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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 your smile and give you straighter teeth over the course of 16 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. They can treat mild to moderate cases of crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, gapped teeth (diastema), crossbites, open bites, and overjets to give patients a new smile.
Over the last seven years, several teledentistry companies have started providing at-home teeth straightening kits as an alternative option to in-office orthodontic care.
These companies send you an impression kit and create a treatment plan based on the 3D scan and models they make in their lab. They enlist a licensed dentist or orthodontist to virtually monitor your progress and send you your new sets of aligners in the mail, so you never have to visit an office.
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 DIY teeth straightening 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:
In some cases, the damage done 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:
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. "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," says DeWayne B. McCamish, DDS, MS, president of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). "Moving teeth is best done under the direct supervision of an orthodontist after an in-person assessment, including complete diagnostic records."— American Association of Orthodontists Press Release
The only safe at-home teeth straightening option currently available to consumers are 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. However, when monitored closely by an experienced orthodontist, remote clear aligner treatment is safe and effective.
Many people opt for clear aligners over traditional metal braces because they are more convenient, cheaper, and easier to maintain your oral health via brushing and flossing with removable aligners.
At NewMouth we have spoken with dentists and patients, researched medical papers, and read hundreds of online reviews of remote clear aligner companies. These are the top three clear aligner treatment companies, according to our research:
Byte clear aligners can treat minor overbites, underbites, crowded teeth, and gapped teeth. We recommend byte because they work with an extensive network of board-certified dentists and orthodontists who oversee each treatment plan.
The same doctor or orthodontist that creates your aligner plan also tracks your teeth straightening process from start to finish, ensuring high-quality, personalized care. Byte is also very careful when selecting patients and only accepts those who have mild cases of malocclusion with a high chance of successful treatment. If you don’t qualify for treatment, Byte will reimburse you for your at-home impression kit.
Byte allows you to choose from All-Day Aligners (worn for 22 hours a day) or At-Night Aligners (worn for 10+ hours a day). They also provide you with a HyperByte® — an FDA approved dental movement acceleration device that helps reduce discomfort, improve teeth movement accuracy, and reduces treatment time by approximately 50 percent.
The average treatment time for byte aligners is 3 months for All-Day Aligners and 6 months for At-Night Aligners, which is about twice as fast as other clear aligners.
Also, byte provides teeth whitening treatment and retainers for aftercare at no additional price. Byte guarantees your smile for life, meaning they will provide treatment at no extra cost if your smile ever moves out of alignment.
Byte aligners are the most cost-effective of our recommendations. Their All-Day Aligners cost $1895, while the At-Night Aligners cost $2245. The impression kit will cost an additional $95. 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 clear aligners
Candid Co. only works with orthodontists who have 20+ years of experience straightening teeth. Orthodontists must complete a professional residency program that usually spans 2 to 3 years following dental school to become licensed. The same orthodontist that designs your treatment plan will monitor your teeth straightening treatment. They also offer in-person consultations in some states around the U.S.
The average Candid Co. treatment time is 6 to 11 months for straight teeth. Candid Co. costs $2400, and you can apply for a monthly payment plan for as little as $399 down payment and $99 per month for 24 months. The starter kit costs $97, and retainers for aftercare cost $99.
Read our full review of Candid Co. aligners
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.
SmileDirectClub offers traditional Clear Aligners or Nighttime Clear Aligners® for the same price: $1950. 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.
SmileDirectClub treatment is usually safe, effective, and affordable. However, there have been more complaints about problems with patients’ teeth and their level of customer service compared to byte and Candid Co.
No, straightening your own teeth is dangerous and can lead to tooth loss, tooth displacement, gum disease, and other potentially irreversible damage. All 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.
At-home teeth straightening clear aligner treatment plans designed and monitored remotely by a qualified orthodontist are safe and effective for mild malocclusion cases (crowded teeth, gapped teeth, overbite, and underbite).
Byte® clear aligners are the cheapest high quality at-home clear aligner treatment option. The impression kit costs $95 and the entire treatment process (including the Smile Protection Program) costs $1895 for All-Day Clear Aligners, and $2245 for At-Night Clear Aligners. The retainer for aftercare is included in the cost as well.
“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.
“Consumer Alert: Questions to Consider When Researching Direct-To-Consumer Orthodontic Companies.” American Association of Orthodontists, www.aaoinfo.org/_/online-orthodontic-companies/.
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.
MN;, Al-Qutub. Orthodontic Elastic Band-Induced Periodontitis - A Case Report. The Saudi Dental Journal, Jan. 2012, www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23960528/.
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/.
“Treatment with Clear Aligners.” American Association of Orthodontists, 13 Jan. 2020, www.aaoinfo.org/blog/orthodontic-treatment-with-clear-aligners/.
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.