Life is better when you have choices. But for orthodontics patients, choices weren’t 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 short treatment lengths, 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 ones out there. For example, our #2 pick, Candid, is a great option if you’re looking for the at-home clear aligner provider with the most treatment oversight. 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 that 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 $249 and then $82 per month. Financing for Invisalign, however, varies since the terms are set by your provider.
The Rundown: How Invisalign and Byte Stack Up:
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 12 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.
Let’s take a look at how their providers compare:
|Customers served||12+ million||200,000+|
|Claim to fame||First clear aligner company||Shortest treatment lengths 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 $3,000-$8,000||Daytime treatment: $1,895 |
Byte At-Night: $2,295
|Financing Available?||Varies office to office, may require a credit check||Daytime treatment: $249 downpayment & 32 monthly payments of $82 |
Byte At-Night: $299 downpayment & 32 monthly payments of $99
|Treatment Length?||12-18 months on average||Daytime treatment: Average 4 months |
Byte At-Night: Average 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|
All clear aligner providers offer products made from safe, BPA free plastics. But clear aligners aren’t all identical.
There are two main ways to cut the top of your aligners: straight across, or scalloped to match the gumline. Since they overlap with your gums, straight cut aligners are capable of exerting more force. Scalloped aligners are slightly less noticeable, but they aren’t as powerful; so it’s a bit of a tradeoff either way.
The transparency of your aligners also varies from provider to provider. Some companies think that the clearer the aligner, the better. Others opt to make their aligners from slightly frosted looking plastic. It may seem counter intuitive, but the frosted aligners generally blend in a little bit better, since they mimic the matte surface of your teeth.
Let’s take a look at the aligners you’ll be wearing when you choose Invisalign and Byte.
|Manufacturer||Align Technology||Dentsply Sirona|
|Materials||BPA free plastic||BPA free, PETG plastic (basically a modified, more affordable polyurethane) |
At-Night aligners are made for 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|
Since they’re both scalloped and frosted, Invisalign’s aligners offer maximum discretion—but they can’t exert as much power as Byte’s. However, since Invisalign is an in-person treatment option, they can affix supplemental attachments that aid in complex tooth shifts. These attachments increase Invisalign’s effectiveness, but they’re a little more noticeable than clear aligners only.
Byte and Invisalign take different approaches to treatment oversight. With Invisalign, you’ll need to attend frequent in-person appointments throughout your treatment. Whereas with Byte, you’ll be able to complete all of your treatment from the comfort of your own home. Let’s see the breakdown of what treatment oversight looks like with Invisalign and Byte:
|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||12-18 months||Daytime 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|
Outside of your photo check-ins, if you need anything you can reach out to Byte’s support team. 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. It’s hard to get more hands-on attention than having a face to face appointment with your doctor every few weeks. That said, we think Byte advisors do a great job replicating this personal touch; all while providing convenient treatment from the comfort of your own home.
Bang For Your Buck
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.
|Startup Costs||Varies||$95 impression kit|
|Aligner Kit||No set sticker price, average cost between $3,500-$8,000||Daytime treatment: $1,895 |
Byte At-Night: $2,295
|Add-Ons||Varies||Byte Protection Plan: $649 for daytime treatment; $779 for Byte At-Night|
|Financing||Varies depending on your doctor, may require a credit check||Daytime 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 info.|
|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!)|
Retainers are durable, but they don’t last forever. One thing we love about Byte is their commitment to making aftercare as affordable as possible. Since retainers are an ongoing expense, we love that they offer up your first set for free. Plus, if you enroll in the Byte Protection Plan (either by purchasing it outright or becoming automatically enrolled by paying for treatment with BytePay) you’ll receive free retainers for 5 years after your treatment.
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.
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.
The price and quality of your treatment are important; but so is how you’re treated throughout the process. Let’s take a look at what you can expect from the customer experience with Invisalign and Byte.
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||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||Guarantee on impression kit does not apply to bite issues|
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.
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. Ask your doctor about their policies during your consultation.
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. All you have to do to stay eligible is keep on top of wearing and replacing your aftercare retainers.
What if I break an aligner?
Accidents happen—if you break an aligner during your treatment, reach out to your provider right away.
If you’re enrolled in the Byte Protection Plan (by purchasing it outright or paying for treatment with BytePay), then this replacement will be covered for free! If you aren’t in that program, your replacement aligner set will cost $129 for all-day treatment, and $149 for At-Night treatment. With Invisalign, this policy changes from doctor to doctor. Some may offer one replacement for free, but others may charge.
While you’re waiting for your replacement aligner to arrive, wear your most recent set of aligners to keep your teeth from moving out of alignment.
Sometimes teeth can be a bit stubborn, and you may need a few more aligners than expected. These extra aligners are called refinements, and some providers charge extra for them—but not Byte. If you’ve followed their treatment guidelines, you’ll receive all of the aligners required to deliver a great new smile.
Refinements aren’t likely to be needed with Invisalign treatment, since your treatment is always being tweaked at in-person appointments.
Trade uncomfortable wires and brackets for smooth plastic, and clear aligner treatment is bound to be more comfortable than traditional metal braces. That being said, with any teeth alignment there’s going to be a little discomfort—that just comes with the territory. As your teeth shift, you’ll experience some soreness; particularly when you switch to a new set of aligners since they’ll have a snugger fit than the last.
Luckily, with Byte you have the HyperByte on your side; which can decrease soreness and offer a better aligner fit. Here’s how it works: the HyperByte releases tiny pulses that help loosen your tooth’s ligaments. This process helps your aligners fit better; faster.
Which Is the Best Aligner for You?
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 eager to upgrade your smile, but you still want quality treatment. Thanks to the HyperByte device, Byte’s treatments can take as little as 4 months. Byte is an excellent 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 short treatment lengths, 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 provider 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.