If you’ve been considering at-home clear aligner treatment for a while, you’ve probably encountered the name Smilelove. In the past, Smilelove was well-known for being one of the more affordable at-home teeth straightening brands. But this Spring, in the wake of COVID-19, Smilelove suddenly ceased operations.
Life at Smilelove has been a bit complicated recently. Although they’ve halted manufacturing, they’re still accepting new orders, and it’s resulted in a ton of negative feedback — both from existing customers and the Better Business Bureau.
In this updated Smilelove review, we’ll discuss everything we think our readers should keep in mind about Smilelove.
Our Recommendation: Steer Clear of Smilelove
In the past, we ranked Smilelove as one of our top recommendations for online clear aligners. But times have changed drastically at Smilelove. If you look up their profile on the Better Business Bureau, you’ll actually find an extensive disclaimer warning consumers away. You’ll also see a long list of complaints from disgruntled customers.
Here’s why: Smilelove is currently accepting orders from new customers…but they’re unable to deliver products or refund their standing orders. They aren’t manufacturing aligners. So they’ll gladly take your money, but there’s no telling when you’ll receive your aligners.
What Happened To Smilelove?
In short: COVID-19 hit Smilelove hard, and they stopped being able to consistently deliver products and support for their customers.
Smilelove’s blog post from May 2020 admits they’ve come across some hard times; even before COVID-19 hit, they were struggling financially. They lost some of their financial support from investors, and in the end, they had to stop manufacturing aligners. And unfortunately, some of their customers who’d ordered aligners never received them.
So Smilelove promised to make some changes to their operating model. They let some employees go and found some new financial partners. They’ve also updated their pricing model, raising their sticker price and adding a “Complex Case Adjustment” fee for cases that required more than 40 aligners. With those changes, they hoped they’d be able to get going again.
But to put it simply, they haven’t. While they’re still accepting new orders, they’re not manufacturing at all. That’s a concerning (and unsustainable) business practice. So they’ve lost our recommendation.
Until the end of last year, however, their business model worked well. So they could still pull things back together. That’s why we’ve included a review of their services below (for reference if they resume operations).
Advantages & Disadvantages of Smilelove
Smilelove and other home teeth aligner systems are all pretty convenient, but there are other perks and drawbacks for each one. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of using Smilelove to straighten your teeth:
✔ Smilelove has been improving their treatment regimen slowly and surely. Their dental network is comprised solely of orthodontists, and they’ve partnered with Essix, a trusted manufacturer, to create their aligners.
✔ Smilelove is buyer-friendly, guaranteeing approval for their financing. Regardless of your credit score, you can get started with a quick downpayment and monthly payments starting at $79/month. This price point is pretty similar to most of their competitors (unless your case is extensive, requiring more than 40 aligners).
✔ Smilelove’s aligners follow the gum line, which makes them a touch less visible than some competitors’ aligners. It’s a marginal difference but worth noting.
✖ Smilelove is best suited for cosmetic dental cases. They can handle some complicated cases, like bite issues and severe crowding or spacing. But if you need extensive corrections, you might be better off visiting your orthodontist or going with an in-office treatment.
✖ Smilelove used to offer the best refund policy in the industry, but they are not currently offering refunds. There’s a chance those refunds will come back, but we don’t know enough at this point.
✖ It’s unclear if Smilelove will ever resume manufacturing, and to us, it’s concerning that they’re still accepting orders even though they aren’t fulfilling their pre-existing orders, either. Naturally, they’ve received an abundance of negative reviews because of this.
✖ If your correction requires more than 40 aligners, Smilelove will now implement a $300 upcharge, taking the total price tag up to $2,195. That makes their price more expensive than every other home aligner company except Candid (and Byte’s nighttime offering, Byte At-Night).
How Does Smilelove Work?
Smilelove’s procedures are relatively simple: once you submit your order, they ship you an impression kit. You take an impression of your teeth, send it back, and Smilelove’s orthodontists will create your treatment. For most people, treatment lasts an average of 6 to 8 months (the difference depends on your condition’s severity).
Step 1: Order an impression kit from Smilelove and create a 3D impression of your teeth. If you need help, you can arrange a video call with Smilelove to ensure you nail your impressions. Once your impressions are complete, you’ll send them back. Shipping is easy thanks to a prepaid shipping label.
Step 2: Smilelove’s orthodontists analyze the molds you’ve created to develop a treatment plan that’s unique to you. You have a chance to review the treatment plan; if you don’t love it, Smilelove will refund your impression kit.
Step 3: If you approve your treatment, Smilelove will send you all your aligners at once. You will wear each for two weeks and gradually make your way to a straighter smile.
Step 4: Pay for your treatment all in one go, or sign up for Smilelove’s payment plan and pay as you go. Financing plans require a $250 down payment, but everyone is approved, regardless of credit score.
Smilelove: Treatment Efficiency
Everyone will have a slightly different experience with Smilelove. That’s because everyone’s smile is different. The total timing of your treatment depends on a couple of factors:
- The severity of your condition
- How long you wear your aligners each day
Smilelove is faster than traditional braces and Invisalign, but compared to other home aligner systems, they’re pretty average. For most people, treatment lasts 6 to 8 months. To put it in perspective, Byte averages 3 months per treatment. But other systems hang out around 6 months, so Smilelove’s treatment speed is par for the course.
6 months may seem like a long time, but traditional braces require 24 months on average. With any system, you should resist the urge to speed up your treatment by wearing aligners for less than the prescribed time. This can be harmful to your oral health and more painful than necessary.
Smilelove Customer Reviews
Buying anything on the internet is convenient, but sometimes it’s hard to trust. In the “old days,” you could just ask your family and neighbors for their recommendations. Now, that old word of mouth often gets replaced by customer reviews. What are other customers saying about Smilelove?
In the past, Smilelove got pretty good ratings from customers. Top loves included the fact that Smilelove ran frequent discounts, the treatment kit was easy to use, and customers could review treatment before committing.
Today’s reviews tell a totally different story, unfortunately. Now, customers are understandably upset that they shelled out $1,895 and never received their aligners. And a lot of them were left hanging with very little communication from Smilelove. Customer support essentially vanished.
In early 2020, Smilelove was pretty hopeful that their new investors would help get things running again. But nearly every customer review we’ve read recently shows that Smilelove’s support team still isn’t responding to complaints and inquiries. Some standing support tickets are over a year old. So as it stands presently, Smilelove’s online reviews don’t instill a lot of confidence.
Smilelove Prices and Features
Smilelove used to be the most affordable option on the market thanks to their constant sales. They listed their sticker price at $1,895, but they ran sales so frequently that it was uncommon to spend more than $1,495. With Smilelove’s recent changes, however, it looks like that price is going to stay closer to $1,895, and a bit more if your case is particularly challenging.
Here’s a run-down of what costs to expect with Smilelove:
- Impression kit, $79: The impression kit gets the ball rolling. Technically, though, the impression kit is included in your treatment bundle, so you won’t want to order one à-la-carte.
- Fewer than 40 aligners, $1,895: Smilelove’s typical alignment bundle includes everything you’ll need to straighten your teeth without stepping foot in the orthodontist’s office. You’ll get the impression kit, a preview of your treatment plan, and of course, your aligners. Smilelove also offers you your first set of post-treatment retainers at no additional cost. Last but not least, you’ll get one box of their Premium Whitening treatment.
- 40+ aligners, $2,195: Smilelove now charges a $300 upcharge for cases that require more than 40 aligners (twenty weeks or more). The kit includes all the same features; the extra cost simply covers the added expense of additional trays.
If you’d rather not pay for your entire treatment at once, Smilelove offers financing with 100% approval rates. Here’s how it works: you make a $250 down payment. Then, you’ll pay $79 per month until your treatment is paid off.
Smilelove Customer Support
Even before their economic fallout, Smilelove struggled a bit on the customer support front. Their support was adequate, but their response times were slow.
Now, we don’t really know what to say except for the fact that Smilelove’s customer support is pretty much missing in action. At the beginning of the year, they had to cut their staff by roughly 50%. So their already stretched team got cut. And right now, it looks like their small team isn’t responding much, either.
In theory, Smilelove intends to assign a dedicated customer support representative to each customer. That would make for a great support experience, but since that’s not happening, it’s just empty words.
Best Smilelove Alternatives
Since life at Smilelove is so up in the air right now, we don’t recommend using them to straighten your teeth. There are plenty of other, better options available, after all. Here are our top four clear aligner choices:
Byte | #1
Byte is the absolute fastest treatment system on the market. Thanks to their HyperByte system, Byte promises to correct most smiles within three months of treatment. They offer both nighttime and full-day wear schedules, too.
AlignerCo | #2
AlignerCo just joined the clear aligner scene in 2019, and they’ve completely replaced Smilelove as the industry’s most affordable option. Their sticker price is just $1,145 for daytime treatment.
Candid | #3
Candid strikes the best balance between the convenience of at-home treatment and the orthodontist oversight of in-office treatments thanks to their Remote Monitoring program. Candid also maintains physical locations, so there’s less wait for shipping.
Smile Direct Club | #4
With SmileDirectClub, you can take advantage of a nighttime treatment option to avoid wearing your aligners all day. They also have more than 200 office locations across the country, so it’s convenient to get started.
Final Verdict: Should You Use Smilelove?
Right now, we don’t recommend using Smilelove. To us, it’s extremely concerning that they are accepting new orders when they aren’t even manufacturing. We’d hate for you to shell out nearly $2,000 and then be left hanging without aligners. And there’s a good chance that they won’t ever resume normal operations.
We’re not wishing them out of business, but things aren’t looking good. And since your well-being is our priority here, we want to keep things realistic.
We Recommend Byte
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Smilelove ever offer discounts?
They used to offer frequent $100-400 discounts. But right now, Smilelove is sticking with their base price. They experienced financial difficulties, so they need the extra revenue to stay afloat. If they survive, they may go back to their frequent discounts. But for now, that’s not the case.
What if I’m not happy with the outcome?
Right now, we’re not quite sure. In the past, Smilelove had a fantastic prorated refund policy. That’s currently on hold. In theory, you can request a correction for $200. Smilelove ought to send you new aligners, but since they’re not manufacturing right now, we can’t even promise that will do you any good.
Does Smilelove offer nighttime-only treatment?
Smilelove does not currently offer a nighttime-only treatment. In fact, they recommend that you wear your aligners for a minimum of 22 hours a day. Basically, when you’re not eating or drinking, you should be wearing your Smilelove aligners, day or night. If you don’t wear them long enough, you run the risk of needing new aligners (and paying for them, too).
Do I need an X-ray before Smilelove treatment?
No X-ray necessary! The impression kit is all you need to get started; it measures 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 a slightly different shape or that you have a bad overbite or underbite, then you may want to get an X-ray to be sure. Bite issues can hinder effective treatment, but only a traditional orthodontist can treat those deeper issues.
How does Smilelove compare to Candid, Byte, AlignerCo and SmileDirectClub?
Right now, nothing stands out about Smilelove (aside from the obvious rough patch they find themselves in). By comparison, Byte is a faster option, AlignerCo is much more affordable, SmileDirectClub is more convenient, and Candid offers better one-on-one care.
Is Smilelove better than braces and Invisalign?
It depends on what you mean by “better.” Braces, Invisalign, and Smilelove will all get the job done and leave you with an impressive grin. The real questions are: how quickly will it transform your smile? And how much are you willing to spend? Of all these options, Smilelove is the cheapest and quickest way to get treatment. But frankly, right now, braces and Invisalign will give you more guaranteed results simply because you won’t be left waiting on treatment indefinitely.
Is Smilelove cheaper than braces or Invisalign?
Yes! Smilelove is cheaper than both traditional braces and Invisalign. Before insurance, Smilelove costs $1,895 or $2,145 if you use their pay-as-you-go plan (for aligner kits with fewer than 40 aligners). In contrast, Invisalign can cost several thousand dollars before insurance, and the same goes for braces. Ultimately, Smilelove can cost thousands less.
Does Smilelove treatment last forever?
Occasionally, teeth will shift post treatment. As you age (or for women, during pregnancy), your teeth can shift. However, you can prevent this shift by wearing your post-treatment retainers.
The first set is delivered to you free of charge. Smilelove recommends that you wear these retainers for 22 hours per day for the first two weeks after treatment. After that, you can wear them just 2 hours a day to keep your smile looking perfect.
Does Smilelove offer teeth whitening services?
Yes! Smilelove includes a free set of their Premium Whitening kit with each alignment kit. It even includes an LED light tool to speed up the whitening process. If you run out, you can purchase a replacement whitening kit for $199. (That’s the full price; you’ll sometimes find sales that make it as low as $79.99).
I’m in a rush – is Smilelove the fastest at-home treatment option available?
Smilelove is pretty average in their treatment speed. Most users will need about 6 months to complete their treatment (assuming they ever even receive their aligners). If speed is the only factor that matters—say there’s a big wedding day, graduation day, or portrait session on the horizon—then you’re better off going with byte. Thanks to their HyperByte system, byte boasts an average treatment time of just three months.
Does Smilelove have a refund policy?
At present, Smilelove is not honoring their previous refund policy, and they will not be offering it going forward. The only exception is the impression kit guarantee: if you buy a kit and it turns out that you’re not a candidate, you’ll get a refund on the kit cost. That’s the only refund Smilelove currently offers.
What happens if I mess up my impressions?
Smilelove makes it easy to get your impressions right the first time. In the odd chance that you do mess them up, you’ll have to complete another one. But here’s why that’s unlikely: Smilelove offers tons of guidance to complete your impressions. They have a guide here. You can also schedule a video call with a representative to guide you through the process. Smilelove also includes practice putty in each impression kit. You can practice your impressions as many times as you need to get them perfect.
Does Smilelove have upsells?
Smilelove doesn’t have any hard upsells during their order process. They do have a soft one by including their whitening treatment, but that’s it. And since there’s no commitment to buy another set of the whitening treatment after you run out, it’s not really a true upsell.
Is there an age requirement for using Smilelove?
Smilelove doesn’t explicitly say what ages can get treatment. However, there are a couple things to note: anyone younger than 18 must get parental consent before treatment. Additionally, you should think about your wisdom teeth before getting alignment treatment. If they’re not in yet, or you need to get them removed, you may need to take care of that first. If not, your teeth may shift and ruin your Smilelove alignment.
Will Smilelove make me talk funny?
Using clear aligners is essentially wearing a foreign object in your mouth. 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.
How many hours a day should I wear my Smilelove aligners?
With Smilelove, you need to wear your aligners for 22 hours a day. If you don’t wear the aligners long enough each day, your chances of discomfort during treatment increase.
Can I drink coffee while using Smilelove?
With any aligners, you should not eat or drink anything (except water) with your aligners in. That said, you can remove them during meals and snacks, drink, replace them, and repeat as needed.
What happens if I lose my aligners (or retainers)?
Accidents happen. It’s possible that you’ll misplace an aligner. If you do, it’s honestly not a big deal. In the case of a lost aligner, Smilelove recommends that you can just start wearing the next one. Wear it for whatever time remained on the lost one. You’ll have a touch more discomfort this way, but you won’t mess up your treatment.
Is Smilelove covered by insurance?
Smilelove accepts HSA and FSA payments, and they’ll work with you to see if your insurance will cover your treatment. You can also check yourself by asking your carrier if you have orthodontic benefits. If they do, you should ensure that all your bills are coded D8040. That’ll help you avoid playing phone tag with your insurance provider.
How can I contact Smilelove’s customer support?
You can contact Smilelove through their social media channels, but for more traditional support, it’s best to contact them via phone at 1.844.311.8990. If you’d rather email, you can reach them at [email protected]. Last but not least, you can chat with them directly on their website.