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If you want straighter teeth — but don’t want metal brackets and wires on your teeth — invisible aligners are an excellent choice. They are made of clear plastic and are a removable alternative to traditional metal braces designed around comfort and convenience.
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. Clear braces can fix mild to moderate cases of malocclusion (teeth misalignment). These cases include crooked teeth, overbites, underbites, and gapped teeth.
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.
Two of the best, FDA-approved in-office invisible aligners:
At-home invisible aligners, also called mail-in aligners, do not require in-office visits. You will take an online assessment, and if you are a candidate, they will send an impression to your home address. Throughout the treatment process, you will attend virtual appointments with your doctor or orthodontist to ensure your teeth are moving correctly. Some at-home aligner brands offer free retainers to keep your teeth straight after treatment.
Not everyone is a good candidate for at-home clear aligners. Treatment is typically only recommended for mild cases of teeth misalignment, including crooked teeth, gapped teeth, or a crossbite.
Five best at-home (mail-in) invisible aligners:
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.
The five best at-home, or mail-in, invisible braces include:
Unlike other mail-in aligners, Candid Co. only works with licensed orthodontists. Many general dentists also offer orthodontic treatment options, but orthodontists are teeth straightening experts. Investing in Candid aligners ensures you get the highest quality remote treatment available. You can either get started at a Candid studio or with an at-home starter kit.
Treatment Time: 6 to 11 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Starting at $99/mo for 24 months (not including down payment)
The average treatment time for Byte aligners is 3 to 6 months with daily Hyperbyte use. The Hyperbyte is a special teeth movement acceleration device that safely straightens teeth 2x faster with HFV (high-frequency vibration). An aligner-safe teeth whitening kit (BrightByte) is also included with every purchase.
Cost: $1,895 to $2245
Treatment Time: 3 to 6 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Starting at $83/mo for 29 months (not including down payment)
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.
SmileDirectClub pioneered the mail-in aligner industry and is still the most widely known. Smile Direct offers both daytime and nighttime clear aligners, depending on your preference. You can either visit a SmileShop for an in-person 3D scan or order an at-home impression kit.
Treatment Time: 4 to 6 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Starting at $89/mo (not including down payment)
SmileLove clear aligners use ClearComfort™ technology, which provides an invisible, custom, and comfortable fit that follows your gum line. The aligners are made of Essix plastic, which is one of the best in the industry for durability and wear.
No orthodontist visits are necessary. Everything you need for treatment is mailed directly to your door, all at once.
Treatment Time: 6 to 8 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Starting at $79/mo (not including down payment)
SnapCorrect aligners are perfectly clear, almost see-through. They also have contoured edges, which provide a discreet and comfortable fit. To begin treatment, you will order an impression kit online, take the impressions of your teeth with the putty provided, and then mail the kit back. You’ll receive the first set of aligners in the mail within four weeks.
Treatment Time: about 6 months
Monthly Payment Plan: Starting at $80/mo for 24 months (not including down payment)
The two best in-office invisible braces include:
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)
Clear aligners have 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.
If you are looking for a quicker, virtually invisible, and more comfortable alternative to traditional braces, clear aligners are the ideal option. Unlike braces, there are no diet restrictions with clear aligners, and they can be removed at any time. It is also easier to brush and floss between your teeth with aligners than with metal braces.
The cheapest invisible aligner companies are SnapCorrect ($1749) and Aligner Co ($1145), 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.
Read more about Clear Aligners
Candid. “Discover the Candid Difference.” Candid, www.candidco.com/why-candid.
Express your joy. (n.d.). Clear Correct, https://www.straumann.com/clearcorrect/us/en.html.
“How it Works.” SmileDirectClub, https://smiledirectclub.com/how_it_works/.
“How Does it Work?” SnapCorrect, https://snapcorrect.com/process.
Hyperbyte: The Technology Behind Faster Invisible aligner results. (n.d.). Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.byteme.com/pages/hyperbyte.
Insurance Coverage for Our Invisible Aligners. (n.d.). Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.byteme.com/pages/insurance.
Ke, Y., Zhu, Y., & Zhu, M. (2019, January 23). A comparison of treatment effectiveness between clear aligner and fixed appliance therapies. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6343314/.
Proffit, William R., et al. Contemporary Orthodontics. Elsevier/Mosby, 2019.
“Pricing.” SmileDirectClub, https://smiledirectclub.com/pricing/.
“How Do Smilelove Clear Aligners Work.” SmileLove, https://smilelove.com/pages/how-smilelove-works
“Smile Direct Club vs SnapCorrect.” SnapCorrect, https://snapcorrect.com/smiledirectclub.
Weir, T. “Clear Aligners in Orthodontic Treatment.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 14 Mar. 2017, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/adj.12480.
“What to Expect with Invisalign® Treatment.” Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.com/how-invisalign-works.