At-home teeth aligners present a lot of great advantages: they’re more convenient and way less noticeable than traditional treatment options. If you had braces as a teenager—and endured the “brace face” nicknames—then you probably don’t want to deal with ugly brackets and wires all over again. Or if it’s your first time getting your teeth straightened, you probably don’t want to deal with braces at all.
Thankfully, clear aligners solve that problem; they’re hardly visible to the naked eye. In fact, you’ve probably talked to someone wearing them without ever noticing.
But which company’s aligners are the least noticeable? That is a very good question, especially since all companies say that theirs are the least visible. In this review, we’ll dig into the visibility factors of the four companies we think are the least noticeable: AlignerCo, Byte, Smile Direct, and Candid.
Spoiler | Byte Wins
What Makes Some Clear Aligners Less Noticeable?
We’ll be perfectly honest: “noticeability” is a very subjective term. Read just a few reviews online and you’ll find no one agrees on which aligner is the least visible. To make it as simple as we can, we’ve identified the two key differences between aligners: how they’re cut and the finish of the plastic itself.
An aligner’s shape has some influence over both its effectiveness and its visibility. Some aligners are scalloped to match your gum line, and others are cut straight across. Straight-cut ones can leverage more force on your teeth, but most people find that scallop-cut aligners are a touch less visible.
Then there’s the finish to consider: some companies use a matte-finish plastic, and the others use a shiny plastic. But “shiny” isn’t better, per se. In fact, we’ve found that the matte finish aligners actually match the surface of your teeth better. After all, teeth are naturally porous and slightly textured.
So in general, the least visible aligner is the one that’s matte-finished and scallop-cut. With that in mind, let’s break down each company’s aligner appearance.
AlignerCo uses aligners that are scallop-cut to match your gum line, so they’re a bit less visible than those from other companies (but a touch weaker, too). Beyond that, AlignerCo uses a smooth, shiny, clear plastic. So in that sense, they’re a bit more visible than other aligners. Some people actually like the extra shine, though; they feel it makes their smiles gleam.
The aligners themselves keep a relatively low profile, your friends and coworkers might notice them when you take them in and out to eat or drink. If you want to avoid that hassle, you may want to consider AlignerCo’s NightOnly option, which only requires 8-10 hours of aligner wear per day. This extends your treatment length some, but that’s a small price to pay if your top priority is a low profile.
Learn more in our in-depth review of AlignerCo.
Candid’s aligners are cut straight across your gum line. So if you give a big grin, some people might be able to spot the edge of your aligners. The plastic itself, though, has a frosted, matte finish that better matches your teeth.
Candid offers only daytime treatment, so you’ll need to wear your aligners for the majority of the day. Even though the aligners themselves are pretty hard to spot, people might notice them whenever you remove them to snack and drink (anything except water).
Learn more in our in-depth review of Candid.
Byte uses a straight-cut approach that’s very similar to Candid’s. However, Byte uses a smooth, shiny plastic that doesn’t look quite as natural as other aligners. Some customers actually prefer the added shine it gives their grins, though.
Ultimately, Byte’s visibility factor would be in the middle of the pack…if not for the versatility of their treatment options. With their traditional daytime treatment, you’ll only need to spend 4 months (on average) wearing their aligners. So they won’t be noticeable for long.
Byte also offers nighttime-only treatment. With the nighttime treatment regimen, you’ll only need to wear your aligners for 10 hours per day, instead of 22. That means you’ll mostly wear the aligners while you’re asleep. Chances are, only your family or roommates will see them at all. This extends your treatment length, but not by much; nighttime-only Byte treatments can wrap up in just 5 months.
Learn more in our in-depth review of Byte.
Smile Direct used to have a partnership with the manufacturer who creates aligners for Invisalign, but right now, they’re manufacturing their aligners in-house.
Right now, though, Smile Direct’s aligners are straight-cut across the gum line. They have a matte finish, too. So in terms of invisibility, Smile Direct hits the middle of the pack. What gives them a good boost is their nighttime-treatment option.
Like Byte’s nighttime treatment, you’ll plan to wear your aligners for 10 hours each night instead of 22, but you’ll wear them for ten months. That makes them mostly invisible except to your family or roommates—and even then they might not spot them.
Learn more in our in-depth review of Smile Direct Club.
The #1 Least Noticeable Aligner Is…
Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference. But our ultimate favorite service is Byte (for a number of reasons that you can check out in our full review). Every aligner has a “downside,” whether it’s a shiny finish or a straight-cut shape. Despite those so-called weaknesses, all four companies’ aligners are relatively hard to spot.
The only surefire way to make the aligners absolutely invisible is to keep your mouth closed, which you won’t want to do (except when you’re sleeping, of course). That makes nighttime treatments the least noticeable of them all. Byte provides a competitive nighttime treatment option, and they’re an otherwise great service across the board, so they get our vote.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing an Aligner Company
For us, aligner visibility is not the most important factor. That’s because, across the board, these aligners are all pretty hard to spot. When we evaluate aligners, other key factors we analyze are cost, customer service, customer reviews for each company, and the financing plans available if you don’t want to pay everything up front.
You’ll also want to consider treatment length. We’ve briefly mentioned it in this review, but most companies offer treatments that last for 6 months. Byte, on the other hand, has an average treatment speed of just 4 months.
Everyone has their own opinion of what matters most when choosing a company, so you’ll need to pick the factor that matters most to you and pick the company that best fits the bill.