After ceasing operations in response to COVID-19 and a relaunch attempt that appears to have failed, Smilelove is effectively out of business. While their website is still active, they’re still not filling existing orders or offering refunds.
We’re keeping this review up for archival purposes, but considering that customers have not received aligners, refunds, or communication from Smilelove in months, we advise you to steer clear. This review is up-to-date with everything you should know about Smilelove at this point, 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, and for a while, they stopped taking orders entirely. Now, their website might be functional, but we still recommend avoiding Smilelove in light of their track record.
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 an April 2020 Instagram post, Smilelove was struggling financially even before COVID-19 hit — and after that, operations came to a complete halt.
In a May 2020 email to customers, they said that they’re unable to process refunds, which is understandably concerning. However, a May 2020 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. However, Smilelove has since deleted the post without fulfilling thousands or orders.
After receiving more than 800 complaints in the past year, the Better Business Bureau issued a warning to potential customers. Utah BBB President Jane Rupp said: ““Putting any money into Smilelove right now is a huge risk for consumers. Their service isn’t cheap, and the business has given no guarantees that you can expect to receive their products, or your money back.”
Since then, Smilelove has sold their website and brand to a company called Smile Away LLC, who made their own blog post stating that they’ll be offering their aligners under the Smilelove name. They’re now selling remote treatment via Smilelove’s website, but say they can’t fulfill any existing orders because they don’t have access to current customer information.
Even with the Smile Away LLC purchase, we agree with the BBB and we would advise our users to choose a safer & more reliable clear aligner service at this time.
Smilelove vs. Byte (Our #1 Recommendation)
Smilelove is out of business, but you can get a provider that’s much more reliable, and we recommend Byte. Their aligners cost only slightly more than Smilelove’s, and they say their HyperByte high-frequency vibration device may help seat your aligners better, providing a more comfortable fit.
Out of all the at-home aligner companies we’ve reviewed, Byte is our top recommendation. For a closer look, read our in-depth Byte review below.
Smilelove Company Background
Smilelove started as an online company that shipped customized clear aligners to your door, designed as a convenient and affordable way to straighten your teeth and build confidence in your smile.
These aligners were 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 didn’t require a single trip to the dentist. Instead, Smilelove’s licensed dental providers developed and oversaw your treatment remotely. It was primarily a cosmetic treatment, one limited, by design, to mild-to-moderate cases of teeth crowding and spacing, along with some minor bite issues.
Smilelove started transforming smiles in 2017. However, they joined an already-crowded field that now includes competitors like Byte, SmileDirectClub, AlignerCo, and NewSmile, 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.
Since ceasing operations, Smilelove has admitted they can’t yet provide aligners or refunds to current customers. The Better Business Bureau recommends that you avoid them, and so do we.
How Did Smilelove Work?
To get treatment started, Smilelove would ask 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. However, Smilelove is no longer selling their impression kit or aligners on their website. Smile Away LLC might have taken over operations, but we still don’t know if their services are reliable.
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.
For our aligner company evaluations we assess five separate criteria: 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 was right in line with competitors. In the past, they ran sales that dropped the price as much as $400.
- 100% of Smilelove’s customers were approved for financing, no credit check required. Plus, their plans had 0% APR.
- Customer reviews indicate that Smilelove was accepting payments without providing any products, refunds, or communication.
- Smilelove didn’t have any physical locations like SmileDirectClub, so getting started can be slightly more difficult.
So, Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons?
When they were still in business? Yes. But that’s not the case anymore. Even if Smilelove attempts to make enough comeback, we’d advise readers to avoid their service.
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’s aligners used 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. Smilelove’s website indicates that their aligners used Essix-brand plastics. Essix has been producing dental products since 2005 and is well-respected in the industry.
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. Still, their prices were about average for the industry.
Smilelove’s price point was in line with the industry average and lower than a few competitors.
The total cost to purchase an aligner kit from Smilelove was $1,895, pretty average for the industry. SnapCorrect’s $1,749 starting cost and AlignerCo’s amazing $995 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. But since they’re no longer selling aligners, they’re not offering discounts either.
As part of their revamped pricing model, Smilelove introduced a “Complex Case Adjustment.” If your assigned dentist or orthodontist determines that your case will take more than 40 aligners, they would add $300 to your treatment’s price, bringing the total to $2,195. This price is higher than any other at-home aligner, except Byte’s At-Night option $2,399. These are the same prices that Smile Away LLC lists currently: $1,895 for standard treatment with a $300 fee for complex cases.
Smilelove also included your first set of retainers and impression kit with the purchase price, which saved customers some money at the beginning and end of their 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 was much cheaper than braces or Invisalign, not everyone has nearly $1,900 saved in a cookie jar or under their mattress. But to widen access to their aligners, Smilelove offered treatment financing with 0% APR to all customers. To take advantage of this option, you needed to make a $250 down payment.
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.
Smilelove offered 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 would send you a special putty in the mail and you would mix it, bite down, and create a mold of that great smile. Sounds simple enough. But, as many customers found 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 has retail locations throughout the US 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, didn’t offer this kind of service.
Smilelove’s production has stalled and a different company has acquired them.
As we’ve already stated in this guide, Smilelove is no longer producing any aligners. Their website is still active, but they haven’t publicly responded to any customer complaints in months. It appears that their attempted relaunch fell through, and even though Smile Away LLC is trying to pick up the pieces, we still wouldn’t consider their services reliable.
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 aesthetics in our rankings, and Smilelove was 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 claimed their aligners are less noticeable than competitors, but we’re not convinced.
Smilelove advertised their invisible aligners as “virtually invisible” and less noticeable than competing brands. This claim was based on two unique product characteristics:
- Smilelove aligners were made from a shiny, translucent plastic material. By comparison, SmileDirectClub’s aligners are frosted in appearance.
- Smilelove aligners were 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, was Smilelove really less visible than competing brands? Perhaps, but we’re skeptical. Smilelove wasn’t lying — their aligners were more transparent, but this also means that they were reflective, which we think can make teeth look unnaturally shiny. Some customers felt that Smilelove’s aligner material was more noticeable than frosted aligners from brands like SmileDirectClub because the slightly-opaque aligners weren’t as reflective.
We think using scalloped aligners can 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 didn’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 were always less effective, but 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 were 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.
When Smilelove shut down their operations in March 2020, customer reviews indicated a complete drop-off in communication and support. This is frustrating for paying customers, and we’re unsure how or if it will change with their new ownership.
When they attempted a relaunch, Smilelove said that they planned 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, so it appears this plan never came to fruition.
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. We’ve yet to see Smile Away LLC restart any of their refund policies so, unfortunately, we wouldn’t count on getting money back.
What are Smilelove Customers Saying?
If you look at Smilelove’s reviews before 2020, their customers generally felt 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, and it’s concerning that Smilelove hasn’t responded, even after ceasing 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 at-home aligners’ 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. Learn more here.
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 two million smiles so far, making them the most experienced home aligner company on the market. If your priority is proven results and a long track record, check out SmileDirectClub.
Byte vs Smilelove
Since being founded in 2018, Byte rose in popularity very quickly. This is thanks in part to their HyperByte high-frequency vibration device, which the company says can help seat your aligners better, reducing discomfort. According to certain studies, devices like this might also encourage faster dental shifts. Plus, their Byte-for-Life warranty guarantees your smile forever. These perks are a large part of why we think they’re the best at-home clear aligner system available.
Candid vs Smilelove
Candid started out as an at-home clear aligner service like Byte, SmileDirectClub, and Smilelove, but have since shifted to a hybrid treatment option called “CandidPro” that combines elements of in-office and at-home care. After an initial in-person consultation and examination with a local dentist, you’ll check in virtually via their CandidMonitoring service every 14 days for the rest of your treatment. By keeping a local dentist involved for the entire treatment process, we think Candid offers a level of personalized care that sets them apart from other fully remote services like Smilelove. That said, even before their transition to CandidPro, we considered Candid to be a higher-quality service than Smilelove.
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’ve reviewed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Smilelove offer discounts?
They used to offer regular $100–400 discounts to their $1,895 price. But they’re no longer selling aligner treatments.
Can Smilelove correct my condition?
Smilelove was extremely effective in treating mild and moderate cases of crowding and spacing, but it couldn’t correct jaw misalignments like overbite, underbite, crossbite, etc. The only way to know for sure was to complete an impression kit.
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 was 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?
Smilelove’s $1,495 sale price was a great value, but customers didn’t pay that exact amount. It was similar, but numerous factors can influence the overall cost.
How do I get started?
Smilelove isn’t currently manufacturing any aligners, so there’s no option to get started. Smile Away LLC, who has taken over their operations, says you can order and complete an impression kit, but we’re unsure how reliable this is.
How long will it take?
Typically, home aligners take around six 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 home aligner 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 cheapest home aligner service?
That honor goes to AlignerCo. Their sticker price is just $995, and that’s not including any discounts. If you want the industry’s lowest prices, go with AlignerCo. Compared to traditional orthodontic methods, however, we think all home aligner companies offer great value. You can find other affordable treatments in our guide to the 3 most affordable home 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?
At-home clear aligner treatment plans are always designed and/or approved by a licensed dentist or orthodontist — as long as you’re buying from a legitimate clear aligner service.
The main concern regarding the safety of fully-remote clear aligner treatment is the lack of face-to-face care. Since you won’t be seeing a dentist in-person during treatment, you won’t receive the same level of support that you’d get with traditional in-office aligners like Invisalign or ClearCorrect. That said, a recent NIH-funded survey found the majority of at-home aligner customers were satisfied with their results, and only 6.6% experienced side effects necessitating a visit to their local dentist.
Read our guide to safe home teeth straightening treatment for more information.