A million-dollar smile is great and all, but what about getting one as an adult? Despite their effectiveness, braces often are in contrast with a working person’s lifestyle.
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 Byte and SmileDirectClub. 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 Byte and SmileDirectClub Stack Up
|Claim to fame||Fastest treatment speed||Best brand power in the industry|
|No food restrictions||✓||✓|
|No office visits||✓||✓|
|Covered by insurance (w/ orthodontic benefits)||In many cases||In many cases|
|Start-up process||Impression kit only||Impression kit or 3D scan at a SmileShop|
|Treatment speed||Byte All-Day: 3-4 months |
Byte At-Night: 5-6 months
|Daytime: 6 months Nighttime: 10 months|
|Personalized customer service||✓|
|Price tag||Byte All-Day: $1,895 |
Byte At-Night: $2,295
|Financing||Byte All-Day: $349 down, $83 per month for 29 months |
Byte At-Night: $449 down, $99 per month for 29 months
|$250 down, $89 per month for 24 months|
Intrigued? That’s just the flyby! Let’s dig into the differences between SmileDirectClub and Byte 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:
|Byte||Smile Direct Club|
|Customers served: Thousands||Customers served: 1 million+|
|Company focus: Correcting smiles in record time (half the industry average) thanks to their HyperByte technology||Company focus: Make dental care more accessible to the estimated 80% of Americans who need it|
SmileDirectClub is the biggest aligner company in the entire industry; that’s no secret. In terms of sheer volume, Byte can’t really compete on that front. That said, they’ve grown a lot in the short time they’ve been on the market. For being “the new kid on the block,” Byte has an impressive customer volume.
Home teeth aligner companies all use clear plastic aligners to help shift your teeth into the perfect position. But who creates those aligners is an important distinction. That includes the person designing your treatment plan and the lab producing the aligners themselves.
The manufacturer of your aligners is important. A trusted manufacturer will ensure that their products are consistent and high-quality. We’d like to know who makes Byte’s aligners. After all, the manufacturer says a lot about the quality of the aligner itself. SmileDirectClub manufactures their own, though in the past Align Technologies made them.
That said, the individual who designs your treatment is even more important. With both Byte and SmileDirectClub, treatments are designed by a mixed team of dentists and orthodontists. The companies feel that this mixture of training, experience, and perspectives allows for more nuanced approaches and better results.
There are no guarantees when it comes to treatment speed because your body and smile are unique to you. You might see results sooner than the average person, or it might take you a little longer. Factors that impact treatment speed include how well you follow the treatment plan, how well your teeth respond to treatment, and how significant the changes you want to make are.
Each company’s product affects your treatment speed as well. Here are the average treatment times for Byte and SmileDirectClub:
- Byte: 3 months for daytime treatment, 5-6 months for nighttime-only treatment
- SmileDirectClub: 6 months for daytime treatment, 10 for nighttime-only treatment
Both SmileDirectClub and Byte offer the flexibility of nighttime-only treatment, but Byte is much faster for both methods. SmileDirectClub’s treatment speed isn’t bad, though; they match the industry average. However, Byte blows the competition out of the water with their HyperByte. This little device uses tiny, rapid vibrations to gently move your teeth to their final destination. It’s an integral part of both Byte’s daytime and nighttime treatment regimens.
Pricing & Features
Let’s talk about bang for your buck. In this section, we’ll dig into the details about the pricing for impression kits, treatment, and whitening from Byte and SmileDirectClub.
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 SmileDirectClub, maintain retail locations that provide scans instead of impressions.
Here’s how the 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.
- SmileDirectClub, FREE or $49: One of SmileDirectClub’s biggest edges over the competition is their SmileShops; they have hundreds of locations across the country. You can visit one of these shops and have images taken in person instead of 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 take your impressions at home.
Both Byte and SmileDirectClub 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 for 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, Byte or SmileDirectClub 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.
- Byte, $1,895, or $2,295 for Byte At-Night: Byte creates a nice blend of value and affordability with their kit. You’ll get everything you need to straighten your teeth and keep them that way, including the HyperByte device and post-treatment retainers. Bought separately, the HyperByte costs a whopping $699, so you get a lot of value for your money.
- SmileDirectClub, $1,950: With SmileDirectClub, the price you see is usually the price you get. Like Byte, they include all the aligners you’ll need to treat your smile. However, their post-treatment aligners are available at an additional cost ($99).
Byte and SmileDirectClub may have similar sticker prices, but with Byte, you technically get more for your money thanks to the HyperByte and the included post-treatment retainers.
Can’t pay all at once? Thankfully, both services offer financing. And as long as you pay the down payment, there’s a 100% approval rate.
- Byte, $2,324, or $3,336 for Byte At-Night: BytePay automatically approves every customer for financing. When you select BytePay at checkout, you’ll make a $349 down payment. After that, you’ll make a monthly payment of $83 for 29 months. If you choose Byte’s nighttime plan instead, you’ll make a $449 down payment followed by $99 a month for 29 months.
- SmileDirectClub, $2,386: SmileDirectClub also has a 100% approval rate, so your credit score doesn’t matter. To kick off your financing plan, they require a fairly standard down payment of $250. After that, you’ll pay $89 per month for 24 months.
Both Byte and SmileDirectClub provide free whitening treatments with the purchase of aligners. If you want to purchase additional whitening kits, you’ll need to shell out a little extra cash:
- Byte, $30: 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 $30.
- SmileDirectClub, $40-$74: Like Byte, SmileDirectClub includes one free whitening kit with your treatment. After that, the price for extra whitening 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.
On the surface, SmileDirectClub and Byte have similar prices. SmileDirectClub’s prices are fair, but Byte gives you more bang for your buck thanks to their HyperByte device and post-treatment retainers.
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:
|Byte||Smile Direct Club|
|Contact methods: Phone, email, & social media||Contact methods: Phone, email, & social media|
|Hours: 8 a.m to 6 p.m. PST||Hours: “Customer Care Available 24/7” (per their website)|
|Speed: Phone usually gets a same-day response; social media and email queries can take 24 hours||Speed: Hit-or-miss; phone calls get a same-day response (but possible hold times); email delay up to 24 hours|
|Friendliness: Receptive, knowledgeable, individualized, & professional||Friendliness: Professional & upbeat|
|Takeaway: Byte puts their customers at the center of all they do. They’re prompt, responsive, and extremely helpful. And we especially love that Byte gives a personal Byte advisor to each customer. Anytime you contact them for support, you get to chat with someone who’s seen your case the whole way through. You won’t have to explain your situation every time, either.||Takeaway: In the past, SmileDirectClub had some mixed feedback about their customer support; their team was too small to serve their rapidly growing customer base! It seems that they’re working to improve this issue, though. We’ve found that, even though the channels of support are adequate, the best method is their in-house support at the SmileShops. Representatives are friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.|
SmileDirectClub definitely could do better in the customer service department, but we’re glad to see the improvements they’ve made already. For perspective, SmileDirectClub’s customer base rapidly grew in 2017 and their service department couldn’t quite keep up (you’ll see more complaints from 2017 than any other year on online reviews).
In contrast, Byte’s customer support is much better. They give individualized attention to each customer. That’s probably why so many people mention their representative by name in their online reviews. For being such a young company, Byte is off to a great start.
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.
The same goes for Byte and SmileDirectClub, and SmileDirectClub takes the win here. 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 complete the process from home. Thankfully, Byte makes up for their lack of physical locations with video call “impression sessions,” where an assistant will help walk you through the process to guarantee success.
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 doctors will let you know if you need to try again. If you’re sure you’ve botched the impressions, contact customer support at Byte or SmileDirectClub and they’ll send another kit your way. SmileDirectClub 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 enough supplies to make two impressions per kit, so you can mess up once and still have another go at it.
For many people, 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 Byte and SmileDirectClub.
|Byte||Smile Direct Club|
|Top loves: excellent customer service (even mentioning representatives by name); visible results within a couple weeks; easy to use||Top loves: SmileShops are convenient and the staff is friendly; convenient reminders to switch out aligners; affordable|
|Top complaints: no shipping to North Carolina; guarantee on impression kit does not apply to bite issues||Top complaints: delayed shipments; receiving wrong aligners; requesting re-evaluations is tedious and difficult|
|Average score: 4.7/5||Average score: 4/5|
SmileDirectClub had some rough patches in the past. And while they’re not perfect just yet, they have made some improvements. The most common complaint they still get concerns re-evaluations for treatment. That isn’t ideal, but it’s the biggest drawback to any home aligners, no matter which company you choose. Making amendments remotely is more challenging than in person.
SmileDirectClub may be improving, but Byte definitely comes out on top in the customer reviews department. An overwhelming majority of Byte’s reviews are positive, and the few negative reviews they have are due to the limitations of home treatment, not the company itself. We attribute much of Byte’s success to their personal care assistants.
Refund Policies & Satisfaction Guarantees
As with any purchase, there’s always the nagging question: what if it doesn’t work out? Byte and SmileDirectClub both have very individualized approaches for refunds and satisfaction guarantees.
The “Byte-for-Life Guarantee”
Strictly speaking, Byte has only one refund: 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 treatment, even years down the road, and through no fault of your own, Byte will send you new aligners to correct it. Similarly, if you reach the end of your treatment and you’re not satisfied, you can request a re-evaluation. As long as you follow your prescribed treatment plan, Byte will make adjustments to achieve the results you’re after.
SmileDirectClub’s “Club Warranty”
With SmileDirectClub, you have 30 days to change your mind about your aligners. If you try it out and decide it’s not right for you within that first month, you can return them for a full refund.
Then there’s the Club Warranty. SmileDirectClub promises its “club members” 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, follow your prescribed treatment to a T, and submit any request for re-evaluation within 30 days of finishing treatment.
Which Is the Best Home Aligner for You?
When it all comes down to it, Byte and SmileDirectClub 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. SmileDirectClub is not a bad service in any sense. But Byte is our favorite service across the board. We love their lifetime guarantee, treatment efficiency, and excellent customer service.
Choose Byte if
You want to perfect your smile ASAP with top-quality customer service. Byte is twice as fast as all of the other companies on the market and offers personalized customer support.
Choose SmileDirectClub if
You want the confidence that comes from working with a well-established brand. SmileDirectClub has served more than 750,000 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. Neither service offers run-of-the-mill discounts extremely frequently, though. SmileDirectClub has a referral program along with discounts for students, teachers, and both active and retired military members. Likewise, Byte offers discounts for military, students, and first responders.
Are Byte and SmileDirectClub legit?
Your mom warned you about things that sound too good to be true, right? Thankfully home aligner companies like Byte and SmileDirectClub 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, so they can invest those savings in measures that ensure treatment quality.
Which home aligner is more customer focused?
Byte is a bit more customer centric than SmileDirectClub in a couple of different ways. They assign a personal care assistant to each customer. Plus, Byte has a smaller customer base that allows them to give more attention to each individual.
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; 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 Byte and SmileDirectClub compare to Invisalign?
They’re distant cousins, really. Invisalign pioneered the clear aligner alternative to traditional braces. However, Invisalign adds one aspect: 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 AlignerCo and Candid?
SmileDirectClub and Byte are pretty similar to both Candid and AlignerCo. AlignerCo is the most affordable option on the market (by hundreds of dollars). Candid pairs their high-quality products and great customer service with social impact through a partnership with Smile Train.
Is there an age requirement for using either Byte or SmileDirectClub?
With both Byte and SmileDirectClub, 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 Byte and SmileDirectClub require their patients to be at least 12 years old. Minors must have parental consent to receive treatment.
Does either service give free whitening treatment?
Byte includes one free bottle of their whitening solution with your aligners, and you can use it simultaneously with the aligner treatment. A replacement bottle costs $30. SmileDirectClub also includes free whitening, and you can use it in conjunction with your aligners. Both companies also sell additional whitening kits if you want to keep that smile shining.
Can I use Byte and SmileDirectClub if I live outside the USA?
If you live in Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or Australia, then you can use SmileDirectClub. Byte is available in the U.S. and Australia.
Do Byte and SmileDirectClub 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 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 use an impression kit or get scans. These will 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 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?
Byte will send you a replacement aligner for $99. SmileDirectClub will send you one for $50. With either, though, you should wear your previous aligner to keep your teeth from shifting too far back.
Can I drink coffee when using Byte or SmileDirectClub?
Aligners from Byte and SmileDirectClub are fairly stain resistant, but avoid eating or drinking colored liquids and foods while wearing your aligners. Water is a safe bet, though.
Are there any hidden costs?
Byte doesn’t really have any hidden costs. What you see is what you get. SmileDirectClub does have one unadvertised cost, but it isn’t exactly hidden. You’ll need to pay $99 for post-treatment retainers; Byte includes the first set for free. With either company, however, you’ll need to purchase new post-treatment retainers occasionally. They do wear out over time.