20 years ago, Invisalign became the superhero of modern orthodontics.
It rescued adults everywhere from the unsightly wires & brackets of traditional braces, replacing them with smooth, clear plastic aligners.
Early on, Invisalign had a monopoly on the market, but soon after, competitors began to throw their hats in the ring. Today, at-home clear aligner brands like AlignerCo offer a faster and more affordable treatment alternative for busy adults on a budget.
That’s not to say that Invisalign didn’t adapt to the new competition, though—they created Invisalign Express to expand their offerings.
But how do AlignerCo’s clear aligners actually compare to the industry innovator’s speediest option, Invisalign Express? That’s what we’re here to answer.
In this comparison review, we’ll put AlignerCo and Invisalign Express side by side to see how they stack up in terms of cost, treatment oversight, customer experience, and more. By the time we’re finished, you’ll have a much clearer image of which option lines up with your needs!
Spoiler | AlignerCo Wins
4 Things They Have in Common
Invisalign Express and AlignerCo are two very different treatments, but they do have similar products. It comes as no surprise, then, that they have a few things in common:
1) Discreet: Both Invisalign Express and AlignerCo are far less noticeable than braces. Trade wires and brackets for clear aligners and that’s bound to happen. Some people find that they ‘lisp’ a little bit when they first start wearing the aligners, but most people adjust pretty quickly. Most users find that other people rarely (if ever) spot their aligners.
2) Safe: We’re talking about the future of your smile here, so safety is crucial. But rest assured, both Invisalign Express and AlignerCo are safe ways to straighten your teeth. Both companies use similar technologies and although Invisalign Express has a few add-ons that AlignerCo doesn’t, the basic principle of both is the same. Both companies use safe, BPA-free plastic in their aligners and dental professionals to design your treatment.
3) Convenient: If you ever talk to a friend who had braces back in the day, you’ll probably hear horror stories about avoiding popcorn or gum, the pains of dislodging food from the wires, and other hassles. Clear aligners take these hassles down several notches. You’ll have to remove your aligners every time you eat or drink (excluding water), but you’ll get to eat all of your favorite foods. And cleaning your teeth is just as simple as ever, too. Just pop out your aligners to brush and floss, then reinsert them.
4) Insurance Accepted: Both AlignerCo and Invisalign Express may be covered by your insurance. If your plan includes orthodontic benefits, there’s a good chance you can receive partial coverage. Some general dental policies may cover your treatment, too. However, many insurance providers are more likely to cover in-office treatments like Invisalign Express than at-home ones like AlignerCo.
5 Ways They Differ
This wouldn’t be a comparison review if these two companies didn’t have a few differences, now, would it? Here are a few key differences between AlignerCo and Invisalign Express:
1) Who can get treatment: One of the biggest differences between Invisalign and AlignerCo is who can receive treatment. AlignerCo can only treat mild to moderate cases of crowding and spacing. More extensive cases—like those caused by an overbite, underbite, or misshapen jaw—must be monitored in-person by an orthodontist. Invisalign Express can’t handle very extreme cases, but they can take on a few more than AlignerCo thanks to their Smartforce attachments.
2) Cost: There is no one-size-fits-all price tag for Invisalign Express. That’s because your price depends on your dentist or orthodontist’s fees and the severity of your case. The more severe your case, the more it will cost. On average, most people will spend between $1,500 and $4,000. With AlignerCo, though, there are very few overhead costs, so your treatment will be much more affordable: $1,145, which is the lowest price you’ll find anywhere.
3) One-on-one care: The biggest disadvantage of at-home aligner companies like AlignerCo is that you don’t get any face time with your provider. Sure, an orthodontist designs your treatment plan, but you won’t have opportunities to sit down and discuss how your treatment is progressing with them. With Invisalign Express, however, you’ll have direct, in-person care from your dentist or orthodontist when you make office visits every few weeks.
4) Financing: Both AlignerCo and Invisalign Express offer financing. AlignerCo has two methods—one requires a credit check and the other requires a downpayment instead. Invisalign’s financing is a bit different, as your orthodontist’s office will arrange the details of your payment plan.
5) Treatment length: AlignerCo and Invisalign Express both have shorter treatment lengths than braces, but their treatment times are a little different. On average, AlignerCo takes 6 to 11 months, while Invisalign Express lasts between 3 to 6 months.
The Rundown: How Invisalign Express and AlignerCo Stack Up
To say that Invisalign is the biggest clear aligner company is an understatement. They got their start in 1997 thanks to Align Technology, a dental supply manufacturer. For roughly a decade, they had a complete monopoly on the clear aligner scene. Even though at-home aligner companies have since popped up, Invisalign is still a (nearly) household name. They partner with dentists around the world (more than 100,000 of them!), and as a result, they’ve served more than 12 million customers.
In terms of treatment, what really stands out about Invisalign is the wide variety of cases they can treat. They’re best known for Invisalign Full, which can treat just about any case. That’s thanks to their patented SmartForce attachments and ability to incorporate elastics, expanders, etc. Invisalign Express can’t use elaborate elastics and expanders, but they can use some SmartForce attachments.
Compared to Invisalign Express, AlignerCo is much, much newer. AlignerCo was created in 2019. Their goal was to create a treatment method that was as cost-effective as possible. So unlike a lot of at-home aligner companies, AlignerCo doesn’t include any whitening treatments in their kit. That’s because they want to keep their prices low. That said, AlignerCo’s price is so manageable that you’ll have plenty of cash left over to buy their whitening kit separately if you want.
AlignerCo may cut down on expensive extras, but they don’t skimp on quality. Each aligner provided by AlignerCo is top-notch.
Another thing we love about AlignerCo is their flexible NightOnly option. Instead of the traditional 20-22 daily wear schedule, you’ll just need to wear your aligners for 8-10 hours a day. Just pop your aligners in a few hours before bedtime and dream your way to a new smile!
|Customers served||12+ million||No published number, but enough to have a decent amount of third party reviews|
|Claim to fame||First clear aligner company||Most affordable clear aligner treatment in the industry|
|No food restrictions?||✓||✓|
|No office visits?||✓|
|Covered by insurance (with orthodontic benefits)?||✓||✓|
|Personalized customer service?||✓|
|Price Tag?||Varies, most people pay between $1,500-$4,000||All-day treatment: $1,145 |
NightOnly Treatment: $1,345
|Financing Available?||Varies office to office||Financing available with 100% approval|
|Treatment Length?||3-6 months||6-11 months|
|Start-Up Process?||In-person appointment with your Invisalign dentist or orthodontist||At-home impression kit|
At first it may seem like all clear aligners are identical from provider to provider. And while there are similarities across companies (all clear aligners are made from BPA free plastic, for example), there are some differences worth noting, too.
There are two ways that aligners are typically cut: straight across, or scalloped to match the gumline. A straight cut aligner can exert more force, since its overlap with the gums can provide somewhat of an anchor. However, the scalloped aligners offer a much lower profile precisely because they don’t have that overlap. So it’s a bit of a tradeoff either way.
This may sound a little backwards, but the clearest clear aligners aren’t necessarily the most discreet. Since the surface of our teeth is porous, the shiny surface of ultra clear plastic tends to stand out. Some providers make their aligners with slightly frosted plastic, which better mimics our natural smile.
Let’s take a look at how Invisalign and AlignerCo make their aligners:
|Materials||BPA free plastic||Essix BPA free plastic|
|Aligner Cut||Scalloped, to match gumline||Scalloped to match gumline|
|Aligner Transparency||Slightly frosted plastic||Clear, shiny plastic|
Regardless which of these providers you choose your aligners will be high quality. Because of their frosted plastic, Invisalign Express offers aligners that are slightly more discreet than AlignerCo; but appearance is subjective—some people like the added gleam shiny aligners give their smile. All that matters is that you find the clear aligner that works for you.
Both of these providers will keep a close eye on your treatment; but they each approach this process very differently.
Here’s what you can expect from treatment oversight with Invisalign and AlignerCo:
|Frequency of check-ins||Every 4-8 weeks||Every 10-14 days, or whenever you switch to a new set of aligners|
|Check-ins via||In-person appointments|
|Treatment Length||3-6 months||6-11 months|
|Customer Support||Varies from office to office||Everyday from 9am-9pm|
During your Invisalign Express treatment you’ll attend in-person appointments every 4-8 weeks. Here your dentist or orthodontist will ensure your teeth are moving as they should, and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan. This kind of hands-on oversight is undoubtedly effective; but it can be difficult for busy adults to fit frequent appointments into their schedules.
AlignerCo alleviates that scheduling burden with their remote check-ins every 10-14 days of treatment. Each time you switch to a new set of aligners, you’ll email AlignerCo photos so they can ensure your treatment is progressing as planned. This system isn’t as robust as in-person appointments, but the check-ins are more frequent.
If you have a question or need assistance outside of these appointments or check-ins, you’ll need to reach out to customer support. There’s no overarching customer support with Invisalign Express, you’ll reach out to the office where you get your treatment.
Since AlignerCo is entirely remote, you can reach out to their customer service team any day of the week. They’re available by email, phone, and webchat. In our experience, the fastest way to reach AlignerCo is via their online chat feature, but you can usually count on an email response within 24 hours.
Bang For Your Buck
A million-dollar smile is exciting, but it shouldn’t cost you a million bucks. The overall price tag of each service matters, and it’s also important to consider what your money gets you. Every treatment option includes a few basic costs: getting started, the treatment itself, and post-treatment retainers. We’ll cover those here.
|Startup Costs||Varies from provider to provider, some offer free consultations||$75 impression kit, but if you pay for your treatment outright AlignerCo will throw in the kit for free!|
|Aligner Kit||Typically between $1,500-$4,000||All-day treatment: $1,145 |
NightOnly treatment: $1,345
|Adds-Ons||Varies||Whitening kit: $49.99 |
WorryFree Protection Program: $599
|Financing||Varies depending on your doctor, may require a credit check||Both treatments have two payment plan options; one requires a credit check, and the other requires a downpayment|
|Insurance||Varies, but generally more insurance companies offer coverage for in-office treatments like Invisalign||If your insurance policy has orthodontic benefits, you may get partial reimbursement. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to be sure before moving forward with AlignerCo|
|Post-Treatment||Price determined by your provider; can be between $100-$300 per retainer set||AlignerCo includes your first set of aftercare retainers for free! After that you can buy them in bulk through the WorryFree Protection Program|
It’s tough to give a definitive price for Invisalign Express; your total cost will depend on how many aligners you need, plus your provider’s fees. So in some cases, your Invisalign Express price won’t be much higher than AlignerCo. However, if you need more aligners, your price will be considerably higher. In every case, though, AlignerCo is the cheapest option on the market.
AlignerCo is known for their affordability; but that doesn’t mean everyone is eager to hand over a thousand dollars all at once for treatment. Thankfully, AlignerCo offers payment plans to make their treatment a little more accessible.
For all-day treatment, you can either make a downpayment of $275 followed by 6 monthly payments of $175, or (pending approval from their third party financing partner Affirm) you can make 12 monthly payments as low as $81.
For NightOnly treatment, you can either make a $345 downpayment followed by 6 monthly payments of $175, or (pending approval from Affirm) you can pay in 12 monthly installments for as low as $99.
It’s likely that you’ll be able to finance Invisalign Express treatment, but the terms will vary from office to office and a credit check may be required.
AlignerCo has the most affordable retainers in the industry, thanks to their WorryFree Protection Program. For $599, you’ll receive a new set of retainers every six months, for six years. That’s twelve sets total—about $50/set—which is nearly half of the cost of the industry average. Keep your eye out for sales too; we’ve seen this package on sale for $499.
You won’t find a better deal on clear aligner treatment than AlignerCo, but that doesn’t mean that Invisalign Express is a price gouge. Understandably, they have higher prices due to the costs associated with in-person care.
Office Visits—Are They Worth The Extra Cost?
Regular office visits are the biggest difference between in-office treatments like Invisalign Express and at-home ones like AlignerCo. As part of your Invisalign Express treatment, you’ll need to visit your dentist or orthodontist every few weeks so they can evaluate your progress, add attachments, and make timeline adjustments if necessary.
And while this helps ensure safe, effective treatment, it also makes Invisalign Express less affordable and convenient. Office visits are the primary reason in-office treatments are more expensive. Your dentist’s time, equipment, and resources aren’t free, after all. Plus, fitting regular appointments into your busy schedule (and potentially taking time off work) isn’t ideal. The fully-remote service you’ll get from at-home treatments is much more convenient, and without office visit costs, much cheaper too.
The cost and quality of your aligner treatment are important of course, but so is how you’re treated throughout the process. Let’s take a look at what you can expect from the customer experience when you choose Invisalign Express and AlignerCo for treatment.
In the age of Amazon and other Internet retailers, online shopping is pretty common. But savvy shoppers are careful to read online reviews before clicking “Buy.” This is especially important for AlignerCo, which you can only purchase online. Your orthodontist can give a professional opinion on Invisalign Express, but it is still nice to hear the opinions of others who’ve used the system.
You could dig through online reviews yourself, but we know your time is valuable, so we’ve done it for you. We’ve given a brief summary of the top customer likes and dislikes for both Invisalign Express and AlignerCo. (A quick note, though: most of the Invisalign-related reviews are for Invisalign’s full treatment, but the products are inherently the same, so it’s still worth noting here).
|Top Loves||Teen-friendly usage; much more comfortable than braces (for customers who’ve had both); ability to eat anything||Small-company feel; extremely affordable treatment; process is easy to complete|
|Top Complaints||Some aligners wore out too quickly; SmartForce attachments can come loose; basically as pricey as braces||Frequent emails from multiple addresses; misplaced photos; confusion over impression kit instructions|
AlignerCo and Invisalign Express are both pretty well-loved by their customers. In fact, both providers earned the same total: 4.5/5 stars.
The concerns we saw in these reviews didn’t raise any red flags for us. It’s inconvenient to attend an additional in-person appointment because of a broken attachment, but that doesn’t raise any alarm bells for us in terms of the treatment itself.
We can understand why some AlignerCo customers were frustrated to spend more money on extra aligners (more on that in a minute), but we think that AlignerCo’s low pricing makes that potential extra expense a little easier to accept.
Overall, customers seem happy with treatment from both Invisalign Express and AlignerCo.
That said, the exact warranties and guarantees you’ll get will depend on your individual provider. Some will replace a Smartforce attachment for free, some will charge you for new aligners if you lose one, and others don’t have any sort of warranty policy. You’ll have to ask your orthodontist or dentist to know for sure.
Like a lot of home aligner companies, AlignerCo offers only one true refund: their impression kits. If you buy one and you aren’t a candidate, you’ll get a refund for the kit and any money you prepaid for your aligners. Beyond that though, once you purchase your aligners, you’ll only receive a refund if there are manufacturing defects with your aligners.
Sometimes teeth can be a little more stubborn than expected, and you may end up needing more aligners than your treatment plan predicted. These extra aligners are called refinements.
With AlignerCo—provided you’ve followed all the requirements of your treatment—you might qualify for a refinement, which provides extra aligners for $200. We understand that it can be frustrating to spend more money on treatment, but even with this potential additional expense, AlignerCo is still the most affordable treatment option on the market.
With Invisalign Express, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be dissatisfied with your results because your orthodontist or dentist will be able to make small adjustments throughout the process. If any issues arise, your dentist will spot them before they become major problems, keeping your treatment on track and ensuring your satisfaction.
Invisalign Express and AlignerCo are both great companies, so if you’re drawn to either one, you’ll get excellent service. However, these two aren’t the only good options.
If you’re still curious about other companies, we’d also recommend checking out Byte. They’re our #1 ranked at-home clear aligner. They have the shortest treatment lengths on the market, and they offer an impressive Byte-for-Life guarantee. You can find a full review here.
Which is the Best Clear Aligner?
Let’s be clear: Invisalign Express and AlignerCo are both good options. However, what works for someone else may not be what’s best for you. Here are some general guidelines for who should choose Invisalign Express and who should opt for AlignerCo:
- Choose AlignerCo If: Your budget is a top priority. AlignerCo may not have the shortest treatment lengths out there, but they are the most affordable provider in the industry. And with referral discounts, you can get treatment at an even more affordable price. Plus, their NightOnly treatment is a convenient option for busy adults looking to squeeze treatment into a packed schedule.
- Choose Invisalign Express If: Your case is pretty minor but you still want the security of having a professional handle your treatment in-person.
Invisalign Express might be a good option if you prefer in-person care or want to use the Invisalign brand. But AlignerCo wins out if you need a smaller price tag. All told, you should choose the treatment that best lines up with your priorities.
AlignerCo Wins! In our opinion, the sheer affordability and convenience of AlignerCo is hard to beat, especially for busy young adults. That said, AlignerCo is not the only option (and not our absolute favorite pick).
If you like the idea of straightening your teeth from home, we encourage you to compare all the top-rated home aligner services before making a final decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does either service offer discounts?
Invisalign Express doesn’t really offer discounts in the traditional sense. However, your individual provider may give you benefits or perks as part of your treatment. AlignerCo frequently offers referral discounts for $100 off your aligners. Sometimes they offer discounts on their impression kits too.
How exactly does at-home teeth alignment work?
At-home aligner kits like the one from AlignerCo borrow the technology Invisalign perfected. When you send in your impressions, AlignerCo uses those molds and advanced software to create a personalized treatment plan. That technology can predict exactly how your teeth will move when you switch to the next aligner in your kit.
Using each new aligner as a step in the process, AlignerCo gradually moves your teeth from their initial positions to their final destination.
Is there an age requirement for using either Invisalign or AlignerCo?
Invisalign Express is a good option for teens and adults. There’s no explicit age requirement for Invisalign Express; your individual provider can make the call. AlignerCo will treat anyone ages 14 and up. With either company, minors must get parental consent prior to treatment.
Can I use Invisalign or AlignerCo if I live outside the USA?
Invisalign Express is available in over 90 countries thanks to their provider network of more than 100,000 dentists and orthodontists. AlignerCo, on the other hand, does not ship internationally. However, if you live in the U.K., Canada, or Australia, you can try AlignerCo’s sister companies, SmilePath and Straight My Teeth.
How do I know whether at-home or in-office treatment is right for me?
Unless your case is very severe, you’re probably a good candidate for at-home aligner treatment through AlignerCo. Their impression kit is the only way to know for sure, and thankfully, there’s no risk. If you purchase an impression kit and it turns out that you’re not a good candidate for treatment, AlignerCo will refund the cost of the kit.
Will either of these clear aligners make me talk funny?
Most clear aligner users find that their aligners are practically imperceptible to others, even during conversation. That said, some people find that they may speak with a slight lisp when they’re first adjusting to their aligners. After a couple of days, this feeling usually goes away.
If I lose my aligners during or after treatment, do I have to pay for new ones?
Unfortunately AlignerCo doesn’t replace lost or broken aligners. If you lose or break an aligner, reach out to the AlignerCo team and they can advise you about either moving back to your previous aligner, or moving forward to the next set. With Invisalign Express, the policies depend on your individual provider. Your dentist or orthodontist should be your go-to if you lose an aligner. You’ll likely need to pay for a new one, but how much varies from provider to provider.
Can I drink coffee when using Invisalign Express or AlignerCo?
You can, but you shouldn’t. Aligners from AlignerCo and Invisalign Express are fairly resilient, but coffee is good at creating stains. Drinking coffee with your aligners in—or any beverage besides water, for that matter—puts you at the risk of staining them.
Are there any hidden costs?
Neither company has a whole lot of hidden costs. There will be costs if you lose an aligner, but that’s an added expense that you can prevent. One cost you might not be expecting is post-treatment retainers; with AlignerCo, you get the first set for free. You’ll need to purchase your first set with Invisalign Express, but the cost will depend on your individual provider.
Are at-home clear aligners as effective as Invisalign?
In most mild to moderate cases, yes. Thanks to the tested technologies used by remote treatment companies like AlignerCo, your aligners will match your teeth as well as they would with Invisalign Express. That said, there are exceptions. Some people’s teeth may not shift as well as predicted. Other people might not follow the prescribed treatment perfectly. These cases tend not to be as effective.
If you do choose an at-home aligner company, make sure you follow your treatment plan extra carefully. And on the off chance that something seems “off,” you should contact customer support right away. The sooner you correct a minor issue, the more effective your whole treatment process will be.
Which is easier: at-home or in-person treatment?
Once you get past the impression kits, we think it’s a little easier to use at-home aligner treatments. That’s simply because you never have to remember to go to an appointment; you’ll get an email or text notification that it’s time to move on to your next aligner instead. For many busy adults, it’s easier to complete all of the steps at home.
Can I still use Invisalign Express if I’m not a candidate for AlignerCo?
Maybe, but it’s tough to say. Both Invisalign Express and AlignerCo are mostly limited to minor cosmetic cases. Invisalign Express can add SmartForce attachments to your treatment regimen, allowing for more nuanced movements. So Invisalign Express might be able to handle a case that’s slightly beyond what AlignerCo can handle.