As one of the first companies to deliver at-home aligner treatment, SmileDirectClub kickstarted an orthodontic revolution. Their innovation has helped thousands of customers achieve convenient and affordable new smiles without ever stepping inside a dental office.
Even though they started in the United States, SmileDirectClub’s rapid growth allowed them to expand worldwide, including to the U.K. But they’re not the only option available. In this guide, we’ve gathered all the information you need to decide if SmileDirectClub is the right home aligner treatment for your smile.
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SmileDirectClub: The Bottom Line
SmileDirectClub scores 4.3/5 overall based on our 5 review criteria (effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer experience). This makes SmileDirectClub our third-highest rated home teeth alignment service.
If you like the idea of buying aligners from the largest online clear aligner brand, SmileDirectClub could be the right fit for you. They’ve been selling aligners since 2014 and have straightened over 1.5 million smiles to date.
What is SmileDirectClub?
SmileDirectClub is the biggest name in at-home aligner treatment. After pioneering the first clear aligner home delivery in 2014, they took a round of funding and launched an ambitious campaign that included new products, marketing, and expansion across the U.S. But they didn’t stop there, and now SmileDirectClub is available in nine different countries, including the U.K.
So far, they’ve treated over 1.8 million patients, making SmileDirectClub one of the most popular clear aligner treatments on the market. Their groundbreaking treatment has inspired numerous other companies to offer their own home aligner services. And they’ve evolved over the years, adding innovations like retail clinics and a nighttime-only schedule to their treatment repertoire.
These aligners look and feel similar to Invisalign — they fit the contours of your teeth and have a much lower profile than traditional braces. However, unlike Invisalign, treatment doesn’t require a single trip to the dentist’s office. Instead, SmileDirectClub’s licensed dentists will develop your treatment plan remotely and ship aligners that you administer at home.
SmileDirectClub is primarily a cosmetic treatment. If your case is severe, or if you have a bite misalignment (like overbite or underbite) it certainly doesn’t preclude you from treatment; however, the results you want might require the intensive in-office care of braces or Invisalign.
How Does SmileDirectClub Work?
To ensure that their aligners can deliver your desired results, SmileDirectClub will send you a special kit to collect a 3D impression of your teeth. Or, if you live near a SmileShop location, you can schedule an appointment for a free teeth scan. This preliminary impression or scan allows SmileDirectClub’s dentists to evaluate whether their aligners can effectively correct your misalignments.
If you’re a good candidate, SmileDirectClub’s licensed network dentists will use the impression to develop your customized treatment plan. After getting your approval, they will design, manufacture, and mail out your aligners. Then you’re good to go! Wear them for at least 22 hours per day and they will shift your teeth into the desired position over 4–6 months. Or, opt for their Nighttime Aligners and wear them ten hours per night for ten months.
Is SmileDirectClub a Good Option? Our Perspective.
Even though SmileDirectClub and other at-home aligners offer more flexibility, convenience, and financial freedom than traditional orthodontic treatments, they aren’t a perfect solution for everyone. Our comprehensive guide to home teeth alignment provides a lot more information on the difference between at-home and in-office aligners, as well as what makes someone a good candidate for each.
Like all home teeth aligners, SmileDirectClub’s aligners can only treat mild-to-moderate cases of crowding and spacing, along with minor bite issues. For these conditions, the company can deliver impressive transformations for less time and money than both braces and Invisalign. Our research shows that most SmileDirectClub users are usually satisfied with their results.
In our comprehensive ranking of the U.K.’s top at-home aligner companies, SmileDirectClub came in at #3. We based these rankings on an extensive five-point analysis of each company’s effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer support.
We’ve provided a lot more detail on how SmileDirectClub stacks up category by category, but here’s a quick summary of the biggest pros and cons:
- SmileDirectClub has been in business for longer than other at-home clear aligner companies, and they’ve transformed more than 1.8 million smiles to date.
- SmileDirectClub has around eleven SmileShops located in cities across the U.K., plus multiple pop-ups throughout the year. You can visit one of these shops today for a teeth scan and immediate treatment approval, free of charge. Other providers require you to mail in an impression of your teeth — a slower and more cumbersome process.
- SmileDirectClub offers a nighttime-only plan that only requires ten hours of overnight wear instead of the 22+ hours/day you need to wear in-office aligners like Invisalign and some other at-home options.
- SmileDirectClub puts a lifetime warranty on your smile, providing new aligners if your teeth shift down the road (as long as you continue purchasing replacement retainers).
- SmileDirectClub includes free whitening treatment with your aligners, so you can straighten and brighten your smile at the same time.
- SmileDirectClub can’t match the power of in-office treatments like Invisalign — they can only treat mild cases of crowding and spacing.
- SmileDirectClub charges an additional £80 fee for retainers after treatment. In contrast, competitors like Straight Teeth Direct and Straight My Teeth offer this important aftercare service for free.
- SmileDirectClub has a mixed track record of customer service quality. Some online reviews warn of long shipping delays and inconsistent communication when issues arise during treatment.
Who is a good match for SmileDirectClub?
Looking to purchase at-home clear aligners, but unsure which company is the best fit for your goals? SmileDirectClub could be an ideal choice if you’re someone who prefers to purchase from an established brand name and values convenience. Bonus points if you live near a SmileShop.
Every home aligner company (including SmileDirectClub) can handle most mild teeth misalignments, and even though they can’t correct severe cases like in-office options, some companies take measures to boost their overall treatment quality.
Several factors determine a treatment’s effectiveness, including materials, manufacturing, and designers. SmileDirectClub has helped millions of customers transform their smiles, and though they might fall short of Invisalign, they still deliver fairly effective treatment.
SmileDirectClub can only treat mild and moderate misalignments.
Like most other at-home aligner systems, SmileDirectClub can effectively correct mild crowding and spacing, and potentially slight bite issues. But their treatment can’t often deliver the same results for severe cases and jaw misalignments.
In-office clear aligners like Invisalign provide hands-on care from a dentist over a longer period of time, and can incorporate attachments that encourage more complex shifts, allowing them to treat a wider scope of dental and jaw issues.
Your SmileDirectClub treatment will be designed by a licensed dentist, and they’ll monitor your progress every 90 days.
When you order SmileDirectClub, a licensed dentist (though not necessarily an orthodontist) will review your case, approve you for treatment, and develop your aligner plan.
During your treatment, you’ll submit photos of your teeth every 90 days so that SmileDirectClub’s team can monitor your progress and make adjustments to your wear schedule if necessary. It’s reassuring to have these check-ins, but SmileDirectClub’s system isn’t as robust as clear aligner treatments that incorporate in-person care or more frequent virtual check-ins.
SmileDirectClub manufactures their aligners in-house using proprietary “Comfort Sense” technology.
For a long time, SmileDirectClub worked with Align Technology to produce its clear aligners. Align Tech, who produces Invisalign, is one of the most trusted clear aligner manufacturers out there, and their patented technology minimizes the discomfort associated with tooth and jaw shifts. It is our understanding that Align Technology also gave SmileDirectClub the software they use to model teeth movements.
Unfortunately, the SmileDirectClub-Align Tech collaboration ended, and now they manufacture their aligners in house. So far, this in-house production has been excellent. They’ve implemented “Comfort Sense,” which they describe as a “proprietary soft, medium, and firm aligner plastic progression to ease teeth more comfortably into place.” While still a new development, it seems like this design could mean more comfortable treatment for patients.
SmileDirectClub’s aligners overlap your gums, giving them extra power.
As part of their “Comfort Sense” design, SmileDirectClub trims the tops of their aligners, but they still overlap your gums. This might make them slightly more visible, but it also increases their power, since they can leverage the gums to apply up to four times the force of scalloped aligners.
A price quote for braces or Invisalign can be staggering, potentially £3,000 or more. By comparison, at-home treatments, which typically run £1,000–£2,000, are much more appealing. Home aligner companies have slashed their prices to make treatment tolerable for your wallet. And compared to the United Kingdom’s various home aligner brands, SmileDirectClub’s prices are middle of the pack.
SmileDirectClub’s total cost is £1,739, which is fairly average among U.K. providers.
When purchased with a single payment, SmileDirectClub costs £1,739. They’re not the most expensive treatment out there, but competitors like Straight My Teeth and Straight Teeth Direct are slightly cheaper. Additionally, you’ll need to pay £39 for an impression kit, but you can avoid this cost by getting a free scan at a local SmileShop (if you live near one).
Although retainers are a required part of the treatment process, SmileDirectClub does not include them in the sticker price. So, you can expect to pay an extra £80 at the end of your aligner treatment for retainers, which you need to replace every six months. Most other companies include one set of aftercare retainers in the initial price.
SmileDirectClub offers financing, but it requires a soft credit check to qualify.
While SmileDirectClub is much cheaper than braces or Invisalign, not everyone has £1,739 lying around, so many patients opt to finance their treatment. SmilePay requires a £73.73 down payment, then £73.66 per month for 25 months.
To qualify, however, you’ll need to pass a soft credit check, which is an inquiry into your credit history that doesn’t affect your credit score. Unfortunately, this means that some customers won’t be eligible for financing. If you’re confident in your credit score, this is a great option. If not, you might need to pay upfront or look into other options.
SmileDirectClub throws in free whitening with your aligner treatment.
Similar to other at-home aligner companies, SmileDirectClub includes a “bright on” teeth whitening kit with your purchase. And you can use it simultaneously with your aligners. Just five minutes a day, they say, will get your teeth to their “brightest bright” in one week.
We all have busy lives, and repeated visits to the dentist’s office don’t exactly count as leisure. Nevermind taking time off work every 4–6 weeks for your appointments. Not only that, but Invisalign usually takes around 12–18 months and braces can take up to two years overall. If you have a big event coming up this year (not two or three years down the road), home aligners are the better option.
At-home teeth straightening is typically more convenient than seeing a dentist month after month, but SmileDirectClub goes above and beyond to make teeth straightening as accessible and user-friendly as possible.
SmileShops across the U.K. make it easy to get started.
Impression kits allow you to kick off your aligner treatment from home, but they can also be tricky. Some customers have trouble making good impressions on their own and need to order two or three kits before getting it right. SmileDirectClub lets you skip this step by visiting a SmileShop, where a dental assistant will take scans of your teeth for free. All you have to do is schedule an appointment, then show up. SmileDirectClub will handle the rest.
Currently, SmileDirectClub has around eleven SmileShops across England and Scotland, plus pop-ups throughout the year. Appointments take 15–30 minutes and the clinic will send your scans to SmileDirectClub’s dental network right away. After your quick scan, you’ll leave the SmileShop with free whitening gel and the excitement of having jumpstarted your teeth straightening journey.
Once SmileDirectClub receives your impression or scan, they will send you a “Smile Plan” — a preview of your post-treatment smile — within 72 hours. If you like what you see, you can approve the plan and get the ball rolling. But if it doesn’t match your expectations, there’s no obligation to move forward.
Nighttime-only aligners take convenience to the next level.
Some people can’t (or don’t want to) wear their aligners for 22+ hours per day. To make treatment more flexible and accessible for these customers, SmileDirectClub offers a nighttime-only aligner series. Selecting this plan means that you’ll only need to wear your clear aligners for ten continuous hours per day, presumably while you sleep. If you’re a regular snacker or have an on-the-go lifestyle, this could be a huge convenience.
Start to finish, treatment takes 4–6 months on average, or ten months for the nighttime-only option.
Most SmileDirectClub customers complete their treatment within 4–6 months, much faster than the 12–18 months required by Invisalign and braces. Nighttime-only aligners, however, often take ten months because you’re wearing the aligners for less time each day.
A 4–10 month timeline is pretty average for home aligner companies in the U.K., so you won’t likely find anything faster. Although the primary determining factors for your treatment time are your condition severity and how consistently you wear your aligners.
Check your calendar before starting treatment to see if SmileDirectClub’s timelines align with yours. If you want to smile confidently for your wedding photos in four months, for example, you might not see the results you’re after in time.
A major appeal of clear aligners is that they’re much more discreet than traditional braces. You can wear them all day — to work, school, or anywhere else — and no one will know. So, SmileDirectClub and their home aligner counterparts are great-looking orthodontic options.
But “great-looking” is a subjective term, and each brand looks slightly different due to variations in materials and manufacturing processes. So, which aligner looks best is up to you and your specific tastes.
SmileDirectClub aligners are matte, reasonably resistant to staining, and slightly overlap the gums.
It might seem counterintuitive to manufacture aligners that are textured and slightly “frosted,” but it works in SmileDirectClub’s favor. Teeth are porous, which means they are naturally matte, and textured aligners mimic this appearance better than their smooth, translucent counterparts. However, some people want their teeth to have a little shine, so they prefer reflective aligners.
SmileDirectClub aligners slightly overlap your gums, and people nearby might notice this overlap when you laugh or smile wide. However, it also lets the aligners leverage your gums to exert up to four times more force. Scalloped aligners that are trimmed to match your gum line are less visible, but they’re also less effective.
All clear aligners are susceptible to stains from food and beverages, so it’s important to remove them before eating or drinking anything other than plain water. SmileDirectClub aligners are reasonably resistant to staining, although we certainly wouldn’t recommend drinking coffee or red wine while wearing them.
SmileDirectClub aligners don’t incorporate attachments, preserving their low profile.
When administering Invisalign, a dentist can incorporate elastics and special attachments that help their scalloped aligners make more intricate teeth movements. Attachments make the aligners more effective, but also increase their visibility.
Since home aligners like SmileDirectClub don’t involve in-person office visits, these attachments are not possible. But that also means there’s no extra hardware on your teeth.
If you feel uneasy about wearing aligners during the day, nighttime-only treatment lets you avoid wearing them in social settings.
While invisible aligners are very discreet, they still aren’t 100% invisible. From up close, others may notice that you’re wearing them. Plus, it’s common for aligners to cause a slight lisp, especially for the first few days after changing to new trays. If you have a job where this may be an issue, SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners may be a better fit.
SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners could be a perfect option for anyone who feels uncomfortable wearing aligners during the day or who doesn’t like removing them to eat and drink.
When you’re completing treatment entirely from home, questions are part of the process. And when those questions arise, you want the reassurance that comes with a responsive and helpful customer support team.
Hands-on care is the gold standard for personalized patient support, and at-home aligners have done their best to deliver the same level of attention from afar. SmileDirectClub has had some customer service rough patches. To a degree, they’ve rebounded by implementing measures that provide more customized, responsive support, but there are still complaints.
Some customers report that SmileDirectClub’s customer support communication can be sluggish.
SmileDirectClub offers several ways to get in touch: phone, email, web chat, a mobile app, and social media. They say their customer support team is available 24/7.
However, they’re a huge company with a large customer base, and fielding so many questions can be difficult. As a result, some customers have occasionally experienced lags in communication. Many of these complaints came during SmileDirectClub’s dramatic expansion in 2016–2017, and more recent customer reviews report better customer support experiences overall. We’re glad that SmileDirectClub has mostly turned it around and are interested to see how they continue improving.
They provide regular check-ins with dental professionals and consistent access to their care team.
To supplement their customer support and help keep your treatment on track, SmileDirectClub has implemented virtual Smile Check-ins every 90 days, where you’ll submit photos of your teeth so that their dental team can monitor your progress and address any concerns you have. You can also chat with customer support representatives through the app if you have questions or concerns. It’s a nice touch, although it’s not quite as robust as in-office treatments like Invisalign.
SmileDirectClub has cultivated extensive online resources.
Many customers might not even need to reach out to get their questions answered because SmileDirectClub has compiled a ton of useful information on their website. Between their FAQ page and their blog, chances are you can find an answer to your question without calling or emailing customer support.
Refunds and return policies make SmileDirectClub a safe bet. Plus, they guarantee your smile for life.
Despite the complaints about communication delays, most customers are satisfied with SmileDirectClub’s refund policy. If you complete an impression kit or get your teeth scanned and the company determines you aren’t a suitable candidate for home aligner treatment, they will refund you in full.
Let’s say you are approved for treatment and get started on a treatment plan, but change your mind right away. Cancel your treatment in the first 30 days for any reason and you’ll receive a full refund (excluding your impression kit). After that, they offer prorated refunds for any unused and unopened aligners. Additionally, assuming you follow all the steps they prescribe (checking in online every 90 days, for example), but your results don’t match your treatment preview, SmileDirectClub will work with you to extend your treatment with more aligner trays free of charge.
And SmileDirectClub doesn’t stop there. If your teeth shift any time after you’ve finished treatment, even years down the road, their Lifetime Smile Guarantee will provide new aligners to restore your smile — as long as you’re approved by one of their dentists. To maintain eligibility, you need to purchase their retainers twice a year and wear them as prescribed.
What are SmileDirectClub Customers Saying?
When we review a company like SmileDirectClub, we start by digging through customer reviews to understand common issues and concerns.
Given SmileDirectClub’s multi-year history, there are many genuine online reviews detailing customer experiences with the product. Generally, SmileDirectClub customers feel positive about their experiences, despite some hiccups along the way. Customer support has been hit-or-miss, but the company usually keeps its promises.
Each set of aligners is typically well-made (most people don’t need to file down any rough edges or irregularities) and the treatment process is pretty comfortable overall. Many customers report increased discomfort for the first day or two of each aligner set, especially when removing them after a long time. This pain subsides quickly and, for the majority, is not a major concern. Most complete their treatment and feel satisfied with the results.
Alternatives to SmileDirectClub
While SmileDirectClub is a great clear aligner company, there are other at-home and in-office options to consider. In-office options can achieve more advanced teeth movements with additional attachments. If you’re set on completing treatment from home, there are several other home aligner options worth considering.
Invisalign vs SmileDirectClub
For more intensive cases of teeth and jaw misalignment, Invisalign may be an ideal option given its versatility and comprehensiveness. Invisalign’s in-person oversight allows for supplemental elastics and other attachments that induce more drastic and/or nuanced tooth and jaw movements. If you have a bite misalignment or a severe case of crowding or spacing, SmileDirectClub’s home aligners might simply be too limited for the results you’re after.
And if customer support is one of your top priorities, Invisalign may be a better option. You’ll have plenty of one-on-one time with your dentist (every 4–6 weeks) to discuss any concerns.
Straight Teeth Direct vs SmileDirectClub
Straight Teeth Direct has a robust remote monitoring service, and it gives them a leg up in effectiveness and customer service. Plus, they guarantee their results by providing five months of extra aligners to achieve your ideal smile (if necessary). Even with the added oversight, Straight Teeth Direct has lower initial prices than SmileDirectClub, and their financing plan doesn’t require a credit check either. Straight Teeth Direct’s commitment to quality, innovative technology, and reasonable prices make them one of the best options out there.
Find out more about Straight Teeth Direct in our complete review.
Virtuoso vs SmileDirectClub
Virtuoso is one of the first companies to offer UK customers hybrid treatment not as an extra option, but as their standard approach. By incorporating both in-person appointments and remote oversight, their treatment is a unique blend of convenience and individualised patient care. They might be slightly more expensive than other options, but you get a lot for your money.
Take a look at our complete Virtuoso review for more information.
NewSmile vs SmileDirectClub
If you’re looking for treatment on a budget, NewSmile should definitely be on your list. Their sticker price is just £1,395; and they pack your aligner kit with extras like an impression kit, aftercare retainers, and free whitening. They don’t offer in-person scans or a satisfaction guarantee like SmileDirectClub, but they do administer quality treatment and offer a convenient nighttime-only option.
Get to know NewSmile a little better in our comprehensive review.
Out of all the U.K. home aligner products we reviewed, we rank SmileDirectClub #3. If you’re looking for the most convenient option or you’d like to work with a well-established brand, then SmileDirectClub is a great choice. Otherwise, we invite you to check out our review of Straight Teeth Direct, our top-rated home aligner company.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can SmileDirectClub correct my condition?
It depends. SmileDirectClub 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 or visit a SmileShop.
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. SmileDirectClub 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.
How much will I end up paying?
Even though SmileDirectClub’s sticker price is £1,739, numerous factors can influence cost, including discounts, financing, insurance, refinements, and more. In most cases, you won’t end up paying exactly £1,739, but it will likely be close. And don’t forget that you’ll need to purchase retainers for an additional £80 after your treatment is done.
How do I get started?
Before anything else, SmileDirectClub’s dental team needs to examine your teeth. You can either submit an impression kit or visit a SmileShop for a free teeth scan. They’ll use these molds or images to determine if you’re a good candidate and craft your entire treatment plan.
How long will it take?
Go with SmileDirectClub and you’re likely looking at a 4–6-month treatment window (or ten months for Nighttime Aligners). But don’t mark it on your calendar just yet. Your treatment could take shorter or longer depending on the severity of your condition.
Does insurance cover SmileDirectClub’s treatment?
Public health insurance doesn’t typically cover orthodontic treatment, but private insurance sometimes does. Certain providers label at-home aligners a “cosmetic” treatment and refuse to cover them. But if your plan includes orthodontic benefits, you might receive partial coverage. Check with your insurance provider to see if you can get partial reimbursement for SmileDirectClub.
What is the most effective clear aligner company?
It’s tough to beat the power and versatility of in-office options like Invisalign, ClearCorrect, SureSmile, and 3M Clarity Aligners. They can all treat severe misalignments and even bite issues.
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.