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.
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).
Pros & Cons 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.
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.
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.
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.