Life is better when you have choices. But for orthodontics patients, choices were not always available.
When you wanted to straighten your teeth, you had one option: shiny metal braces. Then Invisalign came along.
For a while, Invisalign was the only clear aligner company on the market, but it wasn’t long before competition hit the scene. Now, you have so many choices between in-office and at-home clear aligners that making a decision can feel overwhelming.
Today, we are going to simplify the decision-making process for you. We’re taking a look at Invisalign, the industry innovator, and its most notable at-home competition: Byte.
Spoiler | Byte Wins
In our opinion, Byte’s accelerated treatment times, lifetime guarantee, and superior convenience are just too good to pass up.
And even though they’re our #1-rated home aligner company, they’re not the only one out there. For example, our #2 pick, AlignerCo, is a great option if you’re looking for the most budget-friendly aligner. 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.
4 Things They Have in Common
Invisalign and Byte have a lot in common; they wouldn’t be each other’s competition if they didn’t. So, let’s take a look at the features they share.
1) Discreet: Not everyone straightening their teeth wants to advertise the fact that they are in treatment. With Invisalign and Byte, people are unlikely to notice you are wearing anything. The most obvious sign is a lisp that some people have for a few days before they adjust to their aligners.
2) Safe: Your smile is a defining feature; you need to know it is in good hands. Luckily, both Invisalign and Byte are safe to use. They are backed by similar technology and use medical-grade BPA-free plastic in their aligners.
3) Convenient: It used to be the biggest downside of orthodontic treatment was changing your lifestyle to fit with braces. That’s not an issue with clear plastic aligners. Just remove them to eat, drink, brush, and floss. But you can keep them in when drinking water, which makes things pretty simple.
4) Insurance coverage: Both Byte and Invisalign are covered by some insurance providers. As long as you have orthodontic benefits, you should ask your insurer about which treatments they work with. Just keep in mind that there are still some companies that don’t cover Byte or other at-home systems.
5 Ways They Differ
Of course, if we are comparing these two companies, we need to look at their differences as well. Here are some factors that set Invisalign and Byte apart.
1) Who can get treatment: This is a factor with a big impact. Byte, like all at-home aligner systems, can only treat mild to moderate crowding and spacing. But sometimes, you need to make bigger corrections than that. When that is the case, Invisalign is the way to go. It can handle pretty much all orthodontic cases.
2) Cost: How much does Invisalign cost? That depends on the provider you choose and how complex your case is. Each doctor sets their own prices and more complex cases need more aligners, raising the cost. Most people end up spending between $3,000 and $8,000 when they choose Invisalign. With Byte, though, there are very few overhead costs, so your treatment will be much more affordable: just $1,895. As their premium option, Byte’s nighttime-only treatment costs $2,295, just slightly higher than their standard treatment.
3) Treatment time: The average treatment time with Invisalign ranges from 12 to 18 months. Byte is significantly faster, with their quickest times clocking in at just 3-4 months. That raw speed is thanks to their HyperByte device. Some orthodontists offer similar devices, but they cost significantly more.
4) One-on-one care: One of the biggest advantages of home clear aligners like Byte is that you don’t have to go to any office appointments. It is also one of the biggest disadvantages since you won’t get to sit down with your doctor to review progress and talk about your treatment. Invisalign, on the other hand, is only offered in office, ensuring you get that one-on-one attention.
5) Financing: Both Byte and Invisalign offer financing. With Byte, you’ll get it with a down payment of $349 and then $83 per month. Financing for Invisalign, however, varies since the terms are set by your provider.
Company Track Records
Invisalign is the clear aligner originator, and it remains the biggest company in the game. It first hit the market in 1998, the brainchild of Align Technology. For nearly a decade, they were the only company offering this unique form of treatment, and they remain a household name. Over 8 million people across the globe have improved their smiles with Invisalign.
Invisalign isn’t just known for discreet treatment; it is championed for its ability to address even severe misalignment, thanks in part to their SmartForce attachments. These allow for more pressure on the teeth and fine-tuned guidance, making treatment more flexible and wide ranging.
Byte also has an excellent track record, but it is a much shorter one. The company started in 2018, with founder Dr. Marashi taking his skills in perfecting Hollywood smiles and applying them to at-home clear aligners.
Byte’s goal is to give every client an A-list smile. But these aren’t cookie-cutter grins; Byte uses their Smile Science approach when planning treatment. This means they factor in all your facial features to bring the teeth into alignment with each other and your overall appearance. So, while Byte may be new, they are offering some incredible results.
Whether you choose Invisalign or Byte, you can expect to enjoy the process and love the results. But that is just glossing over the process. You want to know what goes into your treatment as well.
With Invisalign, treatment involves regular visits to your dentist or orthodontist. During these appointments, your doctor checks your progress, answers questions, and sometimes even makes adjustments by adding attachments. You also might get the next set of aligners at certain appointments.
Byte is different. Since it is a remote treatment, there are no office visits; everything from impressions to retainers is handled at home. You take your impressions and ship them off; then a doctor designs your treatment plan and sends it to you for approval. Once you agree, the aligners are made and sent to you. You wear them as directed, check in with your Byte advisor as needed, then move to retainers once active treatment is complete.
In either case, you will get quality treatment and orthodontic expertise, but if you want direct oversight, Invisalign is the better option.
While smiles may not be fingerprint-level unique, it’s rare that you will find two that are exactly the same. This means that you cannot perfectly predict how long treatment will take. Factors that influence speed include the system you choose, the level of changes you want to make, how well you follow your treatment plan, and the natural way your body responds.
That said, here are the average treatment times for Invisalign and Byte:
- Invisalign: 12 to 18 months
- Byte: 3-4 months for daytime treatment, 5-6 months for nighttime treatment
We’ll dig into more detail about Byte’s nighttime treatment in a moment, but the difference is clear: Byte is much faster than Invisalign thanks to their HyperByte technology, which can potentially cut down your treatment time by half, allowing you to finish in just 3 months.
Pricing & Features
You want a million-dollar smile without the hefty price tag. Whether you choose Invisalign or Byte, you won’t be spending anywhere near that much, but Byte is ultimately the cheaper option. Let’s take a look at the factors that influence the final price of Invisalign and Byte.
Treatment Start-Up Costs
- Invisalign, price varies: Invisalign treatment begins with an initial consultation with your dentist or orthodontist of choice. The cost depends on what your doctor chooses to charge. Sometimes the consultation is free, and other times there is a nominal fee. It’s up to them.
- Byte, $95: 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.
- Invisalign, $3,500-$8,000 (average): The cost of Invisalign includes a few different items: the diagnostics, the aligners themselves, your doctor’s fees, and any special attachments used. Ask for a complete quote before you start treatment.
- Byte, $1,895 or $2,295: 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 device (retails for $699) and a bottle of BrightByte, their whitening system. It also doubles as a breath freshener and a cleanser for your aligners. Byte At-Night includes all the same things but costs $2,295.
- Invisalign, $100-300: You probably already guessed it: what you pay for post-Invisalign retainers depends on your provider. They can set their own prices for your retainers, which usually will fall somewhere in the range of $100-$300 per set.
- Byte, FREE: 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 it to keep your newly-perfected smile in position for a lifetime. However, the retainers don’t last forever. Whenever you need a replacement (Byte recommends every six months), you can pick up another for $129.
While Invisalign costs more than Byte, it is important that you don’t think of it as a price gouge. You are paying for direct oversight and the benefits that come from in-person care. Byte costs less than $2,000 start to finish, making it a great option for penny-pinchers and smart shoppers alike.
Will you run into speed bumps with your treatment? Not necessarily. But hey, life happens. You might lose an aligner, or have one break, or just have a question about your treatment. When you have moments like these, you need a little customer support.
As a company, Invisalign can be contacted directly, but this isn’t meant for patient matters. Instead, contact your dentist or orthodontist. They will understand your case best and be able to offer the most immediate assistance.
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 8:00 am to 6:00 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 an almost immediate 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 all the details of your case.
In general, the one-on-one care you get from your Invisalign provider leads to quality and individualized customer support. That said, we think Byte advisors do a great job replicating this personal touch.
Office Visits — Are They Worth The Extra Cost?
The biggest factor separating Invisalign and Byte, both in terms of price and treatment experience, are the office visits. The question you need to ask yourself is if these visits are worth thousands of extra dollars.
For some, there is no option; only in-person care can meet their needs. But for most people, it is a choice. If you work directly with a dentist or orthodontist, you’ll receive safe, effective treatment. But you also will with Byte. While we all have our comfort level, for most people, these office visits aren’t worth thousands of dollars.
Ease of Getting Started
Starting your Invisalign treatment means selecting a local Invisalign provider and booking a consultation. They take over all technical aspects of taking scans, x-rays, and molds of your teeth at your appointment. You just have to show up, answer questions, and, of course, keep your mouth open when asked.
With Byte, getting started is a little more complicated. Since there are no office visits, you need to get treatment going on your own.
This begins with ordering their impression kit. This is just $95, though you can often get it on sale. Once it arrives, you take your dental impressions. The kit includes putty for two sets of impressions, molds, and a smile stretcher. You first use the stretcher to take photos, then use the putty and molds to create the models. With these, the Byte team can determine if you are a good fit for treatment and if you are, create your aligners.
Ultimately, taking impressions yourself can be tricky. However, Byte does offer video sessions to coach you through the process. If the idea still intimidates you, know that Invisalign is simpler.
Try before you buy is great advice, but not always practical. With orthodontic care, you either jump in or don’t get treatment. But you can get close to test driving treatment by researching what others have to say about various systems.
Of course, that takes a lot of time, and we are here to make this as easy for you as possible. That’s why we dug through thousands of online reviews and compiled the key details into a quick summary.
|Top loves: Works for patients of all ages; comfortable and easy to wear; no changes to diet||Top loves: Excellent customer service (even mentioning representatives by name); visible results within a couple weeks; easy to use|
|Top complaints: Sometimes the aligners wear down fast; SmartForce attachments might loosen or pop off; expensive||Top complaints: No shipping to North Carolina; guarantee on impression kit does not apply to bite issues|
|Average score: 4.5/5||Average score: 4.7/5|
Both Invisalign and Byte are well reviewed and have customers who really love their systems. And that’s not terribly surprising since Byte is our top-rated at-home service and Invisalign is the top in-office method. While the reviews aren’t perfect across the board, even great treatments have mishaps from time to time. What’s important is that these mishaps are the exceptions for both companies, not the norm.
Refund Policies & Guarantees
No one wants a purchase to go wrong, and when it comes to your teeth, your satisfaction is critical.
Most likely, you’ll be thrilled with the process and results of Invisalign treatment. That’s because your doctor will see you regularly and make adjustments as needed. If you ever have a concern, you just let them know and they will help you get past it.
However, that isn’t the same as having a warranty. These are set by the individual provider. Some will replace a certain number of aligners for free or offer special protection programs. Ask your doctor about their policies during your consultation.
The “Byte-for-Life Guarantee”
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. Similarly, if you reach the end of your treatment and you’re not satisfied, you can request a re-evaluation. As long as you’ve followed your prescribed treatment plan, Byte will help make it right.
Which Is the Best?
Let’s be clear: Invisalign 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’re in a rush but still want quality treatment. Typically, Byte’s treatment time takes as little as three months. Byte is also an excellent choice if you need a balance of quality and good value.
Choose Invisalign If:
You need more extensive adjustments, bite corrections, or you just want the security of having a professional handle your treatment in-person.
If you discover that your condition is too severe for home aligner treatment, or if you’re simply more comfortable with in-person care, Invisalign is a great option. But we think that Byte, our top-rated home aligner service, is a better overall value.
In our opinion, Byte’s accelerated treatment times, lifetime guarantee, and superior convenience are just too good to pass up.
While Byte is our top choice for clear aligners, they aren’t the only at-home treatment option. If price is your number-one concern, check out AlignerCo. They are the cheapest system on the market. As always, we suggest you explore all options before you buy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does either aligner kit offer discounts?
Byte does from time to time, usually on their impression kit. However, you might find ways to get up to $200 off your aligners. They also offer discounted rates for students, military members, veterans, and first responders. Invisalign as a company doesn’t offer discounts, but sometimes doctors will.
Which clear aligner is more customer focused?
We’d have to give this one to Invisalign just because you get more direct contact and support. However, Byte does a lot to make sure you have an excellent experience and does prioritize its customers.
How exactly does at-home teeth alignment work?
The process is more or less the same as with in-office teeth alignment. Licensed dentists and orthodontists evaluate your diagnostics (in the case of Byte, these are impressions and photos), then design a treatment plan. Each step in the plan becomes an aligner. These aligners place pressure on the teeth, which changes whenever you move to the next in the series. Over time, the teeth are moved into their ideal positions.
Is there an age requirement for using either Invisalign or Byte?
Both systems have a minimum age for use, but it varies. With Invisalign, patients as young as 6 years old can get treatment using their Invisalign First system. Byte does not offer treatment for anyone under the age of 12.
Can I use Invisalign or Byte if I live outside the USA?
Invisalign is offered in more than 90 countries through their network of more than 100,000 dentists and orthodontists. Byte, on the other hand, is only available in the U.S. and Australia.
How do I know whether at-home or in-office treatment is right for me?
The company you choose will let you know! When you send in your impressions, or get a scan with certain companies, they will be evaluated by someone on their team. Usually, this is a dentist or orthodontist (though some companies just have trained technicians). Based on what they see, they will determine if you are a candidate, and if you are, make a treatment plan for you.
Will either of these clear aligners make me talk funny?
Sometimes, aligners do cause a slight lisp when you speak. This is because we place our tongue against our teeth to form many sounds. However, the tongue eventually adjusts to the presence of the aligners. For most people, the lisp is gone within days or a couple of weeks.
Can I drink coffee when using Invisalign or Byte?
Yes! Just take your aligners out first, and brush your teeth before you put them back in. Clear aligners will stain.
Are there any hidden costs?
No, neither company hides costs related to treatment. If you lose an aligner, you will need to pay for replacements, and you’ll need to buy retainers once active treatment is complete. Other than those and the treatment itself, there are no costs to expect and none of them should be a surprise.
Which is easier: at-home or in-office aligner treatment?
When in the start-up stage, Invisalign is easier since you don’t need to take your own impressions. However, Byte is easier once you are wearing your aligners. This is because there are no office visits.