If you’ve ever dreaded getting your picture taken because you don’t love your smile, you’re not alone. A lot of people feel self-conscious about their teeth because they’re crooked, crowded, too far apart—you get the idea. Poor teeth positioning makes a lot of adults uncomfortable with their grins.
In some cases, the teeth themselves aren’t the only problem, either. A lot of adults have a misaligned bite, too. The top and bottom teeth are supposed to align almost perfectly, but that perfection is pretty uncommon. For example, a lot of people deal with tooth gap—a fairly common condition in which visible gaps form between one or more of the teeth. The most common type of tooth gap occurs between the two front teeth.
Thankfully, it’s possible to fix tooth gap, even as an adult. And if you have a tooth gap (or more than one) that you’d like to correct, you’re probably considering your options. Home clear aligners have become a fairly popular treatment method in the last few years. But can home clear aligners fix your tooth gap? In this guide, that’s the question we’re here to answer.
How Does At-Home Treatment Work?
At-home treatment (called teledentistry in the industry) sounds complicated. But overall, it’s a very simple process. Frankly, the hardest part is picking which company you’re going to use!
In general, the success of your home aligner treatment hinges on your wearing each aligner as prescribed—that’s how the magic happens! Look at it this way: if you get braces, your orthodontist attaches brackets and wires to your teeth to pull them into new positions. Periodically, the orthodontist tightens the wires to shift the teeth even further. Over time, your teeth shift into their perfect positions, and you get the braces removed.
Home clear aligners work in much the same way, but they trade the semi-permanent brackets and wires for clear, removable plastic trays. Each aligner is uniquely crafted to pull your teeth towards their new positions. But with home clear aligners, you don’t have to visit the orthodontist every time you need an adjustment to have your wires tightened. Instead, you’ll simply move on to the next aligner in your treatment. The next aligner is “tighter,” moving your teeth a little bit further. Step by step, you achieve the smile of your dreams.
Here’s a flyby of the treatment process:
- Step 1: You pick which home clear aligner company you want to use. Our top recommendations are Byte, Candid, AlignerCo, and SmileDirect.
- Step 2: You order an impression kit and create molds of your teeth at home. Then you ship the molds back (return shipping is usually free). Alternatively, you can visit a retail location (Candid and SmileDirect only) and have someone else take scans of your teeth.
- Step 3: Based on your scans or molds, the company of your choice will design a treatment plan for you (provided you’re a candidate for treatment). You will have an opportunity to approve it and purchase your treatment kit. After that, they’ll manufacture your aligners.
- Step 4: You receive your full aligner kit at your home address and start wearing them. Typically, you’ll wear each aligner for a week, then move on to the next. By the time you reach your last aligner, you’ll have the smile of your dreams.
- Step 5: You wear your post-treatment retainers to maintain your new smile. Some companies include the first set for free, and others require you to purchase them.
Can Home Clear Aligners Correct My Tooth Gap?
Home clear aligners can usually treat most cases of tooth gap, but they’re not all-powerful. Most tooth gaps, called diastemas, occur in the upper center teeth. Typically, these are treatable. They often occur because there’s a disconnect between the size of your jaw and the size of your teeth. Home clear aligners can essentially bridge that gap by pulling your teeth together, regardless of the jaw size. If you have a “textbook case” of tooth gap, then you’re probably a good candidate for home aligners.
However, we should mention a few types of tooth gap that go beyond the textbook. For example, tooth gaps sometimes occur because of gum disease. Also called periodontal disease, gum disease occurs when excess plaque builds up, infects the gums, and eventually wears down the jaw bone itself, causing the teeth to shift from their original positions. (In the most severe cases, teeth can even fall out). If that happens, your gums need to be treated before you can correct your teeth. Your jaw will also need time to heal.
Another uncommon cause of tooth gap is caused by your labial frenum, or the little stretch of tissue that anchors your upper lip to your gums. Sometimes, that tissue continues to grow beyond its typical range, pushing the two front teeth apart. This issue, while rare, would need to be corrected before addressing the tooth gap.
It’s not terribly uncommon for a tooth gap to be accompanied by another bite issue, such as crossbite, overbite, or overjet. If that’s true, you may need to use a more powerful treatment method like Invisalign or braces to correct all the issues.
Thankfully, the majority of tooth gap cases are relatively minor. Most people seeking treatment are fantastic candidates for home teeth aligners. And over the past few years, home teeth aligners have become a popular alternative to braces and Invisalign. And it’s no surprise why: home aligners are incredibly convenient, and they’re much cheaper than braces.
How Can I Be Sure I’ll Get The Results I Want?
If you’re skeptical about getting treatment entirely from home, you’re in good company. But rest assured, home treatment is safe, reliable, and ultimately, more affordable. However, that only applies for people who are good candidates for treatment.
A word of caution, though: home aligner companies determine your candidacy based on the positions of your teeth, not your jaw. If they believe they can correct your teeth, they’ll give you the go-ahead. But as we’ve mentioned, some tooth gap issues are caused by gum disease or extra tissue. In these cases, home teeth aligners may not be able to sufficiently resolve your tooth gap.
And in a few rare cases, a home aligner company will wrongly decide you’re a good candidate for treatment because they can’t tell the health of your gums or the length of your frenum. Impressions can’t really show that. To be completely sure, we recommend talking with your dentist to determine the cause of your tooth gap. If it’s not caused by your frenum or gum disease, then you can probably go with at-home treatment.
More importantly, to get the results you’ve been promised, it’s largely up to you. When your aligner kit arrives, you’ll receive detailed instructions: how many hours to wear your aligners each day, how long to wear each aligner, how to clean your aligners—you get the idea. It’s up to you to follow those instructions. If you do, you’ll get the results you want. If not, you run the risk of harming your smile.
Some companies will have regular check-ins with you to see how things are going. Candid is the best example of this. But others don’t. Ultimately, you have to hold yourself accountable.your teeth. The company you choose will analyze those molds to determine if you’re a good candidate for treatment. If you aren’t, they will refund the cost of your impression kit.
Which Companies Should I Choose From?
Home-based clear aligner products work a lot like Invisalign, but they cut out the overhead costs of an orthodontist’s office by shipping the aligners directly to you. By wearing each aligner for the prescribed amount of time, you’ll be able to shift your teeth into new positions so they’ll align correctly.
We’ve researched every home teeth straightening service on the market and consolidated the most important information in our review of the top 4 services. But for now, here’s a quick overview of our top three recommendations:
Byte | $1,895
Our #1 pick for at-home treatment is Byte, and there’s a lot we love about them. But when it all comes down to it, you should pick Byte if you’re in a hurry to achieve the smile of your dreams. Typically, they’re twice as fast as their top competitors. That’s thanks to their HyperByte system, a proprietary device that Byte includes in every treatment bundle at no extra cost. As a Byte patient, you’ll use your HyperByte for 5-10 minutes per day. Using gentle, rapid vibrations, the HyperByte system helps to shift your teeth faster than aligners alone.
On average, patients can expect to wear their aligners for 3 months. However, that assumes you wear your aligners for the prescribed time and use the HyperByte regularly.
As an added plus, Byte offers two treatment methods: Byte All-Day aligners and Byte At-Night. In principle, they’re the same treatment. But with All-Day aligners, you’ll wear your aligners for 22+ hours daily. Byte At-Night cuts that wear schedule down to 10 hours daily—mostly while you sleep. Since you wear your aligners less often with Byte At-Night, your treatment will last about 6 months instead.
Since there are two treatment methods, Byte charges two different price points: Byte All-Day aligners cost $1,895; At-Night runs you $2,295. Why the extra cost? Byte At-Night uses premium aligners that stand up to nighttime grinding. They’re a little more expensive to produce.
Candid | $1,895
One of the biggest concerns people have with at-home aligners is simple: home aligners don’t offer you much in the way of treatment oversight. That’s not true with Candid, though. Candid offers a unique program called CandidMonitoring. As a patient, you’ll get a regular notification from your CandidApp to have a virtual check-in. Using your smartphone and a special imaging device, you’ll send in photos to the Candid care team to show how your treatment is going.
If they decide your treatment is going well, you may be able to move on to your next aligner sooner than expected. In general, your Candid treatment will last 6 months or a bit faster.
Candid is able to move all of your teeth, including your molars. This sets them apart from every other at-home clear aligner provider. Candid’s competitors typically focus on the 6 front upper and lower teeth (otherwise known as “the social six”). Not Candid. Candid treats your whole smile, not just the easy to spot teeth. Their ability to move molars means that Candid is well equipped to tackle more complex issues than their competitors.
Another plus of Candid: it’s possible to skip the impression kit process by visiting a Candid Studio. Instead of making molds of your teeth at home, a professional at a Candid Studio will take scans of your teeth for you. These free scans offer a great value, since most locations include a complimentary panoramic X-ray of your teeth. This helps your orthodontist get a comprehensive view of your oral health prior to starting treatment.
On the whole, there aren’t any real drawbacks to Candid. At $1,895, Candid is the same price as byte’s day aligners. Between Candid’s treatment oversight, their ability to treat more complicated cases, and their convenient in-person scans, your money goes a long way when you pick Candid.
AlignerCo | $1,145
Byte and Candid are both fantastic options, but your wallet might disagree. $2,000 is cheaper than braces and Invisalign, but it’s still a significant investment. And if you’re like a lot of busy adults, your budget is pretty tight. You might not have that kind of cash. If so, AlignerCo is a good solution. They pride themselves on being the most affordable home aligner company on the market. Their price point proves it, too: $1,145.
With AlignerCo, there aren’t a ton of extras like free whitening. They try to keep your treatment kit as affordable as possible. That said, they don’t cut corners; you still get all the aligners you need as well as a free set of post-treatment retainers.
While AlignerCo gets the job done effectively, there are two key drawbacks. First, AlignerCo uses a mixed team of orthodontists and dentists to create their treatment plans. So there’s no guarantee that an orthodontist will design your treatment specifically. Dentists have some training in shifting teeth, but it’s not to the same level as an orthodontist.
Last but not least, AlignerCo’s treatment is a touch slower than average. Most people will need to wear their aligners for 6 to 11 months. That’s a pretty wide range, and competitors like Byte are considerably faster.
Which Service Should I Choose?
All of the at-home options we’ve listed in this guide are good choices, but you can only pick one, right? Ultimately, you’ll have to pick the method that’s right for your smile. But if you want our recommendation, our favorites are Byte and Candid. We love them for different reasons, though.
Byte is an excellent option all-around. Their customer service is great, and their treatment time is crazy fast thanks to their HyperByte vibration technology. And even though they’re not the cheapest option available, we do think they make up for it by including the HyperByte device in the cost of the aligner kit.
Candid is a bit different. Their speed is average, but they can offer more comprehensive treatment than their competitors. Getting started with Candid is pretty convenient too, given their 40+ Candid Studios.
Ultimately, it’s up to you what you choose to do about your tooth gap. Braces aren’t right for everyone, and neither are home teeth aligners. Hopefully, though, this guide has helped you think through your options.
Thankfully, you have the luxury of time to decide if you want to fix your bite issues and how you want to do it. If you do, we wish you the best of luck as you pursue your new smile!