Everyone’s heard of Invisalign, the clear aligner giant. However, there are quite a few other aligner treatments to consider, and SureSmile is one of the most interesting. The company got its start in 1998 with archwire technology for lingual braces before transitioning to clear aligners in 2007.
SureSmile is effective, relatively affordable, and can treat a wide variety of conditions. But is it right for you? In this review, we’ll dive into the pros and cons, compare it to other clear aligners, and help you determine whether it’s an ideal fit for your smile goals.
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How Does SureSmile Work?
SureSmile is an in-office aligner treatment like Invisalign or ClearCorrect, so it’s only available through a dentist or orthodontist. To kick things off, you’ll need to find a provider near you and schedule an initial consultation. During this appointment and examination, they’ll take 3D scans of your teeth, discuss your goals, and consult you about clear aligner treatment.
Unlike some of its competitors, SureSmile doesn’t require doctors to use a specific intraoral scanner for their digital impressions. Their open platform can use data from pretty much any scanner on the market, which is easier for the dentist, since they don’t have to purchase any special equipment.
Based on your exam and scan, your doctor will evaluate your case and determine if SureSmile can help achieve your goals. If so, you and your dentist will select one of their two plans:
- Complete: unlimited aligners for three years
- Select: a pay-as-you-go plan where you pay per aligner.
Your dentist will then upload your data to the SureSmile platform and collaborate with the company to create your treatment plan. Before they officially place your order, your dentist will show you before and after models of your smile, ensuring it aligns with your vision. Once you give the go-ahead, SureSmile will manufacture your aligners and mail them to your doctor.
At your pickup appointment, you’ll try on your first aligners to make sure they fit well, and your dentist will provide wear and care instructions. You’ll need to wear your SureSmile aligners for 22 hours a day throughout treatment; they do not have an overnight-only option.
The Pros and Cons of SureSmile Treatment
SureSmile is a top clear aligner provider, and it comes with several distinct advantages over the competition. It also has some notable disadvantages. SureSmile scored 4.2/5 in our clear aligner rankings, which are based on effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and patient experience.
We’ll provide a lot more detail on how SureSmile stacks up category by category, but here’s a quick summary of the biggest pros and cons:
- Treatment with SureSmile is more affordable than with some other traditional in-office aligner brands.
- According to SureSmile, it’s less likely that you’ll need refinements during or after treatment compared to other clear aligner brands.
- You can choose from two different treatment plans (Complete and Select) to get the one that works best for your misalignment and budget.
- Your doctor can customize the cut of your aligners based on your unique case. Other clear aligner brands either use a “straight” or “scalloped” cut across the board.
- SureSmile aligners can address a wide variety of orthodontic concerns, even severe misalignments.
- SureSmile has less experience than Invisalign, their primary competitor.
- Some dentists consider SureSmile’s material less effective than Invisalign’s SmartTrack plastic.
- It requires regular office visits, while at-home clear aligners like Byte do not.
Who Is a Good Match for SureSmile?
If you are looking for a clear aligner that matches Invisalign’s versatility but comes at a lower price, SureSmile might be the ideal fit for you.
When you invest in a clear aligner treatment, you want to be sure it can deliver results — and SureSmile definitely delivers. It can treat a wide range of dental and jaw misalignments, just like Invisalign, making it one of the most effective clear aligners available.
SureSmile aligners are effective at treating even severe cases of misalignment in part because they can incorporate attachments.
SureSmile can treat just about any misalignment that Invisalign can, including class I, II, and III malocclusions, making them more effective than at-home aligners like Byte and SmileDirectClub. That power is largely thanks to their ability to incorporate elastics and dental attachments — tiny shapes affixed to your teeth that your aligners can leverage to achieve more complex shifts.
A dentist has to apply these attachments, so they’re only available with in-office treatments, not at-home aligner services.
SureSmile patients rarely need refinements after treatment.
According to the October 2020 Journal of Clinical Orthodontics, SureSmile patients need 50% fewer refinements than clear aligner patients as a whole. There are a few reasons for this:
First, the company rigorously checks the quality of each aligner before shipping out its kits, which helps prevent manufacturing errors from derailing treatment. Second, they give your doctor a lot of control over your aligner design, allowing them to more effectively tailor treatment to your specific condition. Most companies either trim their aligners straight or scallop them to follow the gum line. SureSmile lets your doctor choose, customizing for force and comfort.
Regular appointments with your dentist will ensure that your smile transformation is safe and continuously monitored.
Every several weeks, you’ll return to your dentist so they can make sure your teeth are moving as planned. During these office visits, your dentist can also place, repair, or replace attachments. They can even contact SureSmile to modify your treatment plan and send out new aligners if anything looks off.
This consistent oversight helps keep you on track and significantly reduces the risk of serious problems, since your dentist can address any issues before they get worse.
SureSmile uses premium materials to produce their aligners.
Reliable, durable dental plastics can help improve a clear aligner’s power and precision, and SureSmile uses Essix ACE — an excellent dental plastic from a trusted manufacturer. ACE is superior to a lot of plastics out there, although some dentists think that Invisalign’s SmartTrack material is more comfortable and precise.
SureSmile is an effective treatment, boasting a low refinement rate and the ability to treat class I, II, and III alignment concerns.
Orthodontic treatment is often so expensive that many people put off getting the care they need for years, even decades, so they can save up. SureSmile is pretty affordable for an in-office treatment. In fact, depending on how many aligners you need, its price can even compete with some at-home aligner brands.
SureSmile’s average price is $4,000, which is a couple thousand less than braces and Invisalign, on average.
However, if you only need a few aligners to make small changes, you might pay as little as $2,000 with the Select plan. Complex cases might cost up to $6,000 with the Complete plan, but that price includes unlimited aligners for three years.
So, how can SureSmile offer more affordable treatment than other in-office competitors without sacrificing quality? Your doctor sets the cost of treatment, and when materials and lab fees are more affordable — as they are with SureSmile — they can pass the savings on to you. Plus, SureSmile allows doctors to use any brand of intraoral scanner they already have in their office, so they don’t have to purchase anything new or expensive just to offer SureSmile.
Your insurance may provide partial coverage, but it depends on your specific plan.
If your insurance plan includes orthodontic benefits, you might receive partial coverage for your SureSmile treatment. Coverage is less likely if you’re making purely cosmetic adjustments, but if SureSmile is necessary to improve your overall oral health, your insurance might contribute. It all depends on your specific plan, and the only way to know for sure is to contact your insurance provider.
You can access financing options through your dentist or orthodontist’s office.
Although SureSmile is relatively affordable, most people do not have thousands of dollars on hand to pay for treatment up front. If you can’t afford to pay for SureSmile all at once, you might need to enroll in a financing plan. Many dental offices have in-house payment plans, or can at least point you toward a reliable third-party financing option. If your preferred doctor can’t offer any help, you can look into CareCredit.
SureSmile offers one of the lowest price points for in-office clear aligner treatment. However, if you need financing, you’ll have to work that out with your doctor or a third-party financier.
While cost might be the biggest barrier between patients and orthodontic treatment, convenience comes in a close second. With traditional metal braces, you can spend over two years in active treatment. SureSmile shortens that timeframe, but it’s still not as efficient as many at-home aligner services. And while SureSmile’s regular office visits help your dentist keep a close eye on your progress, they’re not quite as streamlined as remote care.
SureSmile treatment typically takes 6–18 months.
According to SureSmile, their treatment timelines are around 40% shorter than conventional methods — aka braces. So, what braces might take 24 months to treat, SureSmile can handle in 12 to 15.
That’s pretty fast, sometimes even speedier than Invisalign. However, it doesn’t beat the average treatment times of at-home aligner providers. Depending on the company and your alignment concerns, you could achieve final results in as little as four months. However, this is often because at-home aligner services treat milder misalignments, which take less time to correct.
You’ll go in for office visits around every three months.
During your SureSmile treatment, your dentist will want to keep track of your progress and make sure your teeth are moving as planned. SureSmile’s website says you can expect to make office visits every three months, although your dentist might want to make them more or less frequent, depending on your condition and preferences. Three months is less frequent than Invisalign, for which dentists typically require visits every 4-6 weeks, but it’s still a time commitment.
For some, particularly people with complex misalignments, that time commitment might be worth it. For others, it might be less convenient, especially when you have the option to complete treatment entirely from home with a treatment like Byte or SmileDirectClub.
The SureSmile daily wear experience is much like any other clear aligner treatment.
Essentially, you need to keep them in for 22 hours per day — though you can take that down to 20 for special occasions. Whenever you’re not wearing them, keep your aligners in their protective case. It’s a good idea to buy extra cases to keep at the office, in your bag, and at home.
You must remove your aligners when eating and drinking anything other than plain water. To protect both your teeth and the aligners, you should brush and, if possible, floss every time you eat and quickly rinse the aligners before replacing them. You’ll need to clean your aligners according to your dentist’s instructions twice a day as well.
SureSmile’s startup process is more convenient than many at-home clear aligner systems.
Remote options usually require you to take your own impressions, which can be goopy, messy, and awkward. With SureSmile, your dentist takes scans (also called digital impressions) of your teeth, eliminating the mess and leaving the technical parts to your dental professional.
Treatment with SureSmile is fast for an in-office method and doesn’t require lifestyle changes the way braces do. Their startup process is also pretty simple.
Most adults seeking orthodontic treatment want the most discreet option available. And currently, that option is clear aligners. Most of the time, people can’t even tell you are wearing them. Still, not all clear aligners look the same. While virtually every brand crafts their aligners from transparent, medical-grade, BPA-free plastic, different materials and manufacturing processes can result in slightly different styles.
SureSmile uses a clear, slightly textured plastic and can either cut their aligners straight across or trim them to match your gum line.
The clear plastic doesn’t exactly mimic the look of our natural teeth, which appear matte because they’re porous. Some might consider it too shiny, but you might like that kind of gleam in your smile. The texture, however, helps to match the natural surface of the teeth, making the aligners slightly less noticeable.
Your dentist has an option for how they’d like to trim your aligners, and they can cater it to your specific condition. Matching the gum line makes them less visible, while a straight cut can slightly overlap the gums. With SureSmile, your doctor can set the height of the straight cut, which can help hide them.
Attachments and elastics add to the visibility of your aligners.
Attachments might make your aligners more powerful, but they can also make them stand out. Whenever possible, your dentist will match attachments to the shade of your teeth, but they still aren’t fully invisible.
You shouldn’t wear your SureSmile aligners while eating or drinking anything besides water. Their plastic is stain resistant, but not stain-proof. So without the right care, they can make your teeth look discolored.
With SureSmile, you’ll get textured aligners that your dentist can either trim to follow the gum line or cut straight across. They’re mostly invisible, but some attachments can make them more obvious.
Support can make or break an orthodontic experience. You could have the most effective and affordable clear aligners in the world, but if the dentist or company doesn’t treat you well, it can ruin the whole thing. Your doctor’s office will handle your entire SureSmile experience, so you’ll get individualized care from people who know you and your smile intimately.
Like most other in-office clear aligner brands, SureSmile’s customer support is exceptional.
The direct supervision and interaction you get with in-person treatment are superior to that of remote options. When you need help or have questions, you can simply call the office during operating hours and get personalized assistance. And if anything is seriously wrong, you can get hands-on care within a few hours to a few days.
This is particularly beneficial if you need adjustments or refinements. Your doctor can modify the aligners themselves or even order new ones if they find the original plan isn’t delivering the results you want. While the company says that’s rarely necessary, just having the option is reassuring.
Your SureSmile patient experience all comes down to your doctor, so choose wisely before settling on a provider. However, in-person care almost always provides highly individualized and comprehensive patient support.
Best Alternatives to SureSmile
If you aren’t sold on SureSmile just yet, don’t worry. You have plenty of other options. Below are some of the best in-office and at-home clear aligner treatments to consider.
Invisalign is the original clear aligner company, and doctors have used it to treat more patients than any other aligner brand. While you’ll pay a premium for it, Invisalign consistently delivers the best results in the industry, often matching the results of braces even in complex cases.
Learn more in our in-depth Invisalign review.
ClearCorrect is one of the biggest Invisalign competitors on the market today. It’s usually slightly more expensive than SureSmile, but they offer more flexible pricing models. While there are a few situations where SureSmile can tackle bigger irregularities, overall, these two companies have the same scope of treatment.
Learn more in our in-depth ClearCorrect review.
3M Clarity Aligners ($3,000–$8,000)
3M Clarity Aligners are exceptionally effective. Only orthodontists can administer them, they use two different types of premium plastic, and their treatment plans can incorporate attachments in unique ways to facilitate a wide range of complex movements. But they also typically cost more than SureSmile, and they’re not as widely available, but they’re still a great option — especially if you have a severe misalignment.
Six Month Smiles ($3,500–5,000)
Six Month Smiles is pretty comparable to SureSmile in price. They also offer an option for dual treatment — using clear braces first to make larger shifts and finishing up with clear aligners. SureSmile also has this option if you select a dentist that offers both their aligners and their lingual braces.
Learn more in our in-depth Six Month Smiles review.
Byte is a fully-remote clear aligner service whose claim to fame is their “HyperByte” device, which they include in the cost of their aligner package. This high-frequency vibration device uses gentle micropulses to help provide a more comfortable aligner fit and encourage faster dental shifts. For this reason, Byte claims an average treatment plan length of just 4-5 months.
Learn more in our in-depth Byte review.
Candid straddles the line between in-person and at-home treatment with their unique hybrid system. You start treatment by visiting a dentist in person, then you’ll check in remotely every 14 days using their CandidMonitoring service, only returning to the office if your dentist requests it. Many Candid patients see final results in around six months.
Learn more in our in-depth Candid review.
Summary: Is SureSmile Right for You?
SureSmile is great if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to Invisalign without sacrificing in-person oversight. SureSmile can treat a wide variety of severe misalignments, but if you don’t mind remote care, at-home aligners can be more affordable and convenient. Ultimately, it comes down to your specific condition, budget, and priorities.
To get a better idea of which option might be the best fit for you, we encourage you to check out the resources below.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I take care of my SureSmile aligners?
Here are a few ways to care for your clear aligners:
- Keep them away from heat sources.
- Always keep your current aligners in their protective case when you’re not wearing them.
- Take them out when eating or drinking anything other than plain water.
- Use a foam aligner cleaner to keep them free of debris and build-up.
- Brush and floss your teeth, then clean your aligners, every time you take them out to eat.
How many hours a day do I need to keep my aligners in?
You need to wear them for 20-22 hours every day, so if you aren’t eating or drinking something besides plain water, keep them in.
How do I know which aligner to wear?
Each aligner comes in a numbered package, so you can simply progress through them in order. You can tell the upper from the lower aligners by looking at the engraving; each will have the first four letters of your name and either a U for upper or an L for lower.
Will my dental insurance pay for SureSmile?
It depends on your policy. In most cases, if your plan covers braces, it will also cover SureSmile. Also, look into using your HSA or FSA to pay for treatment if your insurance either doesn’t offer coverage.
Do I need to wear retainers after using SureSmile?
Yes. Once you finish your treatment, you’ll move into the retention phase. At first, you will wear your retainer all day, but eventually you can transition to nighttime-only wear.
Are there side effects to SureSmile treatment?
Yes, but none of the common side effects are worrisome. You might have a lisp as you adjust to your aligners. You’ll also feel some soreness and your teeth might feel a little loose, but both of these side effects are just part of the process.
Are SureSmile aligners more comfortable than braces?
Typically, yes. Because brackets and wires stick out from the teeth, they can irritate the soft tissues in your mouth. Smooth plastic aligners do not cause the same issue.
How easy is it to damage SureSmile aligners?
While their aligners are quite durable, heat can damage them fairly easily. They’re also not designed to withstand chewing forces, so be sure to remove them when you eat. Keep them in their case when you’re not wearing them. With proper wear and care, though, they shouldn’t suffer any damage.
Are the digital scans awkward?
Not as awkward as making physical impressions. While the scan will last about 45 minutes, your dentist can start and stop it for breaks, and it isn’t very invasive.
I see SureSmile brackets and wires and SureSmile aligners. Which is the real deal?
They both are! SureSmile makes both a special wire used in lingual braces — which go on the tongue side of your teeth — and clear aligners. You can even find a doctor who offers both for a dual treatment.