20 years ago, clear aligners became the superhero of modern orthodontics.
It 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 offered clear braces, but they’ve recently added clear aligners to their treatment regimen. There are also at-home clear aligners, like those offered by Candid. These brands offer more convenience and shorter treatment lengths for busy adults on a budget.
But how do these competitors—Six Month Smiles and Candid—compare? That’s the question we’re here to answer.
In this comparison review, we’ll put Candid and Six Month Smiles side by side to see how they stack up in terms of cost, treatment length, patient support, and more. By the time we’re finished, you’ll have a much clearer image of which company better lines up with your needs!
Important: Candid recently discontinued their fully-remote clear aligner treatment option and now only offers their premium hybrid treatment, CandidPro. Because of this recent change, some of the content on this page may be out of date.
Spoiler | Candid Wins
We think Candid’s Remote Monitoring services and lower price point make them a better option than Six Month Smiles for most young adults. That said, at $2,400, Candid still costs significantly more than other home teeth straightening services. If you’re interested in remote orthodontic care, be sure to compare all the top-rated providers before making a decision.
4 Things They Have in Common
Six Month Smiles and Candid 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: Six Month Smiles and Candid are both 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, 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 Candid are safe ways to straighten your teeth. Both companies use similar technologies, and although Six Month Smiles has a few capabilities that Candid 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 design your treatment.
3) Treatment length: Treatment time with Six Month Smiles ranges between 4 to 9 months. But as you can tell by their name, they aren’t shy that their typical treatment lasts 6 months. Candid’s average treatment length ranges from 6-9 months, but it could be a touch faster if you respond well to treatment.
4) 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.
3 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 Candid and Six Month Smiles:
1) Who can get treatment: One of the biggest differences between Six Month Smiles and Candid is who can receive treatment. Candid is the most comprehensive at-home clear aligner treatment, but there are still some conditions that it will not be able to treat. More extensive cases—like those caused by a misshapen jaw—must be handled with a traditional treatment like braces or Invisalign. Six Month Smiles, however, can handle a slightly wider range of cases because they offer both aligners and clear braces.
2) Cost: There is no one-size-fits-all price tag for Six Month Smiles. That’s because your price depends on your orthodontist’s personal fees and the complexity of your case. The more severe your condition, the more it will cost. On average, most people spend between $3,500 and $5,000. With Candid, your dentist will determine your treatment cost, but it won’t vary based on your condition. The base price for Candid is $3,500, but it can cost more than that. It depends on your dentist’s fees, and your location.
3) Appointment Frequency: The biggest difference between a fully in-person treatment like Six Month Smiles and a hybrid treatment like Candid is how your treatment works. With Six Month Smiles, you’ll visit your orthodontist every 4-8 weeks throughout your treatment. Candid works a bit differently. Your treatment will begin at a local dentist, but the majority of your treatment will occur from the comfort of your own home. If a problem arises, you can visit your local dentist for correction, but other than treatment oversight mostly happens remotely.
Company Track Records
Six Month Smiles might not have been the first company to offer clear aligners (that honor goes to Invisalign), but they did make themselves stand out when they started in the mid-2000s. Their founder, Dr. Ryan Swain, had a few patients who wanted less-visible teeth straightening options but 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 competitors don’t have that kind of variety.
By comparison, Candid is much, much newer. But “newer” doesn’t mean they’re inexperienced! In fact, since their inception in 2017, Candid has grown to become the second-largest home aligner company (only Smile Direct Club is bigger). They’ve served over 70,000 patients so far, and they’re not slowing down.
Though Candid got their start as a premium at-home clear aligner service, they’ve recently made a pivot to “CandidPro,” a hybrid at-home/in-office treatment model. This change allows Candid to offer the convenience of remote providers, but with the hands-on attention of a local dentist. Currently there are over 200 dentists offering Candid treatment, but they are expanding all the time.
Long story short, you’ll be in good hands with both Candid and Six Month Smiles. By the end, you’ll have a million-dollar smile. But that’s not an entirely helpful description now, is it? What goes into your treatment is important to keep in mind.
With Six Month Smiles, you’ll visit your orthodontist on a regular basis for routine check-ups (and sometimes, to pick up new aligners). At each appointment, your orthodontist will ensure that your teeth are shifting in a predictable manner. If anything seems off, they’ll tweak your treatment.
Candid’s treatment process works a bit differently. Treatment oversight primarily happens via their remote monitoring system: CandidMonitoring. Using your smartphone and a special imaging device, you’ll submit photos every 10-14 days for the Candid team and/or your local dentist to review. These frequent updates can help your treatment stay on track. If an issue ever arises, the Candid team or your local dentist can intervene early without causing treatment delays.
You’ll only need to return for an in-person appointment if an unexpected issue occurs. Though unlikely, it’s nice knowing you have a local dentist to visit if need be.
No two smiles are created equal, so no two smiles get treated equally. That means that your treatment prognosis will be quite different from someone else’s. How long you’ll wear your aligners will largely depend on the severity and complexity of your condition. Then, of course, there’s your own diligence and wear schedule. If you follow your treatment to a ‘T,’ you’ll finish faster than if you were to wear your aligners inconsistently.
That said, each company’s aligners affect their treatment lengths too. Here are the average treatment times for Six Month Smiles and Candid:
- Six Month Smiles: 4 to 9 months, but most commonly 6 months
- Candid: 6-9 months average
Six Month Smiles advertises their treatment speed in the name of their company, so it’s no surprise to see that the average timeline is 6 months. However, depending on the case, it could take more or less time. With Candid, it’s hard to know exactly how long your treatment will take. If your teeth respond well to treatment, the Candid team or your dentist may tell you to move on to your next aligner a few days early. Over the course of your entire treatment, this can cut a few weeks off of your timeline. In general, Candid and Six Month Smiles have pretty comparable treatment times.
Pricing & Features
A million-dollar smile is exciting, but it shouldn’t actually cost you a million bucks. The overall price tag of each provider matters, and it’s also important to consider what your money gets you. Every treatment option includes a few basic costs: the cost of starting your treatment, the cost of treatment itself.
Treatment start-up costs
- Six Month Smiles, price varies: To kick off your Six Month Smiles treatment, you’ll need to have an initial consultation with your dentist or orthodontist of choice. The cost of this consultation largely depends on your individual provider. Some orthodontists may offer it for free, and others will charge a nominal fee. It’s up to them.
- Candid, FREE: To kickstart your Candid treatment you can schedule a complimentary consultation with one of their local partnered dentists. There your dentist will determine if you’re a candidate for treatment, take intraoral scans, photos, and X-rays, and discuss your treatment goals with you. They’ll use that information to collaborate with the Candid orthodontics team to build a treatment plan just for you.
- Six Month Smiles, $3,500-$5,000 (average): The actual cost of Six Month Smiles 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 begin.
- Candid, $3,500+: Candid’s price is determined by the dentist overseeing your treatment. You can count on your treatment being at least $3,500, but it could also be more. This price covers in-person appointments, your aligners, the CandidMonitoring system, plus a bottle of whitening foam.
All things considered, though these providers have a pretty similar price point, we think you’re likely to spend a little bit less when you choose Candid.
No one wants to have issues with their treatment. But sometimes, life happens. An aligner could break, payment information could change, you could misplace an aligner – you get the idea. When life happens, you’ll need to get in contact with patient support.
Technically speaking, you can contact Six Month Smiles directly on their website, by phone, or through email. But the better approach is to get in touch with the orthodontist or dentist who’s overseeing your treatment. They 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.
Candid offers plenty of support methods: phone, email, and even a chat feature in the Candid app. Their support team hours are from 9:00 am to 7:00, even on weekends. 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.
Since Candid is a hybrid treatment offering, your support is two-fold. Not only will you have the full support of the Candid team, but you can also rely on the local dentist overseeing your treatment.
The one-on-one care you get from your Six Month Smiles provider leads to personalized, quality patient support. That said, we think it’s pretty hard to compete with a provider offering support from all sides like Candid does.
Ease of Getting Started
Like we mentioned earlier, there are different ways to kick off your Six Month Smiles or Candid treatment.
The ‘trickiest’ part of starting your Six Month Smiles treatment is finding a local provider and booking a consultation. After that, the provider will handle all the 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 Candid, you’ll kickstart your treatment at an in-person appointment with a local Candid partnered dentist. Here your dentist will determine whether or not you’re a good candidate for treatment, take intraoral scans, photos, and X-rays, and answer any questions you may have about the process.
Unfortunately this in-person appointment means that if you do not live near a dentist in the Candid network, you’ll need to choose a different provider. Though there are currently over 200 dentists in their network, and they’re expanding all the time.
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.”
Even though reviews are valuable, we know most people aren’t eager to scroll through hundreds of them in their spare time. Which is why we’ve taken the liberty of doing this step for you.
Here’s a quick glimpse into the online reviews for Candid:
- Top loves: Excellent patient support, helpful communication throughout the process via their app; convenient, effective treatment
- Top complaints: Database does not work with Firefox browser; a little more discomfort than other aligners; emails can get spammy
Patients generally report positive experiences with Candid’s treatment, results, and support team. We tallied up Candid’s total average score for a total of 4.2/5 stars.
We should mention that since the transition to CandidPro is so recent, there are virtually no reviews detailing this new hybrid treatment form. We’ll keep checking back for those, but we think their overall positive reviews from their fully remote treatment should still be taken into account.
It’s a bit harder to tally up a score for Six Month Smiles. There are precious few patient reviews online because treatment is provided through independent dental offices (there are a few reviews available on their website, but since they’re “featured” reviews, 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 reputation speaks pretty well to their quality and service.
Refund Policies & Guarantees
No one wants a purchase to go wrong, and when it comes to your teeth, your satisfaction is critical.
Six Month Smiles’s Warranty
With Six Month Smiles, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be dissatisfied with your 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.
That said, the exact warranty you’ll get 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 other in-office treatment options, Candid doesn’t have refunds or overarching guarantees about the results of your treatment. All of those policies are determined by the dentist administering your care.
Six Month Smiles and Candid are both great companies, so if you go with either one, you’ll get excellent service. However, Six Month Smiles and Candid aren’t the only good options.
If you’re still curious about other companies, we’d recommend checking out Byte. They’re our top-ranked home aligner company. They leverage excellent value with an equally good product. If you’re eager to see your perfect smile, you can’t beat Byte. Their average treatment length is a short 4 months. Or, if wearing aligners for 22+ hours per day isn’t a good fit for your lifestyle, Byte’s nighttime-only treatment is a convenient alternative.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for the most affordable option, check out AlignerCo. At just $1,145, they’re the most budget-friendly method available. You won’t get a lot of bells and whistles, but you will get the smile of your dreams at a fraction of the cost. And like Byte, they also offer nighttime treatment, but it doesn’t cost nearly as much. AlignerCo’s NightOnly program will run you $1,345.
Which is the Best Clear Aligner?
Let’s be clear: Six Month Smiles and Candid 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 Six Month Smiles and who should opt for Candid:
- Choose Candid If: You want a treatment that offers the convenience of remote options, with the hands-on attention of a local dentist and the robust oversight of CandidMonitoring.
- 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 fully in-person care, Six Month Smiles is a great option. That said, Candid is more convenient and in our opinion, offers better value overall.
We think Candid’s remote convenience and sophisticated oversight make them a better option than Six Month Smiles for many of our readers.
That said, at a minimum of $3,500, Candid still costs significantly more than fully remote home teeth straightening options. If you’re interested in remote orthodontic care, be sure to compare all the top-rated providers before making a decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which clear aligner provider is more patient-focused?
With Six Month Smiles, you’ll work directly with an orthodontist or dentist, getting individualized attention along the way. However, Candid’s CandidMonitoring service is the next best thing. You get better treatment oversight with them than other clear aligner companies. With frequent photo updates, your local dentist and/or the Candid team will see your treatment progress more frequently than Six Month Smiles. Six Month Smiles offers more in-person appointments, but Candid’s oversight is more frequent, albeit remote.
How exactly does at-home teeth alignment work?
At-home aligner companies like Candid borrow the technology Invisalign perfected. Candid takes the scans from your initial appointment and uses 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, Candid gradually moves your teeth from their initial positions to their final destination.
Is there an age requirement for using either Six Month Smiles or Candid?
Six Month Smiles is ideal for people ages 16 and up. Candid will also treat ages 16+ provided all baby teeth are gone. With either service, minors must have parental consent to receive treatment.
Can I use Six Month Smiles or Candid if I live outside the USA?
Six Month Smiles is still looking to expand their international network, as they’re currently only available in the United States and parts of Europe. Candid does not operate internationally.
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 Candid. You can also take a preliminary assessment on Candid’s website.
Will either of these clear aligners make me talk funny?
Most clear aligner users find that they’re 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?
In many cases, Candid won’t replace a lost aligner; a lot of people can simply move on to the next step in the treatment. But you should contact customer support or your dentist to know for sure. But 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 how much depends on the policies of your particular provider.
Can I drink coffee when using Six Month Smiles or Candid?
You can, but you shouldn’t. Aligners from Candid 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. Retainers are durable, but they do need to be replaced about every 6 months.
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 Candid, 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?
We think it’s a little easier to use at-home aligner treatments. That’s simply because you won’t spend so much time getting to frequent appointments. Instead, you’ll get a notification that it’s time to check in with the Candid team and your local dentist remotely. They might tell you that you can move on to your next aligner ahead of schedule. 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 Candid?
In most cases, yes. Candid cannot treat some conditions because they require extensive orthodontic oversight. So if Candid’s orthodontic team determines 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.