Odds are, you’ve heard about Invisalign. They were the first company to offer clear aligners as an alternative to braces.
And the idea of clear aligners caught on like wildfire. After all, there are some situations where braces aren’t ideal.
Just like any popular product, Invisalign quickly gained competitors. The most notable of these was ClearCorrect. Then, home aligners hit the scene. Instead of visiting an orthodontist’s office every time you switch to a new aligner, home aligner companies bring your treatment directly to your doorstep.
ClearCorrect and home clear aligners are pretty similar, but there are some notable differences, too. In this article, we’ll cover the main similarities and differences between these two popular treatment options, helping you decide which is best for your unique grin.
In-Office vs. At-Home Treatment: An Overview
ClearCorrect first emerged on the scene in 2006 when Dr. William Pumphrey had nearly 400 patients who were mid-treatment with clear aligners, but there wasn’t a good option to fill that need. (And Invisalign wasn’t an option, either). So Dr. Pumphrey made his own clear aligners. Fast-forward to today, and now ClearCorrect is Invisalign’s closest competitor.
By comparison, home aligners are a few years newer. The oldest home aligner option, Smile Direct Club has only been around since 2014. That said, age is not the only difference between the two options (and it’s a pretty minor difference, in the grand scheme of things). Here are a few other important differences:
|Treatment oversight: In-person appointments every 4-8 weeks of treatment||Treatment oversight: Remote check-ins via photo updates|
|Treatment length: 12 to 18 months (similar to traditional braces)||Treatment length: Ranges between 4 to 11 months, with most lasting 6 months|
|Cost: $5,000 to $7,000||Cost: Typically ranges between $1,145 and $2,300, with most hovering around $1,895|
|Treatable cases: Mild to severe||Treatable cases: Mild to moderate cosmetic cases only|
Before picking between these treatment methods, it’s important to have a grip on the differences and similarities. That allows you to make an informed decision about the right treatment option for your smile.
On the surface, ClearCorrect aligners and home aligners look pretty similar. But appearance isn’t the only thing they have in common. Here’s a quick look at the areas ClearCorrect and home aligners are alike:
- Appearance: Like we mentioned earlier, both ClearCorrect and home aligners are pretty similar in appearance. And technically, that’s because neither aligner “looks” like much of anything. Once they’re in your mouth, both aligners are practically invisible.
- How they work: Each company uses clear aligner trays that are molded to match your unique smile. The plastic in each tray exerts constant, gentle force on your teeth, pulling them into new positions.
- Safety: Compared to braces (which use technology that’s been evolving for centuries—and no, that’s not an exaggeration), clear aligners might sound strange. But in reality, aligners from both ClearCorrect and home aligners use proven, safe technology to shift your teeth at a fast but safe rate.
- Flexibility: With traditional braces, you can’t eat certain foods, and you can’t take the braces off until the very end of treatment. But with ClearCorrect aligners and home aligners, you can pop out your aligners temporarily to eat, so no foods are off-limits.
Even though ClearCorrect and at-home aligners have a lot in common, there are plenty of differences, too. After all, they’re separate companies. So let’s dig into the ways ClearCorrect and home aligners are different:
- Treatable cases: Home aligners are largely limited to mild and moderate cosmetic cases. That’s because treatment is administered remotely. ClearCorrect, on the other hand, can handle tougher cases thanks to orthodontist oversight and in-person treatment.
- Office visits: ClearCorrect requires you to go to your orthodontist’s or dentist’s office on a regular basis. That’s not a bad thing, but if you have a busy schedule, fitting in appointments can be tough. But home aligners are administered remotely, so no office visits are required.
- Price: ClearCorrect doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all price point, but on average, the cost ranges between $2,500 and $5,000. That’s cheaper than Invisalign, but compared to the average home aligner price — $1,895 — it’s a little high, especially if your case is on the tougher side. For reference, the cheapest home aligner costs just $1,145, and the average hovers around $1,895.
- Treatment length: The typical treatment time with ClearCorrect lasts between 12 to 18 months. That matches the treatment length of Invisalign. However, compared to the average 6-month treatment for home aligners, 12 to 18 months is a long time. The primary reason for the difference is that ClearCorrect handles tougher cases, which naturally take more time to treat. That said, home aligners are typically a touch faster.
- Wear Schedule: With ClearCorrect, you’ll need to wear your aligners for 20-22 hours per day. At-home clear aligners have these full time wear treatment plans too, but some companies also offer nighttime only treatment; which requires just 10 hours of daily wear. You can pop in your aligners a few hours before bed and dream your way to a new smile.
- Attachments: With home aligner treatment, all you’ll get is clear aligner trays. Alone, the trays are pretty effective at shifting your teeth, but if you have a tough case, you’ll get better results with ClearCorrect. That’s because ClearCorrect can add tooth-colored attachments and elastics to leverage additional force throughout treatment.
What About Invisalign?
Invisalign is the originator of clear aligner treatment. Without their technology, home clear aligners wouldn’t even exist, and braces would still be the only option.
On the surface, Invisalign looks a lot like home aligners. But there are plenty of differences between the two. For one thing, Invisalign costs more, and treatment requires more time. However, that extra time and money gets you a more powerful treatment.
That’s because Invisalign offers add-ons to their clear aligners, called SmartForce attachments. These attachments act like anchors for the aligner trays, allowing Invisalign to exert additional force on your teeth. Your orthodontist can also add in elastics, too. In that sense, Invisalign is practically identical to ClearCorrect.
However, ClearCorrect is a bit different from Invisalign. For one thing, ClearCorrect costs less. It’s not a huge price difference (about $1,000-$1,500 less on average), but it is worth noting. But Invisalign does have a bit more brand recognition and wide-spread availability compared to ClearCorrect. So all told, Invisalign and ClearCorrect have minimal differences, but the quality of their treatments is largely the same.
To learn more, check out our Invisalign review.
Which Is The Best Option for Me?
Honestly, we can’t give you a definitive answer. That’s because your smile is unique; what makes a good treatment for you won’t work for someone else, and vice versa.
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a teeth straightening treatment: cost, treatment oversight, customer experience, and much more. And it’s only natural to prioritize some of those factors over others. For you, cost might be the top priority, or maybe you’d really like to work with an orthodontist in-person. So you’ll have to decide for yourself.
In general, though, we think you should opt for ClearCorrect when your case is tough enough to require orthodontist oversight but you still want a clear treatment option. That said, for a lot of people, home aligners are a better, more affordable, more convenient choice. But they’re only good for minor to moderate cases.
ClearCorrect is a better treatment for tough cases of misalignment, and as an added plus, they’re a little cheaper than Invisalign. But in our opinion, home aligners are a better option for most busy adults. They do the job faster and cheaper. And let’s be honest: most adults probably fall into the mild-to-moderate cosmetic range.
In the end, there are a lot of home aligners to choose from. But only one at-home aligner provider can win our coveted #1 ranking, and that’s Byte.
Byte is our all-around favorite service because they perform well in every category. However, their treatment length is easily their most notable feature, with their all-day system delivering final results in as little as 4 months. Byte also has a nighttime-only system and a comprehensive treatment guarantee.
Intrigued by Byte, Candid, or home aligners in general? Check out our full comparison review of the Top 4 Home Clear Aligners.
What expectations should I have for my treatment?
With either ClearCorrect and at-home clear aligners, you can expect to achieve quality results with proper wear and care. With each new aligner, anticipate a little tenderness as the teeth adjust to the changes in pressure. You should also notice that your bite, or how your teeth come together, changes as your teeth move, which can feel strange. Also, your teeth might feel loose, but this is all part of how they move; they will firm up once treatment ends.
How difficult is it to keep aligners clean?
Not very difficult at all. Generally, you just need a soft toothbrush and cool water. You can add in a non-abrasive toothpaste or special clear aligner cleaner as well. Be sure to clean your aligners every time you clean your teeth.
What can I do to speed up treatment?
If you choose Byte, you’ll be speeding up your treatment with their proprietary HyperByte device. This system is included in your treatment bundle, and uses micropulses to provide better fitting aligners and shorter treatment lengths. Outside of Byte, there aren’t a whole lot of ways to speed up your treatment. However, if you follow your treatment instructions perfectly, you will see faster results than if you don’t.
Do clear aligners contain BPA or phthalates?
Most do not contain either of these ingredients. However, we strongly recommend that you research the materials used by the aligner company of your choice prior to making a purchase. If you cannot find that information online, don’t be afraid to contact their customer service department.
How difficult are at-home impression kits?
We won’t lie; they aren’t the easiest thing in the world. At the same time, they aren’t all that hard either. We suggest that you watch some YouTube videos about the process, and if your company offers video support, take advantage of it as well.
How do clear aligners generate the force to move the teeth?
Through their shape! Every aligner in your treatment is slightly different, and these little changes alter the pressure on the teeth. Over time, this moves them into their perfect locations.
What is included with clear aligner systems?
This depends on the company you choose for your treatment. At their most basic, they include the aligners in your package and nothing else. Some also include retainers, whitening, and even devices that speed up tooth movement.
How can I save money on my treatment?
If you choose at-home aligners, most companies will offer discounts from time to time, either on their site, through their email list, or on third-party sites. With ClearCorrect, there are sometimes promo codes found online. However, not all providers will work with these.
Do I need to see a dentist before starting my treatment?
While not all companies require this, we strongly suggest it. This will ensure your teeth and gums are healthy enough for treatment.
Why are retainers important?
After moving your teeth, they will try to shift back to their original positions. While this is strongest directly after treatment, this remains true for your entire life. Retainers hold the teeth in place so you do not lose the results of your teeth straightening.