Invisalign used to be the only clear aligner product on the market, but in recent years, several other brands have gained popularity. These days, online clear aligners like Byte offer an affordable Invisalign alternative for busy adults on a budget. But how do services like Byte actually compare to Invisalign?
Since Byte is designed to be an “express” system, it’s best to compare it to the Invisalign equivalent: Invisalign Express, a shortened version of Invisalign.
In this comparison review, we’ll put Byte and Invisalign Express side-by-side to see how they stack up in terms of cost, treatment oversight, and more. By the time we’re finished, you’ll have a much better understanding of which one lines up with your needs!
Spoiler Alert: Byte Wins! Based on our 5-part review criteria, Byte offers significantly better overall value than Invisalign Express.
Why Are Invisalign Express and Byte So Different, Anyway?
On the surface, Byte and Invisalign Express seem exactly the same: they both treat tooth misalignments invisibly, and they do it in less time than traditional options like braces. But when you dig into it, you realize that there are lots of differences. And all those differences boil down to one core distinction: Byte is an at-home treatment method, and Invisalign Express is overseen in-person by your doctor.
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 effective, safe treatment, it also makes Invisalign Express less affordable and convenient. Office visits are the main reason in-office clear aligners 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.
With that distinction in mind, let’s check out the other differences between Byte and Invisalign Express.
The Rundown: How Invisalign Express and Byte 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 about 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, Invisalign’s ability to address a wide variety of conditions is their stand-out feature. They’re best known for Invisalign Full, which can treat just about any case. That’s thanks to their patented SmartForce attachments and the elastics and expanders that your orthodontist can add. Invisalign Express can’t use elastics and expanders, but they can use some SmartForce attachments.
In comparison to Invisalign, Byte is much, much newer. They got started in 2018 as the brainchild of Dr. Marashi, who has perfected smiles for several of Hollywood’s brightest stars. He wanted to bring his celebrity-level treatment to the masses, so he partnered with some fellow smile pros and got to work.
Byte wants to make you feel like an A-lister with their Smile Science. Instead of giving you a cookie-cutter smile, Byte develops a treatment plan that will straighten your smile in the way that best complements your unique facial features. They also have the shortest treatment lengths of any at-home aligner company and an excellent lifetime guarantee on your treatment. So even though they’re a little newer than Invisalign, Byte is already making a name for themselves.
|Customers served||12+ million||200,000+|
|Claim to fame||First clear aligner company||Shortest treatment lengths in the at-home clear aligner 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: $1,895 |
Byte At-Night: $2,295
|Financing Available?||Varies office to office||All-day treatment: $249 downpayment & 32 monthly payments of $82 |
Byte At-Night: $299 downpayment & 32 monthly payments of $99
|Treatment Length?||3-6 months on average||All-day treatment: 4 months |
Byte At-Night: 5 months
|Start-Up Process?||In-person appointment with your Invisalign dentist or orthodontist||At-home impression kit; simply make your molds and mail them back to Byte with a prepaid shipping label|
That’s the run-down on the basic differences between Invisalign Express and Byte. Still curious? Read on for more info on these important differences.
At first glance, all clear aligners probably look the same to you. Which makes sense, since there are plenty of similarities in aligner design across providers. For instance, all clear aligners are made from safe, BPA free plastic, and gradually move your smile into alignment. Aside from the main similarities, there are a few differences worth noting too.
Typically clear aligners are trimmed in one of two ways: straight across, or scalloped to match the gumline. There are pros and cons to each design. The straight cut overlaps with the gums, which allows it to exert more force, but also makes this style a little more noticeable. The scalloped cut are more discreet, but not quite as powerful. It’s a tradeoff either way, but we prefer the straight cut because of its power.
The transparency of clear aligners also changes from provider to provider. Some companies make their aligners from ultra clear plastic. Others opt to use plastic with a slightly frosted appearance. This might seem a little backwards, but frosted plastic actually makes for a lower profile clear aligner. Highly transparent aligners typically have a bit of a shine to them, which can be more noticeable than a matte finish.
Let’s take a look at the choices each of these providers are making with their aligner designs:
|Manufacturer:||Align Technology||Dentsply Sirona|
|Materials:||BPA free plastic||BPA free, PETG plastic (basically a modified, more affordable polyurethane) |
At-Night aligners are made of a thicker, more durable plastic than their all-day aligners
|Aligner Cut:||Scalloped, to match gumline||Straight cut|
|Aligner Transparency:||Slightly frosted plastic||Clear, shiny plastic|
Byte and Invisalign take different approaches to treatment oversight. Which is only natural, given that Invisalign Express is an in-office option, and Byte occurs entirely remotely. Let’s take a closer look at how these methods of oversight compare:
|Frequency of check-ins||Every 4-8 weeks||Every 3-4 weeks|
|Check-ins via||In-person appointments throughout treatment||Photos sent via a patient portal|
|Treatment Length||3-6 months||All-day treatment: 4 months |
Byte At-Night: 5 months
|Customer Support||Availability will vary from office to office||Available via phone, email and social media—7am-5pm PST|
You’ll attend in-person appointments every 4-8 weeks of your Invisalign Express treatment. Here, your assigned orthodontist or dentist will ensure your treatment is progressing as planned and make any necessary adjustments. These appointments offer robust, hands-on oversight—but they can be difficult to fit into a packed schedule.
With Byte, you can complete your entire treatment from the comfort of your home. To keep the Byte team informed about your treatment, you’ll just upload photos of your smile every 3-4 weeks through your online patient portal. If you aren’t confident in your ability to snap clear photos of your treatment progress, don’t worry—Byte includes a cheek retractor in your treatment bundle to help scoot your cheeks out of the way so you can capture quality images of your smile.
Invisalign Express is a three-level system. You’ll purchase a set of 5, 7, or 10 aligners based on how much correction you need. Understandably, the 5-aligner sets will take the least amount of time.
Byte has the shortest treatment lengths in the at-home clear aligner market, but for really minor cases, Invisalign Express takes the win. Byte’s short treatment lengths are largely thanks to their HyperByte device, which uses gentle vibrations to help loosen your tooth’s ligaments to aid in faster shifts.
If you need anything outside of your regular appointments or remote check-ins, you’ll need to reach out to customer support.
Technically speaking, you can contact Invisalign directly via email. But the better approach is to get in touch with the orthodontist or dentist who’s overseeing your Express treatment. They’ll know the ins and outs of your case, so if you need a repair, a replacement, or a modification to your treatment, your local provider is the best way to get it.
Byte, on the other hand, is completely remote. If anything goes wrong, you can contact them via email, phone, text, webchat, or even social media. Their customer support hours are from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm PST. If you contact them through social media, you should get a response within 24 hours. The more “traditional” channels are usually a touch faster; a phone call, for example, will get you the speediest response.
One thing we really like about Byte is the fact that they assign a Byte advisor to each customer. This advisor becomes your personal customer service rep, so any time you have a question or concern, you’ll talk directly with a person who already understands the ins and outs of your case.
In general, the one-on-one care you get from your Invisalign Express provider leads to better customer service. That said, we think Byte’s personal advisors provide a comparable support experience.
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. Here, we’ll get into the nitty gritty details of what you can expect to pay for your treatment.
|Startup Costs||Varies||$95 impression kit|
|Aligner Kit||No set sticker price, average cost between $1,500-$4,000||All-day treatment: $1,895 |
Byte At-Night: $2,295
|Add-Ons||Varies||Byte Protection Plan: $649 for all-day treatment; $779 for Byte At-Night|
|Financing||Varies depending on your doctor, may require a credit check||All-day treatment: $249 downpayment & 32 monthly payments of $82 |
Byte At-Night: $299 downpayment & 32 monthly payments of $99
|Insurance||Varies, but generally more insurance companies offer coverage for in-office treatments like Invisalign||Byte works hand in hand with several insurance companies. Byte can run a free coverage check for you, you’ll just need to send them your insurance card.|
|Post-Treatment||Price determined by your provider; can be between $100-$300 per retainer set||$129 per retainer set (but they give you the first set for free!)|
To kick off your Invisalign Express treatment, you’ll need to have an initial consultation with your dentist or orthodontist of choice. The cost of this consultation depends on your individual provider. Some orthodontists may offer it for free, and others will charge a small fee.
With Byte, you’ll need to purchase and complete an impression kit so your orthodontist can design your treatment plan. The kit includes putty, trays, a smile stretcher, and everything else you’ll need to complete impressions at home. They’ll even coach you through the process over video chat if you’d like. The sticker price for this kit is $95, but Byte will frequently run sales that cut the cost.
The actual cost of Invisalign Express largely depends on your dentist’s or orthodontist’s fees and length of your treatment. Your orthodontist or dentist will give you a full quote before you pay, but your total is likely to fall between $1,500-$4,000.
Once you agree to treatment, Byte will send you your full aligner kit, from Step 1 to your last aligner. They also throw in the HyperByte (retails for $699) and a bottle of BrightByte, their whitening system, which doubles as a breath freshener and a cleanser for your aligners. Byte At-Night is a bit pricier since the aligners are made from a more durable material.
Like everything else with Invisalign, your cost for post-treatment retainers will largely depend on what your orthodontist or dentist charges. The average prices we’ve seen are between $100-300, but you may end up paying more or less.
Byte includes your first set of post-treatment retainers for free with the purchase of your aligner kit. That’s a big plus, since you’ll need these to keep your newly perfected smile in position. However, the retainers don’t last forever. Whenever you need a replacement (Byte recommends every six months), you can pick up more for $129.
Byte offers a coverage program called Byte Protection Plan. Here’s how it works: for $649 (or $779 for At-Night coverage) Byte will replace any lost or broken aligners for free. This price also includes your first 5 years of post treatment retainers ($1,290 value). If you opt for financing your treatment through BytePay, you’ll automatically be enrolled in the program, otherwise you can simply buy it outright.
Byte’s price is set in stone, but it’s hard to say a definitive price for Invisalign Express. So for some minor cases, Invisalign Express may be cheaper. However, since Byte cuts out office visits and their associated costs, they’re usually the more affordable option.
We’re all pretty accustomed to searching for a good deal, but when we’re looking for a clear aligner provider it’s also important to consider how each company takes care of their customers. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from Invisalign Express and Byte.
In the age of Amazon and other Internet retailers, online shopping is pretty common. But savvy shoppers are careful to read reviews before clicking “Buy.” This is especially important for Byte, 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 made it easy. We’ve given a brief summary of the top customer likes and dislikes for both Invisalign Express and Byte. (A quick note, though: most of the Invisalign-related reviews are for standard Invisalign, but the aligners themselves are the same, so it’s still worth including here).
|Top loves: Teen-friendly usage; much more comfortable than braces (for customers who’ve had both); ability to eat anything||Top loves: Excellent customer service (even mentioning representatives by name); visible results within a couple weeks; easy to use|
|Top complaints: Some aligners wore out too quickly; SmartForce attachments can come loose; can be as pricey as braces||Top complaints: Guarantee on impression kit does not apply to bite issues|
|Average score: 4.5/5||Average score: 4.7/5|
Byte and Invisalign Express are both pretty well-loved by their customers. And that’s not terribly surprising, since Byte is our top-rated at-home service and Invisalign is the top in-office method. Even the best options, however, can experience minor mishaps. What’s important is that these mishaps are the exceptions for both companies, not the norm.
No one wants a purchase to go wrong, regardless of whether it’s big or small. And when it comes to your teeth, your satisfaction is critical.
With Invisalign, any specific guarantees 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. Be sure to ask your orthodontist or dentist about their policies during your consultation to know for sure.
Byte doesn’t technically have a refund policy for their aligners. You can get your money back for the impression kit, but only if it turns out that you’re not a candidate for treatment. Once you purchase the aligner kit, there’s no refund. 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, Byte will send you new aligners to correct it. To stay eligible, be sure to stay on top of wearing and replacing your Byte aftercare retainers.
You might reach the end of your original treatment plan, but still need a bit more movement until your desired results are achieved. In that case, you’ll need refinements (extra aligners) to get the job done. Each provider approaches refinements in their own unique way.
With Invisalign Express, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be too dissatisfied with your treatment since your orthodontist or dentist will be able to make small adjustments throughout the process. If there are any issues, your dentist will spot them before they become major problems, keeping your treatment on track and ensuring your satisfaction.
If you reach the end of your Byte treatment and you’re not satisfied, you can request a re-evaluation. As long as you’ve followed your prescribed treatment plan, Byte will provide free refinements to get the results you’re after. This is a major plus in the at-home clear aligner industry since some competitors charge for refinements.
Teeth alignment is never going to be an entirely pain-free experience—even braces (the old reliable of orthodontia), causes its fair share of aches and pains.
With clear aligner treatment, you’re likely to experience the most soreness when you switch to a new set of aligners, as these will have a snugger fit than the last set. Usually the discomfort only lasts a day or two.
One way that Byte mitigates treatment discomfort is their proprietary HyperByte device. We mentioned earlier that this device releases gentle vibrations to shorten treatment lengths. With daily use, these pulses help your aligners fit better, faster. Byte’s reviews are full of customers mentioning the HyperByte helping to alleviate their discomfort.
Which Is the Best Clear Aligner for You?
Let’s be clear: Invisalign Express and Byte are both good options. However, what works for one person may not be what’s best for you. Here are some general guidelines for who should choose Invisalign and who should opt for Byte:
- Choose Byte If: You want a balance of high quality and good value. If you want the convenience of nighttime treatment, Byte still has you covered.
- 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 Byte is our top-ranked clear aligner company, and we think they’re the overall better choice.
Final Verdict: Byte Wins!
In our opinion, Byte’s superior convenience, lifetime guarantee, and top-rated customer support are just too good to pass up.
And even though they’re our #1-rated home aligner company, they’re not the only option out there. 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.
Common Questions About Invisalign Express and Byte
Does either provider 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. Byte occasionally offers discounts on their impression kits and their aligners, but they generally don’t exceed $150. Byte also has a discount program for students, active-duty military and veterans, and first responders.
Which clear aligner is more customer-focused?
Technically speaking, Invisalign Express is more customer focused. After all, you’ll work directly with an orthodontist or dentist, getting individualized attention along the way. However, Byte assigns a designated care assistant to each customer, so they do a good job of providing individualized care—even remotely.
How exactly does at-home teeth alignment work?
At-home aligner kits like the one from Byte borrow the technology Invisalign perfected. When you send in your impressions, Byte uses those molds and advanced software to create a treatment plan for you. 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, Byte gradually moves your teeth from their initial positions to their perfected ones.
Is there an age requirement for using either Invisalign or Byte?
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. Byte, on the other hand, only offers treatment for ages 12 and up. Minors must get parental consent prior to treatment.
Can I use Invisalign or Byte 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. Byte is available in the U.S. and Australia.
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 Byte. You can also take a preliminary assessment on Byte’s website. Their impression kit is the only way to know for sure if you are a candidate, 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, Byte 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?
If you’re enrolled in the Byte Protection Plan (by buying it outright or using BytePay for financing), then Byte will replace lost or broken aligners for free! Otherwise, Byte will send you a replacement aligner for $129 for all-day aligners and $149 for At-Night aligners. Just wear your most recent aligner to keep your teeth from shifting too far back until it arrives. Invisalign Express, however, depends 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 depends on your provider’s policies.
Can I drink coffee when using Invisalign Express or Byte?
You can, but you shouldn’t. Aligners from Byte 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 Byte, 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 aligners as effective as in-office treatment?
In most mild to moderate cases, yes. Thanks to the tested technologies used by remote treatment companies like Byte, 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 should something seem “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-office aligner 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 Byte?
Maybe, but it’s tough to say. Both Invisalign Express and Byte are mostly limited to minor cosmetic cases. Invisalign Express can add SmartForce attachments, allowing for more nuanced movements. So a case that’s slightly beyond what Byte can handle might be treatable with Invisalign Express.
If Invisalign Express isn’t an option but you still want clear aligner treatment, then you should look into Invisalign Full.
Why is Invisalign Express sometimes more expensive and sometimes less expensive than Byte?
The price point for Invisalign Express depends on the number of aligners you buy (plus any attachments you need). Last but not least, you’ll have to account for your individual provider’s fees. When you need just five aligners, your price point might be cheaper than Byte. But if you need ten, it could be more. Byte, on the other hand, has a one-size-fits-all price, regardless of how many aligners you need.