At-home teeth aligners present a lot of great advantages: they’re more convenient than braces and have a much lower profile. But that’s not where the advantages end. For most people, at-home aligner treatment offers up shorter treatment times than traditional methods.
For example, Invisalign treatment often lasts 12-18 months, and braces can take 24 or more. But the average treatment for at-home aligners is typically just 6 to 8 months. With that average in mind, we’ve ranked these four companies as the fastest-working at-home teeth aligners: Byte, Candid, and Smile Direct.
What Determines My Treatment Length?
Your smile is unique, and your treatment will be, too. So there is no one-size-fits-all aligner treatment length. Averages are, well, averages. If you only need one or two teeth shifted a little bit, your treatment length will be shorter. People with overcrowded, extensively crooked teeth will typically have longer treatments.
An aligner’s design can influence treatment length too. Some companies use aligners that are cut in a scalloped pattern to match the gumline; others use a straight-cut aligner. The straight-cut aligners can leverage more force on your teeth, which usually leads to faster treatment. There are a few other components of treatment length, but we’ll dig into those when we talk about the individual aligners. Speaking of which, let’s do just that.
The Run-Down: Byte, Candid, and Smile Direct Club
Byte’s treatment length beats out its competitors for both its daytime and nighttime treatment options. Normally, nighttime aligners take a bit longer than the daytime options, and that’s true with Byte, too. But here’s the kicker: Byte’s lengthier option still takes just 5 months, beating out the industry average. Their daytime option takes an average of just 4 months.
How are their treatment lengths so much shorter? Their HyperByte device. It’s a safe tool that uses gentle vibrations to induce faster teeth shifts. And you only need to use it for five minutes each day (or ten if you’re using nighttime treatment).
Learn more in our in-depth review of Byte.
Candid got their start as a premium at-home aligner service in 2017, but they recently made the switch to “CandidPro,” a hybrid at-home/in-office treatment model. This system offers the convenience of at-home aligners, with the hands-on attention of a local dentist. Because of this hybrid approach, Candid is a little different from aligner brands that operate 100% remotely.
However, short treatment lengths are one thing that Candid has kept in common with their fully remote competitors—just 6-9 months on average.
With Candid, there’s even a chance you can speed up your treatment a bit—but only with permission! The unexpected speed-ups are thanks to the CandidMonitoring program. Here’s how it works: you’ll use your smartphone and a special imaging device (included in your treatment bundle), and you’ll send images of your teeth every 10-14 days.
Those images are reviewed by your dentist and/or the Candid team, and if everything looks good, you’ll get the go-ahead to move on to your next aligner ahead of schedule. This has the potential to speed your treatment up a bit. One quick safety note: you should never move on to your next aligner without a thumbs-up from the Candid team or your dentist. Moving to the next one too soon can harm your teeth, and only dental professionals can judge when it’s safe to do so.
Learn more in our in-depth review of Candid.
Smile Direct has two types of treatments with two different speeds: their daytime treatment and nighttime treatment. Normally, nighttime treatment takes much longer than daytime treatment simply because you wear your aligners for less time each day. To be more specific, you wear nighttime aligners for less than half the time each day. So, nighttime treatment from Smile Direct lasts 10 months on average, while their daytime treatment average is 6 months.
Smile Direct’s aligners are straight-cut across the gum line, so they can leverage a fair amount of force to efficiently move your teeth.
Learn more in our in-depth review of Smile Direct Club.
A Note on Post-treatment Retainers
Once you finish wearing all of your aligners, you’re not quite done. You’ll need to wear post-treatment retainers to keep your teeth in their new, million-dollar position. Most companies include the first set for free, but retainers don’t last forever. You’ll need to replace them roughly every six months.
Thankfully, you won’t have to wear your retainers for 22 hours each day indefinitely. Typically after a few weeks your provider will give you the go ahead to switch to overnight retainer wear, which you’ll continue indefinitely.
It’s very important that you wear your retainers on a regular basis to keep your teeth in place; this isn’t the step you want to rush. If you skipped this step, you’d potentially need to repeat your treatment. That would be a bigger waste of your time than using a “slower” aligner company.
The #1 Fastest Clear Aligner Service Is…
Byte, no question. Their treatment lengths are considerably shorter than all of the other companies we mentioned in this review, which hover around 6 months (excluding, of course, the nighttime treatments from Smile Direct). But even Byte’s nighttime treatment beats that average.
In fact, Byte is our favorite aligner company across the board. They may not have the same brand power as a large company like Smile Direct, but they’ve established themselves as a powerful, effective treatment option.
However, if you’re drawn to one of the other companies, they’re also good options. And their treatment lengths are nothing to sneeze at. You’ll get far shorter treatments with any of these than you would at the orthodontist’s office.