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, no office visits required.
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 4.2/5 overall based on our 5 review criteria (effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer support). This makes SmileDirectClub our fourth-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 a million smiles to date.
SmileDirect vs. Straight Teeth Direct: Our #1-Ranked Service
We think SmileDirectClub is a reliable service, but if you’re looking for the best value overall, Straight Teeth Direct is difficult to beat.
Straight Teeth Direct’s satisfaction guarantee ensures you’ll get the results you’re after — they promise to work with you as long as it takes to get your perfect smile. Plus, at £1,350, they’re significantly less expensive than SmileDirectClub.
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 served over a million customers, making SmileDirectClub the second most popular clear aligner treatment on the market (Invisalign is still #1). Their groundbreaking treatment has inspired numerous other companies to offer their own home aligner treatments. And they’ve evolved over the years, adding innovations like retail clinics and nighttime-only schedules 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. Their aligners are only designed to treat mild-to-moderate cases of spacing and crowding, along with minor bite issues. 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 are capable of delivering 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 is so that SmileDirectClub’s dentists can evaluate whether or not their aligners can deliver the results you want.
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 new Nighttime Aligners and wear them 10 hours per night for 10 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 are designed to 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 a majority of SmileDirectClub users are ultimately satisfied with their treatment results.
In our comprehensive ranking of the U.K.’s top six at-home aligner companies, SmileDirectClub came in at #4 overall. 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 its competitors and has treated more patients than all of them combined.
- SmileDirectClub has around 20 SmileShops located in cities across the U.K. 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 is one of two companies that offer a nighttime-only treatment plan (the other is Wondersmile). Instead of 22 hours per day, this alternative plan only requires users to wear their aligners for 10 hours per night.
- We think that SmileDirectClub’s aligners are slightly less noticeable than the ones from their competitors.
- SmileDirectClub includes free whitening treatment with your aligners, so you can straighten and brighten your smile at the same time.
- SmileDirectClub does not guarantee orthodontist’s oversight for your treatment, so you may or may not get optimal results.
- Invisalign once produced SmileDirectClub’s aligners, but that partnership ended in 2019, so SmileDirectClub customers no longer have the benefit of Invisalign’s market-leading technology.
- SmileDirectClub charges an additional £70 fee for retainers after treatment. In contrast, competitors like Straight Teeth Direct and Straight My Teeth offer this important aftercare service for free.
Who is a good match for SmileDirectClub?
Looking to purchase at-home clear aligners, but unsure which company is the best fit for you? SmileDirectClub could be an ideal choice if you’re someone who prefers to purchase from an established brand name and isn’t overly concerned about possible delays and spotty customer support. Bonus points if you live near a SmileShop.
Every home aligner company (including SmileDirectClub) can handle most mild teeth misalignments, but some take measures to boost their overall treatment quality.
Several factors determine a treatment’s effectiveness, including materials, manufacturing, and designers. SmileDirectClub has helped thousands of customers transform their smiles, but when you dig into the details, their processes fall short of the competition in a couple of important ways.
Your treatment plan will be developed by a licensed dental professional, but not necessarily an orthodontist.
When you order SmileDirectClub, your treatment plan will be developed by a dental technician trained in 3D teeth modeling software. Then, a licensed dentist (though not necessarily an orthodontist) will review your case and approve your treatment.
Dentists are qualified and knowledgeable individuals, there’s no doubt about that. But they don’t have the same level of expertise that orthodontists do. Orthodontic licensure requires multiple years or postgraduate study focused on teeth movements, so they’re more experienced and specialized.
Some competitors, like Wondersmile, guarantee that an orthodontist will design and oversee your treatment, which helps ensure quality and consistency. You’ll still get reliable treatment from a general dentist, but an orthodontist has next-level expertise and a trained eye for teeth movements.
Align Technology (makers of Invisalign) no longer produces SmileDirectClub’s clear aligners. This concerns us.
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.
But, unfortunately, the SmileDirectClub-Align Tech collaboration is over. We were disappointed to learn that Invisalign ended its partnership with SmileDirectClub over a recent legal dispute. Now, SmileDirectClub manufactures their aligners in-house. At this stage, we are concerned that this transition may result in service disruptions and potentially affect overall treatment quality.
A price quote for braces or Invisalign can be staggering, potentially £3,000 or more. By comparison, at-home treatment, which typically run £1,000-2,000, are much more appealing. Home aligner companies have slashed their price to make treatment tolerable for your mouth and 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 £1,539, which is fairly average among U.K. providers.
When purchased with a single payment, SmileDirectClub costs £1,539. 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 £70 at the end of your aligner treatment for retainers, which must be replaced every six months. Most other companies include one set of aftercare retainers in the initial price, so there are no surprise costs at the end.
SmileDirectClub offers financing, but it requires a soft credit check to qualify.
While SmileDirectClub is much cheaper than braces or Invisalign, not everyone has £1,539 lying around, so many patients opt to finance their treatment. SmilePay requires a £70.10 down payment, then £70.09 per month for 23 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 month for your appointments. Not only that, but Invisalign usually takes around 12 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, in general, 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 20 SmileShops across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland (more than any of their U.K. competitors), and they’re adding more thanks to a partnership with Well Pharmacy. 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” within 72 hours – a preview of how your teeth will look post-treatment. 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 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.
The only other company that has a nighttime-only option is Wondersmile, although we wouldn’t be surprised if others jump on the bandwagon soon.
Start to finish, treatment takes 6 months on average, or 10 months for the nighttime-only option.
Most SmileDirectClub customers complete their treatment within 6 months, much faster than the 12-18 months required by Invisalign and braces. Nighttime-only aligners, however, often take 10 months because you’re wearing the aligners for less time each day.
A 6-10 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.
Teeth whitening is included with your treatment plan, so you can whiten your smile while you transform your teeth.
This isn’t a necessary part of the process, but it’s a nice bonus. When you purchase aligners, SmileDirectClub will throw in free whitening products. Simply apply the whitening gel inside your aligners and your teeth will get visibly brighter while they are realigned.
A major appeal of clear aligners is that they’re clear, 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.
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.
SmileDirectClub aligners have historically been matte, reasonably resistant to staining, and cut straight across at the top of the gumline.
It might seem counterintuitive to manufacture aligners that are textured and slightly “frosted,” but it works in SmileDirectClub’s favor. Teeth are porous and naturally matte, so frosted aligners mimic this appearance.
SmileDirectClub aligners are cut straight across at the top (rather than scalloped along the gumline like Invisalign), which affects both their appearance and effectiveness. Most home aligners are cut this way for an important reason. A straight cut, though arguably less ideal for appearance and comfort, helps grip the teeth better and can apply up to four times the force.
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.
The appearance of SmileDirectClub’s aligners might be compromised due to manufacturing changes.
SmileDirectClub used to have all of their aligners made by Align Technology, the company behind Invisalign. However, that partnership dissolved in Fall, 2019. Since then, SmileDirectClub has been producing their aligners in-house. It appears that they’re still textured, straight-cut, and stain-resistant. But if you are looking into SmileDirectClub, keep in mind that this manufacturing shift could affect their product quality.
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 have your clear trays in. Moreover, 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. SmileDirectClub has had some customer service rough patches, but they’ve rebounded and appear to be improving.
Some customers have reported that SmileDirectClub’s customer support communication can be sluggish.
SmileDirectClub offers the same customer support avenues as most other home aligner companies: phone, email, and social media.
However, they’re a huge company with a large customer base, and fielding so many questions can be difficult. As a result, customers have occasionally experienced lags in communication. Many of these complaints came during SmileDirectClub’s dramatic expansion in 2016-17, but recent reviewers have reported similar delays as well.
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.
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 good 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). Additionally, assuming you follow all the steps they prescribe (checking in online every 90 days, for example), but aren’t happy with the final results, SmileDirectClub dentists will generally work with you to extend your treatment with more aligner trays free of charge.
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 seems to be hit-or-miss, but the company generally keeps its promises.
Each set of aligners is well-made (most people don’t need to file down any rough edges or irregularities) and the treatment process is reportedly only mildly uncomfortable (if at all). Most 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 most customers, is not a major concern. A majority complete their treatment and feel satisfied with the results.
Below are two of the most helpful user reviews we found. We hope you find them helpful too!
Alternatives to SmileDirectClub
While SmileDirectClub is a great clear aligner company, there are other at-home and in-office options to consider. Invisalign is the primary in-office option, and while it is more expensive than home aligners, dentists 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 attachments, elastics, and other appliances 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 (at least once per month) to discuss any concerns.
Straight Teeth Direct vs SmileDirectClub
Straight Teeth Direct is one of the only home aligner companies with a remote monitoring service, and it gives them a leg up in effectiveness and customer service. And they guarantee their results by providing 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.
Straight My Teeth vs SmileDirectClub
If you’re looking for treatment on a budget, you won’t find a better company than Straight My Teeth. Their sticker price is just £999 (or as low as £799 if you catch a sale). They don’t offer app-based check-ins or a satisfaction guarantee like SmileLife, but they still administer quality treatment and their price is by far the industry’s best.
Get to know Straight My Teeth a little better in our comprehensive review.
WonderSmile vs SmileDirectClub
WonderSmile doesn’t have the experience or brand power that SmileDirectClub does, but they excel in other areas. They follow in Byte’s footsteps, promising orthodontist-directed treatment for every customer. And they match SmileDirectClub’s convenience by maintaining teeth scanning locations across Australia and offering a nighttime-only treatment option. And if that wasn’t enough, they have lower prices than SmileDirectClub too, along with payment plans that don’t require a credit check.
Our full WonderSmile review contains a detailed company profile.
PlusDent vs SmileDirectClub
PlusDent has a lot of similar advantages. They have several office locations that provide free teeth scans, they have industry-average treatment times, and they have a large customer base (though not as large as SmileDirectClub’s). On top of that, PlusDent uses an app to provide regular check-ins with their dental team, and they’ve received excellent reviews so far.
Take a look at our complete PlusDent review for more information.
Out of the top six U.K. home aligner products we reviewed, we rank SmileDirectClub #4. If you’re looking for the most convenient option and aren’t concerned about inconsistent customer support, then SmileDirectClub could be right for you. That said, if you want to compare your options, we invite you to check out our comprehensive comparison of the 6 best clear aligner services in the U.K. below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does SmileDirectClub offer discounts?
Absolutely! You just need to know where to look. SmileDirectClub gives students, teachers, and military members $150 off their aligners anytime. Additionally, they run occasional promotions for $100 – $200 off aligners and discounted impression kits.
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 £1,539, numerous factors can influence cost, including discounts, financing, insurance, refinements, and more. In most cases, you won’t end up paying exactly £1,539, but it will likely be close. And don’t forget that you’ll need to purchase retainers for an additional £70 after your treatment is done.
How do I get started?
Before anything else, SmileDirectClub’s dental team needs to take a look at 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 6-month treatment window (or 10 months for Nighttime Aligners). But don’t mark it on your calendar just yet. Your treatment could take shorter or longer depending on your condition’s severity.
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 it. 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 your treatment.
What is the fastest home aligner service?
The U.K. doesn’t have a home aligner that works faster than the rest. Most companies take around 6 months, just like SmileDirectClub. If you have a more severe condition and/or you don’t wear your aligners consistently, however, your treatment might take longer. On the flip side, minor cases can sometimes take just a few months, no matter which company you choose.
What is the cheapest home aligner service?
Home aligner companies have drastically reduced the cost of teeth-straightening service, but that doesn’t mean they fit perfectly in every budget. If you’re a cost-conscious shopper, check out Straight My Teeth. Their £999 sticker price is far below the industry average, making them easily the most affordable option. Our full Straight My Teeth review has a lot more info.
What is the most effective clear aligner company?
For at-home treatment, Straight Teeth Direct is the front-runner. Their remote monitoring and comprehensive satisfaction guarantee help ensure your treatment’s safety, efficiency, and consistency. But if you prefer an in-office treatment, you can’t go wrong with Invisalign.
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.