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 of our top ranked 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.
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 $1,295).
- 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.
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.||Takeaway: Byte puts their customers at the center of all they do. We have no complaints!|
Historically, both AlignerCo and Byte have done excellent jobs with their customer service teams. Every now and then, you’ll see negative reviews for both teams, citing slow responses or difficulty getting in touch. But in our experience, most of those are anomalies. Most customers get prompt, friendly, efficient support.
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.
Both AlignerCo and Byte have the “more complicated” start-up process: impression kits (some companies offer in-person appointments with 3D scans). Impression kits are definitely doable, but some customers struggle with using the putty to take molds of their teeth. To make up for that, both Byte and AlignerCo offer video support. A support rep will coach you through the process. They’ll help coach you through the process.
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: Sometimes aligners don’t fit and refinements are tricky; products manufactured overseas||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 both have pretty fantastic online reviews across the board; negative ones are pretty few and far between. The most common complaint is for requesting refinements if treatment needs to be tweaked (during or after treatment). Across the board, though, you’ll see that lots of customers have given rave reviews, thanking their customer service reps by name for top-notch service—and, of course, thanking each service for their new smile.
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.