Not everyone had the luxury of braces growing up, but a lot of us want straighter teeth. The catch is, millennials (and all age groups past adolescence, really) don’t want to deal with braces.
It makes sense: millennials have busy schedules that make it tough to get to an orthodontist’s office on a regular basis. Then there’s the sheer cost; budgets are tight. And of course, everyone wants to appear professional at work, but braces don’t exactly scream adult professionalism.
That’s why a lot of millennials often prefer clear aligners. They’re practically invisible, and in many cases, they’re more convenient than braces. However, there are numerous clear aligner options on the market. And understandably, there are advantages and disadvantages to each.
In this guide, we’ll cover some of the best teeth straightening options for millennials, including the primary advantages of each company. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to pick the right clear aligner company for your teeth.
At-Home vs. In-Office Treatments
Before we jump into the details of each company’s pros and cons, we should make one clarification: some of these options are in-office treatments, and others are at-home aligners. The difference is exactly what it sounds like: in-office treatments are administered in person at an orthodontist’s or dentist’s office, and at-home treatments are administered remotely.
At-home aligners might sound sketchy, but they are a legitimate type of orthodontic treatment, commonly referred to as teledentistry. Essentially, the company you choose will use molds of your teeth (created during the start-up process) and software to design a treatment plan for you. Then they manufacture your aligners, and instead of having you visit an office every time you need a new aligner, they ship the entire set of aligners to you at once.
So from step one to the end of treatment, you won’t need to visit an orthodontist’s office. The downside is that your orthodontist oversight throughout treatment is pretty minimal. As a result, most at-home aligners can only treat minor and moderate cosmetic cases.
In-office treatments require regular visits to the orthodontist’s office for adjustments and check-ups. They are a bit more expensive than at-home aligners. But since an orthodontist oversees treatment in person throughout the entire process, in-office methods can handle even the toughest cases.
Both methods are legitimate, but which method is right for you depends on your needs and priorities. For example, if you expect to ask a lot of questions and crave guidance during treatment, you may want to opt for an in-office method. The same applies for tough cases.
But if you prioritize speed and cost-effectiveness, at-home aligners might be better. The rest of this guide will compare your top choices for teeth straightening, including both at-home and in-office methods.
Byte | #1
Byte is one of our favorite teeth straightening methods. In fact, they’re our favorite at-home aligner company. And if you’re looking for a speedy treatment method, Byte is the best choice. Their average treatment lasts just 3 months. There are several other perks and advantages to Byte:
- Overall value: Byte’s $1,895 sticker price isn’t the smallest in the industry, but it’s well worth it; that price gets you a ton of value, including all your aligners, free retainers, whitening, and the HyperByte system.
- Treatment speed: Like we mentioned earlier, Byte’s average treatment lasts just 3 months, which is faster than any of their competitors. For reference, most at-home companies take 6 months, and in-office months typically take 12 to 18 months.
- Treatment flexibility: Byte offers both daytime and nighttime treatments, which allows you to choose between wearing your aligners for 22 hours or 10 hours per day. (Only a few other home aligner companies offer nighttime treatment, including Smile Direct and AlignerCo).
- Byte-for-Life Guarantee: If your teeth ever shift after your treatment ends (and you’ve worn your retainers appropriately), Byte will send you new aligners for free to get your teeth back to perfection.
All told, Byte is a great option for millennials whose schedules don’t allow them to visit an orthodontist’s office. Since Byte offers a lifetime guarantee and they assign a personal Byte advisor to each customer, you’ll still get an individualized experience. They’re also the best option for those who are in a rush to see their perfect smile. That said, Byte can only treat mild-to-moderate cosmetic cases. For more information on Byte treatment, check out our full Byte review.
Candid | #2
Candid is our second pick for at-home clear aligners, and they strike a nice balance between the flexibility of at-home treatment and the frequent oversight you’d get with an in-office method. That’s thanks to their Remote Monitoring program. But Remote Monitoring isn’t the only thing to love about Candid:
- Remote Monitoring: Using your smartphone and a special imaging device (included in your kit), you’ll send scans to the Candid care team for review. This regular oversight can help your treatment stay on track, and in some cases, even accelerate ahead of schedule.
- Orthodontist-only network: Candid uses orthodontists exclusively in their treatment team. So you’re guaranteed that an orthodontist, not a dentist, will design your entire treatment process.
- Ease of getting started: With a lot of at-home aligner companies, you have to kick off your treatment by taking impressions of your teeth at home. A lot of customers find this step difficult, so Candid makes it easier with their Candid Studios. If you visit a Studio, one of Candid’s staff members will take free scans of your teeth instead of impressions. Most locations even offer free panoramic X-rays of your teeth, which adds great value to this appointment.
- Customer service: Thanks to their frequent treatment oversight and easy startup process, Candid has one of the best customer service teams in the industry.
Priced at $1,895, Candid is significantly more affordable than in-office options like Invisalign, and right in line with the at-home aligner industry average. Candid sets itself apart by its ability to all of your teeth, including your molars. Most competitors focus on the front six upper and lower teeth (otherwise known as “the social six”). Candid’s ability to move molars means they can treat slightly more complicated conditions than their other at-home aligner competitors. For more information on treatment with Candid, check out our full Candid review.
AlignerCo | #3
All home aligner companies have a smaller price tag than braces, but AlignerCo wins the budget-friendliness competition—hands down. Their price is about 40% cheaper than other at-home aligner companies. Here are some of the top advantages to treatment with AlignerCo:
- Affordability: Priced at just $1,145 (or $1,045 if you have a referral code from a friend), AlignerCo boasts the lowest sticker price in the industry. For reference, their closest price competitor typically costs $1,749.
- Flexible financing plans: A lot of companies offer treatment financing, but sometimes, financing isn’t an option for people with poor credit scores. Thankfully, AlignerCo offers two financing options: one with a credit check, and one that requires a downpayment instead.
- Appearance: AlignerCo’s aligners are scallop-cut to match your gum line (as opposed to straight-cut), which makes them a touch less noticeable than aligners from some other companies.
- Customer support: For such a small company, AlignerCo has an excellent customer support team. They’ll check in with you throughout your treatment to see how things are going. And if any issues pop up during treatment, their support reps will get you back on track quickly.
AlignerCo is a perfect option for anyone with a minor cosmetic case who needs a budget-friendly option or just wants to save some cash. Plus, if you’d like to enroll in a financing plan but your credit score is lackluster, AlignerCo has you covered. If you’re curious to learn more about AlignerCo treatment, check out the full AlignerCo review.
Invisalign | #4
For years, Invisalign has been widely regarded as the gold standard for clear aligner treatment. And it’s not surprising why: Invisalign pioneered the clear aligners we know today. They’ve also expanded on that technology, offering new products like Invisalign First, Invisalign Express, SmartForce attachments, and more. Here are some of the top things to love about Invisalign:
- Treatable cases: Because Invisalign is administered in person by a qualified orthodontist, there are a lot more treatment options beyond the aligner trays themselves. For example, your orthodontist can add SmartForce attachments and elastics to create more powerful, nuanced movements. As a result, Invisalign can handle tough and minor cases alike.
- One-on-one care: Throughout Invisalign treatment, you’ll establish a good relationship with your orthodontist. He or she will know the ins and outs of your unique smile. If you ever have any questions or concerns, you’ll get personalized advice and service.
- Invisalign Express: If your case is pretty minor, you may be a good candidate for Express, a mini version of Invisalign with fewer aligners and a shorter treatment time. It costs less, too (but still more than home aligners).
- Aligner comfort: Invisalign uses patented SmartTrack technology in the plastic of their aligners. SmartTrack (reportedly) makes Invisalign aligners more comfortable and more consistent than trays from other companies.
Because Invisalign is pretty expensive but powerful (the price often ranges between $5,000-$8,000 total), it’s not the best option for people with minor cosmetic cases. However, Invisalign is perfect for tougher cases. Express is a fair alternative for those who want a more affordable in-office treatment, too. And if you want to work with the most well-known brand, Invisalign is the clear choice. For a fuller picture of how Invisalign treatment works, check out our full Invisalign review.
ClearCorrect | #5
On the surface, ClearCorrect looks a lot like Invisalign. And frankly, ClearCorrect is a near-identical twin to Invisalign. The primary difference is that ClearCorrect is not as pricey as Invisalign. But the lower price doesn’t sacrifice your quality; ClearCorrect’s treatment has the same power and versatility. There are a few key things to love about ClearCorrect, too:
- Treatable cases: ClearCorrect can handle almost as many cases as braces, including both minor and severe cases.That’s because, thanks to add-ons like tooth-colored attachments and elastics plus your orthodontist oversight, ClearCorrect allows for powerful, nuanced movements.
- One-on-one care: Throughout your ClearCorrect treatment, you’ll establish a good relationship with your orthodontist. He or she will know the ins and outs of your unique smile. If you ever have any questions or concerns, you’ll get personalized advice and service.
- Flex treatment: ClearCorrect offers a less powerful treatment line, Flex, that’s best suited to treat minor cases. It costs less than full treatment since you pay per aligner (it’s still more expensive than home aligners) and takes less time overall.
- Relative affordability: ClearCorrect is slightly more affordable than Invisalign, with the typical price ranging between $4,000 to $6,000. It’s basically the same treatment, but without the top brand name surcharge.
ClearCorrect is best for people who want the quality of Invisalign treatment with a smaller price tag. But in general, ClearCorrect is best for those who have a case that’s too tough for home aligners to handle. If your case is easier, then home aligners are probably more cost-effective. For more information about ClearCorrect, check out our full ClearCorrect review.
Which Should I Choose?
Picking the right teeth straightening method for your smile is actually pretty challenging. There are a lot of different issues to consider, after all. To make an informed decision, it’s best to evaluate each aligner option on the basis of several different aspects. Here are some of the areas we’ve considered when ranking the companies we’ve reviewed:
- Treatment quality: Does an orthodontist or a dentist design and oversee your treatment? Who creates the aligners you’ll use during treatment?
- Treatment speed: How long does your treatment last? 3 months? 6? Two years?
- Bang for your buck: How much does your treatment bundle cost? And more importantly, how much do you get for every dollar you spend?
- Customer service: How responsive and helpful is the customer care team? Do you get quick, helpful answers? Or do you waste all your time playing phone tag?
- Noticeability: How tough or easy is it to spot the aligners? Do they cause a lisp or make your smile gleam unnaturally? Or are they mostly invisible to others?
- Treatable cases: Can the company handle your case, or do you need a more powerful option?
This is just a bird’s eye view of the criteria we’ve used to rank different aligner companies. For more information on these criteria and why they matter, check out our review guidelines.
Ultimately, the aligner company that’s best for you depends on you: your smile, your budget, your timetable, and so on. So it’s a very personal decision.
We won’t claim to know what’s best for you. But in general, Byte gets our top recommendation. For minor and moderate cosmetic cases, they’re a fantastic treatment (at a great value, too). Or, if you have a tougher case (or want an in-office treatment method), we recommend Invisalign instead.
By reading this guide, you’re already doing your research about your treatment options. You’re well on your way to achieving the smile of your dreams.
Based on what you’ve read, we encourage you to keep researching the treatment options that stood out to you. As you research, keep in mind your priorities: your budget, how comfortable (or uncomfortable) with teledentistry, your schedule, and so on.
Not sure where to begin? Our Top Home Aligners Review is a great place to start your research, especially if you’re leaning towards at-home treatment. Whatever company you choose, we wish you the best as you pursue your new smile!