a more complete look at price influencers.
How do I get started?
Even though Smilelove is currently accepting new customers (and accepting payments), they aren’t manufacturing any aligners, so we’d advise you to steer clear for now. But if you’re set on Smilelove, you’ll need to purchase, complete, and return an impression kit.
How long will it take?
Typically, home aligners take around 6 months to transform your smile. Of course, this all depends on the severity of your condition. More complex cases often take longer, while milder ones can be quicker. Your aligner plan will contain an estimated treatment timeline so you can plan out your next several months.
Does insurance cover Smilelove’s treatment?
It might, but it depends on your provider. The issue is that some insurance companies consider home aligners a cosmetic treatment, so they won’t cover it. However, if your plan includes orthodontic benefits, you may very well receive partial coverage. In this case, you would need to submit a request for reimbursement.
What is the fastest home aligner service?
If you’re looking to show off a dazzling new smile at an upcoming wedding, graduation, or another event, speed is important. And when it comes to speed, byte stands apart. Their average 3-month treatment time cuts the industry average in half. Even their nighttime-only option is only 6 months (on average), which matches the standard, all-day treatment time for other companies.
Interested? See our full byte review for more information, and read through our guide on the 3 most convenient home aligner companies for services with other attractive benefits.
What is the cheapest home aligner service?
That honor goes to AlignerCo. Their sticker price is just $1145, and that’s not including any discounts. If you want the industry’s lowest prices, go with AlignerCo. Compared to traditional orthodontic methods, however, all home aligner companies offer great value. You can find other affordable treatments in our guide to the 3 most affordable home aligner companies.
What is the most effective clear aligner company?
For at-home treatment, byte and Candid are the front-runners. byte’s industry-fastest treatment time and orthodontist-only network go a long way, and Candid offers their own perks with Remote Monitoring.
If you prefer an in-office treatment, you can’t go wrong with Invisalign. For more information and other options, see our guide to the 3 most effective clear aligner companies.
Do clear aligners hurt?
When you switch to a new aligner set every two weeks, you might experience some discomfort for the first day or two, but after that, you’ll hardly notice them.
Is home aligner treatment safe?
Yes! While administering treatment from home might seem daunting, the process is very safe. Home aligner companies use state-licensed dentists and orthodontists 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.