The national health plan rarely covers adult orthodontics — and when they do, braces are the standard option. For many adults, this just won’t do. Luckily, there are many clear aligner providers in the UK that deliver quality, inconspicuous treatment for a lower cost than braces.
Here, Virtuoso is really making its mark, undercutting the prices of most in-office providers like Invisalign. But will Virtuoso work for you? Read on as we discuss the pros and cons of using Virtuoso, and dive deep into the details of their service offering.
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How Does Virtuoso Work?
Virtuoso treatment begins with an online consultation. Just find a Virtuoso provider near you and complete an online assessment with them so they can determine if you are a good fit for treatment. This consultation is free, and even if you are a great candidate for Virtuoso, there’s no obligation to purchase treatment.
If you are a candidate and feel excited about starting treatment, the next step is your 3D scan. Visit your dentist in person and they’ll take the scan, as well as any other diagnostics they need to plan your treatment. About a week later, you’ll get to see a 360-degree preview of your future smile, plus schedule any other dental procedures you need. If you give the go-ahead, your doctor will order your aligners.
Once your aligners are ready, usually about four weeks after you approve your plan, your doctor will have you come to the office to try on the first set and review your treatment instructions. From there, you’ll check in virtually using the Instant Dentist app according to the schedule your doctor sets, attending the occasional in-person appointment until treatment is complete.
Pros and Cons of Virtuoso
Virtuoso is one of the first companies to offer UK customers hybrid treatment not as an extra option, but as their standard care approach. While they aren’t ideal for every case, we think they’re a solid choice for affordable and convenient care. In our research, we evaluated them in five categories: effectiveness, affordability, convenience, appearance, and customer support. Below are the primary benefits and drawbacks we found.
- Virtuoso Aligners are owned by the same company as Straight Teeth Direct — which we consider one of the top remote aligner companies in the UK.
- They allow for flexible hybrid treatment. This means you can still have in-office check-ins if that’s what you need, just not as frequently as you would with a fully in-office treatment.
- Their dental scope allows for robust remote monitoring. Since it is small and easy to maneuver, you can capture all surfaces of the teeth in significant detail. It’s as close to in-person care as remote treatment gets.
- Compared to many other options, Virtuoso is pretty new, having launched in February 2022. This doesn’t mean it is a bad company, but there’s not much customer feedback out there yet.
- Virtuoso does not offer its own financing, so you need to rely on your individual dentist or a third-party financier. It would be nice if Virtuoso offered their own plans.
Who Is a Good Match for Virtuoso?
If you are interested in the convenience of remote treatment but the oversight of in-person aligners, Virtuoso just might offer the perfect blend for you.
Even if you work with a low-cost provider, orthodontic care is always a major investment. You want to feel confident that this investment is going to pay off, so you need aligners that can get the job done right. While Virtuoso isn’t as powerful as fully in-person treatments, it’s still safe, reliable, and fairly effective.
As a hybrid treatment, Virtuoso is limited in the cases it can treat.
Fully in-person treatment can incorporate multiple types of attachments and benefits from in-person check-ups where the dentist can make adjustments. You sacrifice these aspects for the convenience hybrid treatment brings. However, Virtuoso can correct many alignment concerns adults have, including mild-to-moderate cases of crooked, overlapping, gapped, crowded, and protruding teeth.
They go slightly further than most fully remote treatments in that they can move the first molars as well. This means Virtuoso can move all the teeth visible in your smile.
The blend of in-person and remote check-ins helps balance convenience with effectiveness.
There are a lot of benefits to fully remote treatment, but robust oversight isn’t usually one of them. They essentially sacrifice effectiveness just to avoid in-person appointments. Virtuoso gives their dentists a lot of freedom in setting your office visit schedule, meaning your doctor can have you come in just to start and end treatment or several times in between, based on what you need. This lets them better monitor complex movements and make adjustments as needed, while still avoiding the frequency of visits traditional treatment requires.
Their remote monitoring uses the Smart Dental Scope, which pairs with the Smart Dental Scope Assistant app.
This is actually one of the best remote monitoring tools available. Quite a few providers use large camera attachments that can be awkward to move around the teeth for a full view — and they don’t always capture all surfaces of the teeth. There are even some providers that just give you a smile stretcher and ask you to take photos with your phone, which is even less detailed.
Virtuoso uses the Smart Dental Scope — a wireless intraoral camera on the end of a wand — which captures crisp videos and images of even the hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. Once the files are on the Smart Dental Scope Assistant app, you just attach them to your Instant Dentist account and your doctor can view them.
Virtuoso aligners use clear BPA-free plastic that is produced in the UK.
This doesn’t tell us a lot about their plastic, but it means it’s safe to use and meets UK standards for dental materials.
One thing we do know is that the material changes based on your plan. Virtuoso uses an A/B aligner system. A-aligners prep the teeth for movement and use a softer, more flexible material. B-aligners are more rigid and effectively move the teeth. This combination approach helps make dental shifts safely and with little discomfort.
Treatment plans are a collaborative effort between your dentist and the Virtuoso clinical team.
While the software creates your plan’s foundation, both your dentist and the Virtuoso team will tweak it to ensure it’s perfect before they finalize it and send it to you. This mix of perspectives ensures you’ll have multiple eyes on your smile and benefit from diverse backgrounds and opinions.
One of the biggest barriers between adults and the orthodontic treatment they need is cost. Virtuoso aims to be a low-cost provider, though their prices aren’t the lowest in the industry. Despite this, they still offer a solid value with lower prices than traditional treatments like Invisalign.
Virtuoso is unique in the world of hybrid aligners because it offers a fixed price for all patients.
No matter how simple or complex your treatment, or how many office visits you require, Virtuoso costs just £1,999 for upper and lower aligners. Most hybrid aligner companies leave prices up to the discretion of each dentist or orthodontist. It’s nice to head into your consultation knowing exactly what you’ll pay.
For this price, you get numerous items that help support your treatment.
In addition to your aligners and basic appointments, your price includes your dental scope, regenerate toothpaste, aligner protective case, chewies, aligner retriever, aligner file, patient wear and care manual, refinements (if needed), and your first set of retainers.
However, it isn’t exactly an all-inclusive price. If your doctor feels you need more appointments than just the two to start and the one to wrap things up, they might cost extra. Some doctors also charge for the 3D scan that generates your treatment plan.
If you are going for a full smile makeover, you might want to add treatments that further enhance your smile, such as:
- Teeth and gum check-up
- Teeth whitening
- Cosmetic bonding or contouring
Most dentists offer discounts on these treatment upgrades to the Virtuoso patients, but check with them first to be sure.
Virtuoso does not offer its own financing, but many dental offices do.
You’ll need to ask your provider about their terms before signing on for treatment. Some offer more favorable terms than others, so you need to be sure your provider’s align with your needs. And if your doctor doesn’t offer financing, you can look into third-party options.
Virtuoso backs their treatment with a pretty solid guarantee, and it’s possible your dentist will offer more.
Because every smile is unique and genetics play a part in how the teeth respond to aligners, some cases won’t reach the final projected outcome after the first round of aligners. If you need refinement aligners to reach the best possible outcome, you’ll get them at no extra cost. Just keep in mind that you must follow your treatment instructions to be eligible for free refinements.
Clear aligners are all designed with convenience in mind — but some offer more than others. Virtuoso doesn’t match the convenience of remote companies, but it’s much easier and more streamlined than traditional in-office treatments.
You’ll get your aligners pretty quickly, assuming there are no delays on your end.
The first step in your treatment is an E-consultation. Assuming you schedule your in-person evaluation shortly after this and approve treatment the same day, step one to receiving your aligners should take about 4–6 weeks. This is a little slower than remote treatments, but faster than many in-office ones.
Finding a Virtuoso provider near you might be difficult, but should get easier as they expand their network.
Basically, to use Virtuoso, you need to either live close to a provider or be willing to travel. Since it’s such a new company, their dentist network isn’t expansive, but it’s growing. If you don’t have a provider near you at the moment, check back in again in about three to six months.
Virtuoso treatment timelines are on par with at-home aligner companies and much faster than in-office ones.
Most people complete treatment in 6–9 months. This is standard for at-home aligner treatment — if on the slightly longer end. It is 3–12 months faster than traditional options, though. Just keep in mind that this is often because Virtuoso treats less complex cases, skewing their averages.
You don’t have to have in-person checkups, but your doctor might require them.
Depending on the severity of your case, your doctor might want to see you a few times during your treatment for a quick examination. However, you’ll still likely need to make clinic visits every three months to pick up your next aligners. If you are traveling far, you can ask about getting them all at once or having them shipped to your home.
One of the biggest reasons people choose clear aligner therapy is the way it looks: compared to braces, it is pretty much invisible. But every company makes their products a little different, and which aligner looks best depends on your personal preferences.
Virtuoso uses smooth, transparent plastic in their aligners.
That should make the trays less noticeable, right? Not necessarily. Since your teeth are covered in tiny pores, they look matte, not shiny. Smooth, reflective plastic doesn’t match those natural surfaces, so Virtuoso aligners can actually be more noticeable than frosted, textured ones. However, some people like these aligners put a little shine in their smile, so it’s just a matter of personal taste.
They cut their aligners straight across the top instead of trimming them to match the gum line.
That means your aligners will slightly overlap your gums. People will rarely notice that overlap, but it’s still slightly more visible than scalloped aligners that match your gum line. On the flip side, aligners that overlap the gums can leverage them to put more force on the teeth, so you’re essentially trading looks for power.
Attachments are not part of standard Virtuoso treatment, though dentists can add them if necessary.
Virtuoso treatment starts with a virtual consultation and ends with a beautiful smile — but what about everything in between? From modes of communication to procedures when things go wrong, your patient experience is incredibly important, and Virtuoso’s hybrid model provides personalized and robust oversight.
The Instant Dentist app gives you a direct line of communication to your doctor — and you don’t need to wait for office hours to reach out.
While you might not get an instant reply, you can message your dentist with questions or concerns at any time. Most remote and hybrid companies have a similar feature, but many connect you to customer support rather than your doctor. Virtuoso ensures that you speak to your dentist each time, benefiting from their understanding of your case and dental health history.
You get the benefit of oversight without the inconvenience of monthly office visits.
Even if you don’t go in for check-ups every three months, Virtuoso’s remote monitoring is robust. Their intraoral camera can capture video and images that very few at-home devices can manage. And these help your dentist stay on top of your progress and deliver the best possible treatment for you.
Since the clinics are all independent dental offices that partner with Virtuoso, you aren’t limited to just straightening your teeth.
Most likely, your dentist will offer a full slate of services, allowing you to get a complete cosmetic smile transformation. This can include changes to tooth color, shape, texture, and more. You can also benefit from unique discounts and policies your dentist might offer.
Best Alternatives to Virtuoso
Virtuoso has a lot to offer, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect for you. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options to choose from. Below are the three companies we consider their biggest competition.
Straight Teeth Direct
Straight Teeth Direct and Virtuoso share a parent company, and as a result, they share many of their best features. While it is strictly a remote treatment, Straight Teeth Direct offers solid monitoring and an app that gives you near-instant access to their customer service team. And they back their aligners with a generous satisfaction guarantee.
PlusDent is the most direct competitor to Virtuoso. They also require you to start treatment in person (they have over 30 practices in the UK), monitor progress remotely, and have two pricing tiers based on the severity of your misalignment. They might cost more than some of their competitors, but you might find the in-person touch and robust oversight worth it.
SmileDirectClub has treated more than 1.5 million customers globally since 2014. Like Virtuoso, they have numerous scanning locations (SmileShops), although they also sell impression kits to get started. Combined with their nighttime-only treatment option, SmileDirectClub makes treatment as convenient as possible. Priced at £1,639, SmileDirectClub costs less than Virtuoso, but their oversight isn’t nearly as intensive, only requiring photos of your teeth every 90 days.
Summary: Is Virtuoso Right for You?
Virtuoso offers a solid alternative to in-office and fully remote treatments, but it’s not a perfect option for everyone. If your budget is tight or you have a mild misalignment, it might be better to go with a lower-cost alternative, whereas if you have a more severe condition, you likely need a fully in-office treatment like Invisalign.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is hybrid treatment?
Hybrid aligner treatment is the combination of in-office appointments and remote monitoring. In most cases, this combination is two visits to start treatment — one to get a 3D scan and another to get your aligners — plus one to wrap things up and get your retainers. However, some companies will include in-person check-ups every few months.
How accurate are remote monitoring scans?
It all depends on the type of monitoring equipment they use. If you select a company that just has you take videos of the front surfaces of your teeth while wearing a smile stretcher, the scans won’t be as accurate as they would be with an intraoral camera.
Why are some clear aligners faster than others?
There are many factors that contribute to treatment efficiency, including the software that generates the plans and the plastic each company uses. However, when you see a big difference between two companies, it is usually because one only treats mild-to-moderate misalignments while the other can address severe cases, which take longer to correct.
Can you use clear aligners if you have traditional veneers or a bridge?
It depends on your unique case, but usually, no. During your consultation, you’ll find out more about your options.
Is it dangerous to have aligners if I grind my teeth in my sleep?
No. Aligners are made from durable plastic that should not break from grinding or clenching your teeth in the 1–2 weeks that you wear them.
Are aligners more comfortable than braces?
Most people think so. Braces stand out from your tooth surfaces, allowing them to rub against the mouth’s soft tissues, causing discomfort until you adjust. Aligners are smooth, with only the edge sometimes causing issues. However, you can file them down gently for greater comfort.
How many hours a day do I need to wear my clear aligners?
It depends on if you chose an all-day or nighttime-only plan. If you are supposed to wear your aligners all day, you need to keep them for 22 hours a day. If you have a nighttime-only plan, you need to wear them for ten continuous hours, mostly overnight.
When do I need to remove my aligners?
You need to remove them whenever you are eating, drinking anything besides plain water, or brushing and flossing your teeth. Other than that, keep them in. Whenever you do remove them, always store them in their protective case.
What happens if treatment doesn’t go as planned?
The exact course of action depends on the company and/or dentist you chose. Some will automatically issue refinement aligners for free. Others will make you pay for them. It’s a good idea to ask about this before signing on for treatment, so you know exactly what to expect.
Will I need retainers after treatment?
Yes. Retainers are a must after any type of orthodontic treatment. The ligaments that hold your teeth in place naturally want to pull them back to their original positions. While they get less insistent on this over time, if you spend too much time without your retainers, your teeth will shift back.
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