A lot of people want to pursue a straighter smile but think they can’t afford it. And if they want to use traditional braces or Invisalign, they might be right.
But here’s the catch: braces aren’t the only option anymore. At-home clear aligners are less visible, faster, and more affordable. Invisalign can cost more than $5,000, while most at-home aligners cost around $1,800-$2,000.
Smilelove is just one of those at-home aligner companies. In fact, they’re among the most affordable services on the market. If you don’t want to use Smilelove, though, you have other options. In this guide, we’ll compare the four top at-home alternatives to Smilelove.
Smilelove: A Cautionary Tale
Honestly, every company on this list is a better alternative to Smilelove. Why? We no longer recommend them. They used to be one of our top picks, but due to some changes over the past year, we decided to revoke their ranking.
COVID-19 hit a lot of businesses hard, and Smilelove was no exception. But they were dealing with financial troubles even before COVID hit. The virus put the nail in the proverbial coffin. Ultimately, Smilelove stopped manufacturing their aligners and shipping their kits.
If that was the only thing, we wouldn’t be quite so dismissive; on the surface, it looks like they just had to hit the “pause” button until they got things running again. But that’s not the case.
If you go to Smilelove’s website, they still advertise their impression kit and aligners. In fact, it looks like it’s business as usual. But when you go to buy, almost all their products are gone.
And to make matters worse, Smilelove hasn’t fulfilled their standing orders. They have customers who’ve paid for their aligners…and haven’t received them. Plus, they’re accepting new orders with no indication when they’ll start manufacturing again.
That’s bad business. It’s so bad that the Better Business Bureau has actually listed a warning on Smilelove’s BBB profile. Long story short, buying aligners from Smilelove is a risk — one you shouldn’t take.
With that in mind, let’s talk about what we like about the best Smilelove alternatives.
Byte | #1
Byte is a relatively new at-home clear aligner company that got started in 2018. But despite being so new, they’ve established themselves as a competitive option. Byte offers the shortest treatment lengths of any aligner company on the market.
Here are a few of the things we love about Byte:
- Treatment Length: Byte provides the industry’s shortest treatment times thanks to their HyperByte system. Most people will only spend 4 months wearing their Byte aligners (unless they choose the nighttime option; then they’d spend 5 months in aligners).
- Price: Regardless of whether you choose daytime or nighttime treatment, you’ll find that Byte has a great overall value. Daytime treatment costs just $1,895, and nighttime treatment costs $2,295. That includes the HyperByte system for free, which normally retails for $699.
- Refund Policies and Guarantees: Byte offers a fantastic Byte-for-Life guarantee, which ensures your smile forever (provided you wear your aligners and retainers as directed). If your teeth ever shift after your treatment, Byte will correct it with new aligners.
- Wear Requirements: With traditional treatment, you need to wear your aligners for roughly 22 hours per day. But if that sounds like a hassle, you can opt for Byte At-Night. That only requires 10 hours of continuous wear each night. But it will cost you a bit more: $2,295.
Byte is our #1 pick for home clear aligners. We love their speed, value, and long-term commitment to a good product. For more information on Byte, check out our full review.
Candid | #2
Candid began as a fully remote clear aligner provider, but they’ve recently shifted to “Candid Pro,” a hybrid at-home/in-office treatment. This treatment model strikes a balance between the hands-on care of in-office options, and the convenience of at-home treatment. Your treatment is administered by a local dentist in the Candid network, and overseen remotely via the CandidMonitoring system.
Candid is an all-around great option; here are some of our favorite aspects to their treatment:
- Treatment oversight: With most at-home clear aligner companies, you’ll find that the bulk of your treatment is self-directed. It’ll be up to you to wear your aligners as prescribed. But with Candid’s CandidMonitoring program, you’ll get more extensive oversight. Using your smartphone and a special imaging device, you’ll send photo updates to the Candid team and your local dentist every 10-14 days. It establishes a nice balance of treatment oversight without losing the convenience of home treatment.
- Ease of Getting Started: With Candid, your treatment kicks off at an in-person appointment with a local dentist in the Candid network. Here, your dentist will give you a consultation, take intraoral scans, photos and X-rays, and determine whether or not you’re suitable for treatment. Candid has partnered with over 200 dentists, and they’re always expanding. But unfortunately this does mean not everyone will be able to choose Candid, due to location.
Candid is a premium option, offering sophisticated oversight but with all the convenience of at-home aligner treatment. However, due to the costs of in-person care, your Candid treatment will cost at least $3,500 (though the final price is determined by your dentist). This makes them significantly more expensive than their fully at-home competitors, but if their oversight can’t be beat. They’re our second favorite service, after all! For more information about Candid, check out our full review.
AlignerCo | #3
On the whole, home clear aligners are cheaper than braces or Invisalign, but they’re still a significant investment. If you’re searching for the most affordable option, look no further than AlignerCo. But price is just one of the things we love about them:
- Affordability: If you choose AlignerCo’s daytime treatment, you’ll spend just $1,145 on your kit. That’s several hundred cheaper than Byte and offers significant savings over Candid. Even their nighttime treatment is still really manageable: $1,345.
- Good online reputation: For as young of a company as AlignerCo is, they’ve won an impressive number of positive reviews from third-party sites like Trustpilot. If you’re one of those who likes to consult other people’s opinions before making a major purchase, AlignerCo’s are worth a look.
- Wear requirements: With traditional treatment, you need to wear your aligners for roughly 22 hours per day. But if that sounds like a hassle, you can opt for AlignerCo’s NightOnly treatment. That only requires 10 consecutive hours of wear each night, and it will only cost you $200 more than daytime treatment.
AlignerCo is our third favorite pick overall; it’s hard to argue with such a good price point! For more information, check out our full review of AlignerCo.
Smile Direct Club | #4
At-home aligners are still relatively new, but Smile Direct Club is the company to thank for their appearance back in 2014. Since they were the first large-scale company to bring clear aligners directly to the consumer, Smile Direct Club is the biggest and most well-known at-home aligner provider; they’ve served more than one million customers and counting.
Size isn’t the only notable thing about Smile Direct Club, though:
- Price: Smile Direct Club doesn’t have the most affordable price in the industry, but they do have a reasonable one: $2,050. The best part is that they charge the same price for both daytime and nighttime treatments.
- Ease of Getting Started: With Smile Direct Club, you can pick how you kick off your treatment. There’s the impression kit that’s an option no matter where you live. But if you’d like to skip the trickiness of impressions, you can visit one of Smile Direct Club’s 300+ SmileShops. A smile expert there will take digital scans of your teeth for free.
- Daily Wear Requirements: Like AlignerCo and Byte, Smile Direct Club offers nighttime treatments. So if you like the idea of wearing your aligners for just 10 continuous hours per day, you can. And thankfully, it won’t cost you anything more than daytime treatment.
There’s a good reason Smile Direct Club has served so many customers: they have a lot of brand power behind them. And if you’re intrigued by nighttime treatment, then Smile Direct Club is one of your best options. For more information on Smile Direct Club, check out the full review.
Which Smilelove Alternative Should You Choose?
We are big fans of all four alternatives on this list. Whichever you choose, you should be happy with the process and the results. With that said, our top choice is Byte. It offers the fastest treatment times, special aligners for nighttime use, and includes free items like the HyperByte. To learn more about their system, check out our in-depth review.
What happened with Smilelove?
We don’t know the ins and outs of what happened within the company. All we know is that right before the pandemic, customers started complaining about poor response times, delayed aligner shipping, or not receiving their products at all. Recently, they have removed their aligners and impression kits from their shop, though they continue to offer products like teeth whitening and tray sprays.
What should I look for when vetting an online aligner company?
First, check the customer reviews and the company’s ranking with the Better Business Bureau. Then, dive into comprehensive reviews like those we offer. Based on what you read, figure out which company offers the right features for meeting your smile goals.
I want to work with the most reputable company; which should I choose?
Any of the four alternatives on this list would make a good choice. We have done in-depth research on them and are confident that you will receive quality treatment if you choose them. Just make sure you read up on each to determine which is ideal for your unique situation.
Are at-home aligners safe?
Absolutely! If they weren’t, we would not recommend them. With that said, always do your research before you buy. Make sure any provider you consider is an actual company, not someone 3D printing aligners at home, and really dive into the online reviews.
How do at-home aligners work?
Aligners and braces both move teeth by placing gentle yet constant pressure on them. The pressure with aligners is generated by their shape, which changes with each new aligner in the series. By the end of treatment, the teeth should be in their ideal final positions.
What if I am not a candidate for treatment?
Whether you use impressions or a digital scan, each company has technicians that evaluate your diagnostic images and determine if you are a candidate for treatment. If you aren’t, you will need to work with an orthodontist to correct your smile. However, you should be refunded the price of the impression kit or scan, so you won’t be out any money.
Do the results of treatment last for life?
They can, if you wear your aftercare retainers correctly. If you do not, expect your teeth to start shifting back to their original positions. Also, any problems with your oral health can compromise the results, including tooth decay, gum disease, and loss of teeth.
What are common mishaps with aligner treatment?
Straightening your smile with clear aligners is easy, but sometimes people struggle with remembering to put their aligners back in after meals, drinks, and brushing their teeth. When this happens, it can cause treatment to progress more slowly. Additionally, it increases the risk of losing or damaging the aligners. However, if you are extra careful, you shouldn’t experience any mishaps.
Can I whiten my teeth while straightening them?
You sure can! Just make sure the whitening agents you use are safe for aligners. We suggest you stick to those offered by the company you get your aligners from. If your provider doesn’t offer teeth whitening, look into buying your brightening kit from another at-home aligner company.
Are there certain conditions I should treat before getting aligners?
Yes. If you have any tooth decay, gum disease, or bone loss in the jaw, resolve these issues first. Additionally, if your wisdom teeth are still coming in, you might want to wait for them to erupt or have them removed before correcting your smile, as they can negatively impact alignment.