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Candid vs. SmileDirect

Compare cost, results and reviews

Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team
SmileDirectClub and Candid
woman with clear teeth aligners

Unlike traditional braces, invisible braces are made of clear plastic and can be removed for eating and drinking. Also called aligners, they treat issues such as poor alignment, minor crowding and slightly crooked teeth. Below, we compare two popular options, Candid and SmileDirectClub.

  • How Candid and SmileDirectClub are similar: Treatment options and setup are comparable. Both offer options for 100% virtual services or physical office visits. Financing is also available from both companies.
  • How Candid and SmileDirectClub are different: Smile Direct Club has a night-only aligner option, which Candid does not offer. Candid provides treatment with orthodontists only, while with Smile Direct Club your progress could be monitored by either a dentist or an orthodontist.
candid logosmile direct club logo
Remote impression kit cost*$30$29
Single-payment cost*$2,100$1,950
Night-only option
Average treatment lengthSix monthsFour to six months
Financing available
Money-back guaranteeDuring first 30 days
Customer satisfactionRead reviewsRead reviews
*At the time of publishing
candid logo$30$2,100Six monthsRead reviews
smile direct club logo$29$1,950Four to six monthsDuring first 30 daysRead reviews

Candid

Candid treatment averages
six months

Candid offers invisible aligners with 100% online service. You can start by taking impressions and photos at home with a starter kit, or visit a Candid Studio if you prefer in-person service. The treatment takes an average of six months. Aligners, made from thermoplastic, are stain-resistant and BPA-free.

An orthodontist tracks your progress with scans you take from your phone attached to a specialized device. Candid works only with orthodontists, not dentists, who specialize in clear aligner treatment. You work with the same orthodontist throughout treatment. Check-ins occur every 10 to 14 days.

X-rays are required for teen treatment. Orthodontist check-ins for teens are every 10 days, plus the CandidApp allows parents to track their child’s treatment and progress. Candid Teen comes with two free retainers.

Pros

  • All treatment provided by orthodontists
  • No office visits required
  • Full refund if you don’t qualify

Cons

  • Not everyone is a candidate
  • More expensive than SmileDirectClub
  • No night-only treatment available

Costs

Candid clear aligners for adults cost $2,100 at the time of publishing. This price includes a starter kit, whitening foam and the aligners. You can also choose a payment plan, which requires $399 down and $99 payments for 24 months ($2,775 total cost). Candid also offers a starter kit for $30 at the time of publishing. Retainers cost $99. Teen treatments are a little more expensive, at $2,800, and include two free retainers plus one adjustment, if necessary.

The company provides receipts for health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). It also works with insurers. If an orthodontist determines that you aren’t a candidate for treatment, Candid issues you a refund.

Results

Candid customers seem to like the prices (compared to those of traditional braces). One verified customer reported some discomfort with the aligners, but they were still happy with the overall results. Another liked how the company worked with their insurance and might be back in the future: “I’d recommend Candid. My son is going to need braces at some point, and we might go the route of Candid and forego the braces.”

SmileDirectClub

SmileDirectClub night-only treatment plans last an average of 10 months

SmileDirectClub offers two options for invisible braces: traditional aligners, worn 22 hours a day, or its Nighttime Aligners, which require 10 hours of continuous nighttime wear. Both types of aligners are made from BPA-free plastic. You can choose to schedule an initial in-person consultation at a SmileShop location or opt for a 100% telehealth experience. Either way, you’ll receive a 3D visualization of how your new smile will look with a customized treatment plan.

With all-day wear, the average SmileDirectClub treatment takes four to six months. Night-only treatments take an average of 10 months. Teens who use SmileDirectClub get free aligner replacement, and their parents get notifications with updates about aligner changes and check-ins. All aligners for teens and adults come with teeth whitening.

All treatment with SmileDirectClub is prescribed, managed and monitored by state-licensed dentists and orthodontists with aligner experience. This includes virtual check-ins and 24/7 access to the dental team via text, video chat, email and phone.

Pros

  • Money-back promise in first 30 days
  • Nighttime-only option
  • No-credit-check payment plan

Cons

  • Unclear frequency of check-ins
  • No retainers included
  • Must remove aligners to eat and drink

Costs

It costs $29 at the time of publishing to get started with SmileDirectClub by ordering a remote impression kit. Alternatively, you can visit a SmileShop for a free teeth scan. SmileDirectClub treatment costs $1,950 if you pay in full upfront, whether you choose regular aligners or Nighttime Aligners. The company also offers no-credit-check financing, called SmilePay, which requires $250 down and $89 payments for 24 months ($2,386 total). A set of upper and lower retainers costs $99.

If you have insurance coverage with orthodontic benefits, SmileDirectClub can help. According to the company, it's in-network with most dental insurers, which cover an average of 50% of treatment costs; this means the average total out-of-pocket cost for insured customers is under $1,000. It also accepts HSA and FSA payments. SmileDirectClub refunds the cost of an impression kit if a dentist or orthodontist determines you aren’t a candidate for treatment with aligners. The company also allows you to return aligners within the first 30 days if you aren’t satisfied and gives a refund.

Results

People seem happiest when they use SmileDirectClub’s aligners for relatively minor orthodontic corrections. “The process was good,” according to one verified SmileDirectClub customer. “Whenever there were any hiccups, the customer service was there to help me out. I feel good with my new smile.”

SmileDirect vs. Candid FAQ

Which is cheaper, Candid or SmileDirect?
SmileDirectClub is less expensive than Candid. At the time of publishing, Candid charges $2,100 for its aligners, including the starter kit and whitening foam. Both SmileDirectClub’s traditional aligners and Nighttime Aligners cost $1,950, including teeth whitening. SmileDirectClub charges $29 at the time of publishing for an impression kit to get started.
How do Candid and SmileDirect compare to Invisalign?
Candid and SmileDirectClub both cost less than Invisalign. Candid and SmileDirectClub have set prices for all treatments. Invisalign costs are similar to the cost of braces and are determined by individual providers. Invisalign requires office visits, and treatment also takes longer.
What are customers saying about Candid and SmileDirectClub?
Many reviewers are satisfied with the results of both Candid and SmileDirectClub. Happy customers frequently say that Candid helped them fix crowding, whereas SmileDirectClub customers are more likely to mention fixing crooked and gapped teeth. We did find both companies also have at least one complaint about customer service. However, the majority of verified customers are happy with Candid and SmileDirectClub. People indicate that both companies offer more affordable and convenient solutions than traditional braces.

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    Bottom line: Which is better, Candid or SmileDirect?

    Candid and SmileDirectClub offer similar types of orthodontic treatment plans, designing custom aligners and plans for straightening teeth. Both companies give you the ability to complete treatment without seeing a dentist or orthodontist in person. You start by sending in impressions and photos of your teeth and continue by wearing personalized aligners and having virtual check-ups with the doctor.

    • Candid has great customer service: Candid reviews are most likely to mention customer service, and people seem to like that you can get all the aligners in one delivery. All Candid patients are treated by orthodontists.
    • SmileDirectClub is a great value: Treatment is available for a lower price. SmileDirectClub also has a nighttime-only option that only requires 10 hours of wear per day.
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    Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
    by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kathryn Parkman believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase, which is why she spends hours researching companies and industries for ConsumerAffairs. She believes conscious consumption is everyone's responsibility and that all content deserves integrity.