A million dollar smile is great and all, but what about getting one as an adult? No one past their teen years wants to deal with the “brace face” life (or relive it if the effects of their braces have worn off).
Thankfully, home clear aligners make it possible to straighten your teeth from the convenience of your house. No braces, no wires, no office visits. These clear aligners have become a popular alternative to braces. Why? They’re much cheaper than braces and Invisalign. They’re also much more convenient.
There are a few popular home clear aligner companies on the market today, including SnapCorrect and Smile Direct. In this comparison review, we’ll help you decide which of these two services is the better option for your unique circumstances.
Spoiler | Smile Direct Club Wins
5 Things They Have in Common
For the bulk of this review, we’ll talk about the ways SnapCorrect and Smile Direct are different. But they do have a fair bit in common. On the obvious side, both companies will help you perfect your grin without going to the dentist’s office. But the commonalities between SnapCorrect and Smile Direct go much deeper than that:
1) Affordability: Money is always an issue, right? Thankfully, both SnapCorrect and Smile Direct are relatively affordable. Sure, they have their own price points (more on this later), but they’re both thousands of dollars cheaper than braces or Invisalign. Those methods have an average cost of $5,000 (but it’s not uncommon for tough cases to be as high as $8,000). But thankfully, SnapCorrect and Smile Direct are both less than $2,000.
2) Flexible Financing: Even though SnapCorrect and Smile Direct are both affordable, it’s still a lot to pay up front. Thankfully, both companies offer financing options to make treatment more accessible.
3) Discreet: SnapCorrect and Smile Direct both use slightly different aligners, but you’d hardly know by looking at them. In fact, when most people pop in their clear aligners, they’re practically invisible.
4) Safe: We get it. Home dentistry (also called teledentistry) sounds a bit sketchy. But in reality, it isn’t. Both SnapCorrect and Smile Direct use teams of qualified dental professionals to create a custom treatment plan just for you. They combine your dental impressions with advanced technology to craft your personalized series of aligners. Basically, they’ve taken the technology Invisalign perfected and brought it to the comfort of your home.
5) Insurance Coverage: SnapCorrect and Smile Direct both accept FSA and HSA accounts, and your insurance may cover part of your treatment, too. Smile Direct works directly with UnitedHealthcare and Aetna, but some other providers may also be included. Many dental insurance policies cover treatment by SnapCorrect, but it all depends on the specific plan.
That mostly covers the similarities. For the remainder of this review, we’ll dig into the differences so you can pick the home aligner that’s best for you.
Company Track Records
Home teeth alignment is a fairly new industry. Even so, it’s important to consider each company’s respective track record. Here’s how the two compare:
|Founded: 2017||Founded: 2014|
|Company focus: Creating beautiful smiles and maintaining them with free whitening treatment for life||Company focus: Make dental care more accessible to the estimated 80% of Americans who need it|
Smile Direct is the biggest aligner company in the entire industry; that’s no secret. In terms of sheer volume, SnapCorrect can’t quite compete on that front. That said, SnapCorrect is growing pretty rapidly. They entered the home aligner scene from the whitening scene, so it’s not surprising that they can also offer free whitening for life. That’s an intriguing perk, but if you’re wanting to work with the most well-established brand, Smile Direct wins.
Home teeth aligner companies all use clear plastic aligners to help shift your teeth into the perfect position. But who creates those aligners is an important distinction. That includes the person designing your treatment plan and the manufacturer producing the aligners themselves.
SnapCorrect and Smile Direct each have their own treatment methods:
|Treatment designers: A mixed team of orthodontists and dentists||Treatment designers: A mixed team of orthodontists and dentists|
|Aligner manufacturer: Essix, a reputable plastics manufacturer in the dental industry||Aligner manufacturer: Currently done in-house, so unnamed. Formerly Align Technology.|
The manufacturer of your aligners is one thing, but the individual designing your treatment is even more important. Let’s be fair: general dentists have well-rounded professional training, including in teeth movements. However, they don’t have the same expertise as orthodontists. Orthodontists have to complete several more years of postgraduate education learning the science of the perfect smile.
By guaranteeing that only an orthodontist will oversee your case, other aligner companies ensure that your treatment is backed by the same expertise as traditional treatments. With Smile Direct and SnapCorrect, you lack that guarantee. A general dentist might oversee your case instead. While licensed dentists are highly qualified, they aren’t as specialized as orthodontists, and this could be a bit of a risk, especially if your case is more severe than others.
No two smiles are exactly alike. So, regardless of what company you choose for treatment, your treatment could be longer or shorter than someone else’s. Your treatment speed largely depends on the severity of your crowding or spacing.
That said, each company’s product affects your treatment speed as well. Here are the average treatment times for SnapCorrect and Smile Direct:
- SnapCorrect: 3-9 months for daytime treatment, but can be up to 18
- Smile Direct: 4-6 months for daytime treatment, 10 for nighttime-only treatment
SnapCorrect is just a touch slower than Smile Direct, but we know why: the shape of each company’s aligners. Smile Direct uses aligners that are cut straight across, while SnapCorrect’s are scalloped to match your gum line. Technically speaking, the scalloped aligners are a bit less visible, but Smile Direct aligners are a bit more powerful. They can use your gums as “anchors” to exert more force on your teeth, speeding up Smile Direct’s treatment.
Pricing & Features
Let’s talk about bang for your buck. In this section, we’ll dig into the pricing details for impression kits from SnapCorrect and Smile Direct.
With any home aligner company, you’ll kick off your treatment by taking impressions of your teeth. Most companies require that you use an at-home impression kit. However, a few companies, including Smile Direct, maintain retail locations that make the impression kit more convenient.
Here’s how the kit prices stack up:
- SnapCorrect, $95: SnapCorrect’s kit includes everything you need to take your impressions at home, including trays, putty, and, of course, a prepaid shipping label. If $95 seems a bit high, keep in mind that SnapCorrect sometimes runs sales on the kit.
- Smile Direct, FREE or $59: One of Smile Direct’s biggest edges over the competition is their SmileShops; they have hundreds of locations across the country. You can visit one of these shops for a free, in-person teeth scan instead of taking impressions on your own. There’s no obligation to proceed with treatment, either. But if you don’t live near a SmileShop, you can still take your impressions at home.
SnapCorrect’s impression kit meets the industry standard, but Smile Direct’s SmileShops are incredibly convenient. If you don’t live near a SmileShop, however, you’ll still have to use an impression kit.
SnapCorrect and Smile Direct both provide a guarantee on your impression kit. If you send in your impressions but it turns out that you’re not a good candidate for treatment, they’ll refund the kit price. But if you are a candidate, you will not be refunded for the cost of the kit, even if you decide not to pursue treatment.
Once you complete your impressions, SnapCorrect or Smile Direct will create your treatment plan. This includes all of the aligners you’ll need to shift your smile from meh to wow. The price will be the same, regardless of how many aligners you need. Let’s start out by talking about the base prices for each service.
- SnapCorrect, $1,749: SnapCorrect has one of the cheapest price points in the home aligner industry (only AlignerCo and NewSmile are more affordable). And they make a great value of it, too, including everything you’ll need to straighten and maintain your teeth, like your first set of post-treatment retainers.
- Smile Direct, $1,950: With Smile Direct, the price you see is usually the price you get. Like SnapCorrect, they include all the aligners you’ll need to treat your smile. However, you’ll need to pay an additional $99 for their post-treatment aligners.
SnapCorrect and Smile Direct have pretty similar prices, but SnapCorrect’s value is a touch better.
SnapCorrect and Smile Direct have pretty similar prices, but SnapCorrect’s value is a touch better.
Can’t pay all at once? Thankfully, both services offer financing:
- SnapCorrect, $1,799.96-$1,938.44: SnapCorrect partners with a third-party company called Affirm for their financing, which has its pros and cons. The bad news: you’ll have to pass the credit check. The good: there are very flexible payment options. You can choose between a 6-, 12-, or 24-month payment plan.
- Smile Direct, $2,386: Smile Direct has a 100% approval rate on their financing plans, so your credit score doesn’t matter. To kick off your payment plan, they require a fairly standard $250 down payment. After that, you’ll pay $89 per month for 24 months.
Both SnapCorrect and Smile Direct offer whitening treatments. So you’ll not only straighten your smile but also brighten it, too:
- SnapCorrect, Free for Life: SnapCorrect’s most intriguing advantage is their promise of free whitening for life. Basically, once you’re a customer, you can get their whitening gel refills whenever you want and enjoy pearly whites for life.
- Smile Direct, $40-45: Smile Direct includes one free whitening kit with your treatment. After that, the price for extra whitening depends on the size of the supply. Each kit includes teeth whitening pens. The more expensive ones also include an LED light to speed things up. You can purchase a 6- or 12-month supply.
All told, Smile Direct has fair prices that match the industry standards, but SnapCorrect’s prices are just a little bit better, especially when you consider the free set of post-treatment retainers and whitening treatment. That said, if you have a poor credit score and need financing, then Smile Direct might work better for you.
No one anticipates having issues with their aligners, but stuff happens. That’s life. When it does, you’ll need to talk with customer support. We’ve tested them ourselves, and here’s how the two compare:
|Contact methods: Phone, email, & web chat||Contact methods: Phone, email, social media|
|Hours: 8 a.m to 5 p.m. PST||Hours: “Customer Care Available 24/7” (per their website)|
|Speed: Chat & phone get near-instant responses; email queries can take 24 hours (though COVID seems to have slowed this some)||Speed: Hit-or-miss; phone gets a same-day response (occasional hold times); email delay up to 24 hours|
|Friendliness: Kind, prompt, & helpful||Friendliness: Professional & upbeat|
|Takeaway: SnapCorrect excels on the customer support front. We saw no red flags; we’re confident you’ll get good service.||Takeaway: Smile Direct’s customer support is adequate, but there’s some room for improvement. And they’re working on it.|
When we tested SnapCorrect, and we didn’t experience any substantial delays. But a few customers have noted slow response times in online reviews. We suspect that’s due to COVID delays, but it’s tough to know for sure. In general, we think their support is pretty good, but we’ll keep an eye on it.
Smile Direct definitely has room to improve in their customer service department, but we’ve seen pretty substantial improvements. That’s especially true when you compare today’s support to their customer service in 2017. For perspective, Smile Direct experienced rapid growth in 2017, and their service department couldn’t keep up. But now they seem to be doing better.
Ease of Getting Started
Ease is the name of the game when it comes to at-home clear aligner treatment. But not all aligner companies use the same process. Some are a bit easier than others.
The same goes for SnapCorrect and Smile Direct, and Smile Direct takes the win here. Thanks to their SmileShops, it’s fairly easy to get your treatment started. Customers love how friendly the staff is at these shops, and the care professionals there handle all the difficult parts of taking impressions.
SnapCorrect doesn’t have retail locations. If you’d rather use SnapCorrect (or you don’t live near a SmileShop), you’ll need to order an impression kit and DIY your impressions.
What if I get it wrong?
Impression kits are a tad tricky, so don’t panic if you mess them up. If the impressions are iffy—they could work, but you’re not sure—send them in. The orthodontists will let you know if you need to try again.
If you’re sure you’ve botched the impressions, contact customer support at SnapCorrect or Smile Direct. They’ll send another kit your way. Smile Direct promises that they’ll refund the cost of the replacement kit when you purchase your aligners.
For many shoppers, customer reviews can make or break your purchase decisions. If you’re one of those shoppers, we’ve got you covered. We’ve done the legwork for you to see what customers across the web are saying about SnapCorrect and Smile Direct.
|Top loves: affordable yet effective treatment; minimal discomfort; friendly and quick support||Top loves: Friendly customer support; very affordable; convenient to treat at home|
|Top complaints: requesting refinements is tedious; COVID-era customer support is slower; some retainers break||Top complaints: billing mix-ups; sometimes aligners break; requesting re-evaluations is tedious|
|Average score: 4/5||Average score: 4/5|
In the past, we looked at SnapCorrect reviews and they were overwhelmingly positive. And they still are mostly positive, but they’ve encountered some more negative ones. Many of them cite slow customer support or difficulty requesting refinements. The refinements aren’t uncommon issues across the industry, either. We suspect most of their negative support experiences stem from COVID delays, but we don’t know for sure. We’ll keep an eye on their reviews and update them accordingly if and when that changes!
Smile Direct’s reputation is mostly positive, but they do have a bit of a mixed bag. Like SnapCorrect, they seem to struggle a bit when it comes to making treatment refinements. But we’ve found that the majority of their negative reviews stem from 2017, and they’ve made big strides towards picking up their own slack. If they keep up the good work, their cumulative score might improve.
Refund Policies & Satisfaction Guarantees
As with any purchase, there’s always the nagging question: what if it doesn’t work out? SnapCorrect and Smile Direct both have very individualized approaches for refunds and satisfaction guarantees.
SnapCorrect’s Satisfaction Guarantee: SnapCorrect’s only guaranteed refund is for their impression kit. If you’re not a candidate for treatment, you’ll be refunded for the impression kit cost (and any money you prepaid for aligners). Other than that, SnapCorrect strives to ensure your complete satisfaction. If you reach the end of your treatment and you don’t like the results, you should contact support. They’ll work on sending new aligners your way to make your treatment perfect.
Smile Direct’s Smile Guarantee and Club Warranty: With Smile Direct, you have 30 days to change your mind about your aligners. If you try them out and decide the treatment isn’t right for you within that first month, you can return them for a full refund.
Then there’s the Club Warranty. Smile Direct promises its club members that if they’re not totally satisfied with the results at the end of the treatment, they can request a re-evaluation and get new aligners to finish the job. To be eligible for this warranty, you must check in with your assigned doctor every 90 days, follow your prescribed treatment to a T, and submit any request for re-evaluation within 30 days of finishing treatment.
Best Alternatives to SnapCorrect and Smile Direct
Smile Direct and SnapCorrect are just two of the aligner companies on the market, but there are other options to consider. Our two favorites are Byte and AlignerCo.
Byte has staked its claim as the fastest treatment option. Unlike SnapCorrect, who can take 8-9 months for treatment, Byte takes 3 months using daytime treatment and 4-6 with nighttime. AlignerCo is our second pick, but for a different reason. AlignerCo has the most affordable treatment price in the entire industry: $1,145. Even their nighttime treatment is pretty cheap ($1,345).
Which is the Best Clear Aligner for You?
When it all comes down to it, SnapCorrect and Smile Direct are both good options. But at the end of the day, you can only pick one.
If you want our honest opinion, we prefer Smile Direct. SnapCorrect is not a bad service in any sense; they’re just untested since they’re so young. Smile Direct is a little more established, and they have the added convenience of SmileShops and nighttime-only treatment.
Choose SnapCorrect if: you’re intrigued by whitening for life, need an affordable treatment option, and willing to work with a new company, then SnapCorrect may be the better choice.
Choose Smile Direct if: you want the confidence that comes from working with a well-established brand. Smile Direct has served more than a million customers, so they’ve probably already seen a case just like yours.
Smile Direct Club wins! We recommend Smile Direct Club over SnapCorrect. They are a well-established brand and has served over a million customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does either company offer discounts?
Technically, both services offer discounts. Smile Direct offers year-round discounts for students, and occasionally, they’ll discount their impression kits or aligner bundles. SnapCorrect’s most common discount is for their impression kit, but on occasion, you’ll score a deal on the aligners. With either company, you’ll have to watch for and jump on deals whenever you find them.
Are SnapCorrect and Smile Direct legit?
Your mom warned you about things that sound too good to be true, right? Thankfully home aligner companies like SnapCorrect and Smile Direct aren’t. These companies leverage a competitive product with competitive prices. But they don’t sacrifice quality to do it. How? They don’t have the overhead costs of a physical office like a traditional orthodontist’s office, so they can invest those savings in measures that ensure treatment quality.
Which home aligner is more customer-focused?
SnapCorrect is a bit more customer-centric than Smile Direct. That’s largely because SnapCorrect is much smaller, so they can give more individualized attention to each customer.
How exactly do at-home clear aligners work?
They’re nearly invisible, but they’re not magical. Technically speaking, at-home clear aligners use roughly the same technology that Invisalign uses. This starts with your impressions; based on those impressions, a dental professional designs sets of clear trays that gently move your teeth to their final destination.
How do SnapCorrect and Smile Direct compare to Invisalign?
They’re distant cousins, really. Invisalign pioneered the clear aligner alternative to traditional braces. However, Invisalign adds one aspect to the aligners: devices affixed to your teeth to secure the aligners. Those devices have to be attached in-office by a qualified orthodontist. Home aligners don’t use those, allowing you to complete your entire treatment at home.
How do these home aligners compare to AlignerCo, Candid, and Byte?
Smile Direct and Byte are pretty similar to other aligner companies. AlignerCo is the most affordable option on the market; they’re hundreds cheaper than their competitors. Byte is the fastest with their 3-month average treatment time.
Is there an age requirement for using either SnapCorrect or Smile Direct?
Both SnapCorrect and Smile Direct require you to have all permanent teeth present to begin treatment (you don’t want to dump thousands into teeth that will just fall out, anyway). With Smile Direct, patients must be at least 12 years old. SnapCorrect doesn’t have a specific age requirement, but minors must have parental consent to receive treatment. It’s also a good idea to account for your wisdom teeth. If you need to have them removed (your dentist can tell you for sure), you should do so before getting clear aligner treatment.
Does either service give free whitening treatment?
SnapCorrect gives free whitening treatment for life once you’re a customer. That’s unprecedented. Smile Direct also includes free whitening with their aligner treatments, but you’ll need to pay $40-45 for more after the first round runs out.
Can I use SnapCorrect and Smile Direct if I live outside the USA?
If you live in Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or Australia, then you can use Smile Direct. SnapCorrect spreads a wider net, though. Here’s what they say: “Over 50,000 aligners have been sold in Australia and Russia, as well as across other many other countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.” So depending on your location, you may be able to use either.
Do SnapCorrect and Smile Direct have aggressive upsells?
Thankfully, no. These two companies stick with selling their treatment, and there’s really no pressure to buy a bunch of extras. Sure, they’ll mention them to you, such as whitening treatment with Smile Direct, but it’s not as aggressive as some things we’ve seen.
How do I know if at-home aligners are right for me?
Many people are good candidates for at-home treatment. In general, the only people who should automatically steer clear of at-home aligners are people with significant bite issues. If a condition like overbite or underbite is the cause of your teeth’s misalignment, then clear aligners likely won’t be able to permanently correct your issue.
Individuals with implants may still be able to get treatment. To know for sure, you’ll need to take an impression kit with either service. They’ll let you know for sure if you are a candidate or not. If you are not a candidate, you’ll get a refund for the price of the impression kit.
Will either of these home aligners make me talk less funny?
Most people take a few days to adjust to the feeling of aligners—after all, there’s a foreign object in your mouth—but very few experience long-lasting issues. The average observer can’t detect that you’re wearing aligners, talking included.
If I lose my aligners during or after treatment, do I have to pay for new ones?
With Smile Direct, you should get in touch with customer support. They’ll help you determine if you need to replace the lost aligner or just move on to the next one. If you do need a replacement, they won’t charge you for the first one. Subsequent replacements will cost you $99, though.
SnapCorrect recommends that if you lose an aligner, you simply move on to the next one a bit ahead of schedule (or wear your previous one) until it’s time to change to the next set. Moving ahead sooner than planned won’t damage your teeth, but it might be a little more uncomfortable than usual.
Can I drink coffee when using SnapCorrect or Smile Direct?
You can, but you shouldn’t. Aligners from SnapCorrect and Smile Direct are fairly stain-resistant, but you should generally avoid eating or drinking colored liquids and foods while wearing your aligners. Water is a safe bet, though.
Are there any hidden costs?
SnapCorrect doesn’t really have any hidden costs. What you see is what you get. Smile Direct does have one unadvertised cost, but it isn’t exactly hidden. You’ll need to pay $99 for post-treatment retainers; SnapCorrect includes the first set for free. With either company, however, you’ll need to purchase new post-treatment retainers occasionally. They do wear out over time.