Ah, the million-dollar smile: what so many adults want but what so few have. It’s not for lack of trying, though. A lot of people had braces as teenagers. Then they lost the beautiful grin by forgetting to wear their retainers. Others may not have had that chance due to finances; braces were (and still are) expensive.
That’s why, as adults—for the first time ever or as a second chance—many people choose to pursue their dream smile. But traditional braces are an absolute hassle. There’s the office visits, the hefty price tag, and the pesky brackets and wires. At-home teeth aligners make up for those issues. They’re convenient, cheaper, and easier to use.
However, some busy adults find it’s a bit difficult to deal with the all-day wear that traditional daytime aligners require. The solution: nighttime clear aligners.
Nighttime vs Daytime Aligners: What’s The Difference?
Nighttime and daytime aligners look nearly identical, but they actually have a few key differences. Here’s what to keep in mind before choosing between them:
Who can get treatment
Not everyone is a good candidate for at-home aligner treatment, period. People who have extreme overcrowding, dental implants (to some extent), or underlying bite issues should seek treatment at an orthodontist’s office. Those types of extreme cases often require regular check-ins with an orthodontist.
People with mild-to-moderate cases can get treatment with at-home aligners. That said, for nighttime aligners, the treatment availability gets even more exclusive: only fairly mild cases are good candidates for nighttime treatment. Byte At-Night explicitly requests doctor approval before they will administer overnight treatments.
The primary downside to traditional at-home aligners is that you have to wear them for roughly 22 hours every day. For busy, socialite adults, that can be a pain. After all, you have to remove your aligners and clean them every time you eat or drink anything except water. Clear aligners and colored foods or drinks don’t mix.
Nighttime aligners are a lot more convenient: you only have to wear them for ten hours per day. For most people, that means they’ll wear them while they sleep (plus a few hours before bed). This cuts out most of the issues with cleaning and removing your aligners.
Wearing your aligners for just 10 hours per day instead of 22 makes your life more convenient, but there is a drawback. Nighttime treatment takes more total time; in fact, it has nearly double the impact on your calendar. For example, the fastest nighttime treatment option (byte), the average treatment time ranges between four to six months. For reference, byte’s All-Day option takes just 3 months.
Don’t worry: nighttime aligners are safe. They’ve been created and tested by dental professionals.
When you wear your aligners, however, they exert constant force on your teeth. This is what moves them into their new, better-looking position. With daytime aligners, that force is pretty gradual and consistent throughout the day. Since your teeth have nearly 22 hours per day to adjust to that force, your discomfort stays relatively low (total discomfort varies from one person to the next).
Nighttime aligners are safe, but some customers report a little more discomfort with them. Your teeth don’t have as much time each day to adjust to the new position. Usually, the discomfort isn’t too severe. Most people compare it to the soreness you feel after a good workout—but for your teeth.
Nighttime Aligner Companies: Smile Direct vs. Byte
The biggest difference between nighttime and daytime aligners is simply their availability; not all companies have nighttime treatment regimens. Currently, only Smile Direct and Byte offer nighttime treatments. Here’s our take on the two companies:
Smile Direct has some of the biggest brand power in the home aligner industry. They’ve been in business the longest, for one thing. They were actually the first to offer nighttime treatment, too.
If you’re a candidate for Smile Direct’s nighttime treatment, then you can expect to wear your aligners for ten hours per night for about ten months total. You’ll need to pick the nighttime option at the very start of your treatment. With Smile Direct, it’s not possible to switch between daytime or nighttime treatment once you’ve started treatment. That’s because your aligner kit—including the total number of aligners—is largely dictated by how many hours you’ll wear the aligners per day.
With Smile Direct, getting started is pretty easy. That’s because of their SmileShops. If you want to avoid using an impression kit, you can visit a SmileShop to have an assistant take images of your teeth for you. Of course, you can always use their impression kit, too. But a SmileShop visit is completely free.
Byte’s nighttime treatment method, Byte At-Night, might seem exactly the same as Smile Direct. But Byte At-Night uses different aligners than their daytime version since it’s their premium offering. These nighttime aligners are thicker (and grind-proof), making them strong enough to keep your treatment simultaneously fast and safe. As a result, your Byte At-Night treatment will last for 4 to 6 months, not much longer than their lightning-fast 3-month daytime treatment timeline.
Thicker aligners aren’t the only reason Byte At-Night is faster than Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners. There’s also their HyperByte device. The HyperByte is Byte’s revolutionary device that gently vibrates your teeth into their new position. When used in conjunction with your aligners, it speeds up your treatment and provides a more comfortable fit. With daytime treatment, you’re supposed to use the HyperByte device for five minutes per day. But with Byte At-Night, you’ll use it for ten minutes instead.
Since Byte At-Night is the company’s premium offering, it’s a touch more expensive than their All-Day treatment. Instead of paying $1,895, you’ll pay $2,245 (it’s an even bigger price differential if you use Bytepay to finance your treatment). For many people, the added cost will be well-worth the added convenience.
With Byte, it’s not quite as easy to get started; impression kits are the only option since Byte doesn’t maintain retail locations. However, to make up for this, Byte offers video support to help you get your impressions right the first time.
Which Nighttime Aligner is Better?
Both nighttime aligner companies are good choices, if you’re drawn to one over the other, then go for it!
Our personal favorite is Byte At-Night. In fact, they’re our top favorite aligner company across the board—nighttime or daytime. Their nighttime aligners really stand out compared to Smile Direct’s, though. Since their aligners are dedicated for nighttime wear, they’re more efficient. Plus, if you grind your teeth while you sleep, Byte’s aligners will stand up to the strain. Byte also offers a better value, more individualized customer service, and a much faster treatment regimen.
If experience and brand reputability mean a lot to you, then you might prefer Smile Direct. They’ve been in business roughly three years longer. Other than that, Byte At-Night gets our recommendation.
Alternatives to Smile Direct & Byte
Not in love with Byte or Smile Direct? That’s fair; everybody has their preferences. If you’d like to go with another option, then you have a few picks…but not for nighttime treatment. Smile Direct and Byte are the only companies that offer nighttime treatment.
The most popular at-home aligners (excluding Smile Direct and Byte, of course) are Candid, AlignerCo, and SnapCorrect. You can check out our full review for each service, but here’s a fly-by of what each company is known for:
- AlignerCo: AlignerCo has the most affordable treatment price—and that’s not even considering the referral discount you might score. In fact, AlignerCo is hundreds cheaper than their competitors.
- Candid: Candid offers Candid Studios where you can skip the impression kit and have a professional take scans of your teeth instead. They’re also known for their social impact, thanks to a partnership with Smile Train.
- SnapCorrect: SnapCorrect originated from a cosmetic whitening company, so they offer a very intriguing option: free whitening for life once you’re a customer. Other companies include one set of their whitening treatment for free, but you never have to replace it with SnapCorrect.