Updated on February 22, 2024
8 min read

SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign

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NOTE: Smile Direct Club (SDC) is ceasing its global operations “effective immediately.” How it affects you as a customer will depend on which stage of the treatment process you’re in.

If you’re considering clear aligners, you’ll soon realize there are more options than ever before. 

Invisalign and SmileDirectClub are two of the most well-known aligner brands. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Invisalign — A well-established provider of in-office aligners since 1997.
  • SmileDirectClub — A newer provider of at-home aligners, also called direct-to-consumer or remote aligners.

Clear aligners are a nearly invisible and removable alternative to traditional braces. They’re an excellent option for adults who want to straighten their teeth discreetly and comfortably.

Aligners aren’t typically recommended for children (except Invisalign). But some teens with minor to moderate bite issues may benefit from these orthodontic devices. 

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is the most established in-office aligner brand. Their patented thermoplastic material (SmartTrack®) sets these FDA-approved aligners apart from others in the industry. Invisalign claims this material is more comfortable, accurate, and discreet.

Invisalign Product Shot

Invisalign orthodontic treatment is monitored in person. Your dental office acts as the ‘middleman,’ which means you’ll receive a higher standard of care. This type of hands-on care is more expensive than at-home treatment. 

In-office aligners like Invisalign are recommended for people with complex cases and severe misalignments. 

How Does Invisalign Work?

The Invisalign treatment process consists of the following steps:

  1. You begin with an initial consultation to determine your eligibility for treatment. You’ll visit an Invisalign-certified orthodontist or dentist who will take 3D digital scans of your mouth.
  2. If you’re a candidate, the doctor will create a customized treatment plan showing step-by-step progress.
  3. If you approve the treatment plan, a dental technician will create your first set of aligner trays based on the treatment plan. 
  4. Some people require special attachments or tooth-colored buttons to help the trays effectively move their teeth. 
  5. Unlike at-home aligners, you won’t receive all your aligner trays at once. The dental specialist will ensure the trays align your teeth before advancing to the next step. This is because treatment time varies from person to person.
  6. You must wear the aligners for about 22 hours per day. Each set of aligners moves your teeth in small increments. In most cases, you’ll switch your aligners out every 1 to 3 weeks.
  7. Invisalign treatment can take up to 24 months. After treatment, you’ll purchase a Vivera® retainer to keep your teeth straight for years. 

What Issues Can Invisalign Fix?

Invisalign can treat many orthodontic issues, including:

Who is Not a Candidate for Invisalign?

You may not be a candidate for Invisalign if you have:

Speak with your dental professional about alternative options.

How Much Does Invisalign Cost?

Invisalign typically costs anywhere between $3,000 and $8,000. This doesn’t include the cost of the retainers that keep your teeth straight after treatment. 

Pricing varies greatly and depends on your unique plan, treatment length, and level of teeth misalignment. 

Straighten your teeth at a fraction of the cost. Learn about clear aligners.

What is SmileDirectClub?

SmileDirectClub is a newer aligner company established in 2014. They offer completely remote teeth straightening for less cost than Invisalign. 

SmileDirect is the first and most well-known brand of at-home aligners. The company works with registered doctors, dentists, and orthodontists to ensure each treatment case runs smoothly.

Closure of SmileDirectClub

As of December 2023, SmileDirectClub has ceased operations and is no longer providing services. This closure marks the end of the company’s offerings in the teeth-straightening market.


How Does SmileDirectClub Work?

While still operational, the SmileDirectClub treatment process consists of the following steps:

  1. First, you’ll take a 30-second assessment on SmileDirectClub’s website. The assessment will ask you to answer questions about your teeth to help determine candidacy. 
  2. After you take the quiz, SmileDirect will email you instructions on how to get started. You have two options: visit a SmileShop (in person) or order an impression kit online (remote). 
  3. After making the dental impressions, SmileDirect will create a 3D image of your smile using proprietary software. 
  4. A licensed dentist, orthodontist, or doctor will review the scans to determine candidacy.
  5. SmileDirect will create the treatment plan and send it to you via email (if you are a candidate). If you aren’t a candidate, you’ll receive a refund for the impression kit. 
  6. SmileDirect will charge you in full for the aligners (unless you choose a payment plan). Even if you are a candidate, you’ll still have the option to not go forward with treatment.
  7. SmileDirectClub technicians will create your aligners and mail them all at once. The aligners are cut along your gum line to ensure they fit comfortably. 
  8. Virtual check-ins will occur regularly during the treatment course. You’ll change the aligners out weekly or bi-weekly.
  9. Average treatment time is 4 to 6 months.

Bite Issues SmileDirectClub Can Fix

SmileDirectClub can fix most cases of minor bite issues, including:

  • Some crowded or overlapping teeth
  • Small gaps between teeth
  • Similar teeth alignment issues
  • Mild to moderate bite misalignment (malocclusion)

Unlike Invisalign, SmileDirect works for people with missing teeth. If you have moderate or extensive orthodontic issues, Invisalign or braces are a better option.

How Much Does SmileDirectClub Cost?

This information is now outdated as SmileDirectClub has declared bankruptcy.

SmileDirectClub sells two different types of aligners:

  • Original aligners — These are the most popular option, worn for 22 hours a day.
  • Nighttime Aligners™ — You only wear these while you sleep (about 20 hours a day).

Both aligner options cost $2,250, and the impression kit/scan is $59. 

SmileDirect also offers a payment plan option (SmilePay™), where you’ll pay a $250 down payment and $89/month for 24 months. No credit checks are required before purchasing. 

However, there’s no scientific proof that night aligners are safe. They may actually do more harm to your teeth than good.9 From a clinical perspective, there are also concerns about what could go wrong if aligners are only worn for a few hours each day (less than 20 to 22 hours).9, 10

Invisalign vs. SmileDirect: The Main Differences

With the closure of SmileDirectClub, those seeking similar services may consider alternatives such as Invisalign or traditional braces, especially for more complex dental issues.

These were the key differences between Invisalign and SmileDirect: 

1. SmileDirectClub is Cheaper Than Invisalign 

SmileDirectClub costs under $2,000, while Invisalign can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $8,000. 

SmileDirectClub also offers a payment plan, where you’ll pay $89/month after a $250 down payment. Some dentists/orthodontists offer payment plans for Invisalign treatment.

Both Invisalign and SmileDirect accept insurance. You can also pay with an HSA/FSA. 

2. SmileDirectClub Offers In-Person or Remote Scans/Impressions 

SmileDirectClub offers two different options that allow you to get started with treatment:

  1. Visit a SmileShop for an in-person digital impression
  2. Order a dental impression kit online

Invisalign doesn’t offer remote scans/impressions. You have to visit a licensed dentist or orthodontist who specializes in Invisalign. 

3. Invisalign Treatment is Monitored in Person; SmileDirect is Monitored Remotely

With SmileDirect, a licensed dental professional tracks your progress through regular virtual check-ins. These appointments are completely remote and flexible. You will never visit a specialist in person. 

Invisalign treatment requires you to set up office visits with an Invisalign doctor every few weeks to track your progress.

4. SmileDirectClub Works With Dentists, Orthodontists, and Doctors

SmileDirectClub works with hundreds of dentists, orthodontists, and doctors around the U.S., whereas Invisalign has its own certified doctors.

5. SmileDirectClub Treatment is Faster Than Invisalign

SmileDirectClub alignment treatment takes between 4 and 6 months, on average.

Invisalign treatment lasts between 12 and 24 months, sometimes longer for more severe cases. This longer time frame ensures your teeth are moving safely and accurately.

6. Invisalign Can Treat More Severe Cases of Teeth Misalignment 

SmileDirectClub can only treat minor to moderate cases of teeth misalignment (malocclusion). This includes slightly crooked/overlapping teeth and gapped teeth.

Invisalign can treat moderate-to-severe cases of teeth misalignment.

7. Invisalign Provides More In-Depth Treatment & Attachments 

Since Invisalign involves continuous supervision by a licensed doctor, treatment is more comprehensive than withSmileDirectClub.

Invisalign offers several treatment options depending on the severity of your malocclusion.

For patients with minor issues, they offer Invisalign Express, which is a faster type of treatment. They also have aligner options for younger patients with both primary and permanent teeth. 

Most Invisalign treatment plans require attachments (also known as buttons). These devices allow for more precise teeth/jaw alignment. At-home aligners do not provide attachments, potentially affecting treatment results. 

Find the best at-home clear aligners for mild misalignment. See our expert recommendations.

Is Invisalign or SmileDirectClub Safer? 

Most dental professionals recommend in-office aligners (like Invisalign or braces) over at-home aligners. Remote treatment poses a higher risk for complications because it’s not closely monitored.

These complications can include inaccurate results and poorly fitted trays from impression errors. A 2020 Reuters article cited nearly 60 complaints about SmileDirectClub to the FDA.16 

Clinicians and customers complained of:

  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss
  • Jaw pain
  • Bite misalignments
  • The need for costly follow-up treatment

Despite this, current research shows that at-home aligners are generally considered safe and effective, with an 87.5% satisfaction rate.6 To prevent poor results, follow the impression kit instructions carefully and stick to your treatment plan.


  • SmileDirectClub (SDC) was an at-home aligner that does not require in-person monitoring. As of December 2023, SmileDirectClub has ceased operations.
  • Invisalign is an in-office aligner that requires physical visits throughout treatment
  • Invisalign is more comprehensive than the at-home options previously provided by SDC
  • While operational, SDC costs $2,250; Invisalign costs between $3,000 and $8,000
  • SDC worked with dentists, orthodontists, and doctors; An Invisalign doctor tracks your progress
  • SDC could only treat minor to moderate cases; Invisalign can treat moderate to severe cases
  • SDC treatments typically took between 4 and 6 months; Invisalign takes between 1 and 2 years

What’s Next?

Discover the best fit for your smile.

Explore top at-home clear aligner brands.

Last updated on February 22, 2024
16 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
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. FAQ.” Invisalign, 2022.
  2. See What Invisalign® Treatment Can Do.” Invisalign, 2022.
  3. Your Digital Invisalign® Experience.” Invisalign, 2022.
  4. Keep Your Smile Straight with Vivera Retainers.” Invisalign, 2022.
  5. How Does Invisalign® Treatment Work?” Invisalign, 2022.
  6. Wexler, A, et al. “Direct-to-Consumer Orthodontics: Surveying the User Experience.” The Journal of the American Dental Association, 2020.
  7. Proffit, WR, et al. Contemporary Orthodontics. Elsevier/Mosby, 2019.
  8. Hirani, S, et al. “Invisible Orthodontics-A Review.” IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences, 2016.
  9. The Best Smiles Are Candid.” Candid, nd.
  10. Why Compliance Matters: Following the Invisalign® 22-hour Rule.” Astoria Dental Group, 2019.
  11. Muir JC. “Lingual orthodontic appliances: invisible braces.” The New Zealand Dental Journal, 1991.
  12. Insurance.” SmileDirectClub, nd. 
  13. Pricing.” SmileDirectClub, nd. 
  14. How it Works.” SmileDirectClub, nd.
  15. Nguyen, V, and Dunn, L. “’Things Didn’t Feel Right’: Some SmileDirectClub Customers Report Problems.” NBCUniversal News Group, 2020.
  16. Schneyer, J. “Exclusive: SmileDirectClub’s top dentist risks losing license in California crackdown.” Reuters, 2020.
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