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 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.
Company Track Records
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. Here’s how the two compare:
|Founded in the U.S. in 2018||Founded in the U.S. in 2014|
|Customers served: Thousands||Customers served: 1.5 Million+|
|Company focus: Correcting smiles in record time (half the industry average) thanks to their HyperByte system||Company focus: Make dental care more accessible to all the Australians who need it|
Smile Direct is arguably the biggest international clear aligner company—at least on the remote treatment side of things. And in terms of sheer customer volume, Byte falls a bit short. But we don’t think that’ll last long. For being the “new kid on the block” by comparison, Byte has already established an impressive customer base.
Let’s be clear: 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 the nighttime aligners compare to the daytime ones.
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.
Byte At-Night works a bit differently; they use premium aligners for their nighttime treatment. Those aligners are thicker, allowing for faster shifts. They’re also grind-resistant. Between the thicker, premium plastic and the HyperByte system, Byte At-Night is still faster than the industry average.
No two smiles are exactly alike. So, regardless of what company you choose for treatment, your treatment could be longer or shorter than someone else’s. Your treatment speed largely depends on the initial severity of your crowding or spacing.
That said, each company’s product affects your treatment speed as well. Here are the average treatment times for Byte At-Night and Smile Direct’s nighttime clear aligners:
- Byte: 5 to 6 months (compared to 3-4 months for daytime treatment)
- Smile Direct: 10 months (compared to 6 months for daytime treatment)
Byte recently redesigned their At-Night aligners to be thicker and stronger—and ultimately faster. But with either option, you’ll wear your aligners for 10 hours each night.
Byte, however, requires one extra step. You’ll use the HyperByte system for 10 minutes each day (instead of 5 minutes) – the key to Byte’s fast results. This device uses rapid, tiny vibrations to gently move your teeth to their final destination while helping reduce discomfort. Thanks to the HyperByte, Byte At-Night treatment is just as fast as the industry’s average for daytime treatment.
Pricing & Features
Let’s talk about bang for your buck. In this section, we’ll dig into the pricing details for impression kits, nighttime treatment, and whitening from Byte or Smile Direct.
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 maintains over 300 retail locations that offer alternatives to taking impressions on your own.
Here’s how the impression kit prices stack up:
- Byte, $95: Byte’s kit includes everything you need to take your impressions at home, including trays, putty, and, of course, a prepaid shipping label. If $95 gives you sticker shock, keep in mind that Byte sometimes runs sales on the kit. For example, as we’re writing this guide, Byte is offering $47.50.
- Smile Direct, FREE or $79: One of the biggest advantages Smile Direct has over the competition is their SmileShops; you can visit one of these shops for free scans instead of taking impressions. If you do, it’s free! There’s no obligation to proceed with treatment, either. But if you don’t live near a SmileShop, you can still purchase an impression kit and take your impressions at home.
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. The price will be the same, regardless of how many aligners you need. Nighttime-treatment costs, however, can cost more. Let’s take a look:
- Byte, $3,399: Byte charges a bit more for Byte At-Night than normal daytime treatment. That’s because Byte At-Night is their premium offering. The aligners are the highest quality. It’s not a huge price difference, but it’s worth noting. In the kit, you’ll get everything you need to straighten your teeth and keep them that way, including the HyperByte system and post-treatment retainers. Bought separately, the HyperByte system costs a whopping $999, so you get a lot of value for your money.
- Smile Direct, $2,285: With Smile Direct, the price you see is usually the price you get, and it’s the same whether you choose daytime or nighttime treatment. 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.
- Byte, $4,298: Bytepay automatically approves every customer for financing. When you select Bytepay at checkout, you’ll agree to a $40 account set-up fee and an $8 monthly account maintenance fee. Then, you’ll pay thirty monthly payments of $143.
- Smile Direct, $3,155: 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. That takes your total cost to $3,155, so it’s a little more affordable to pay everything at once if you can.
One quick note: if you’re involved in BytePay, you’ll get access to the Byte Protection Plan. Here’s how it works: you’ll get 5 years’ worth of retainers at no extra charge (a $1,521 value). Plus, Byte will replace any lost or stolen aligners (a $2,000 value). If you’re not enrolled in BytePay, you can purchase the BPP for $999 (it’s just $899 for daytime treatment). In our opinion, it’s a great way to protect your smile in the long-term.
Both Byte and Smile Direct offer whitening treatments on top of their nighttime aligners. And both include one set free with purchase. If you want to purchase whitening kits in addition to your treatment, you’ll need to shell out a little extra cash:
- Byte, $49: The first bottle is included in your aligner kit for free. It’s safe to use during your treatment; in fact, it doubles as a cleanser for your aligners and a breath freshener. If you run out, you can buy a replacement bottle for $49. Or if you buy a bundle of 3, they’ll cost $39 each.
- Smile Direct, varies: After your free whitening runs out, what you pay for extra kits depends on the size of the supply. Each kit includes teeth whitening pens. The more expensive ones also include an LED light to speed things up. You can purchase a 6- or 12-month supply. The price varies depending on what packages you buy.
On the surface, it might look like Smile Direct is significantly cheaper than Byte, especially when you use financing. However, 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.
No one anticipates having issues with their aligners, but life happens. 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, social media, & video call (for impression kits)||Contact methods: Phone, email, social media|
|Response time:email replies usually take about 24 hours; chat and phone calls are usually immediate||Response time: phone is usually fastest, but on the whole, responses are a touch slow|
|Friendliness: Receptive, knowledgeable, individualized, & professional||Friendliness: Professional & upbeat|
|Takeaway: Byte truly puts their customers at the center of all they do. We have no complaints!||Takeaway: Smile Direct’s customer support is adequate, but there’s some room for improvement. And they’re working on it.|
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.
But if you want excellent customer service, Byte is the better choice. 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 much better job making it right.
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.
In this category, Smile Direct definitely has an advantage. Thanks to their SmileShops, it’s fairly easy to get your treatment started. Customers love how friendly the staff are at these shops, and the care professionals there handle all the difficult parts of taking impressions.
Byte doesn’t have retail locations. If you’d rather use Byte (or you don’t live near a SmileShop), you’ll need to order an impression kit and do it yourself. Thankfully, Byte makes up for their lack of physical locations with video call “impression sessions.” An assistant will help walk you through the process to guarantee success. You’ll use the same startup procedures for both nighttime and standard aligners.
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 give it another try.
If you’re sure you’ve botched the impressions, contact customer support at Byte or Smile Direct, and they’ll send another kit your way. Smile Direct promises that they’ll refund the cost of the replacement kit when you purchase your aligners. Byte, on the other hand, won’t charge you anything except the price of shipping. You also have two impressions worth of kit, so you can mess up once and still have another go at it.
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.
|Top loves: excellent customer service; visible, quick results; fantastic lifetime guarantee||Top loves: Friendly customer support; very affordable; convenient to treat at home|
|Top complaints: mix-ups with reimbursements for private insurance; financing adds a significant amount to the cost||Top complaints: billing mix-ups; sometimes aligners break; requesting re-evaluations is tedious|
|Average score: 4.7/5||Average score: 4.3/5|
Smile Direct’s reputation is mostly positive, but you will see some negative ones sprinkled throughout. Like several other companies, they seem 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.
Meanwhile, Byte’s reputation is downright impressive. Sure, they have a few negative ones here and there, but they’re the exception. And the 5-star ones come in droves. We only expect that number to grow, and for us, it inspires a lot of confidence in their treatment.
Refund Policies & Satisfaction Guarantees
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 refunds and satisfaction guarantees for their nighttime treatment.
The “Byte-for-Life Guarantee”
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). Similarly, if you reach the end of your treatment and you’re not satisfied, you can request a re-evaluation. As long as you’ve followed the prescribed treatment plan, Byte will help make it right.
Smile Direct’s “Club Warranty”
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.
Then there’s the 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.
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 treatment efficiency, and their excellent customer service.
Choose Byte if:
You’re in a rush to perfect your smile. Byte At-Night is nearly twice as fast 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 thousand 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 also offers a free whitening kit with your treatment package, but if you want more after that, you’ll need to purchase more. The price varies depending on what kit you buy.
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. Subsequent replacements will cost you $50, though. Byte will send you a replacement aligner for $169.
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 ($169 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.