20 years ago, clear aligners became the superhero of modern orthodontics.
They 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. Six Month Smiles was one such competitor.
At first, they only offered clear braces, but they’ve recently added clear aligners to their treatment regimen. Then there are at-home clear aligners, like those offered by AlignerCo. These brands offer a faster and more affordable treatment alternative for busy adults on a budget.
But how do these competitors—Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo—compare? That’s the question we’re here to answer. In this comparison review, we’ll put AlignerCo and Six Month Smiles 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 sense of which company lines up with your needs!
Spoiler | AlignerCo Wins
4 Things They Have in Common
Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo are two very different companies, but they do have similar products. It comes as no surprise, then, that they have a few things in common:
1) Discreet: Both Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo are far less noticeable than braces. Trade wires and brackets for clear aligners (or make those wires clear, as Six Month Smiles does) and that’s bound to happen. Some people find that they ‘lisp’ a little bit when they first start wearing the aligners or clear braces, 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. But rest assured, both Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo are safe ways to straighten your teeth. Both companies use similar technologies, and although Six Month Smiles has a few capabilities that AlignerCo doesn’t, the basic principle is the same. Both companies use safe, BPA-free plastic for your aligners or braces and state-licensed 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. The only exception is if you wear the clear braces from Six Month Smiles; you’ll have to be a bit more careful about what you eat since you can’t remove the braces on your own.
4) Insurance Accepted: Both AlignerCo and Six Month Smiles 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, insurance providers are more likely to cover in-office treatments like Six Month Smiles 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 Six Month Smiles:
1) Who can get treatment: One of the biggest differences between Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo is who can receive treatment. AlignerCo can only treat mild and 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 a dentist or orthodontist. Six Month Smiles, however, can handle a slightly wider range of cases because they offer both clear braces and aligners and provide in-person orthodontist care.
2) Cost: There is no one-size-fits-all price tag for Six Month Smiles because the price depends on your orthodontist’s personal fees and your condition’s severity. The more severe your case, the more it will cost. On average, most people spend between $3,500 and $5,000. AlignerCo, however, has very few overhead costs, so your treatment will be much more affordable: $1,145, the lowest price on the market.
3) Treatment Time: Treatment time with Six Month Smiles ranges between 4 to 9 months. But as their name suggests, they aren’t shy that their typical treatment lasts 6 months. AlignerCo’s treatments are a touch slower, with averages clocking in at 6 to 11 months.
4) One-on-one care: The biggest disadvantage of at-home aligner companies like AlignerCo is that you don’t actually meet in-person with your provider, which can make it tough to individualize your treatment. But with Six Month Smiles, you’ll have direct, in-person care from your orthodontist when you visit the office every few weeks.
5) Financing: Both AlignerCo and Six Month Smiles offer financing. In fact, AlignerCo offers two financing methods. One method requires you to pass a credit check, but the other requires a down payment. Six Month Smiles’ financing is a bit different, as your orthodontist’s office will arrange the details of your payment plan.
The Rundown: How Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo Stack Up
Six Month Smiles may not have been the first company to offer clear aligners (that honor goes to Invisalign), but they did find ways to stand out when they started in the mid-2000s. Their founder, Dr. Ryan Swain, had a few of his own patients who wanted less-visible teeth-straightening options, but they weren’t sold on Invisalign. His solution: clear braces. Instead of using metal appliances and wires, Dr. Swain offered tooth-colored brackets and clear wires. The result was a treatment that was nearly as versatile as regular braces but much less visible.
Later on, Six Month Smiles added clear aligners to their treatment options. These aligners aren’t quite as powerful as their braces, but they are nearly invisible. Most of their competitors don’t offer that kind of variety.
Compared to Six Month Smiles, AlignerCo is much, much newer. AlignerCo was created in 2019. Their goal was to create the most cost-effective treatment possible. Because they want to keep their prices low, AlignerCo doesn’t include any whitening treatments in their kit. That said, AlignerCo’s price is so manageable that you’ll have plenty of cash left over to get whitening if you want it (their kit is sold separately and priced at $49.99).
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!
|Six Month Smiles||AlignerCo|
|Customers served||No published number||No published number, but enough to have a substantial amount of third party reviews|
|Claim to fame||Offering variety of treatments; both clear aligners and clear braces||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?||Between $3,500-$5,000||All-day treatment: $1,145 |
NightOnly Treatment: $1,345
|Financing Available?||Varies from office to office||Financing available with 100% approval|
|Treatment Length?||Average 6 months; but full range is 4-9 months.||6-11 months|
|Start-Up Process?||In-person appointment with a Six Month Smiles provider||At-home impression kit|
At first it may look like all clear aligners are exactly the same. Don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of similarities in clear aligners from company to company. For example, all providers use safe, BPA free plastic to manufacture their aligners. But there are some differences worth noting too.
There are two ways to trim the top of an aligner: straight across, or scalloped to match the gumline. The straight cut can exert more force, since its overlap with your gums work as an anchor. The scalloped cut aligners are less noticeable since they don’t have this overlap, so it’s a bit of a tradeoff either way; discretion for effectiveness.
Some providers make their aligners as clear as possible, while other competitors opt to make their aligners with a slightly frosted plastic. This may sound a bit counter intuitive, but ultra clear looking aligners aren’t necessarily the most discreet. Since our teeth have a naturally porous surface, the frosted aligners better mimic the matte surface of our smile. Whereas highly transparent aligners tend to be shiny, which can draw attention to your treatment.
Let’s take a look at the details of the aligners you’ll get from Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo:
|Six Month Smiles||AlignerCo|
|Materials||BPA free Zendura FLX plastic clear aligners, or braces with translucent brackets and tooth colored wires||Essix BPA free plastic|
|Aligner Cut||Scalloped to match gumline||Scalloped to match gumline|
|Aligner Transparency||Clear, shiny plastic||Clear, shiny plastic|
Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo make similar choices across the board with their aligners, and you’d be in good hands with either one of them. Their clear, shiny plastic may be a little bit more noticeable than some of their competitors, but appearance is subjective; some customers like having an extra gleam in their smiles! All that matters is you choose the right aligner for you.
Both of these providers keep a close watch on your clear aligner treatment; but they each take a different approach. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of treatment with Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo.
|Six Month Smiles||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||Most people wrap up in 6 months, but the full range is 4-9 months||6-11 months|
|Customer Support||The hours of availability will vary based on the office overseeing your treatment||Everyday from 9am-9pm|
You’ll attend regular in-person appointments throughout your Six Month Smiles treatment. There, your provider will ensure your teeth are shifting properly, and make any necessary tweaks to your treatment plan. These in-person appointments offer robust oversight, but it can be challenging to make time in a busy schedule for so many appointments.
With AlignerCo, you’ll send frequent photo updates for their team to review; ensuring your treatment stays on track. Plus, you can complete these updates from the comfort of your own home.
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 Six Month Smiles, 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.
|Six Month Smiles||AlignerCo|
|Startup Costs||Varies||$75 impression kit, but if you pay for your treatment outright AlignerCo will throw in the kit for free!|
|Aligner Kit||Average cost between $3,500-$5,000||All-day treatment: $1,145 |
NightOnly treatment: $1,345
|Adds-Ons||Varies||Whitening kit: $49.99 |
WorryFree Protection Program: $599
|Financing||Will vary from office to office, may require a credit check||Both treatments have two payment plan options; one requires a credit check, and one requires a downpayment|
|Insurance||Likely to find coverage, check with your Six Month Smiles provider and your insurance company for details||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||Varies from doctor to doctor||AlignerCo includes your first set of aftercare retainers for free! After that you can buy them in bulk through the WorryFree Protection Program|
Six Month Smiles’ treatment costs more than AlignerCo, but they’re definitely a more affordable option than traditional braces. Plus, you get in-person oversight and the ability to treat more severe alignment problems. However, that doesn’t justify the extra expense in all cases.
AlignerCo has the most affordable prices in the industry; but that doesn’t make it any easier to part with a thousand dollars all at once. Thankfully, AlignerCo offers payment plans to make treatment more approachable.
For their 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, starting 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 your Six Months Smiles provider offers payment plans, but the terms will vary from office to office, and you may need to pass a credit check.
Another cost that varies? Your aftercare retainers. These retainers are durable, but they don’t last forever. You’ll typically need to replace them every 6 months or so. 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.
Office Visits—Are They Worth The Extra Cost?
Regular office visits are the biggest difference between in-office treatments like Six Month Smiles and at-home ones like AlignerCo. As part of your Six Month Smiles 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 Six Month Smiles 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 clear aligner treatment are important, but so is how you’re treated throughout the process. Let’s take a look at what you can expect as a customer of Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo.
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 Six Month Smiles, but it is still nice to hear the opinions of others who’ve used the system.
Here’s a quick glimpse into the online reviews for AlignerCo:
- Top loves: Small-company feel; extremely affordable treatment; process is easy to complete
- Top complaints: Frequent emails from multiple addresses; misplaced photos; confusion over impression kit instructions
We tallied up AlignerCo’s total average score for a total of 4.5/5 stars. Overall, AlignerCo’s customers seem happy with their results and the support they received along the way. We can understand why some customers would be 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.
It’s a bit harder to tally up a score for Six Month Smiles. There are very few customer reviews online because treatment is provided through individual dental offices (there are a few reviews available on their website, but they’re “featured” reviews, so we don’t put a whole lot of stock in them).
It’s easiest to get a full review (beyond what we’ve included here) directly from your dentist or orthodontist. That said, their established reputation speaks pretty well to their quality and service.
The exact warranties and guarantees you’ll get with Six Month Smiles will depend on your individual provider. Some will repair a broken bracket, wire, or aligner 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. But once you purchase your aligners, you’ll only receive a refund if there are manufacturing defects with your aligners.
Occasionally, teeth can be a bit more stubborn than expected. In some cases, you may reach the end of your treatment plan and need a few extra aligners. These extra aligners are called refinements.
Provided you’ve followed all the requirements of your treatment, you might be eligible for an AlignerCo refinement for $200. It’s never fun to spend extra money, but even with this potential extra expense, AlignerCo is still the most affordable clear aligner provider on the market.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be dissatisfied with your Six Month Smiles treatment. That’s mostly because your orthodontist or dentist will be able to make small adjustments throughout the process. If there are any issues, your dentist can spot them before they become major problems, keeping your treatment on track and ensuring your satisfaction.
Which is the Best Clear Aligner for You?
Let’s be clear: Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo are both good options. However, what works for someone else might not be what’s best for you. Here are some general guidelines for who should choose Six Month Smiles and who should opt for AlignerCo:
- Choose AlignerCo If: Budget is the most important factor on your decision-making list. AlignerCo has the lowest prices in the industry. Plus, if the typical aligner wear schedule feels difficult to fit into your busy life, AlignerCo’s flexible NightOnly treatment may be more your speed.
- Choose Six Month Smiles If: You need the added power of braces to correct your more extensive case, but you don’t want conspicuous brackets or wires. They’re also a good option for those who want orthodontist oversight throughout treatment.
If you discover that your condition is too severe for home aligner treatment, or if you’re simply more comfortable with in-person care, Six Month Smiles is a great option. That said, AlignerCo is more affordable, convenient, and in our opinion, offers better value overall.
AlignerCo Wins! In our opinion, AlignerCo is the better choice for busy adults. It’s hard to argue with the affordable price tag, and not having to go through the hassle of orthodontist’s office visits is a huge plus.
There’s a lot to love about AlignerCo, but they’re not the only company 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.
Best Alternatives to Six Month Smiles and AlignerCo
Six Month Smiles 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 provider for a reason! They have the shortest treatment lengths in the industry, and they offer an impressive Byte-for-Life guarantee. You can find a full review here. Candid is our #2 pick behind Byte. Candid offers incredible treatment oversight due to their CandidMonitoring program, which helps you to send in regular photo updates to the Candid team so they can closely monitor your progress. You can read more about Candid in our full review here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does either company offer discounts?
Six Month Smiles 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. They occasionally run sales on their aligners and impression kits too.
Which provider is more customer-focused?
Technically speaking, Six Month Smiles is more customer-focused. After all, you’ll work directly with an orthodontist or dentist, getting individualized attention along the way. AlignerCo can’t really rival that level of individualized care, but they do their best with the customer support method they have.
How exactly does at-home teeth alignment work?
At-home aligner companies like AlignerCo borrow the technology Invisalign pioneered and perfected. When you send in your impressions, AlignerCo 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, AlignerCo gradually moves your teeth from their initial positions to their final destination.
Is there an age requirement for using either Six Month Smiles or AlignerCo?
Six Month Smiles is ideal for people ages 16 and up, and AlignerCo patients must be at least 14 years old. With either service, minors must have parental consent to receive treatment.
Can I use Six Month Smiles or AlignerCo if I live outside the USA?
AlignerCo currently does not ship internationally. However they have sister companies, SmilePath and Straight My Teeth that are available in Canada, the U.K., and Australia. Six Month Smiles is still looking to add on to their international network, as they’re currently available in the United States and parts of Europe.
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. You can also take a preliminary assessment on AlignerCo’s website. If you purchase an impression kit and it turns out that you’re not a good candidate for treatment, AlignerCo will refund you the cost of the impression kit.
Will either of these clear aligners make me talk funny?
Most people find that clear 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, contact AlignerCo right away and they’ll advise you on how to move forward. You’ll either move back to your previous aligner, or move on to the following one. But reach out to them to see which option will work best for you.
If you choose Six Month Smiles, 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 the amount depends on your provider’s policies.
Can I drink coffee when using Six Month Smiles or AlignerCo?
You shouldn’t while you have your aligners in. Aligners from AlignerCo and Six Month Smiles are fairly resilient, but coffee is a stain-happy beverage. Drinking coffee with your aligners in—or any beverage besides water, for that matter—puts you at the risk of staining them. The same goes for clear braces from Six Month Smiles, as they’re susceptible to stains, too.
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. You’ll need to purchase your first set with Six Month Smiles, but AlignerCo will give you the first set free.
Are at-home aligners as effective as in-office treatment?
In most mild and moderate cases, yes. Thanks to the tested technologies used by remote treatment companies like AlignerCo, your aligners will fit your teeth as snugly as they would with Six Month Smiles. That said, there are exceptions. Some people’s teeth may not shift as quickly 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 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 schedule, remember, or go to an appointment; instead, you’ll get an email or text notification that it’s time to move on to your next aligner. For many busy adults, it’s easier to complete all of the steps at home.
Can I still use Six Month Smiles if I’m not a candidate for AlignerCo?
In most cases, yes. AlignerCo cannot treat some conditions remotely because they require extensive orthodontic oversight. So if AlignerCo’s orthodontists determine that they cannot correct your issue—for example, you need an added appliance to help shift your jaw—then you’ll be declined.
Since Six Month Smiles requires dentist or orthodontist oversight, it’s usually a good option for people with tougher cases. That’s especially true for their clear braces, which have nearly the same amount of strength as traditional braces, but they’re much less visible.
Why is Six Month Smiles so much more expensive than AlignerCo?
On the surface, the two companies seem pretty similar. After all, both help you straighten your teeth and get the smile of your dreams. But on average, Six Month Smiles costs $2,000+ more than AlignerCo. That cost discrepancy stems from various factors. AlignerCo has a one-size-fits-all pricing model, so mild and moderate cases pay the same amount. With Six Month Smiles, it’s the opposite. The more severe your case, the more you’ll spend.
In addition, Six Month Smiles is administered in-person by a dental provider. With that comes a host of overhead costs, from the orthodontist’s salary and their support staff’s pay, to the office’s rental fees and utilities. The price tag on your Six Month Smiles treatment helps pay those overhead costs. Since AlignerCo doesn’t have those costs, it’s considerably cheaper.