Product Reviews
Updated on February 16, 2023
12 min read

Clear Aligners: How They Work, Popular Brands & Costs

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What are Clear Aligners?

Clear aligners are also known as invisible aligners. They fix misaligned teeth and are a near-invisible and removable alternative to braces.

The aligner trays are commonly made of BPA-free plastic and are custom-made for every patient. Each tray discreetly moves the teeth in small increments.

Some aligners do not touch your gums at all. They are trimmed to comfortably sit along your gum line in a ‘scalloped fashion.’ This design makes the trays less irritating and even more ‘invisible.’ 

Our Top Recommendations

The Best Invisible Aligners:

Other Brands:

Dental Aligners Group 7

What Bite Issues Can Clear Aligners Fix?

Depending on the brand, clear aligners can fix the following teeth alignment issues:

  • Crowded teeth (overlapping teeth)
  • Overbites (upper front teeth overlap with the lower front teeth)
  • Underbites (lower front teeth overlap with the upper front teeth)
  • Diastema (small or large gaps between the teeth)
  • Open bites (front upper and lower teeth slant outward and do not touch when the mouth is shut; a rare type of malocclusion)
  • Misaligned primary (baby) teeth (phase I orthodontic treatment; children between 6 and 10 years of age are candidates for this treatment)

Difference Between At-Home and In-Office Aligners

There are two types of clear aligners available:

At-Home Aligners

At-home aligners allow you to begin the teeth-straightening process from the comfort of your home. It commonly costs between $870 and $2,400.

Some benefits of at-home aligner treatments include:

  • More affordable than in-office treatments
  • More convenient
  • Easier to access than traditional aligners like Invisalign

At-home aligners are also called direct-to-consumer (DTC) aligners. DTC brands, such as SmileDirectClub and Byte, can only treat minor to moderate cases of teeth misalignment.

Some examples of minor cases include:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Gapped teeth
  • Slightly crowded teeth

DTC brands often work with orthodontists to monitor your treatment process remotely, but some offer the option to have an in-person scan. This scan will determine your eligibility for the treatment.

In-Office Aligners

In-office aligners offer comprehensive care at a higher price point. The entire treatment can cost up to $8,000, with the average price at $5,500.

With in-office aligner treatments, you have to visit a licensed dentist to begin. You will also go for routine check-ups every 8 weeks (this varies).

Invisalign is the most established and trusted brand of in-office aligners. The company's advanced aligner system can treat most cases of malocclusion (teeth misalignment), including minor to complex bite issues. Other options include:

Clear Aligners Procedure

Clear aligner treatment involves the following steps:

1. Consultation or home impressions

If you're getting an in-office treatment, you'll first visit an orthodontist for a consultation. During the consultation, they will examine your teeth and take a precise digital scan of your mouth.

Once you approve the custom treatment plan, you'll receive a digital preview of your new smile. Your dentist will have a dental lab create your aligners when you approve everything.

For at-home aligner treatments, your chosen DTC brand will send you an impression kit. Once you've gotten your impressions you will mail the molds of your teeth.

Brands that provide mail-in impression kits include:

  • SmileDirectClub
  • NewSmile
  • byte®

Treatments that require in-person consultations include:

  • Invisalign
  • Candid
  • ClearCorrect

2. Aligner preparation

After the teeth impressions are made, your custom treatment plan will be created using 3D technology. Once approved, a dental lab will receive the scans and create your aligners.

From here, you'll accept treatment and begin the process. If you purchased an impression kit from a DTC brand and aren't a candidate, you can request a refund for the kit.

3. Aligner treatment schedule

You'll change out your aligner trays every 1 to 3 weeks. For effective teeth straightening, you must wear them for about 20 to 22 hours a day.

A single aligner is capable of moving teeth 1 mm or less, so multiple aligners will be necessary. Treatment can take anywhere from 3 to 24 months.

Some companies (Byte, NewSmile, ALIGNERCO, and SmileDirectClub) also offer Nighttime Clear Aligners™ that only have to be worn for 10 hours a day. Read our concerns about night aligners here.

4. Retainers

After treatment is complete, a custom clear retainer is made from a mold of your newly straightened teeth. Retainers should be worn every night while sleeping to ensure malocclusion does not recur. Most aligner companies recommend replacing them every 6 to 12 months.

What are the Best Invisible Aligner Brands?

Here are our top clear aligner recommendations:


Invisalign is the #1 recommended aligner brand in the industry by dentists and orthodontists alike. The aligners are made of SmartTrack® material, which can provide a more accurate treatment experience than other clear aligners.

Treatment with Invisalign begins with a visit to a licensed Invisalign doctor. You'll undergo scans, and the specialist will create a digital treatment plan if you're a good candidate.

Routine visits to the orthodontist are required every 6 to 8 weeks to track progress and receive your next round of aligners. Invisalign's treatment time is also up to 50% faster with 75% more teeth-straightening predictability.

Read our review of Invisalign here.


Convenient treatment
byte kit

Byte stands out in the at-home aligner industry both for its strong customer support and fast treatment times (4 to 6 months). They use innovative technology that offers quick and effective results at an affordable price.

Byte has two treatment options. The treatment length and price will vary depending on the type of aligner you choose:

  • All-Day Aligners — these aligners are worn for 22+ hours a day. The average treatment length is 4 months. 
  • At-Night Aligners — these aligners straighten your teeth while you sleep, and are worn for 10+ hours a day. The average treatment length is 5 months. 

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

Sale: $100 off aligners + BrightByte pro 


The biggest aligner company

SmileDirectClub (SDC) is a 6-year-old aligner company that offers remote teeth straightening for 60% less than braces. They are the first and most well-known brand of at-home aligners.

The aligners are made of smooth, comfortable, BPA-free plastic. Clear aligner treatment with SDC is prescribed and managed by a state-licensed dentist or orthodontist. You'll also have 24/7 access to support via phone, text, video chat, or email.

SmileDirectClub aligners cost $2,050 (no credit check required). You can get a free 3D scan at a SmileShop or buy an at-home impression kit.

Sale: $15 impression kit - FREE after return, plus 6 months FREE teeth whitening. Code: NYNY23


Budget option
NewSmile kit

NewSmile is one of the most affordable at-home aligners, but they are also one of the newest companies.

NewSmile aligners do not touch your gums. They are trimmed to sit along your gum line in a ‘scalloped fashion,’ causing less irritation, and making 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.

NewSmile’s Fast Track Aligners are worn for 22+ hours a day. They should only be removed to clean, eat, and brush your teeth. Treatment takes between 4 and 6 months and costs $1,495.

NewSmile’s Night Aligners require less daily wear time (10+ hours a day). They cost $1,595.

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

Use code NewMouthDeal for $100 off Aligners and code NewMouthKit for $20 off impression kit.


Another budget option

ALIGNERCO offers the cheapest invisible aligners on the market.

Treatment costs $945 to $1,145 (or starting at $79/month for 11 months with the payment plan). Other clear aligner competitors are more expensive ($1,800 to $2,300).

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.

President's Day SaleSave $275 on clear aligners. 

Other Clear Aligner Options

Here are four other clear aligner options:

  1. Candid is a brand that works with highly qualified orthodontists to create customized treatment plans for their customers.
  2. ClearCorrect is an advanced system of clear aligner therapy that uses digital technologies to treat various types of misalignment, ranging from simple to severe.
  3. Six Month Smiles® is an in-office treatment that straightens teeth in as little as 6 months. The company uses Zendura to make the aligners. This is the most effective material for bruxism (teeth grinding) protection.
  4. SureSmile is another brand of in-office aligners that launched in 2007. Thanks to SureSmile's advanced software, fewer in-person appointments are necessary, and refinements are less common.
  5. SnapCorrect™ is a smaller brand of remote (at-home) aligners. SnapCorrect ships all of the aligners at once, including any teeth whitening products and a final retainer. Like other at-home options, we only recommend SnapCorrect if you have minor teeth alignment issues.

Why You Can Trust NewMouth’s Recommendations

Our Methodology

To determine the best clear aligners available, the NewMouth editorial team analyzed 26 different brands of clear aligners from around the world. 

Our evaluation and recommendations are based on:

  1. Quality of treatment, including expert involvement throughout treatment - 35% of total score
  2. Feedback from real customers - 20% of total score
  3. Doctor recommendations - 15% of total score
  4. Cost, financing options, and guarantees/warranties - 10% of total score
  5. Treatment duration - 10% of total score
  6. Additional services offered - 5% of total score
  7. Ease of use - 5% of total score

Our Qualifications

1. Industry Experts

NewMouth is a trusted online resource for dental information, including orthodontics, at-home teeth straightening, primary dental care, procedure costs, and more. We have been researching and writing about clear aligners for over 3 years.

We have a dedicated team of medical writers, expert researchers, licensed dental professionals, and medical reviewers who create and oversee every piece of content published on our site.

2. Extensive Research and Testing

To determine the best teeth straightening kits on the market, our team:

  • Spent hundreds of hours comparing at-home aligners and in-office aligners to ensure we recommend the proper treatment for different needs 
  • Three writers tested every teeth straightening kit recommended in this article
  • Talked to dozens of industry experts, including CEOs of aligner companies, licensed orthodontists, and licensed dentists 
  • Read hundreds of research papers on the safety, effectiveness, and concerns of clear aligners 
  • One of our writers successfully went through the entire treatment process with Candid aligners (see the before and after)
  • Spent months researching the most popular brands (and continue to analyze trends as they change) 
  • Sorted through thousands of customer reviews on multiple websites 

3. Comprehensive Review Process

After extensive research and product testing, this article also underwent an intensive review process:

  1. The article was reviewed and fact-checked by two in-house editors 
  2. One of our in-house dentists reviewed the article for accuracy 
  3. The article is updated and reviewed again every month to ensure pricing, product details, and other specs are up-to-date

How Much are Clear Aligners?

The cost of clear aligner treatment is determined by a few factors, which includes:

  • The brand of aligners
  • The length of treatment required
  • The number of aligners needed during treatment

Many companies provide a “payment plan” option, which allows you to pay a deposit up-front with smaller monthly payments.

The prices below reflect the costs of popular clear aligners, depending on the length of treatment:

Clear Aligner Brand Cost of Treatment Monthly Payment Plan Insurance Coverage
Invisalign® $3,000-$8,000 Payment plan depends on treatment length Insurance covers up to $3,500
ClearCorrect $2,500–$5,500 Payment plan depends on treatment length Insurance covers up to $3,000
SmileDirectClub $2,050 (if paid in full) $89/month Insurance covers up to $1,100
Candid $3,300 (average) Varies (ask your CandidPro provider) Insurance coverage depends on provider
byte® $1,999-$2,399 (if paid in full) $70/month - $84/month Insurance coverage depends on provider
SnapCorrect $1,749 (if paid in full) $80 / month Insurance covers up to $1,100
ALIGNERCO $945-$1,145 (if paid in full) $79/month - $96/month Insurance coverage depends on the provider
NewSmile $1,495 to $1,595 (if paid in full) $55/month-$58/month Insurance coverage depends on the provider

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the advantages of clear aligners?

The primary advantage of clear aligners is their discreetness. Unlike braces, aligners are nearly invisible while in your mouth. They can also be removed at any time for eating and other activities, making them a very convenient option for teenagers and professionals who don't want clunky metal wires and brackets.

What are the disadvantages of clear aligners?

Clear aligners might not be the best option if you have severe teeth misalignment. Also, you have to wear them for 20 to 22 hours a day. Removing them many times throughout the day can delay treatment.

Are braces or clear aligners better?

It depends on your situation and needs.

Generally, aligners are less irritating to the lips, cheeks, and gums compared to braces. The treatment time is also quicker, because they treat mild to moderate cases only.

Braces will be recommended if you have severe teeth and jaw misalignment. The brackets and wires provide more precise tooth movement.

Are at-home or in-office aligners better?

At-home aligners are best for minor, and sometimes moderate, cases of teeth misalignment. Most brands don't offer comprehensive remote monitoring.

In-office aligners are best for moderate to severe cases of teeth misalignment. Most brands require an initial consultation and routine check-ups throughout treatment.

How painful are clear aligners?

Aligner treatment shouldn't be painful. However, getting used to the aligner trays takes a few weeks. Sensitivity and discomfort are common during the first few days of starting a new set.

Your bite may feel different as your teeth are moving, but this is normal. Lisps and speech problems can also occur while you have the aligners in your mouth.

Are clear aligners easy to take care of?

Most clear aligners are easy to keep clean. You can brush them lightly once or twice each day with a toothbrush and cool water. Non-abrasive toothpaste can also be used, depending on the brand and aligner material.

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 February 16, 2023
16 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 16, 2023
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. "The Million Dollar Smile, Changing Lives with Cosmetic Dentistry." Blue Ocean Publishing Group, 2018.
  2. Proffit et al. Contemporary Orthodontics. Elsevier/Mosby, 2019.
  3. What to Expect with Invisalign® Treatment.” Invisalign.
  4. "FAQs About Invisible Aligners." byte.
  5. "Hyperbyte: The Technology Behind Faster Invisible aligner results." byte.
  6. "Insurance Coverage for Our Invisible Aligners." byte.
  7. Ke et al. "A comparison of treatment effectiveness between clear aligner and fixed appliance therapies." BMC Oral Health, 2019.
  8. Discover the Candid Difference.” Candid.
  9. Candid Clear Aligners.” Candid.
  10. Insurance.” SmileDirectClub.
  11. Pricing.” SmileDirectClub.
  12. How Does Smile Direct Club Work.” SmileDirectClub.
  13. How it works.” SmileDirectClub.
  14. Pricing.” NewSmile.
  15. Wexler et al. “Direct-to-Consumer Orthodontics: Surveying the User Experience.” The Journal of the American Dental Association, 2020.
  16. Teeth Straightening: Invisible Aligners.” Alignerco.
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