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If you want straight teeth—but don’t want metal brackets and wires on your teeth—invisible aligners are an excellent choice. They are a discreet, clear, and removable alternative to traditional metal braces designed around comfort and convenience.
Unlike metal braces, invisible aligners don't consist of metal brackets and wires. Instead, they are made of clear, BPA-free plastic and fit snugly over your teeth. Each aligner tray moves your teeth in small increments until treatment is complete.
Although convenient, keep in mind that aligners are a commitment. You must wear them for 22+ hours a day to ensure treatment stays on track. If you don't, you risk extending treatment. It's also essential to clean them daily and remove them before you eat or drink anything besides water.
Clear braces can fix mild to moderate cases of malocclusion (teeth misalignment). Some common types of malocclusion include crooked teeth, overbite, underbite, crowding, and gapped teeth.
There are many brands of clear teeth aligners on the market today, making it easier to find one that fits your lifestyle, budget, and needs.
There are two clear aligner options available, including in-office aligners and at-home aligners:
In-office invisible aligners require visits to your dentist or orthodontist throughout treatment. You also have to set up an appointment with them to get an impression made of your teeth before beginning treatment.
The dentist or orthodontist acts as the 'middleman' throughout treatment. This means you have to visit them regularly for check-ups and to receive your next aligner set.
The most well-known in-office invisible aligners include:
At-home invisible aligners, also called mail-in aligners, do not require in-office visits. To begin treatment, you'll take an online assessment to see if you're a candidate. Then you can order an at-home impression kit, which will get delivered to your home address.
The impression kits come with detailed instructions to ensure you take them correctly. You'll send the impressions back using a prepaid package.
If you're a candidate, a dentist or orthodontist will create a digital 3D image of your teeth. This model shows your tooth movement progress from start to finish. The treatment plan also includes your estimated treatment length and how many aligners will be needed.
Once you approve the plan, you'll be charged for the aligners. You should receive them within 2 to 3 weeks. You aren't obligated to follow through with treatment until you approve the treatment plan.
Not everyone is a good candidate for at-home clear aligners. Treatment is typically only recommended for mild to moderate cases of tooth misalignment.
The six best at-home invisible braces include:
The average treatment time for Byte aligners is 4 to 6 months with daily Hyperbyte use. The Hyperbyte is a special teeth movement acceleration device that claims to straighten teeth faster with HFV (high-frequency vibration).
Read our article comparing the positives and negatives of the HyperByte and similar vibration-based aligner therapies.
You have the choice of buying all-day or at-night Byte aligners. Treatment is completely remote. You will order a mail-in impression kit and get virtual check-ups throughout treatment. An aligner-safe teeth whitening kit (BrightByte) is also included with every purchase.
We recommend Byte for convenient, 100% at-home teeth straightening if you have mild teeth alignment issues. They do not offer in-person scans or consultations.
Cost: $1,999 (normal aligners) to $2,399 (night aligners)
Treatment Time: 4 to 6 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Starting at $70/month for 32 months (not including down payment)
Byte aligners can straighten teeth in 4 to 6 months with daily HyperByte use (a tooth movement acceleration device).
Limited Time Sale: 70% off Impression Kit, $100 off Aligners + Free BrightByte Whitening Treatment.
SmileDirectClub (SDC) pioneered the mail-in aligner industry and is still the most widely known. SDC offers both daytime and nighttime clear aligners for thousands less than braces.
There are two ways to begin treatment with SDC. The first option is to visit a SmileShop for a risk-free, in-person scan. Here, a trained technician will take 3D scans of your teeth and ensure you are a good candidate for treatment. The second option is to order an at-home impression kit and send them back.
We recommend SDC if you prefer an in-person scan and have mild to moderate teeth misalignment. They have SmileShop locations all around the U.S. and in other countries.
Cost: $2,050 (normal or night aligners)
Treatment Time: 4 to 6 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Starting at $89/month (not including down payment)
The biggest aligner company
SmileDirectClub is the largest, longest-standing clear aligner manufacturer.
NewSmile is one of the most affordable at-home aligners, but they are also one of the newest companies.
Unlike most at-home aligner brands, NewSmile aligners do not touch your gums. They are trimmed to comfortably sit along your gum line in a ‘scalloped fashion.’ Not only does this design cause less irritation, but it also makes the trays less visible.
Once you receive the impression kit, you should get an email to book a time with an Impression Specialist.
During this video call, they will walk you through the process to ensure accuracy. You’ll send in progress photos through the NewSmile app to ensure your teeth are moving correctly.
We recommend NewSmile if you have very mild teeth alignment issues. These aligners are not recommended for moderate to severe misalignment. Treatment is not as comprehensive as other brands.
Cost: $1,495 (normal aligners) to $1,595 (night aligners).
Treatment Time: 4 to 10 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Starting at $58/month
NewSmile aligners are trimmed along your gum line to provide a comfortable and less visible treatment experience.
They also offer live video chats with a specialist to ensure you make accurate impressions.
NewSmile aligners are more affordable than other brands.
ALIGNERCO offers some of the cheapest invisible aligners on the market. However, treatment is more hands-off after you approve the plan. In other words, you get what you pay for.
To begin the teeth straightening process, the first step is to order an impression kit online. These kits are just $39.99.
While more affordable, they are a newer company with fewer reviews than Candid. They also do not work directly with orthodontists and dentists. We recommend ALIGNERCO if you have very mild teeth misalignment, as treatment isn't monitored closely by a dental professional.
Cost: $895 (normal aligners) to $1,095 (night aligners)
Treatment Time: 6 to 12 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Starting at $81/month (not including down payment)
Another budget option
ALIGNERCO is another brand that offers an affordable aligner experience. However, treatment is more hands-off after you approve the plan.
Unlike other mail-in aligners, Candid only works with licensed orthodontists. Orthodontists are teeth straightening experts. Investing in Candid aligners ensures you get the highest quality remote care available.
To begin treatment with Candid, you’ll visit a qualified CandidPro provider (dentist or orthodontist) for an initial consultation and to have your bite digitally scanned or impressions taken. You’ll also see them at the end of treatment to ensure your teeth are aligned correctly and you’re satisfied with the results.
The CandidPro provider then has a licensed orthodontist from Candid's team personally design your treatment plan. After that, your treatment progress is monitored remotely through CandidMonitoring™, the company’s telehealth platform (mobile app).
The same Candid orthodontist who creates your treatment plan will oversee your treatment from start to finish. Treatment takes between 4 and 12 months, depending on how severe your bite issues are.
Candid does not have a ‘night aligner’ option. This is because there is no proof that night aligners are effective; they may actually do more harm to your teeth than good.
“Because the protocols around nighttime aligner therapy generally specify only 10 hours of wear time per day, I am concerned that you may never experience the light continuous force necessary for effective healthy tooth movement.”Dr. C Lynn Hurst, Chief Dental Officer at Candid
Cost: $3,300 (on average)
Treatment Time: 4 to 12 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Varies depending on your CandidPro provider
Every treatment plan is overseen by a qualified orthodontist with over 20 years of experience. Treatment is monitored in the CandidApp.
Candid treatment costs $3,300 (price may change depending on various factors).
You can begin treatment by visiting a CandidPro location:
The two best in-office invisible braces are Invisalign and ClearCorrect.
Invisalign is the most widely-known invisible aligner available. These teeth aligners are made with SmartTrack® material, which is specifically engineered for the Invisalign system.
The material claims to provide a more accurate and comfortable fit. Invisalign is only available through your dentist or orthodontist, not online.
Invisalign provides very accurate tooth movement but is the most expensive aligner on the market.
Cost: $3,000 to $8,000
Treatment Time: 12 to 18 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Starting at $50/mo for 36 months (not including down payment)
ClearCorrect is the best alternative to Invisalign. These aligners are made of .030” polyurethane to achieve challenging tooth movements.
They are also stain and crack-resistant, hand-checked by a qualified dentist, and laser-marked to ensure traceability.
Similar to Invisalign, ClearCorrect requires in-office evaluation before beginning treatment.
ClearCorrect provides controlled single-tooth movement but is more expensive than mail-in aligners.
Cost: $2,500 to $5,500
Treatment Time: Depends on if you choose Limited 6, Limited 12, Unlimited, or Flex treatment
Payment Plan: Flex (pay per aligner), Unlimited (pay one flat rate for five years of aligners + one set of retainers), Limited 6, and Limited 12 (pay one flat rate for aligners + one set of retainers)
Six Month Smiles® is an in-office treatment that straightens teeth in as little as 6 months. The company also uses Zendura to make the aligners. This is the most effective material for bruxism (teeth grinding) protection, which means it's very durable.
Like Invisalign, Six Month Smiles requires frequent visits to the dentist. Your orthodontist or dentist will adjust your braces or switch you to new aligners every few weeks.
Cost: $3,500 to $5,000
Treatment Time: 6 to 9 months, sometimes more
Monthly Payment Plan: Depends on the provider
SureSmile is another brand of in-office aligners that launched in 2007. The first step is to make an appointment with a SureSmile doctor in your area for an initial consultation. During the visit, the doctor will take a digital scan of your mouth.
The Primescan™ intraoral scanner processes more than 1,000,000 3D points per second, producing a highly accurate digital model of your teeth. If you are a good candidate, a custom treatment plan will be created that shows your smile changes from start to finish.
Cost: $3,000 to $6,000
Treatment Time: 6 to 18 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Depends on the provider
To help you choose the best invisible aligner for your needs, our specialists at NewMouth have compiled a list of the most popular brands below:
|In-office consultation required||✕||✓||✕||✕||✕|
|At-home impression kit||✓||✕||✓||✓||✓|
(potentially unsafe option)
|Orthodontist-directed remote monitoring||✕||✓||✕||✕||✕|
Clear aligner treatment has been around for more than 20 years. With advancements in 3D modeling, video conferencing, and digital cameras, creating an at-home clear aligner treatment plan is safe and effective.
Many dental professionals recommend in-office treatment over at-home aligners because treatment is monitored in person. This is not the case with at-home aligners.
However, at-home aligners are generally considered safe if you follow instructions carefully throughout treatment. In fact, according to one study, about 88% of respondents were satisfied with their at-home aligner treatment.3 Most of these patients chose remote aligners over traditional treatments for cost and convenience.
If you are looking for a quicker, virtually invisible, and more comfortable alternative to traditional braces, clear aligners are the ideal option.
Unlike braces, it is easier to brush and floss and maintain better oral hygiene. You are less likely to develop cavities and can eat more comfortably.
Remember, you must wear them for up to 22 hours per day for them to be effective.
The cheapest invisible aligner companies are SnapCorrect ($1,749) and ALIGNERCO ($1,145), compared to up to $8,000 for Invisalign.
In some cases, your insurance company may cover part of the cost of clear aligners. You will have to work directly with your insurance provider to determine the coverage amount.
Depending on the type of aligner, treatment can take between 3 and 24 months. Byte offers the quickest treatment, while Invisalign is typically the longest.
It depends. Metal braces are typically priced from $1,800 to $5,500. Invisalign aligners cost between $3,000 and $5,000, while most at-home aligners cost under $2,000.
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