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 Candid and AlignerCo, but which is right for you? In this comparison, we’ll answer that question. By the time we’ve finished, you’ll know which is the better option for your unique grin.
Spoiler | Candid Wins
5 Things They Have in Common
For the bulk of this review, we’ll talk about the ways AlignerCo and Candid 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 Candid go much deeper than that:
1) Financing: If you can’t pay for your entire treatment up front, then you’ll be able to get a financing plan with both AlignerCo and Candid. AlignerCo offers an option with a credit check and one without. Both of Candid’s financing plans require a credit check, but one is a very soft credit check (a whopping 99% of customers are approved for the financing option with a downpayment). The other method is powered by Affirm.
2) Discreet: Candid and AlignerCo both use slightly different aligners, but the general idea is the same. And unlike braces, aligners from Candid 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 Candid 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 Candid both could be covered (in part) by your insurance. With AlignerCo, you’ll need to inquire with your provider to learn if your treatment would be covered. Meanwhile, Candid is currently in-network with Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, Empire BlueCross, and Empire BlueCross BlueShield.
5) Overall Value: Candid 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. Candid costs a bit more, but they give you a bit more, including your aligners, retainers, whitening treatment, and their CandidMonitoring Service.
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: 2017|
|Company focus: Providing the most affordable aligners in the industry||Company focus: Perfecting remote orthodontic treatment thanks to their CandidMonitoring program|
AlignerCo and Candid 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. Candid, however, fills the gap between at-home treatment and the orthodontist oversight you’d get with an in-office treatment.
Let’s be clear: both AlignerCo and Candid will give you top-quality treatment, and by the time you’ve reached your last aligner, you’ll have the smile of your dreams. But the exact way you reach that dream smile will look slightly different.
Both Candid and AlignerCo occur remotely. You’ll start with an impression kit (or a scan at a Candid Studio), and if you approve your treatment plan, they’ll ship you your aligners. It’s up to you to wear your aligners as prescribed. That ensures that your teeth shift on schedule.
With AlignerCo, that’s pretty much all that happens. But with Candid’s CandidMonitoring program, you’ll have regular check-ins with an orthodontist. Using your phone and a special imaging device, you’ll send images in. Your photos are reviewed, and if things look good, you might get the go-ahead to move on to your next aligner ahead of schedule. But if anything looks off, it’s a good way to proactively address it.
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 Candid:
- AlignerCo: 6 to 11 months for daytime treatment, 8 to 12 months for nighttime treatment
- Candid: 6 months
AlignerCo’s treatment times can be slightly slower than the industry average, while Candid’s speed is right on par. However, if you respond well to treatment, your Candid orthodontist may give you the go-ahead to move on to your next aligner. If so, your treatment may speed up by a few weeks.
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 Candid.
Impression Kit Pricing
All home clear aligners have you kick off your treatment by taking teeth impressions. For most companies, this means using an at-home impression kit. Candid maintains retail locations (called Candid Studios) where you can get free teeth scans instead of ordering an impression kit, but AlignerCo does not.
Here’s how the impression kit prices stack up:
- AlignerCo, FREE or $75: 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.
- Candid, FREE or $95: Candid maintains roughly 24 retail locations (and that number is steadily growing). If you visit one, you can skip the starter kit and have images taken of your teeth for free. If you don’t live near a store, you’ll have to buy the kit instead. It includes everything you’ll need to create your impressions, including putty, trays, a cheek stretcher, and, of course, a prepaid shipping label. If $95 gives you sticker shock, keep in mind that Candid sometimes runs sales on the kit. We’ve seen it priced closer to $20-30.
Both AlignerCo and Candid 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 on 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 Candid 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.
- AligneroCo, $1,145 ($1,345 for nighttime): 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 $1,595). The treatment plan includes all of your aligners plus your first set of post-treatment retainers.
- Candid, $2,400: Candid is not huge on sales, and they are arguably the most expensive at-home aligner company. That said, their kit is fairly priced. It includes all of the aligners you’ll need to straighten your smile and your CandidMonitoring equipment. You’ll also get your first set of post-treatment retainers for no extra charge.
Can’t pay all at once? Both services offer financing:
- AlignerCo, $1,320: AlignerCo actually offers two financing plans: SmileFlex and SmileFlex Easy. SmileFlex requires you 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 down payment of $275. After that, you’ll have 11 payments of $95. Financing for nighttime treatment is just a bit pricier.
- Candid, $2,400 and up (varies): If you have a good credit score, then odds are you can get financing with Affirm. Customers with really great credit scores could get terms as favorable as $0 down with 0% APR; others will work out different terms with Affirm. Not fond of (or don’t qualify for) Affirm’s financing? Allegro offers a simpler pay-as-you-go plan: most customers make a $299 downpayment and 36 monthly payments of $79 (a few will pay more dollars per month if you buy Zoom Whitening).
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 because they want to keep customers’ costs as low as possible. Candid, however, gives you a free bottle with your kit. If you run out, you can buy more for $25.
All told, AlignerCo has vastly more affordable prices compared to Candid. Candid’s price is fair, especially considering the fact that you get CandidMonitoring throughout your treatment. That said, if you need a truly budget-friendly option, AlignerCo is your best choice.
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, chat, social media, & video call (occasionally)|
|Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST, 7 days a week||Hours: Daily from 9 a.m to 7 p.m. EST, Monday - Sunday|
|Speed: Phone and chat get prompt, same-day responses; email queries can take up to 24 hours||Speed: Traditional methods like email and phone usually get a same-day response; social media queries can take 24 hours|
|Friendliness: Prompt, helpful, & enthusiastic||Friendliness: Receptive, knowledgeable, & professional|
|Takeaway: AlignerCo’s small size allows them to give individualized attention to each customer, every time.||Takeaway: Candid’s customer support isn’t perfect, but most of the time, you’ll get prompt responses from helpful, friendly representatives.|
Candid and AlignerCo both do a decent job with customer support. It’s tempting to think that Candid’s CandidMonitoring program automatically gives them better customer support than AlignerCo. But honestly, AlignerCo does such a good job with their traditional support methods that we don’t find Candid appreciably better than AlignerCo for customer support. Both do a pretty good job giving prompt, friendly 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.
This applies to Candid, which maintains physical locations (called Candid Studios) where customers can schedule a visit to skip the hassle of an impression kit. During the appointment, a smile assistant will administer a teeth scan and send it to Candid. These appointments are free and much simpler than impressions. However, if you don’t live near a Studio, you can still purchase a kit.
Unfortunately, AlignerCo doesn’t offer this option. To compensate, 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 Candid 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 Candid.
|Top loves: More affordable than other options; process is easy to complete; excellent customer support||Top loves: excellent customer service, in-studio and remotely; CandidMonitoring keeps things on track; convenient, effective treatment|
|Top complaints: Sometimes aligners don’t fit and refinements are tricky; products manufactured overseas||Top complaints: Requests for refinements are a hassle; a little more discomfort than other aligners; emails can get spammy|
|Average score: 4.5/5||Average score: 4.2/5|
AlignerCo is a bit newer than Candid, but both companies have a decent number of reviews. And for the most part, they’re pretty positive. That’s especially true for AlignerCo; for example, over 95% of their reviews on Trustpilot are positive. Candid has a few more negative reviews, but they’re still mostly positive. And for both companies, the negatives usually have to do with requesting refinements. That’s an understandably complicated process, and if you’re expecting an instant fix, you’ll be disappointed.
All told, though, the two companies both get good reviews.
Refund Policies & Satisfaction Guarantees
With any purchase, there’s always the nagging question: what if it doesn’t work out? AlignerCo and Candid 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.
Candid’s Satisfaction Guarantee
Candid has only one true refund policy—you’ll get your money back on the impression kit if you’re not a candidate for treatment. Other than that, your payment is final. However, Candid does want to ensure that you’re satisfied. If you reach the end of your treatment and you’re not satisfied with the results, you can request a correction. Unlike some companies, Candid does not charge you for any corrections to your treatment. They’ll cover the cost of additional aligners. However, that no-cost guarantee only applies if you wear your aligners as prescribed and check in with your orthodontist when you’re told to. Plus, you must request the refinement within 30 days of completing treatment. If you don’t, you can still get an adjustment, but you’ll have to pay for it.
Which is the Best Clear Aligner for You?
When it all comes down to it, AlignerCo and Candid 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 AlignerCo. Sure, Candid’s CandidMonitoring program is a great balance between orthodontist oversight and the convenience of at-home treatment. That’s why they’re our #3 pick. But in our opinion, it’s hard to argue with the affordable price tag of AlignerCo. We also love that they offer the flexibility of nighttime-only treatments. In terms of rankings, AlignerCo wins our #2 pick.
Choose AlignerCo if: saving your money is an absolute priority. AlignerCo has the best prices in the entire industry.
Choose Candid if: you want a high-quality treatment that comes as close as possible to in-person treatment. If you also like to see your purchases make a social impact, then Candid is also the best option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does either home aligner kit 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). Candid runs occasional contests and sales. For example, while we’re writing this guide, Candid is running a sale for $200 off your aligners and a $20 starter kit.
Are AlignerCo and Candid legit?
Your mom warned you about things that sound too good to be true, right? Thankfully home aligner companies like AlignerCo and Candid 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, Candid is more customer-focused. Their CandidMonitoring program gives personalized attention to each customer with virtual check-in “appointments.” No other aligner company takes oversight to that level.
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 Candid 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 Byte and Smile Direct?
AlignerCo and Candid are pretty similar to both Byte and Smile Direct. Smile Direct is the industry’s powerhouse (they started business in 2013) with a ton of experience. Byte is a little newer, but they boast the fastest treatment times in the entire industry with an average treatment of just 3 months.
Is there an age requirement for using either AlignerCo or Candid?
AlignerCo and Candid both recommend that you have all permanent teeth present before you begin treatment (you don’t want to dump thousands into teeth that will merely fall out, anyway). AlignerCo will treat anyone 14 and up. Candid will treat teens from ages 13 to 17, but the actual process for treatment looks slightly different for teens than for adults (they call the program Candid Teen).
Does either service provide free whitening treatment?
To keep their prices and costs low, AlignerCo doesn’t offer any free extras, whitening included. Candid, however, offers whitening kits that you can use in conjunction with your aligners. The first bottle is free, but each additional one is $25.
Can I use AlignerCo and Candid if I live outside the USA?
Candid currently doesn’t ship internationally. AlignerCo isn’t technically available internationally; that said, their sister company, SmilePath is available in Australia and a few other countries.
Do AlignerCo and Candid have aggressive upsells?
Thankfully, no. Candid “baits you in” (mildly) by giving you one set of their whitening treatment for free. But since there’s no obligation to buy a replacement kit once yours run out, it’s not a true upsell.
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 during or after treatment, 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. Candid won’t replace an aligner if you lose one. 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 Candid?
You can, but you shouldn’t. Aligners from AlignerCo and Candid 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?
Candid 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.