A million-dollar smile is great and all, but what about getting one as an adult?
No one past their teenage years wants to deal with the “brace face” life (or relive it if the effects of their braces have worn off).
Thankfully, home clear aligners make it possible to straighten your teeth from the convenience of your house. No braces, no wires, no office visits.
These clear aligners have become a popular alternative to braces. Why? They’re much cheaper than braces and Invisalign. They’re also much more convenient.
But the “convenience” of home clear aligners is limited; with most companies, you’ll have to wear your aligners for 22 hours a day. A few companies offer nighttime treatment. That cuts down the wear schedule to just 10 hours—mostly while you sleep. Byte and Smile Direct are two of the most popular nighttime treatment options, but they aren’t identical.
In this comparison review, we’ll help you decide which method is right for you: Byte At-Night or Smile Direct’s Nighttime Clear Aligners.
5 Things They Have in Common
For the bulk of this review, we’ll talk about the differences between Byte At-Night and Smile Direct’s Nighttime Aligners. But they do have a fair bit in common. Both companies will help you perfect your grin without going to the dentist’s office. But the commonalities between Byte and Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners go much deeper than that:
- Affordability: Money is always an issue, right? Thankfully, both Byte At-Night and Smile Direct Nighttime Aligners are relatively affordable. Sure, they have their own price points (more on this later), but they’re both thousands of dollars cheaper than braces or Invisalign. Smile Direct charges the same price for both daytime and nighttime treatment, but Byte At-Night costs a touch more than Byte’s standard offering.
- Flexible Financing: Even though Byte At-Night and Smile Direct Nighttime Clear Aligners are both affordable, ~$3,000 isn’t exactly pocket change. Thankfully, both companies offer financing with automatic approval. If you have a poor credit score, there’s no worries. With both companies, you can jump on a payment plan and start your treatment right away.
- Discreet: Byte At-Night and Smile Direct’s Nighttime Clear Aligners are slightly different products, but it doesn’t really matter. After all, you’ll only be wearing them at night, so they’re much more discreet than any daytime aligner.
- Safe: We get it. Home dentistry (also called teledentistry) sounds a bit sketchy. But in reality, it isn’t. Both Byte and Smile Direct use teams of qualified dental professionals to create a custom nighttime 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.
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.
The Rundown: How Byte and Smile Direct Stack Up
Home teeth alignment is a fairly new industry, and nighttime-only treatment is an even newer development. Still, it’s important to consider each company’s track record.
Smile Direct is arguably the biggest international clear aligner company—at least on the remote treatment side of things. They were the first at-home clear aligner company, and have served more than any other provider because of that. Despite being smaller in size, Byte has already earned a pretty favorable reputation in the clear aligner industry, both in the U.S. and Australia.
Let’s take a look at how these companies compare:
|Byte||Smile Direct Club|
|Customers served||200,000+||1.5 million|
|Claim to fame||Shortest treatment lengths in the industry||Best brand power in the industry|
|No food restrictions?||✓||✓|
|No office visits?||✓||✓|
|Covered by insurance (with orthodontic benefits)?||✓||✓|
|Personalized customer service||✓|
|Free retainers?||✓||Only with SmilePay|
|Financing Available?||100% approval for in-house financing, BytePay||100% approval for in-house financing, SmilePay|
|Treatment Length?||5 months||10 months|
|Start-Up Process?||At-home impression kit||At-home impression kit or 3D scan at a Smile Shop|
Like what you’re seeing so far? We’re just getting started! Let’s dive in and explore what each of these providers have to offer.
You’ll get great quality aligners with both Smile Direct’s Nighttime Aligners and Byte At-Night. But Smile Direct and Byte don’t have the exact same aligners. Of course, that’s only natural; they’re different companies. But it’s also important to consider how these aligner trays compare.
There are two main ways to trim an aligner: straight across, or scalloped to match the gumline. There are pros and cons to each design. The straight cut can exert more force, but the scalloped cut is a little less noticeable. It’s a tradeoff either way, but we prefer the straight cut because of its power.
Some providers make their aligners from ultra clear plastic, while others opt to use plastic with a slightly frosted appearance. This might sound counter intuitive, but highly transparent aligners aren’t actually the most discreet looking. Since the surface of our teeth is porous, the matte surface of a slightly frosted aligner better mimics our natural grins.
Let’s take a peek at the design choices Byte and Smile Direct have made with their nighttime only aligners.
|Byte||Smile Direct Club|
|Manufacturer||Dentsply Sirona||Smile Direct Club|
|Materials||BPA free, PETG plastic (basically a modified, more affordable polyurethane) |
At-Night aligners are made for a thicker, more durable plastic than their all-day aligners
|BPA free, Comfort Sense plastic; which uses plastics of varied firmness to provide a better aligner fit|
|Aligner Cut||Straight cut||Straight cut|
|Aligner Transparency||Clear, shiny plastic||Slightly frosted plastic|
We love that Byte uses a stronger, more durable material for their nighttime only aligners than their all-day wear option. Byte’s aligners are thicker, allowing for faster tooth shifts. They’re also grind-resistant. Between the thicker, premium plastic and the HyperByte system, Byte At-Night still boasts shorter treatment lengths than the industry average for all-day aligners.
During At-Night treatment you’ll use the HyperByte system for 10 minutes each day–the key to Byte’s short treatment lengths. This device uses rapid, tiny vibrations to gently move your teeth to their final destination while helping reduce discomfort.
With Smile Direct, you’ll find that the nighttime clear aligners are the same as their daytime ones. On one hand, that’s pretty cool; you can switch between daytime and nighttime treatment if you want (just be sure to touch base with their customer support if you opt for that; that choice will alter your wear schedule somewhat). That said, if you’re prone to grinding your teeth overnight, you run the risk of damaging your aligners.
Both Byte and Smile Direct prioritize power with their straight cut aligners. However, Smile Direct’s aligners are slightly more discreet since they’re made from frosted plastic.
That said, don’t forget that appearance is subjective! Some people enjoy the added gleam a shiny aligner gives their smiles! All you need to focus on is choosing the clear aligners that work for you.
Just because these nighttime only treatments occur remotely doesn’t mean you’ll be left entirely to your own devices. Both Byte and Smile Direct monitor your treatment progress via photos you’ll submit from the comfort of your own home. Though both providers approach treatment oversight in a similar way, there are a few differences worth noting, too.
|Byte||Smile Direct Club|
|Frequency of check-ins||Every 3-4 weeks||Every 90 days|
|Photos sent via||Patient portal||Smile Direct app|
|Treatment Length||5 months||10 months|
|Customer Support||Available via phone, email and social media||Available via app, chat, email and phone. Smile Direct says their team is available 24/7|
Not sure how to capture clear images of your treatment progress? Don’t worry—both Byte and Smile Direct Club include a cheek retractor in your treatment bundle. This tool helps scoot your cheeks out of the way so you can easily snap quality photos of your smile.
Byte gets their eyes on your treatment progress more frequently than Smile Direct, but we like that Smile Direct streamlines their process with an easy to use app.
Outside of these regular check-ins, if you need anything during your treatment you can reach out to customer support.
Byte gives individualized attention to each customer, especially at the start of treatment and purchase when you’re bound to have lots of questions. And if you run into any problems along the way, Byte does a great job making it right.
If you read Smile Direct reviews (especially those from the U.S.), you might see a trend of really negative reviews around 2017. That’s because Smile Direct experienced near-explosive growth that year, and their customer service department couldn’t keep up. They’re still not 100% in this category, but we’re glad to see the improvements they’re making.
Smile Direct isn’t necessarily lacking in treatment oversight, but we think Byte’s frequent check-in and top-notch customer support help them excel in this category.
Bang For Your Buck
We all want a million dollar smile, but pursuing one shouldn’t set you back a million bucks. In this section, we’ll dig into the pricing details for impression kits, nighttime treatment, and whitening from Byte or Smile Direct.
|Byte||Smile Direct Club|
|Startup Costs||$95 impression kit||$79 impression kit or free scan|
|Add-Ons||Byte Protection Plan: $999 |
Whitening: first bottle free, then $49/bottle or $39/bottle when you buy a pack of 6
|Smile Direct may include a free whitening kit in your treatment package, but they don’t currently sell their kits outright in Australia|
|Financing||$66/fortnight for 24 months (plus an account fee)||$299 down, $199 per month for 24 months|
|Post-Treatment||First set of retainers is free, then $189/set afterwards||$165 per retainer set|
With any home aligner company, you’ll kick off your treatment by taking impressions of your teeth, and nighttime-only treatment is no exception. Most companies require you to use an at-home impression kit. However, Smile Direct offers several retail locations where you can kickstart treatment with a scan instead.
Both Byte and Smile Direct provide a guarantee on your impression kit. If you send in impressions and it turns out that you’re not a good candidate for nighttime (or even daytime) treatment, they’ll refund the kit price. 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, Byte or Smile Direct will create a nighttime treatment plan for you. This includes all of the aligners you’ll need to shift your smile from meh to wow.
Byte’s $3,399 At-Night price tag is a bit more than their all-day treatment option. That’s because Byte At-Night is made from more premium, durable materials. In the kit, you’ll get everything you need to straighten your teeth and keep them that way, including the HyperByte system and one set of post-treatment retainers. Bought separately, the HyperByte system costs a whopping $999, so you get a lot of value for your money.
Smile Direct charges $2,285 for both their all-day treatment and their Nighttime Aligners. Like Byte, they include all the aligners you’ll need to treat your smile. However, their post-treatment aligners aren’t included. Instead, you’ll need to purchase them separately for $165.
Can’t pay all at once? Thankfully, both services offer financing. And as long as you pay the downpayment, there’s a 100% approval rate.
Bytepay automatically approves every customer for financing. When you select BytePay at checkout, you’ll agree to a $52 account set-up fee and an $8 monthly account maintenance fee. Then, you’ll pay fortnightly payments of $66 for 24 months.
Smile Direct also has a 100% approval rate, so your credit score doesn’t matter. You’ll start out with a $299 downpayment. After that, you’ll make 24 monthly payments of $119.
With Byte, you have the option to enroll in their in-house offering called Byte Protection Plan. Here’s how it works: For $999, Byte will replace any lost or broken aligners (a $2,000 value) for free during your treatment. Plus, you’ll get 5 years’ worth of retainers at no extra charge (a $1,521 value). In our opinion, it’s a great way to protect your smile in both the short and long term.
On the surface, it might look like Smile Direct is significantly cheaper than Byte, but it’s important to keep in mind that Byte includes the HyperByte system in your kit at no extra charge. This system normally retails for $999, so it gives you a great value. Plus, their aligners are specifically designed for nighttime only wear and tear.
We all know the importance of finding a good deal on a quality product, but when you’re shopping for clear aligners it’s important to also consider the way your provider treats their customers. After all, you’ll be working with your provider for several months, you’ll want to choose a company that delivers quality service from start to finish.
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 Byte and Smile Direct. We’d love to summarize what they say about the nighttime aligners specifically, but most reviewers just talk about the company in general.
|Byte||Smile Direct Club|
|Top loves:||Excellent customer service; visible, quick results; fantastic lifetime guarantee||Friendly customer support; very affordable; convenient to treat at home|
|Top complaints:||Mix-ups with reimbursements for private insurance; financing adds to the cost||Billing mix-ups; sometimes aligners break; requesting re-evaluations is tedious|
Byte’s reputation is downright impressive. Sure, they have a few negative reviews here and there, but they’re the exception. And their 5-star reviews come in droves. We only expect that number to grow, and for us, it inspires a lot of confidence in their treatment.
Smile Direct’s reputation is mostly positive, but you will see some negative reviews sprinkled throughout the positive. Like several other companies, Smile Direct seems to struggle a bit when it comes to making treatment refinements (and to be fair, that’s a complicated process). But they’re also working hard to pick up their own slack. If they keep up the good work, their cumulative score might improve.
As with any purchase, there’s always the nagging question: what if it doesn’t work out? Byte and Smile Direct both have very individualized approaches for guaranteeing their nighttime only treatment.
Strictly speaking, Byte has only one refund policy: 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 with their “Byte for Life” guarantee.
This guarantee is essentially a lifetime warranty. If your teeth ever shift after your nighttime treatment, even years down the road, Byte will send you new aligners to correct it (provided you wear your aligners and retainers as prescribed).
Smile Direct gives you 30 days to change your mind about your nighttime aligners. If you try it out and decide it’s not right for you, you can return them for a full refund.
Smile Direct also offers a lifetime smile guarantee on your smile. Just be sure to stay up to date on wearing and replacing your aftercare retainers, and you’ll be eligible for free aligner touch-ups for life.
What if I break an aligner?
Accidents happen—if you break an aligner, reach out to your provider right away. Depending on where you’re at in your treatment plan, they may advise you to move on to your next set of aligners. In other cases, you may need a replacement.
If you’re enrolled in the Byte Protection Plan, all your aligner replacements will be free. Otherwise, a replacement Byte At-Night tray costs $199 (all-day aligner replacements cost $179).
Smile Direct generously replaces one lost or broken aligner for free. You’ll need to pay for subsequent replacements, but the exact amount will be determined by Smile Direct’s dental team.
You may reach the end of your treatment plan and find that your teeth still need a bit more movement. In that case, you’ll need refinements (extra aligners). Some providers charge extra for these trays, but lucky for you both Byte and Smile Direct offer them up for free.
If you reach the end of your Byte treatment and you’re not satisfied, you can request a re-evaluation. As long as you’ve followed your prescribed treatment plan, Byte will send you refinements free of charge.
Smile Direct covers its refinements under its Club Warranty. Smile Direct promises its “club members” (AKA customers) that if they’re not totally satisfied with the results at the end of the treatment, they can request a re-evaluation and get new aligners to finish the job.
To be eligible for this warranty, you must check in with your assigned doctor every 90 days and follow your prescribed treatment to a T. You have to wear your aligners for 10 hours each night (so slightly before you actually go to sleep) and switch each aligner as scheduled. If you’ve followed your treatment, then all requests for re-evaluation must be submitted within 30 days of finishing treatment to be eligible for the warranty.
Just to be clear—no teeth straightening treatment is ever going to be totally pain-free. A little soreness comes with the territory, even traditional options like braces and Invisalign come with their fair share of aches and pains. Usually the discomfort is at its peak when you switch to a new aligner, since these will have a snugger fit than your previous set.
This is where Byte’s HyperByte device really saves the day. With daily use, the HyperByte’s micropulses loosen the tooth’s ligaments, helping your aligners fit better, faster.
Smile Direct recently introduced their Comfort Sense aligner design, which uses varied firmness throughout the aligner. The goal of this design is to provide a more comfortable wear experience for their customers, though it’s still a bit too early to tell if it’s made an appreciable difference.
Which is the Best Nighttime Aligner for You?
When it all comes down to it, Byte At-Night and Smile Direct’s Nighttime Clear Aligners are both good options. But at the end of the day, you can only pick one.
If you want our honest opinion, we prefer Byte At-Night. Smile Direct is not a bad service in any sense. But Byte is our favorite service across the board. We love their lifetime guarantee, their short treatment lengths, and their excellent customer service.
Choose Byte if:
You’re in a rush to perfect your smile. Byte At-Night wraps up in about half the time as Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners.
Choose Smile Direct if:
You want the confidence that comes from working with a well-established brand. Smile Direct has served more than 1.5 million customers, so they’ve probably already seen a case just like yours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does either nighttime treatment offer discounts?
Technically, both services run occasional sales. Both Byte and Smile Direct have year-round discounts for different groups: students, teachers, and military. Both companies also run special seasonal sales, too. But they don’t last forever.
For example, as we’re writing this, Byte is running a sale for a $47.50 impression kit and $100 off your aligners. But there’s no telling how long that sale will last. If you find a good deal, you’ll need to jump on it.
Are Byte At-Night and Smile Direct nighttime clear aligners legit?
Your mom warned you about things that sound too good to be true, right? Thankfully home aligner companies like Byte and Smile Direct 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 company is more customer-focused?
Byte At-Night is a bit more customer-centric than Smile Direct. They assign a personal care assistant to each customer, which gives you more customized support. And practically, Byte has a smaller customer base that allows them to give more attention to each individual.
How exactly do at-home nighttime aligners work?
They’re nearly invisible, but they’re not magical. Technically speaking, at-home clear aligners use roughly the same technology as Invisalign. This starts with your impressions, which a dental professional uses to design a series of clear trays that gently move your teeth to their final destination.
With Smile Direct Nighttime Aligners, you wear each aligner for two weeks instead of the usual one week for standard treatment. Byte At-Night, however, only requires you to wear each aligner for one week.
How do Byte and Smile Direct compare to Invisalign?
They’re distant cousins, really. Invisalign pioneered the clear aligner alternative to traditional braces. However, Invisalign adds one unique 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.
Plus, Invisalign doesn’t offer a nighttime-only treatment option. You’re required to wear Invisalign’s aligners for 22+ hours per day.
How do these home aligners compare to EZ Smile and SmilePath?
Smile Direct and Byte are pretty similar to both EZ Smile and SmilePath, although these competitors have their own perks. SmilePath also offers nighttime treatment, and they’re cheaper than both Smile Direct and Byte. EZ Smile has incredibly flexible financing options to fit any budget. But both companies are a bit smaller than Byte and Smile Direct.
Is there an age requirement for using either Byte or Smile Direct?
Both Byte and Smile Direct require that you have all your permanent teeth before beginning treatment. (You don’t want to dump thousands into teeth that will just fall out, anyway). With both Byte and Smile Direct, patients must be at least 12 years old. Minors must have parental consent to receive treatment. We also recommend that you consider your wisdom teeth; if you’ll need them removed, you should do that before getting treatment.
Does either service give free whitening treatment?
Byte includes one free bottle of their whitening treatment with your aligner kit. You can use it during your treatment. A replacement bottle costs $49. Smile Direct includes free whitening as a gift with purchase, but doesn’t currently sell their whitening kits outright in Australia.
Do Byte and Smile Direct have aggressive upsells?
Thankfully, no. Both companies “bait 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 runs out, it’s not a true upsell.
How do I know if at-home nighttime 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.
That said, in Byte and Smile Direct’s case, nighttime treatment isn’t right for everyone. Because the nighttime aligners exert extra force on your teeth, you’ll need to get a doctor’s approval prior to treatment.
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.
Will either of these home aligners make me talk less funny?
Honestly, it doesn’t really matter if you’re using nighttime aligners because you’ll be sleeping for the majority of the time you wear them. Either company’s aligners will be slightly uncomfortable when you first start using a new set, but after the first couple of nights, you’ll barely notice them.
If I lose my aligners during or after treatment, do I have to pay for new ones?
With Smile Direct, you should get in touch with customer support. They’ll help you determine if you need to replace the lost aligner or just move on to the next one. If you do need a replacement, they won’t charge you for the first one. You’ll need to pay for subsequent replacements, but the exact amount will be determined by Smile Direct’s dental team. If you’re enrolled in the Byte Protection Plan, then you’ll get free replacements for lost or broken aligners. Otherwise, Byte will send you a replacement At-Night aligner for $199.
Can I drink coffee when using Byte or Smile Direct?
You can, but you shouldn’t. Aligners from Byte and Smile Direct 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. This isn’t a huge concern for nighttime aligners, though, since most people don’t drink coffee, tea, cola, or other colored beverages in the middle of the night.
Are there any hidden costs?
Byte doesn’t really have any hidden costs. What you see is what you get. Smile Direct does have one unadvertised cost, but it isn’t exactly hidden. You’ll need to pay $165 for post-treatment retainers; Byte includes the first set for free ($165 after that unless you have the Byte Protection Plan; then it’s free). With either company, however, you’ll need to purchase new post-treatment retainers occasionally. They do wear out over time. Both companies recommend replacements every 6 months.