Everyone wants a million-dollar smile, but getting one as an adult can be tough. After all, no one past their awkward teen years wants to deal with the “brace face” life. Thankfully, with at-home clear aligners, you don’t have to.
At-home clear aligners make it possible to straighten your teeth from the comfort of your house. No brackets, no wires, no office visits. And as an added plus, these alternatives are hundreds of dollars cheaper than braces.
Two top at-home aligner companies are Byte and AlignerCo, but which is right for you? In this comparison, we’ll answer that question. Your smile is unique, and your treatment should fit your unique needs, too.
5 Things They Have in Common
For the bulk of this review, we’ll talk about the ways AlignerCo and Byte are different. But they do have a fair bit in common. On the obvious side, both companies will help you perfect your grin without going to the dentist’s office. But the commonalities between AlignerCo and Byte go much deeper than that:
1) 100% Approval Financing: Every home aligner company offers financing options, but some of them require a credit check, which can be problematic if your score isn’t great. But with Byte and AlignerCo, you can enroll in a payment plan regardless of your score. You’ll need to make a down payment, though.
2) Discreet: Byte and AlignerCo both use slightly different aligners, but the general idea is the same. And unlike braces, aligners from Byte and AlignerCo are nearly invisible when you have them on.
3) Safe: We get it. Home dentistry (also called teledentistry) sounds a bit sketchy. But in reality, it isn’t. Both AlignerCo and Byte use teams of qualified dental professionals to create a custom treatment plan just for you. They combine your dental impressions with advanced technology to craft your set of aligners. Basically, they’ve taken the technology Invisalign perfected and brought it to the comfort of your home
4) Insurance Coverage: AlignerCo and Byte both may be covered (in part) by your insurance. Byte will do the legwork for you to determine if you’re covered. All you have to do is provide your information, and they’ll find out if your provider will cover your treatment. But with AlignerCo, you’ll need to ask your insurance provider yourself. In general, if your policy includes orthodontic benefits, you’ll probably get insurance reimbursement.
5) Overall Value: Byte and AlignerCo both have different price points (more on this in a moment), but each company gives a lot of bang for your buck. With AlignerCo, you’ll get all your aligners in your treatment and a free set of post-treatment retainers. Byte costs a bit more, but they give you a bit more, including your aligners, retainers, whitening treatment, and the HyperByte device.
That covers the similarities. For the remainder of this review, we’ll dig into the differences so you can pick the home aligner that’s best for you.
Company Track Records
Home teeth alignment is a fairly new industry. Even so, it’s important to consider each company’s respective track record. Here’s how the two compare:
|Founded: 2019||Founded: 2018|
|Company focus: Providing the most affordable aligners in the industry||Company focus: Correcting smiles in record time (half the industry average) thanks to their HyperByte technology|
AlignerCo and Byte are both really new to the industry, but they’ve already made a significant mark in a short time. That’s because they saw the holes created by the industry giant, Smile Direct, and decided to fill them. AlignerCo filled the affordability gap, and Byte filled the treatment speed gap. As a result, these companies have seen some impressive growth in a very short time, and we expect they’ll keep on growing.
Home teeth aligner companies all use clear plastic aligners to help shift your teeth into the perfect position. But who creates those aligners is an important distinction. That includes the person designing your treatment plan and the manufacturer producing the aligners themselves.
AlignerCo and Byte each have their own production methods:
|Treatment designers: A mixed team of orthodontists and general dentists||Treatment designers: A team made up of only orthodontists|
|Aligner manufacturer: Currently unknown||Aligner manufacturer: Currently unknown|
The manufacturer of your aligners is important. After all, the manufacturer affects the quality and durability of each piece of plastic that enters your mouth. So, we’d really like to know who manufactures aligners for Byte and AlignerCo.
That said, who designs your treatment is even more important. Let’s be fair: general dentists do have well-rounded professional training, which includes teeth movements. However, they don’t have the same expertise as orthodontists. Orthodontists have to complete several more years of postgraduate education learning the science of the perfect smile.
By guaranteeing that only an orthodontist will oversee your case, Byte ensures that your treatment will be safe, effective, and consistent. AlignerCo’s treatment is still top quality, but there’s no guarantee that an orthodontist will personally oversee your case.
No two smiles are exactly alike. So, regardless of which company you choose, your treatment could be longer or shorter than someone else’s. This speed largely depends on the severity of your crowding or spacing condition.
That said, each company’s product affects your treatment speed as well. Here are the average treatment times for AlignerCo and Byte:
- AlignerCo: 6 to 11 months for daytime treatment, 8-12 for nighttime treatment.
- Byte: 3-4 months for standard treatment, 5-6 months for Byte At-Night
Both AlignerCo and Byte offer nighttime treatments; naturally, when you’re only wearing your aligners at night, your treatment will take a bit longer. But Byte’s nighttime treatment is still faster than the daytime offering from AlignerCo. Byte’s raw speed is due to their proprietary HyperByte technology.
During 5-10 minute daily sessions, the HyperByte device gently vibrates your teeth. These vibrations guide your teeth into place more quickly. And as an added benefit, it helps reduce discomfort by ensuring a snug aligner fit.
Pricing & Features
Let’s talk about bang for your buck. In this section, we’ll dig into the pricing details for impression kits, treatment, and whitening from AlignerCo and Byte.
Impression Kit Pricing
All home aligners have you kick off your treatment by taking teeth impressions. For most companies, this means using an at-home impression kit. A few companies maintain retail locations where you can get free teeth scans instead of ordering an impression kit, but unfortunately, Byte and AlignerCo do not.
Here’s how the impression kit prices stack up:
- AlignerCo, $75 or FREE: The impression kit from AlignerCo includes everything you’ll need to take your impressions, including putty, trays, a cheek retractor, instructions, and return shipping. Bought separately, the kit costs $75, but AlignerCo will give you the kit for free if you pay for your entire treatment up front.
- Byte, $95: Byte’s kit includes everything you need to take your impressions at home, including trays, putty, a cheek stretcher, gloves, and a prepaid shipping label. If $95 gives you sticker shock, keep in mind that Byte sometimes runs sales on the kit.
Both AlignerCo and Byte provide a guarantee on your impression kit. If you send in impressions and it turns out that you’re not a good candidate for treatment, they’ll refund the kit price and any money you prepaid for your aligners. If you are a candidate, though, you’ll pay the kit price regardless of whether or not you decide to get treatment.
Once you complete your impressions, AlignerCo or Byte will create your personalized treatment plan. This includes all of the aligners you’ll need to shift your smile from meh to wow. Regardless of how many aligners you need, your price is the same. Let’s start out by discussing the base prices for each service.
- AlignerCo, $1,145 ($1,345 for AlignerCo NightOnly): AlignerCo’s price point is, without a doubt, the most affordable price in the industry. They’re hundreds of dollars cheaper than their closest price competitor (NewSmile charges a base price of $1,595).
- Byte, $1,895 ($2,295 for Byte-At-Night): Byte creates a nice blend of value and affordability. You’ll get everything you need to straighten your teeth and keep them straight, including the HyperByte device and post-treatment retainers. Purchased separately, the HyperByte costs a whopping $699, So you get a lot of value for your money.
Can’t pay all at once? Both services offer financing with a 100% acceptance rate, no credit check necessary:
- AlignerCo $1,320-$1,356 ($1,500-$1,548 for NightOnly): AlignerCo actually offers two financing plans: SmileFlex and SmileFlex Easy. With SmileFlex, you’ll need to pass a credit check. But once you do, you’ll be able to start making your 12 monthly payments of $110. SmileFlex Easy lets you skip the credit check; instead, you’ll make a downpayment of $275. After that, you’ll have 11 payments of $95. Financing for nighttime treatment is just a bit pricier.
- Byte $2,763 ($3,336 for Byte-At-Night): With Bytepay, you’re automatically approved for financing. When you select Bytepay at checkout, you’ll make a $349 downpayment. After that, you’ll make a monthly payment of $83 for 29 months. Byte-At-Night is a bit more: a $449 down payment followed by $99 per month.
With either company, financing will actually cost you more. So if you can swing it, it’s well worth it to pay the whole sum up front.
AlignerCo doesn’t offer any whitening products in their treatment bundles; that’s because they want to keep your costs as low as possible. Byte, on the other hand, gives you a bottle of whitening treatment for free. If you want to buy more, replacement bottles are $30.
No one anticipates having issues with their aligners, but stuff happens. That’s life. When it does, you’ll need to talk with customer support. We’ve tested them ourselves, and here’s how the two compare:
|Contact methods: Phone, email, webchat, & video call (for impressions)||Contact methods: Phone, email, social media, & video call (for impressions)|
|Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week||Hours: 8 a.m to 6 p.m. PST|
|Speed: Phone and chat get prompt, same-day responses; email queries can take up to 24 hours||Speed: Phone usually gets a same-day response; social media and email queries can take 24 hours|
|Friendliness: Prompt, helpful, & enthusiastic||Friendliness: Receptive, knowledgeable, individualized, & professional|
|Takeaway: AlignerCo’s small size allows them to give individualized attention to each customer, every time. We also like the fact that AlignerCo sends regular email check-ins to each patient to see how your treatment is going. In online reviews, a lot of customers mention their assistant by name.||Takeaway: Byte puts their customers at the center of all they do. They’re prompt, responsive, and extremely helpful. And we especially love that Byte gives a personal Byte advisor to each customer. Anytime you contact them for support, you get to chat with someone who’s seen your case the whole way through. You won’t have to explain your situation every time, either.|
Both Byte and AlignerCo have top-notch customer support models. Individualized attention goes a long way in making customers feel valued and supported. Since both of these companies are still relatively small and new, they haven’t outgrown their ability to serve their clients. We hope that they keep up the good work as they grow.
Ease of Getting Started
Ease is the name of the game when it comes to at-home aligner treatment. But not all aligner companies use the same process. Some are a bit easier than others.
The same goes for Byte and AlignerCo. Some of their competitors maintain physical locations that customers can visit to skip the hassle of an impression kit by scheduling an appointment, where a smile assistant will administer a teeth scan. These appointments are free and much simpler than impressions.
Unfortunately, AlignerCo and Byte don’t offer this option. To make up for it, they offer video call support for impressions. You can have a customer service representative coach you through the process. They’ll help ensure that you get your impressions right.
What if I get it wrong?
Impression kits are a tad tricky, so don’t panic if you mess them up. If the impressions are iffy—they could work, but you’re not sure—send them in. The orthodontists will let you know if you need to try again.
If you’re sure you’ve botched the impressions, contact customer support at AlignerCo or Byte and they’ll send another kit your way.
For many shoppers, customer reviews can make or break purchasing decisions. If you’re one of those shoppers, we’ve got you covered. We’ve done the legwork for you to see what customers across the web are saying about AlignerCo and Byte.
|Top loves: More affordable than other options; process is easy to complete; excellent customer support||Top loves: excellent customer service (even mentioning representatives by name); visible results within a couple weeks; easy to use|
|Top complaints: Emails can be frequent and come from multiple addresses; photos occasionally get misplaced; confusion over impression kit process||Top complaints: no shipping to North Carolina; guarantee on impression kit does not apply to bite issues|
|Average score: 4.5/5||Average score: 4.7/5|
AlignerCo and Byte are both pretty new to the industry, but they still have a decent number of online reviews. Byte definitely has more, but both companies have an incredibly positive reputation. Of the two, we take AlignerCo’s score with a grain of salt because they have fewer reviews. If they keep up the good work, we’ll have even more confidence in them.
Refund Policies & Satisfaction Guarantees
With any purchase, there’s always the nagging question: what if it doesn’t work out? AlignerCo and Byte both have very individualized approaches for refunds and satisfaction guarantees.
AlignerCo’s Satisfaction Guarantee
Like a lot of home aligner companies, AlignerCo offers only one true refund: their impression kits. If you buy one and you aren’t a candidate, you’ll get a refund for the kit. Beyond that though, once you purchase your aligners, you’ll only receive a refund if there are manufacturing defects with your aligners. However, if you reach the end of your treatment and you’re not satisfied with your results, you should contact customer support. Provided you’ve followed all the requirements of your treatment, you can request a refinement for $200.
The “Byte-for-Life Guarantee”
Strictly speaking, Byte’s only refund policy is for their impression kit. If you’re not a candidate for treatment, you’ll be refunded for the impression kit. However, Byte stands by their product forever with their “Byte for Life” guarantee.
This guarantee is essentially a lifetime warranty. If your teeth ever shift after treatment, Byte will send you new aligners to correct it. Similarly, if you reach the end of your treatment and you’re not satisfied, you can request a re-evaluation. As long as you follow your prescribed treatment plan, Byte will help make it right.
Which is the Best Clear Aligner for You?
When it all comes down to it, AlignerCo and Byte are both good options. They’re two of our top three favorite services. But at the end of the day, you can only pick one.
If you want our honest opinion, we prefer Byte. They have a great lifetime guarantee, and they give a great mix of value and efficiency. But AlignerCo isn’t far behind them; we rank them as our second choice. No matter which you choose, you can feel confident you made a great purchase.
- Choose AlignerCo if: saving your money is an absolute priority. AlignerCo has the best prices in the entire industry.
- Choose Byte if: you’re in a rush to see the smile of your dreams as quickly as possible. Byte is twice as fast as their competitors; even their nighttime-only treatment matches the speed of competitors’ daytime options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does either home aligner kits offer discounts?
Technically, both services offer discounts. AlignerCo always has a referral discount for $100 off their aligners (provided you know someone with or can find a code). Byte also gives small discounts to students, first responders, and military members, and they sometimes run promotions around holidays and other special occasions.
Are AlignerCo and Byte legit?
Your mom warned you about things that sound too good to be true, right? Thankfully home aligner companies like AlignerCo and Byte aren’t. These companies leverage a competitive product with competitive prices. But they don’t sacrifice quality to do it. How? They don’t have the overhead costs of a physical office like a traditional orthodontist’s office, so they can reinvest those savings in measures that ensure fast and convenient treatment.
Which home aligner is more customer-focused?
In this case, Byte is more customer-focused. Their model of assigning a personal assistant to each customer is hard to beat. Each time you contact customer support, you’ll speak with someone who knows the ins and outs of your case.
How exactly do at-home clear aligners work?
They’re nearly invisible, but they’re not magical. Technically speaking, at-home clear aligners use roughly the same technology that Invisalign uses. This starts with your impressions which a dental professional will use to design a series of clear trays that gently move your teeth to their final destination.
How do AlignerCo and Byte compare to Invisalign?
They’re distant cousins, really. Invisalign pioneered the clear aligner alternative to traditional braces. However, Invisalign adds one different aspect: devices affixed to your teeth to secure the aligners, which must be attached in-office by a qualified orthodontist. Home aligners don’t use these devices, allowing you to complete your entire treatment at home.
How do these home aligners compare to Candid and Smile Direct?
AlignerCo and Byte are pretty similar to both Candid and Smile Direct. Smile Direct is the industry’s powerhouse (they started business in 2013) with a ton of experience. Candid is a little newer, but they focus on high-quality treatment and social impact through their partnership with the Smile Train.
Is there an age requirement for using either AlignerCo or Byte?
AlignerCo and Byte both require you to have all permanent teeth before beginning treatment. (You don’t want to dump thousands into teeth that will just fall out, anyway). AlignerCo treats anyone 14 and older, but Byte’s patients must be at least 12 years old. With either service, minors must have parental consent before receiving treatment.
How do I know If at-home aligners are right for me?
Many people are good candidates for at-home treatment. In general, the only people who should automatically steer clear of at-home aligners are people with significant bite issues. If underbite, overbite, crossbite, etc. is the cause of your misalignment, then clear aligners may not be able to permanently correct your issue.
Individuals with implants may still be able to get treatment. To know for sure, you’ll need to take an impression kit with either service. They’ll let you know for sure if you are a candidate or not. If you are not a candidate, you’ll get a refund for the price of the impression kit.
If I lose my aligners, do I have to pay for new ones?
If you lose your AlignerCo aligner, contact customer support right away and they’ll get a new one sent your way. Similarly, Byte will send you a replacement aligner for $99. With either service, though, you should wear your previous aligner to keep your teeth from shifting too far back.
Can I drink coffee when using AlignerCo or Byte?
You can, but you shouldn’t. Aligners from AlignerCo and Byte are fairly stain-resistant, but you should generally avoid eating or drinking colored liquids and foods while wearing your aligners. Water is a safe bet, though.
Are there any hidden costs?
Byte and AlignerCo don’t really have any hidden costs. What you see is what you get, especially since they both include the first set of post-treatment retainers for free. With either company, however, you’ll need to purchase new post-treatment retainers occasionally. They do wear out over time.