When it comes to at-home teeth straightening, Smile Direct Club is a great option.
Smile Direct was the first at-home clear aligner service, and over the years, they’ve developed new ways to make their treatment more convenient. And in the process, they’ve transformed over a million smiles and counting.
Smile Direct has more than 300 SmileShops across the country, making it as easy as possible to get your treatment started. If you visit a SmileShop, you can skip the hassle and cost of taking your own impressions. A lot of customers rave about the top-notch assistance they receive during their SmileShop visits.
But the convenience doesn’t stop there. Smile Direct is one of three at-home clear aligner companies that offer nighttime treatment options. For busy adults (or avid snackers), nighttime aligners can be more convenient than traditional daytime ones.
While there’s a lot to love about Smile Direct, there are many options available online. We want you to be able to make the best choice for you and your teeth. So in this article, we’ll cover the 3 top alternatives to Smile Direct.
Byte | #1
Byte is our favorite home aligner company. They’re shaking up the industry with their HyperByte technology (more on that in a moment). Founded in 2018, Byte may be relatively new, but they have several advantages over Smile Direct. Here are some of the key differences:
- Treatment Length: Byte’s short treatment lengths blow the competition out of the water. A typical customer spends just 4 months wearing Byte. That’s largely thanks to the HyperByte device. This little handheld device looks somewhat like a mouth guard, but it uses gentle vibrations to move your teeth into their new position relatively quickly. Smile Direct, on the other hand, takes an average of 6 months. That’s the industry average, so it’s nothing to sneeze at. Byte’s treatment just wraps up sooner.
- Nighttime Treatment: Some adults find that it’s a hassle to wear aligners for 22 hours per day, and both companies alleviate that hassle by offering nighttime treatments. But Byte’s treatment is much faster, averaging 5 months. Smile Direct is much slower: about 10 months.
- Customer Support: Byte’s customer support model is excellent. They assign a dedicated representative to each customer. Every time you call for help, you’ll talk with someone who knows your case inside and out—no explaining your case over and over to different representatives. Smile Direct, on the other hand, has had some issues with their customer support in the past. Their customer base grew faster than expected, and their support team couldn’t keep up. Recently they’ve made big improvements, though.
- Overall Value: Byte and Smile Direct have similar price points: $1,895 and $1,950 respectively. That said, we think that Byte is a slightly better value than Smile Direct. That’s because Byte includes their HyperByte device, a bottle of BrightByte, and your first set of post-treatment retainers for free in your kit. Bought separately, these would cost roughly $1,000. Smile Direct doesn’t have as many extras. For example, they charge an extra $99 for aftercare retainers.
The main advantage Smile Direct has over Byte is their sheer brand power. Byte is much younger than Smile Direct, so they’ve served far fewer customers. That isn’t a “nail in the coffin” for Byte, but if you’re a customer who really prefers a company with longevity, then Smile Direct is your best bet.
On all other accounts, however, we prefer Byte.
Candid | #2
Smile Direct boasts an enviable share of the home aligner market, but their closest competitor is Candid. Though Candid began as a premium at-home clear aligner provider, they’ve recently shifted to “CandidPro,” a hybrid at-home/in-office treatment method. Your treatment is administered by a local dentist in the Candid network and overseen remotely via the CandidMonitoring system.
Treatment oversight is important, but that’s not all that matters when you choose an aligner company. So let’s dig into the details of how Candid and Smile Direct differ.
- Overall value: Smile Direct charges a flat $2,050 for their treatment. Candid’s price is determined by your dentist, but will cost at least $3,500. It can cost more than that depending on your dentist’s fees and your location. Candid’s price tag is considerably more than their fully remote competitors like Smile Direct, it’s a natural byproduct of in-person care.
- Ease of getting started: Both Candid and Smile Direct make it easy to kick off treatment. Smile Direct has 300+ shops, so you may find a location near you. If not, you can always opt for the impression kit. With Candid you can schedule an appointment with one of their 200+ partnered dentists. Candid only starts treatment in-person, so if these locations aren’t convenient for you, you’ll need to choose another provider.
- Financing: Smile Direct only offers one financing option: SmilePay, which requires a $250 downpayment followed by monthly payments under $90. The office overseeing your Candid treatment will determine the details of your financing.
- Treatment Oversight: With Smile Direct, the bulk of your treatment will be self-directed. Once you receive your aligners, it’s up to you to wear them as prescribed. But with Candid, you’ll get much more oversight thanks to their CandidMonitoring program. Essentially, you’ll use your smartphone and a special imaging device to send progress photos every 10-14 days for the Candid team and/or your dentist to review. This oversight has the potential to shorten treatment a bit, and catch any issues before they can derail your treatment.
Smile Direct and Candid are both good companies, but we prefer Candid. Their hybrid offerings combine the best elements of at-home and office treatment. Their robust CandidMonitoring program will provide sophisticated oversight from the comfort of your own home.
AlignerCo | #3
One of the biggest perks of at-home clear aligners is the fact that they’re more affordable than braces. But each company has their own price point, and Smile Direct is no exception. If cost is one of your top priorities, you’ll definitely want to look into AlignerCo. They’re actually the most affordable option on the market. There are other important differences, too. Here are a few of the most important distinctions:
- Affordability: The sticker price for Smile Direct is $2,050. AlignerCo’s is hundreds cheaper—the base price is $1,145 ($1,345 for nighttime treatment), and you can sometimes score a referral code for $100 off your aligner kit.
- Financing: Both AlignerCo and Smile Direct offer financing options, but the exact details vary. Smile Direct’s is straightforward; if you can make the $250 down payment, you’ll be automatically approved for monthly payments of $89 (for 26 months). AlignerCo has two financing options. There’s SmileFlex, which requires a soft credit check. If you pass, you’ll get to make 12 monthly payments of $110. Have poor credit? No worries. There’s also SmileFlex Easy, which has 100% approval. Instead, you’ll need to make a down payment of $275 and then 11 monthly payments of $95.
- Ease of Getting Started: With Smile Direct, it’s possible to avoid paying for an impression kit. Smile Direct uses their SmileShops, where you can book an appointment and have your teeth scanned for free. A lot of people struggle with the impression kit process, but unfortunately, that’s the only option with AlignerCo. They do try to help you out, though, by offering video support for their impression kits.
Smile Direct and AlignerCo both have their own perks, but we prefer AlignerCo. It’s simply too hard to argue with their budget-friendly price tag. That said, Smile Direct is a better choice if you’d like to have someone take scans for you or if you prefer an established brand.
Which Smile Direct Alternative Should You Choose?
All of the home clear aligner companies we’ve covered in this review are good options, Smile Direct included. That said, we think Byte and Candid—our top two services—outshine them.
Smile Direct’s SmileShops are a very convenient, affordable way to kick off your treatment, but that’s all they really have going against Byte. Beyond that, Byte offers a better value and leverages best-in-class customer service. And Byte’s treatment lengths are unrivaled; Smile Direct doesn’t even come close. Since Byte also offers a speedy nighttime treatment, they’re a clear winner for us. For more information, you can check out our in-depth review of Byte here.
Candid is an all around great option. Between the robust oversight of a local dentist paired with CandidMonitoring, we think you’d be in great hands with Candid. Check out our full review of Candid here.