Safest Teeth Whiteners
The safest ways to whiten your teeth explained
Clear aligners, also called invisible aligners, are a type of orthodontic treatment that corrects misaligned or crooked teeth. They are a virtually invisible and removable alternative to braces designed around convenience and flexibility.
Aligner trays are custom-made for every patient, depending on the severity of teeth misalignment (malocclusion).
In-office clear aligners, such as Invisalign, can treat a variety of different cases, including:
There are two types of clear aligner options available:
In-office aligners (like Invisalign) are the most well-known option because they have been around the longest. You have to visit a licensed Invisalign doctor to receive these aligners, and the treatment process is more intensive.
At-home aligners, also called direct-to-consumer aligners, are cheaper than in-office aligners. Treatment is completed remotely, so you will never visit a dentist or an orthodontist for checkups.
Both in-office and at-home aligners are made of clear, medical-grade, BPA-free plastic.
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.’
Other aligners (most at-home options) are not trimmed along your gum line. Instead, they partially cover your gums and may cause more irritation in the beginning stages. The discomfort is typically minor.
Direct-to-consumer aligners — such as SmileDirectClub and Byte — can only treat minor to moderate cases of teeth misalignment. Some examples include a few crooked teeth or small gaps between the teeth.
You will likely be denied treatment if you have moderate to severe teeth misalignment, such as an overbite, underbite, or other jaw-related issues. However, Candid can treat more complex bite issues.
The clear aligner treatment process involves the following steps:
First, you'll visit an orthodontist for a consultation. During the consultation, a dentist will examine your teeth and take a precise digital scan of your mouth. Then a custom treatment plan is made.
You'll receive a digital preview of your new smile before the aligners are created.
Some clear aligner brands also allow patients to mail in molds of their teeth using a “goopy putty” rather than visiting an orthodontist or doctor for a consultation.
Brands that provide mail-in impression kits include SmileDirectClub, ALIGNERCO, NewSmile, and byte®.
Invisalign, Candid, and ClearCorrect require in-person consultations.
After the teeth impressions are made, your custom treatment plan will be created using 3D technology. Once approved, the digital models are transferred to a production facility and the aligners are made.
From here, you'll accept treatment and begin the process.
You'll change out the aligner trays every 1 to 3 weeks. For effective teeth straightening, you must wear them for about 20 to 22 hours a day.
Multiple aligners are used because a single aligner is only capable of moving teeth slightly (1 mm or less).
Some companies (Byte, NewSmile, ALIGNERCO, and SmileDirectClub) also offer Nighttime Clear Aligners™ that only have to be worn for 10 hours a day.
Each set of aligners will slowly move the teeth into the correct position. Treatment can take anywhere between 3 and 24 months.
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 over time.
Vacuum-formed clear thermoplastic sheets were introduced into orthodontics in the 1980s. They were originally used as retainers. Today, these devices are known as 'clear aligners.'
Some of the brands listed below offer night-only aligners. However, we recommend regular aligners over night aligners. Learn why.
Here are our top picks for invisible aligners:
In the 1990s, Align Technology created the first sequence of aligners that could correct complex orthodontic issues in adults, teens, and children.
Invisalign is now the most popular and widely-known clear aligner available. Invisalign aligners are made out of SmartTrack® material that is specifically engineered for the Invisalign system.
The material claims to provide a more accurate, comfortable, and quicker treatment experience than other clear aligners on the market. In fact, Invisalign treatment time is up to 50 percent faster with 75 percent more teeth straightening predictability.
Invisalign is #1 in the aligner industry. These aligners are proven to be effective and safe teeth straightening devices.
To start Invisalign treatment, you have to visit a licensed Invisalign doctor to undergo scans and have a treatment plan created. You also have to visit an orthodontist every few weeks to track progress, making treatment less convenient.
Read our review of Invisalign here.
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/price will vary depending on the type of aligner you choose:
We do not recommend night aligners because there is no scientific proof that they are safe.
Read our full review of byte aligners here.
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.
SmileDirectClub 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.
SmileDirectClub (SDC) 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.
Read our full review of SDC aligners here.
The biggest aligner company
SmileDirectClub is the largest, longest-standing clear aligner manufacturer.
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 $1245.
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 here.
NewSmile aligners are trimmed along your gum line to provide a comfortable and less visible treatment experience.
They also offer live video chats with a specialist to ensure you make accurate impressions.
NewSmile aligners are more affordable than other brands.
ALIGNERCO offers the cheapest invisible aligners on the market.
Treatment costs $1,145 to $1,345 (or starting at $99 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.
Read our full review of ALIGNERCO here.
Another budget option
ALIGNERCO is another brand that offers an affordable aligner experience. However, treatment is more hands-off after you approve the plan.
Candid is an effective tooth straightening option that offers superior care with added convenience. Candid treatment outcomes are similar to Invisalign. However, Candid is often cheaper than Invisalign, making it a safe and affordable option.
Candid only works with highly qualified orthodontists (teeth-straightening experts). These experts design each treatment plan. Orthodontists have to complete 2 to 3 years of tooth movement residency after dental school.
Candid treatment is monitored 100% remotely through the CandidApp (available on iOS and Android).
You’ll send in progress photos every two weeks using the CandidScan included in your treatment package. The box connects to your phone and is used to take detailed images of tooth movement.
The app will walk you through the entire process during each scan. You can also set up notifications on your phone to make sure you don’t miss a scan date.
In addition, the same orthodontist who designs your treatment plan will track your teeth straightening progress from start to finish. This ensures your teeth are moving safely and correctly.
To begin treatment, visit a CandidPro location for a digital scan from a qualified CandidPro provider (licensed dental professional in your area).
Read our full review of Candid aligners here.
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:
Direct-to-consumer clear aligner treatment by SmileDirectClub and Byte is monitored remotely. There is a slightly higher risk for complications to occur, as treatment is less predictable without in-person office visits.
However, when monitored closely by an experienced dental specialist, remote clear aligner treatment is safe and effective.
Read below to compare the top 5 aligner brands:
|Budget Aligner Option||First-Ever
|Budget Aligner Option|
|Cost||$3,300 (on average)||$1,895 to $2,295||$1,145 to $1,345||$1,950||$1,195 to
|Treatment Length||4 to 12 months||4 to 6 months||8 to 12 months||4 to 6
|4 to 6
|Payment Plan||Depends on provider||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|In-Office Consultation Option||✓||✕||✕||✓||✕|
|Premium Whitening Treatment||✕||✓||✕||✓||✓|
The brand of aligners chosen, the length of treatment required, and how many aligners are needed determine the cost of clear aligner treatment.
Many companies provide a “payment plan” option, which allows patients 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||$1,950 (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®||$1,895-$2,295 (if paid in full)||$82-$99 / month||Insurance coverage depends on provider|
|SnapCorrect||$1,749 (if paid in full)||$80 / month||Insurance covers up to $1,100|
|ALIGNERCO||$1,145-$1,345 (if paid in full)||$99 / month||Insurance coverage depends on the provider|
|NewSmile||$1,195 to $1,295 (if paid in full)||$84-$92 / month||Insurance coverage depends on the provider|
It may take a few weeks to get used to the aligner trays. Sensitivity and discomfort are common during the first few days. 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.
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 usually be used as well, depending on the brand and aligner material.
Treatment length varies depending on individual needs. However, clear aligner treatment typically takes no longer than 24 months.
After treatment, you will be provided with a custom-made retainer. The retainer can either be removable or permanent, depending on preference.