Google “Nighttime Clear Aligners,” and one of the first results you’ll see are Smile Direct Club’s Nighttime Clear Aligners®️.
And that’s not surprising; Smile Direct Club was the first at-home clear aligner company to offer night-only treatment options.
But does “first” also mean “best?” Or is there a better option for your smile? Truth is, night-only aligners (and Smile Direct) aren’t right for everyone.
Yes, it’s really convenient to wear your aligners at night only, skipping the hassle of cleaning your teeth and your aligners every time you eat. But convenience isn’t the only criteria to consider.
In this review, we’ll dig into all the specifics of Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners: the price, quality, speed, customer service, and more. By the time we finish, you’ll know for sure whether it’s the right choice for you.
Is Smile Direct Legit?
Founded in 2014, Smile Direct is one of the oldest and most well-known home aligner companies. Since their founding, they’ve served over 1 million customers. Technically, Invisalign is older and more experienced, but Invisalign is an in-office aligner system, not an at-home one (plus Invisalign doesn’t offer nighttime treatments).
Until 2019, Smile Direct had a manufacturing partnership with Align Technology, the company behind Invisalign. As a result, they were able to combine the next-level products of Invisalign with the convenience of home treatment. Although that partnership has ended, Smile Direct can still leverage its experience over its competitors.
Smile Direct is also one of the few companies to offer a nighttime-only treatment option. Most home aligner companies require you to wear their aligners for 22 hours per day. That can be a hassle; but with Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners, you can straighten your teeth while you sleep.
Generally, customers are pleased with their Smile Direct experience and results. Considering their long track record of success, we think they’re a pretty safe bet.
How Do Smile Direct’s Nighttime Aligners Work?
For the most part, the treatment with nighttime aligners from Smile Direct looks similar to traditional aligners. You take an impression of your teeth, Smile Direct creates a treatment plan for you, and you wear your aligners for the prescribed amount of time.
That’s the process in a nutshell. Here’s a more thorough idea of what to expect with Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners:
Step 1: Have the professionals at a SmileShop take an image of your teeth, or DIY by completing an impression kit and mailing it back to Smile Direct.
Step 2: Approve your treatment plan once you receive it from Smile Direct. This treatment plan will show you a prediction of what your smile will look like once you’ve completed treatment.
Step 3: Wear the aligners Smile Direct ships to you. Unlike daytime aligners, you’ll wear each aligner for ten continuous hours at night. As a general rule, you should brush your teeth after your last meal, drink, or snack of the day and then pop in your aligners for the night.
Smile Direct’s nighttime-only treatment is a touch slower than their traditional treatment. And that’s only natural; after all, you’re wearing each aligner for less than half the time of traditional treatment. That’s why the predicted treatment time jumps from six months for traditional schedules to ten months for nighttime aligners. However, the ten hours of continuous wear is much more conducive to a busy lifestyle.
We should note that, whether you choose standard or nighttime treatment, the aligners themselves are identical. The only difference between the two treatments is the wear schedule. Standard treatment dictates that you wear each aligner set for one week, but on the nighttime-only schedule, you’ll wear each set for two weeks.
Pros and Cons of Smile Direct’s Nighttime Aligners
Nighttime aligners are a pretty convenient option, but they’re not absolutely perfect, either. Here are the primary advantages to Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners:
✔ There is less teeth-brushing with nighttime aligners. With Smile Direct’s daytime treatment, you have to remove your aligners each and every time you eat or drink (excluding water). Before replacing the aligners, you need to brush your teeth and clean your aligners. If you snack or drink a lot of coffee, this can be a hassle. But with nighttime-only aligners, all you have to do is brush your teeth before bed like you normally do and pop in your aligners.
✔ Smile Direct is a well-established home aligner system. They’ve served more than 1 million customers, and that number continues to grow.
✔ Smile Direct’s SmileShops are convenient. There are more than 300 locations across the U.S; that’s more than any of their competitors. Visiting a shop eliminates the hassle of taking impressions yourself.
And, of course, there are disadvantages too:
✖ Smile Direct’s nighttime treatment is slower than their daytime treatment, nearly doubling the total treatment time.
✖Smile Direct has a mixed bag of customer reviews: plenty of great, glowing ones and lackluster ones, too.
✖ Smile Direct charges $99 for post-treatment retainers while competitors often throw in the first set for free.
Smile Direct Nighttime Treatment Speed
On average, customers using Smile Direct’s nighttime treatment can expect to achieve their perfect smile in about ten months. Your experience may be slightly shorter or longer, though. If you need minimal corrections, you might see results in just a few months.
Once Smile Direct receives your impressions, photos, and consent form, they will send you a treatment preview within 72 hours. After you approve the plan, you can expect to receive your aligner kit in roughly four weeks.
Provided you wear your aligners for ten hours each night, you’ll likely have the smile of your dreams in just under a year. That’s including the time it takes for your aligners to arrive.
Smile Direct Customer Reviews
If you’re like a lot of online shoppers, you prefer to read customer reviews before making a purchase. That’s just good sense. For Smile Direct, however, there are thousands of reviews to sift through. To make your life a little easier, we’ve summarized what most customers had to say below.
Just a note before we dive into the details: most of these comments are from people who went with traditional, 22-hour wear. But since nighttime treatment and daytime treatment use the same aligners (just different schedules), they still apply:
Without further ado, here’s what customers loved about Smile Direct:
- Friendly, prompt customer service
- SmileShops are convenient and helpful
- Additional impression kits sent at no cost if the first impressions don’t work
And here’s what they didn’t like so much:
- Mixed quality of treatment and customer service, especially when getting refinements to the original treatment plan
- Sometimes customers received the wrong aligners
- Delayed payment cancellation when withdrawing from Smile Direct Club
Compared to some competitors, Smile Direct Club has mixed reviews. For us, it’s rather concerning that many customers have had issues with treatment corrections. Competitors occasionally have similar issues, but not in the same volume as Smile Direct. That said, there are thousands of customers that haven’t had issues, so it’s a mixed bag.
Smile Direct’s Nighttime Aligner Pricing
Thankfully, Smile Direct Club’s nighttime aligners aren’t more expensive than their traditional daytime aligners. But even though aligners are substantially more affordable than braces or Invisalign, they’re still not cheap.
Here’s the impact Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners will have on your wallet:
Visit a Smile Shop, free: Booking an appointment at a Smile Shop allows you to get your teeth scanned for free. Appointments usually last 20-30 minutes, but they accomplish the same purpose as an impression kit.
Impression kit, $59: If you don’t live near a Smile Shop, you can get started with an impression kit. This kit allows you to take molds and photos of your teeth at home. And shipping it back to Smile Direct is pretty easy thanks to a prepaid shipping label. If it turns out that you’re not a candidate for treatment, Smile Direct will refund you the cost of the kit.
Base treatment cost, $1,950: This price includes all of your aligners needed for treatment. You’ll also get one free set of Smile Direct’s whitening treatment.
Post-treatment retainers, $99: To help keep your smile perfect, Smile Direct recommends that you use post-treatment retainers. If you ever lose or damage one, you can purchase a new set. Replacing them every 6 months keeps them (and your smile) fresh.
If the total sticker price of $1,950 is more than your wallet can handle, don’t worry. Smile Direct offers a pay-as-you-go plan called Smilepay. There’s no credit check for this financing, so every customer qualifies. You simply make a downpayment of $250 then $89 per month for 24 months. That results in a slightly higher total price of $2,386, so it’s cheapest to pay all at once if you can swing it.
Smile Direct requires a grand total of zero dentist’s office visits (SmileShops are the exception). This might be incredibly convenient, but it also cuts down on the human interaction you’ll have during treatment. And it doesn’t mean you’ll never have questions, either. Whenever you need to speak with a human to get questions answered, you want reliable, friendly service that’s also helpful.
Unfortunately, Smile Direct falls a bit short on the customer service front. Frankly, they’re a mixed bag. Their in-person support at their SmileShops is excellent. A lot of customers rave about the shop personnel, mentioning specific assistants by name.
The online support didn’t receive such high praise, however. Simply put, Smile Direct’s customer service is slower to respond than its competitors on all fronts: email and phone (they don’t offer chat). Phone support was definitely more reliable, and you get to chat with a human, but email is slower.
What’s more helpful than Smile Direct’s customer service team is their wealth of online resources, from FAQs to impression guides. If you need help, we recommend you check their website first. Then, if you still have questions or a personalized question about your payment or treatment, give them a call.
Best Smile Direct Alternatives
Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners are a very convenient method that can straighten your teeth while you sleep. However, they’re not the only option to consider.
If nighttime treatment is a priority for you, you should also check out Byte. Their nighttime treatment, named Byte At-Night, uses thicker aligners than daytime treatment, which allows them to leverage more force. That keeps Byte At-Night safe and fast. For both All-Day and At-Night treatment, Byte is the fastest option on the market. Byte At-Night treatment usually lasts between 5 to 6 months. That’s almost twice as fast as Smile Direct’s Nighttime Clear Aligners.
Another nighttime treatment option is AlignerCo’s NightOnly. If you’re looking for the convenience of nighttime treatment and affordability, they’re your best bet. They charge just $1,345 for nighttime treatment. On average, their overnight treatment takes between 8-12 months. So in most cases, you’ll find that they’re a touch slower than SmileDirect. But it’s not a massive difference.
Should You Use Smile Direct’s Nighttime-Only Aligners?
Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners are great, but they aren’t right for everyone. Let’s talk about when you should use their nighttime aligners and when you should steer clear.
✔ When to Use Smile Direct’s Nighttime Aligners
Let’s say you drink lots of coffee, all day long (hey, no judgments here). Taking out your aligners and brushing your teeth after every single cup would be a pain. Thankfully, nighttime aligners eliminate that hassle. And with Smile Direct, you can combine the convenience of nighttime aligners with the ease of a SmileShop near you.
Honestly, if you want the added guidance for your impressions, we’d recommend choosing Smile Direct for their SmileShops.
✖ When NOT to Use Smile Direct’s Nighttime Aligners
If you’re in an absolute rush, then nighttime treatment is probably not the best option for you. You’d be better off using Smile Direct’s daytime treatment plan. This requires nearly constant wear, but it does speed your treatment time up to 6 months on average. Or if speed is all you’re looking for, Byte’s daytime treatment – which only takes an average of 3 to 4 months – is worth a look.
With Smile Direct specifically, individuals with pre-existing dental issues (i.e. implants, wisdom teeth, cavities, etc.) should use caution. Since Smile Direct uses a mixed team of dentists and orthodontists, there is the risk that your case is handled by a slightly-less-qualified professional. An orthodontist is better equipped to handle those issues. If you have “textbook” teeth that just need adjustment, however, you’re probably okay.
If you want the convenience of nighttime treatment paired with the name recognition of an established brand, then Smile Direct Club is an option worth considering. At present, though, they’re not our favorite option. Some hiccups in their treatment system—namely their breakup with Align Technology—have temporarily derailed their quality.
We hope that, once they work through this transition, we’ll be able to give them a glowing recommendation again.
- ✔ Best Overall Value
- ✔ Excellent Customer Support
- ✔ Thousands of Positive Reviews
- – Many Locations
- – Good Customer Support
- – Thousands of Positive Reviews
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Smile Direct ever offer discounts?
Smile Direct is already an affordable way to straighten your teeth, but they occasionally offer discounts and special promotions that make their nighttime aligners even more affordable. For example, they have a referral program. If you refer a friend to Smile Direct, they get $100 off their treatment, and you get a $100 gift card.
Additionally, they maintain year-round discounts for teachers, students, and current/former military members. Smile Direct also runs other promotions from time to time, so keep an eye on their website.
What if I’m not happy with the outcome?
Smile Direct promises a Club Warranty that offers a reevaluation of your case if you’ve followed the prescribed treatment but don’t see your desired results. If you’re dissatisfied with your progress, they’ll do their best to make it right.
Smile Direct also offers a full refund (minus shipping costs) for your treatment if you decide to cancel within 30 days. This isn’t as helpful for the nighttime aligners, though, since it will take longer for you to see any tangible results (or lack thereof).
Do I need an X-ray before Smile Direct treatment?
No X-rays are necessary with Smile Direct! The impression kit or in-office scans are all you need to get started. These images measure the spaces and orientation of your teeth, not your bone structure. That’s assuming you have a relatively normal bone structure, though.
If you suspect that your jaw is misshapen or that you have a bad overbite or underbite, then you may want to get an X-ray (and consult with your dentist) to be sure that your jaw won’t hinder your treatment.
How does Smile Direct compare to Byte, Candid and AlignerCo?
Byte is the fastest treatment on the market, but they don’t maintain any physical locations like Smile Direct. Candid has some physical locations but no nighttime treatments. AlignerCo is the most affordable nighttime treatment thanks to frequent discounts and special offers.
Is Smile Direct better than braces and Invisalign?
It all depends on what you mean by “better.” Braces, Invisalign, and Smile Direct will all get the job done and leave you with an impressive grin. The real questions are how fast does treatment go, and how much are you willing to spend? Of these three options, Smile Direct is the cheapest and quickest.
Even better: Smile Direct is the only one that gives you the flexibility to wear your aligners solely at night. Braces are affixed to your teeth all day and night, while Invisalign requires 22+ hours of wear per day.
Is Smile Direct cheaper than braces or Invisalign?
Yes! Smile Direct is cheaper than both traditional braces and Invisalign. Before insurance, Smile Direct costs $1,950. Invisalign can cost several thousand dollars before insurance, and the same goes for braces. Ultimately, Smile Direct can cost thousands less.
Does Smile Direct treatment last forever?
Occasionally, teeth will shift after you finish treatment. As you age (or during a pregnancy), teeth tend to move. To help prevent that, Smile Direct offers sets of post-treatment retainers for $99. Start wearing them for 22 hours a day for the first two weeks after treatment and at night only starting on week three. These retainers will keep your teeth from shifting back to their original positions.
Does Smile Direct offer teeth whitening services?
Yes! Smile Direct includes free whitening treatments, called Bright On, with each aligner kit purchased. If you run out, you can purchase a new 12-month kit for $79.
I’m in a rush – is Smile Direct the fastest at-home treatment option available?
Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners are not the fastest at-home treatment option. Honestly, if speed is what you’re after, then you’re better off going with a traditional treatment schedule. Of these options, Byte is the fastest. Their average treatment time is 3 to 4 months. That’s lightspeed compared to the 10 months for Smile Direct’s nighttime aligners.
Does Smile Direct have a refund policy?
Smile Direct’s refund policy is a bit more flexible than some of its competitors. They have two distinct refunds. For one, you’ll get a refund on the impression kit if you are not a candidate for treatment.
Second, Smile Direct has a 30-day refund policy. If at any point during the first 30 days or your treatment, you change your mind, Smile Direct will give you a full refund. After 30 days, you cannot get any refunds. But if you are not satisfied once your treatment ends, you can request a reevaluation to make it right.
What happens if I mess up my impressions?
If you choose to use the impression system and take your own images at home, you’re not alone. It’s a very convenient option, especially if you don’t live near a SmileShop. But it’s possible to mess them up. If you do, don’t panic. Contact customer support, and they’ll get a new kit sent your way. There’s no additional cost if you purchase aligners.
Does Smile Direct have upsells?
Smile Direct doesn’t have any hard upsells during their order process. They do have a soft one by including a free set of their whitening treatment, but that’s it. And since there’s no commitment to buy the whitening treatments after you run out, it’s not really a true upsell.
Is there an age requirement for using Smile Direct?
Smile Direct treats anyone ages 12 and up. However, they require written parental consent to treat anyone younger than 18. A related note: it’s a good idea to think about your wisdom teeth before getting aligner treatment. If you suspect you’ll need them removed, it’s in your best interest to take care of that first. Then your treatment will be the most effective.
Will Smile Direct make me talk funny?
With any home aligner system, you have a foreign object in your mouth. That’s unavoidable. So, your mouth might feel a bit funny, and you could have the slightest hint of a lisp. For most people, though, the aligners are minimally invasive and practically imperceptible to others.
But since you’re wearing these aligners at night, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue, right? If you’re a sleeptalker, that’s another story.
How many hours a day should I wear my Smile Direct aligners?
Smile Direct recommends that you wear your aligners for 10 hours each day. For the most part, you’ll wear them while you sleep. But unless you’re the rare person who actually gets ten hours of z’s each day, then you should put them in a few hours before bedtime to get the full required continuous wear.
Can I drink coffee while using Smile Direct?
We generally don’t recommend that you drink coffee while sleeping. The two don’t usually go together.
In all seriousness, though, you shouldn’t eat or drink anything except water when wearing your nighttime aligners from Smile Direct. If you do decide to grab a late-night snack or drink, then you should take out your aligners and brush your teeth before replacing them. This helps avoid stains and keeps your aligners fresh and clean, too.
What happens if I lose my aligners (or retainers)?
If you lose an aligner, contact Smile Direct’s support right away to order a replacement tray for $50. While you’re waiting for it to ship, Smile Direct recommends that you wear the tray from your previous set. That will prevent your teeth from shifting back too far.
Is Smile Direct covered by insurance?
Ultimately, it depends on your insurance. Smile Direct accepts HSA, FSA, and CareCredit. They also work directly with UnitedHealthCare and Aetna. If you don’t have one of those insurers, you may still be covered, but you’ll have to check if your provider includes orthodontic benefits.
We recommend that you inquire with your insurance company before ordering any products from Smile Direct just to be safe.
How can I contact Smile Direct’s customer support?
You can contact Smile Direct most easily by email or phone. Their email is [email protected] DirectClub.com. If you need a quicker response, it’s best to call them at 1.800.848.7566. Just a note, though: even though you wear your aligners at night, you won’t be able to get support at night.