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How to Straighten Your Teeth At Home Safely

Michael Bayba Headshot
Written by
Michael Bayba
Medically Reviewed by 
Dr. Erica Anand
7 Sources Cited

Teeth Straightening Options

For decades, traditional braces and headgear were the primary orthodontic treatment options for crooked or gapped teeth (malocclusion).

Orthodontists and dental professionals used metal braces to slowly shift smiles and give patients straighter teeth over the course of 12 to 24 months.

In 1998, the FDA approved Invisalign, the first clear aligner treatment. Now, invisible aligners are a common option to straighten teeth without braces.

Everything We Recommend

The Best Invisible Aligners:

Other Brands:

Types of Clear Aligners

There are two types of aligners available: at-home aligners and in-office aligners.

In-office aligners like Invisalign require you to visit a certified doctor for an initial exam and routine check-ups. These aligners can treat more severe cases of teeth misalignment with the use of 'buttons.'

At-home aligners, also called direct-to-consumer aligners, do not require in-office visits with an orthodontist. However, most at-home brands can only treat mild to moderate cases of teeth misalignment like crooked or gapped teeth.

To begin at-home aligner treatment, you'll first order an impression kit online. This kit is sent to your home address, where you'll take the impressions and send them back using a prepaid envelope.

After the company receives the impressions, they'll make a 3D model of your teeth and create a treatment plan.

Throughout treatment, You'll send in progress photos every few weeks to ensure your teeth are moving correctly. All of your aligners are delivered together at the beginning of treatment.

What are the Benefits of Teeth Straightening?

Teeth straightening treatment not only improves your appearance and self-esteem, but it also has oral health benefits:

  • Decreased risk of developing oral health conditions like cavities and gum disease (straight teeth are easier to clean and floss between)
  • Better chewing, eating, and speaking abilities
  • Better digestion because you can chew food properly
  • Reduced risk of developing jaw issues and temporomandibular joint pain
  • Decreased neck and head pain (some bite issues can cause chronic headaches)
  • Less wear and tear on your teeth (improperly aligned teeth can lead to tooth damage)

Is DIY Teeth Straightening Safe?

No, DIY teeth straightening is dangerous and could cause irreversible damage to your teeth, gum line, and overall dental health.

Several DIY teeth straightening methods have been shared on YouTube and across social media, claiming that it is simple, safe, and effective. However, this is not true. 

DIY methods such as "gap bands" are very risky and can lead to a number of complications, including:

  • Tooth loss
  • Tooth displacement
  • Root resorption
  • Gum disease
  • Pain
  • Inflammation

In some cases, the damage is irreversible. There has been such a substantial increase in the number of DIY teeth straightening attempts that the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) issued a press release in 2017 stating:

"What most people don’t understand is that moving teeth is a biological process that involves bone that dissolves and re-builds as teeth are moved into their new positions. Moving teeth is best done under the direct supervision of an orthodontist after an in-person assessment, including complete diagnostic records."

DeWayne B. McCamish, DDS, MS, president of the American Association of Orthodontists (Press Release)

The methods and materials commonly used to attempt DIY teeth straightening include rubber bands, dental floss, fishing line, paper clips, biting on pencils, creating fake retainers, and pushing teeth with fingers.

When are Braces Necessary?

Traditional metal braces consist of small brackets that are fixed to your teeth. Each bracket is connected by a wire, which attaches to the brackets with rubber bands. Braces move your teeth into the correct position by applying pressure over time.

Braces can fix multiple dental and facial problems at once. They also tend to produce better results than other treatments like Invisalign. 

In most cases, metal braces are necessary in cases of moderate to severe teeth and jaw misalignment.

For example, if you have an overbite, underbite, open bite, or crossbite, braces are likely the safest and most effective option. 

Braces In-Office Aligners At-Home Aligners
Cost $3,000 to $12,000 $3,000 to $8,000 $1,200 to $2,300
Treatment Time 12 to 24 months 12 to 18 months 4 to 12 months
Treatable Cases Mild to severe, including skeletal issues (jaw) Mild to severe, excluding skeletal issues Mild, some moderate
Monitoring/Care In-person, every 4 to 8 weeks In-person, every 6 to 8 weeks 100% remote (hands-off care) 

Can I Straighten My Teeth Without Traditional Braces?

Yes, as long as your teeth are not severely misaligned.

However, the only safe at-home teeth-straightening alternative currently available to consumers is clear aligners. It is important to note that there is a slightly higher risk for complications with at-home treatment, as it is less predictable without in-person office visits.

At-home aligner treatment is generally considered safe if you follow instructions carefully throughout treatment. According to one study, 87.5% of respondents were happy with their at-home aligner treatment, while 6.6% had to visit their dentist after treatment to fix adverse effects.

Many people opt for clear aligners over traditional metal braces because they are more convenient, cheaper, and easier to maintain.

Keep in mind: most at-home aligners cannot treat severe cases of teeth misalignment. Braces, Invisalign, and/or other orthodontic devices like headgear can safely fix these issues.

5 Top Rated At-Home Clear Aligner Companies

Our team at NewMouth has spoken with dentists, researched medical papers, and read hundreds of online reviews for remote clear aligner companies.

These are the top five clear aligner treatment companies, according to our research:

1. byte®

Byte clear aligners can treat minor to moderate cases of teeth misalignment. Byte offers All-Day Aligners (worn for 22+ hours a day) and At-Night Aligners (worn for 10+ hours a day).

byte impression kits

You'll also receive a HyperByte® with your byte aligners. This is a dental movement acceleration device that might reduce treatment time.

Read our article comparing the positives and negatives of the HyperByte and similar vibration-based aligner therapies.

The average treatment time for byte aligners is 4 months for All-Day Aligners and 5 months for At-Night Aligners.

Byte All-Day Aligners cost $1,895, while the At-Night Aligners cost $2,295. The impression kit costs an additional $95. We do not recommend night aligners because there is no scientific proof that they are safe.

These costs cover all of the clear aligners, retainers, remote monitoring, and the Smile Protection Program. They also offer monthly payment plans to help with financing.

Read our full review of byte.

byte personal aligners

byte®

Convenient treatment

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.

2. SmileDirectClub

SmileDirectClub has been a leading provider of clear aligners since 2014. They have a network of over 250 state-licensed dentists and orthodontists that help create and monitor your clear aligner treatment. 

smile direct club e1598562602831

SmileDirectClub offers traditional Clear Aligners or Nighttime Clear Aligners® for the same price: $1,950. The impression kit costs $59, or you can visit a SmileShop and get a free scan of your teeth.

Traditional clear aligner treatment takes approximately 4 to 6 months, while Nighttime Clear Aligners take about 10 months. A retainer for aftercare will cost $99.

Read our full review of SmileDirectClub.

smile direct kit

SmileDirectClub

The biggest company

SmileDirectClub is the largest, longest-standing clear aligner manufacturer. With hundreds of physical locations, you can choose an in-person consultation or order a mail-in impression kit.

3. NewSmile

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.

NewSmile Fast Track Aligners

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.

NewSmile’s Fast Track Aligners are worn for 22+ hours a day. They should only be removed for cleaning, eating, and brushing. Treatment takes between 4 and 6 months, but sometimes up to a year. They cost $1,245.

NewSmile’s Night Aligners require less daily wear time (10+ hours a day). They cost $1,345.

We do not recommend night aligners because there is no scientific proof that they are safe.

Read our full review of NewSmile.

newsmile impression kit

NewSmile

Budget option

NewSmile aligners are more affordable than other brands. However, treatment is more hands-off after you approve the plan.

NewSmile aligners are trimmed along your gum line to provide an even more visible treatment experience. They also offer live video chats with a specialist to ensure you take accurate impressions.

4. ALIGNERCO

ALIGNERCO offers some of the cheapest invisible aligners on the market. They cost between $1,145 (regular aligners) and $1,345 (night aligners).

To begin the teeth straightening process, the first step is to order an impression kit online. These kits are just $39.99. After you receive the kit, you'll take a dental impression at home and send them back to ALIGNERCO.

aligner co kit

ALIGNERCO

Another budget option

ALIGNERCO is another brand that offers an affordable aligner experience. However, treatment is more hands-off after you approve the plan.

5. Candid

Candid is a popular at-home aligner brand that has recently shifted its business focus, no longer offering at-home impression kits. It’s now a hybrid option for those who want some of the convenience of at-home teeth straightening without sacrificing the quality of care. 

candid starter kit

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. The CandidPro provider then has a licensed orthodontist from Candid's team personally design your treatment plan.

Candid treatment is monitored 100% remotely through the highly-rated CandidApp. The same orthodontist who designs your treatment plan will monitor your progress.

You’ll send in progress photos every two weeks using the ScanBox (CandidScan) included in your treatment package. The box connects to your phone and is used to take detailed images of tooth movement.

The average treatment time for Candid is 4 to 12 months. Treatment costs $3,300 (on average, depending on the provider/location). Monthly payment plans may be available, depending on your CandidPro provider.

Read our full review of Candid.

candid aligner kit

Candid

Comprehensive care

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:

How Much Does it Cost to Straighten Your Teeth At Home?

At-home aligner treatment typically costs under $2,000 (Candid costs more). Braces and Invisalign can cost up to $8,000.

If you have a dental insurance plan that covers orthodontics, you may be able to receive partial coverage. Many at-home aligner brands also accept HSA/FSA payments.

At-Home Teeth Straightening FAQs

Can I straighten my teeth myself?

No, straightening your own teeth is dangerous and can lead to tooth loss, tooth displacement, gum disease, and other potentially irreversible damage. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAll teeth straightening should be done under the supervision of a dentist or orthodontist. You can straighten your teeth at home via remote monitoring with clear aligners.

Does at-home teeth straightening work?

Most at-home treatment plans are designed and monitored remotely by a qualified orthodontist are safe and effective.

How can I straighten my teeth at home without braces or Invisalign?

DIY teeth straightening is NOT safe or effective. All teeth straightening treatment plans should be created and monitored by a licensed dentist or orthodontist. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAt-home clear aligner treatment is available through companies such as Candid.

What’s Next?

The most popular at-home clear aligner kits can be found right here:

Learn about the different brands and what they offer.

Last updated on May 6, 2022
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on May 6, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. “Orthodontists Report Uptick in Number of Patients Attempting DIY Teeth Straightening.” American Association of Orthodontists, 2017, www.aaoinfo.org/1/press-room/orthodontists-report-uptick-in-number-of-patients-attempting-diy-teeth-straightening.   
  2. “Consumer Alert: Questions to Consider When Researching Direct-To-Consumer Orthodontic Companies.” American Association of Orthodontists, www.aaoinfo.org/_/online-orthodontic-companies/.  
  3. Behrents, Rolf G. “Consumer Alert on the Use of Elastics as ‘Gap Bands.’” American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25172244
  4. MN;, Al-Qutub. Orthodontic Elastic Band-Induced Periodontitis - A Case Report. The Saudi Dental Journal, Jan. 2012, www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23960528/.  
  5. T;, Weir. “Clear Aligners in Orthodontic Treatment.” Australian Dental Journal, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 14 Mar. 2017, www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28297094/.   
  6. “Treatment with Clear Aligners.” American Association of Orthodontists, 13 Jan. 2020, www.aaoinfo.org/blog/orthodontic-treatment-with-clear-aligners/
  7. Wexler, Anna, et al. “Direct-to-Consumer Orthodontics: Surveying the User Experience.” The Journal of the American Dental Association, Elsevier, 24 July 2020, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002817720301586.
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