Invisalign vs. SmileDirect
Compare cost, results and reviews
Teeth are important to our overall health. When it comes to finding the right product to help you straighten your teeth, you want a company you can trust — one with a good reputation and affordable prices. Invisalign is probably the best-known brand in the invisible braces industry, but there are other options.
SmileDirectClub is worth considering as an alternative to Invisalign. Both offer a discreet way to get a new smile, with treatments that intermittently replace a series of clear, plastic aligners to better align your teeth over time. Both also offer multiple ways to pay for treatment, including payment plans and use of insurance. But there are differences: Invisalign requires in-person visits and is more expensive, but it can correct more severe orthodontic issues. SmileDirectClub has a nighttime-only option and provides 100% virtual care management.
|Remote impression kit cost*||N/A||$59|
|Single-payment cost*||Varies by doctor and case||$2,050|
|Average treatment time||12 to 18 months||Four to six months|
|BPA-free plastic aligners|
|Minimum age requirement||6||12|
|Customer satisfaction||Read reviews||Read reviews|
|N/A||Varies by doctor and case||12 to 18 months||6||1999||Read reviews|
|$59||$2,050||Four to six months||12||2014||Read reviews|
Invisalign average treatment length = 12 to 18 months
More than 9 million people around the world, including over 2 million teens, have used Invisalign treatment to straighten their teeth. Invisalign can treat an overbite, underbite, crossbite, open bite, crowded teeth and gaps between teeth. Unlike other invisible braces treatments, Invisalign requires in-person appointments with a doctor.
Invisalign makes its aligners with proprietary SmartTrack material that's designed to fit snugly on your teeth, apply gentle and constant force, speed treatment time and provide predictable results. There are no brackets or wires.
Treatment typically lasts from 12 to 18 months. During treatment, you wear your aligners for 20 to 22 hours per day, changing to a new set of aligners every one to two weeks. You visit your doctor in person for appointments every four to six weeks. Once you finish Invisalign treatment, your doctor will tell you if you need to wear retainers.
- Free consultations available
- Proven SmartTrack material
- No brackets or wires
- Regular in-person checkups
- Similar to braces in price
- Longer treatment time
- No nighttime-only option
Invisalign gives example quotes ranging from $3,400 to $7,100. The cost is similar to the cost for braces, according to the company. Your doctor determines the cost based on the complexity of your case and the number of aligners you need; the doctor also may offer a payment plan. Check your health or dental insurance to find out if it might cover part of the cost — insurance may pay for up to 50% of the treatment price. You can also use a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA).
“Invisalign provides great results, comparable to traditional braces,” said one customer in 2020. However, Invisalign might not always be suited to correct major orthodontic issues. Another reviewer wrote: “The Invisalign are great in the respect that you have flexibility, and I would recommend it for minor needs. I believe traditional braces give you a better end result.”
SmileDirectClub offers two types of treatment with invisible braces: traditional aligners and Nighttime Aligners. The regular aligner treatment requires 22 hours of daily wear and takes four to six months; night-only treatment takes an average of 10 months but only requires you to wear the aligners for 10 continuous hours at night.
In most states, you have two ways to get started: You can visit a SmileShop location for a 3D scan, or you can order an at-home impression kit. A licensed dentist or orthodontist then creates your personalized treatment plan, including a preview of your smile transformation. The company ships all your custom aligners to you at once, along with teeth whitening. You will have regular check-ins online with your doctor to monitor progress.
- Less expensive than Invisalign
- Night and day options
- No office visit required
- Payment plan with no credit check
- Not designed for severe corrections
- Retainers not included
- In-person consultation not available everywhere
SmileDirectClub treatment costs $2,050 for the traditional or nighttime aligners plan. This cost includes custom aligners, virtual monitoring by a dentist or orthodontist and teeth whitening. It doesn't include the initial consultation, though. A 3D scan at a SmileShop is free, while ordering an at-home impression kit costs $59 at the time of publishing. Retainers, which the company recommends you wear after treatment, cost $99.
Customers can choose to pay for a treatment plan monthly with no credit check. SmilePay requires a $250 down payment and monthly $89 payments for 26 months ($2,564 total). The company is in-network with most major dental insurers. On average, insurance covers around 50% of the costs, according to SmileDirectClub. You can also use an HSA or FSA to pay for treatment.
SmileDirectClub’s Lifetime Smile Guarantee promises a refund of the impression kit cost if you don’t qualify for treatment. It also allows you to return your unused aligners within 30 days after they're delivered for a refund. If you complete treatment with SmileDirectClub and aren’t satisfied, the company may provide additional aligners at no charge.
According to one reviewer, SmileDirectClub delivered cost-effective results: “My front four teeth were super crooked like they were just pointing in all directions. I wanted to get those fronts fixed. … The results are amazing. I was so surprised to see them within the first two aligners I wore,” this person said. Visit the company’s website to see before and after photos.
Bottom line: Which is better— Invisalign or SmileDirect?
SmileDirectClub invisible braces are significantly less expensive than Invisalign’s, but SmileDirectClub is only intended for mild to moderate teeth correction. Invisalign offers more specialized treatment plans for moderate and severe problems, which could be worth the extra price.
Smile Direct Club is cheaper, but Invisalign offers more comprehensive treatment plans.
- Invisalign offers more comprehensive services: Invisalign is the better option for more complicated cases. The in-person consultation and follow-up appointments with a dentist or orthodontist give some patients an added level of confidence. Unlike SmileDirectClub, Invisalign also treats children from 6 to 10 with its Invisalign First program for correcting early orthodontic problems.
- SmileDirectClub is a great value: SmileDirectClub offers a more do-it-yourself approach to invisible braces, with no doctor visits necessary. Invisalign requires an initial consultation plus follow-up appointments to keep track of progress. SmileDirectClub is less expensive and still gives users 24/7 access to a dedicated dental team via live video, phone, chat and email.
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