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.
Remote aligner companies send you an impression kit and create a treatment plan based on the 3D scan and models they make in a lab. You'll send in progress photos every few weeks to ensure your teeth are moving correctly. Also, all of the aligners are sent at once, so you don't have to wait.
Teeth straightening treatment not only improves your appearance and self-esteem, but it also has oral health benefits:
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:
At-home clear aligners are safe, effective, and cheaper than braces. Learn more about the most popular at-home clear aligner kits.
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
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 severe teeth misalignment. For example, if you have an overbite, underbite, open bite, or crossbite, braces are likely the safest and most effective option.
Yes, as long as your teeth aren't 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: at-home aligners cannot treat severe cases of teeth misalignment. Only braces, Invisalign, and/or other orthodontic devices like headgear can fix these issues.
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 three clear aligner treatment companies, according to our research:
Byte clear aligners can treat minor overbites, underbites, crowded teeth, and gapped teeth.
NewMouth recommends byte because they work with an extensive network of board-certified dentists and orthodontists who oversee each treatment plan.
Byte is also very careful about selecting patients. They only accept patients 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.
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.
NewMouth recommends at-home clear aligners if you have mild teeth misalignment. Find out if you're a candidate for clear aligners.
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.
ALIGNERCO offers the cheapest invisible aligners on the market.
Treatment costs $1,145 (or $99 for 11 months with the payment plan). Other clear aligner competitors are more expensive ($1,800 to $2,400).
While more affordable, they are also a newer company with fewer reviews than byte and Candid. They also do not work directly with orthodontists and dentists, which can affect the quality of care.
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.
They will create a customized treatment plan and send the aligner trays straight to your door.
ALIGNERCO also sells NightOnly Clear Aligners. They include the same benefits as regular aligners but require less daily wear time. Wear time is 8 to 10 hours a day and the treatment duration is 8 to 12 months.
Read our full review of ALIGNERCO.
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.
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 $1,195.
NewSmile’s Night Aligners have the same benefits as normal aligners but require less daily wear time (10+ hours a day). They cost $1,295.
At-home aligner treatment costs between $1,200 and $2,400. 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.
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 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.
The most popular at-home clear aligner kits can be found right here:
“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.
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“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.