A million dollar smile is great and all, but what about getting one as an adult?
No one past their teen years wants to deal with the “brace face” life (or relive it if the effects of their braces have worn off).
Thankfully, home teeth 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.
There are a few popular home teeth aligner companies on the market today, including WonderSmile and Smile Direct. In this comparison review, we’ll help you decide which of these two services is the better option for your unique circumstances.
The rundown: How WonderSmile and Smile Direct stack up
|Claim to fame||Flexible treatment offerings with both nighttime treatment and single-arch treatment|
|No food restrictions||✓||✓|
|No office visits||✓||✓|
|Start-up process||Impression kit or scan at a retail location||Impression kit or scan at a Smile Shop|
|Treatment speed||Daytime treatment: 6 months |
Nighttime treatment:9 months
|Daytime: 4-6 months Nighttime: 10 months|
|Price tag||Daytime treatment: $2,690 |
Nighttime treatment: $2,760
|Financing||20% downpayment, and then the remaining balance is paid off in 12 monthly payments||$299 downpayment (no credit check), followed by 24 monthly payments of $119|
Intrigued? That’s just the flyby! Let’s dig into the differences between Smile Direct and WonderSmile in more detail.
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: Tough to find their exact date, but we’ve found reviews from 2018||Founded: 2014 (stateside start)|
|Customers served: No published number, but enough customers to have a decent number of reviews||Customers served: well over 1.5 Million when you factor in U.S. customers|
|Company focus: Make treatment more flexible with single arch treatment and nighttime treatment||Company focus: Make treatment easy to fit in your busy lifestyle|
Honestly, it’s kind of hard to compete with Smile Direct’s longevity. After all, they were the very first company to bring clear aligners directly to the consumer using a teledentistry platform. Thanks to the fact that they were the first, they established a large customer base. Meanwhile, WonderSmile has certainly established a pretty good reputation in a relatively short time. But they aren’t as much of a household name as Smile Direct seems to be.
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 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 WonderSmile and Smile Direct:
- WonderSmile: 6 months for daytime, 9 months for nighttime
- Smile Direct: 4 to 6 months for daytime, 10 months for nighttime
If you’re looking for the fastest treatment on the market, you won’t get it with Smile Direct or WonderSmile (that honor goes to Byte). Smile Direct sometimes comes close to the 4-month mark, but their average falls closer to six months. And that six month point falls right in line with the industry average. But compared to both braces and Invisalign, Smile Direct and WonderSmile are speedy.
Pricing & Features
Let’s talk about bang for your buck. In this section, we’ll dig into the details about the pricing details for impression kits, treatment, and whitening from WonderSmile and Smile Direct.
With any home aligner company, you’ll kick off your treatment by taking impressions of your teeth. Most companies require you to use an at-home impression kit. However, a few companies, including WonderSmile and Smile Direct, maintain retail locations that make the impression kit more convenient.
Here’s how the kit prices stack up:
- WonderSmile, $45 or $80: From a practical standpoint, the impression kit or scan is free if you choose to buy aligners; WonderSmile will deduct the cost of either from your treatment bundle. But you will have to make a small monetary investment up front. An impression kit costs you $45. If you’d rather have scans taken at a retail location, you’ll need to pay $80.
- Smile Direct, $79 or FREE: One big perk to Smile Direct is that they maintain retail locations across Australia, affectionately named SmileShops. At these shops, you can get a scan taken for free. But if you’d rather DIY this step, you can still order an impression kit for $79.
Both WonderSmile and Smile Direct have both impression kits and 3D scans at retail locations. But which is more affordable ultimately depends on whether you pick a scan or an impression kit. The sticker price for Smile Direct’s impression kit is higher at first glance, but keep in mind that Smile Direct will run deals on the kit occasionally. But on a normal day, WonderSmile is cheaper for impression kits.
But if you’re hoping for an in-person scan, then it’s hard to beat Smile Direct’s deal for a free scan. WonderSmile’s $80 fee isn’t unreasonable, but it’s an upfront cost you’ll need to plan for. The price of WonderSmile’s scans or impression kits gets refunded if you choose to buy aligners, but if you opt out of treatment, you’re out of luck.
Once you complete your impressions or scans, WonderSmile or Smile Direct 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 will be the same. Let’s start out by discussing the base prices for each service.
- WonderSmile, $2,690 ($2,760 for NightClear): WonderSmile’s base price falls in the middle of the road; it’s not the cheapest, and it’s not the most expensive. They don’t throw in a ton of extras. Basically, you’ll get all of the aligners you need. The most notable price perk of WonderSmile is their single-arch treatment: qualifying customers who only need the top or bottom teeth treated will get $500 off their aligner kit. This isn’t an extremely common occurrence, but it’s worth noting for eligible customers.
- Smile Direct, $2,825: Smile Direct is one of the pricier treatment kits on the market, but they do give you a nice number of perks. You’ll get all of your aligners, two sets of post-treatment retainers (SmilePay customers only), and a bottle of BrightOn whitening. One thing we do appreciate is that Smile Direct charges the same amount for both daytime and nighttime treatment.
Honestly, there isn’t a substantial difference between the pricing for Smile Direct and WonderSmile. The only exception is if you’re a good candidate for single-arch treatment. Then you’d get $500 off. We do like the fact that Smile Direct doesn’t upcharge for nighttime treatment, and they add in extra perks, which are kind of nice. But the overall “bang for your buck” is similar with both companies.
Can’t pay all at once? Thankfully, both services offer financing. And both companies offer financing without any credit checks, so anyone can get financing.
- WonderSmile, $2,690: A big perk to WonderPay is that you won’t spend anything extra for financing; you’ll just spread it out. First, you’ll need to pay a 20% downpayment. For example, for daytime treatment, that would be $478. After that, you’ll pay the remaining balance over 12 months. There’s no credit check, either.
- Smile Direct, $3,155: No matter what your credit score is, you’ll be eligible for SmilePay, their financing plan. It requires a $299 deposit and then 24 monthly payments of $119. If you subscribe to financing, you also get two sets of free post-treatment retainers.
Even though the base prices for Smile Direct and WonderSmile are pretty similar, financing really sets them apart. If you’re planning on breaking your treatment price up into payment chunks, then go with WonderSmile. It’s tough to argue with the fact that WonderSmile doesn’t charge anything extra for financing.
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, & social media||Contact methods: Phone, email, and chat|
|Response times: fastest by phone, but email and social media queries get replies relatively fast||Response times: fastest by phone, but notoriously slow compared to their competitors|
|Friendliness: Personal, professional, and helpful||Friendliness: Professional, but sometimes a bit pushy|
|Takeaway: Customer service is one of the categories where WonderSmile truly shines. Customers frequently thank their support reps by name.||Takeaway: Smile Direct usually does well responding in a timely manner and answering questions. But every now and then, customers wait a while for responses.|
Ideally, you won’t have to spend much time interacting with customer support to begin with (we hope that your treatment goes off without a hitch and you never even need to call for help). But life happens. Sometimes you might have to call in. In general, we’ve found that Smile Direct support is adequate, but WonderSmile is much more consistent and helpful thanks to a smaller customer base.
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.
WonderSmile and Smile Direct have a one-up on many of their competitors because they both offer in-person scans and impression kits. And both companies have a fair number of locations. Of the two, WonderSmile has a few more locations than Smile Direct does. But with either company, you have a good chance of making your start-up process super easy with an in-person scan.
But if you don’t live near a retail location or you’d rather do this step on your own, both companies offer impression kits. Some customers struggle with them a bit (making scans preferable), but as long as you follow the included instructions to a T, you should be good to go.
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 WonderSmile or Smile Direct. They’ll get another kit sent your way. This will delay your start-up process a bit since you’ll have to wait for shipping both ways. But it’s essential to get a good impression to ensure your aligners fit perfectly once they’re manufactured.
For many shoppers, customer reviews can make or break purchase 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 WonderSmile and Smile Direct.
|Top loves: friendly customer service; minimal discomfort; simple adjustment process||Top loves: Friendly customer support; very affordable; convenient to treat at home|
|Top complaints: sometimes retainers break; mix-ups sometimes occur during account set-up||Top complaints: billing mix-ups; sometimes aligners break; requesting re-evaluations is tedious|
|Average score: 4.6/5||Average score: 4.3/5|
Smile Direct has a mixed bag of reviews depending on what third-party website you look at. For example, they don’t rate so well on Consumer Affairs, but Trustpilot gives them a better score. This mixed bag is largely due to their mixed customer support experience. But they do have thousands of those reviews, so we’re pretty confident in their score.
WonderSmile doesn’t have the same sheer number of reviews, but most of them are positive. Yes, there are negatives, but they’re largely pretty well-received by their customers (most complaints are from people who misunderstood terms and conditions of the process).
Refund Policies & Satisfaction Guarantees
As with any purchase, there’s always the nagging question: what if it doesn’t work out? WonderSmile and Smile Direct both have very individualized approaches for refunds and satisfaction guarantees.
WonderSmile’s Lifetime Guarantee
WonderSmile’s lifetime guarantee is quite good; the promise to correct your smile at no extra cost if your teeth ever shift back out of alignment after treatment. To be eligible for this guarantee, you must wear your aligners and post-treatment retainers compliantly. Additionally, this guarantee only applies to the teeth originally treated by WonderSmile. Implants, bridges, or similar dental procedures may void the guarantee.
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 Home Aligner for You?
When it all comes down to it, WonderSmile and Smile Direct are both good options. But at the end of the day, you can only pick one.
If you want our honest opinion, we prefer WonderSmile, but it’s not by a huge margin. Frankly, the two are pretty comparable. The biggest difference is that WonderSmile has better customer reviews across the board. If you rely on word of mouth “advertising,” then you will probably feel more peace of mind with WonderSmile.
Choose WonderSmile if
You want an easy start-up process, or you think you might be a good candidate for single-arch treatment and you’d like to save $500.
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 home aligner kit offer discounts?
Technically, both services offer discounts. For example, WonderSmile will occasionally offer discounts for $100-$200 off their aligners, but you’ll need to subscribe to their email list. Smile Direct offers a year-round discount for students, teachers, and first-responders. They also run occasional sales, but you’ll need to jump on the special offers first.
Are WonderSmile and Smile Direct legit?
Your mom warned you about things that sound too good to be true, right? Thankfully home aligner companies like WonderSmile 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 invest those savings in measures that ensure treatment quality.
Which home aligner is more customer-focused?
WonderSmile is a bit more customer-focused. They do pretty well on the customer service front, and thanks to their smaller customer base, they’re able to serve their customers effectively.
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 or scans; a dental professional analyzes those impressions to design a series of clear trays that gently and gradually move your teeth to their final destination.
How do WonderSmile and Smile Direct compare to Invisalign?
They’re distant cousins, really. Invisalign pioneered the clear aligner alternative to traditional braces. However, Invisalign adds one aspect to the aligners: devices affixed to your teeth to secure the aligners. Those devices have to be attached in-office by a qualified orthodontist. Home aligners don’t use those, allowing you to complete your entire treatment at home.
How do these home aligners compare to EZ Smile and SmilePath and Byte?
WonderSmile and Smile Direct are both pretty similar to other clear aligner companies on the market, but each competitor has its own perks. EZ Smile has the best financing options in the industry. SmilePath has the most affordable treatment package. And last but certainly not least, Byte has the fastest treatment speed and a fantastic lifetime guarantee.
Is there an age requirement for using either WonderSmile or Smile Direct?
With both WonderSmile and Smile Direct, you must have all permanent teeth present to begin treatment (you don’t want to dump thousands into teeth that will just fall out, anyway). Both WonderSmile and Smile Direct will treat ages 12 and up. Minors must have parental consent prior to treatment.
Does either service give free whitening treatment?
WonderSmile doesn’t, but Smile Direct does. They include one free bottle of BrightOn, and it’s safe to use in conjunction with your aligners. If you run out, you’ll have to purchase more, but the first bottle’s included.
Do WonderSmile and Smile Direct have aggressive upsells?
Not really. You could argue that Smile Direct has a soft one because the first bottle of whitening is free but you have to buy subsequent ones. But since there is no obligation to buy additional bottles once the first one is gone, it can’t be classified as 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 a condition like overbite or underbite is the cause of your teeth’s misalignment, then clear aligners likely won’t 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.
Will either of these home aligners make me talk less funny?
Most people take a few days to adjust to the feeling of aligners—after all, there’s a foreign object in your mouth—but very few experience long-lasting issues. The average observer can’t detect that you’re wearing aligners, even while talking.
If I lose my aligners during or after treatment, do I have to pay for new ones?
It depends on your treatment provider. Usually, WonderSmile will recommend that you move on to your next aligner (or go back to the previous one) until you’re scheduled to move to the next step. If you’d still like (or need) a replacement, you’ll need to pay $50.
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. With either company, though, you should wear your previous aligner until a replacement arrives. That will keep your teeth from shifting too far back.
Can I drink coffee when using WonderSmile or Smile Direct?
You can, but you shouldn’t. Aligners from WonderSmile 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.
Are there any hidden costs?
Not exactly. With both Smile Direct and WonderSmile, the price you see is the price you pay. But one additional expense you might not expect will be post-treatment retainers. Both companies are pretty clear that these retainers are a necessity, but they don’t list them in the initial treatment price. Smile Direct gives two sets of retainers to SmilePay customers, but others will pay an extra $165. With WonderSmile, each set of retainers cost $99.