Dentistry
Cosmetic
Product Reviews
Updated on January 26, 2023
9 min read

SmileDirectClub Review

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Key Takeaways

  • SmileDirectClub is the oldest clear aligners company offering remote treatment
  • People with mild to moderate teeth misalignment are best suited for this type of treatment
  • You can order an at-home impression kit or go to one of SmileDirect's Smile Shops for an in-person consultation
  • Your insurance plan can partially cover the costs of aligners if it includes orthodontic benefits
  • SmileDirectClub's average treatment time is around 4 to 6 months

Clear aligners can save you thousands of dollars compared to braces. Learn about clear aligners.

What is SmileDirectClub?

At-home clear aligners, also called direct-to-consumer aligners, are a convenient and affordable way to straighten teeth. 

Unlike Invisalign and metal braces, you do not have to visit a dentist or orthodontist for bi-weekly checkups. Instead, you’ll take virtual scans from home every few weeks to ensure your teeth are moving correctly. 

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.

SDC also works with registered doctors, dentists, and orthodontists to ensure each treatment case runs smoothly. 

Smile Direct Club Aligners 1
NewMouth / Alyssa Hill

SmileDirect’s aligner trays are made of comfortable, smooth, BPA-free plastic. The aligners are nearly invisible and slowly straighten your teeth in small increments. They can be removed anytime for cleaning, eating, and brushing your teeth.

Who Should Get SmileDirectClub?

SmileDirectClub is only suitable for people with minor to moderate teeth misalignment, including:

  • Crowded teeth — some teeth are overlapping or crooked
  • Diastema (gapped teeth) — small gaps between one or multiple teeth 
  • Other minor to moderate bite problems

Direct-to-consumer aligners like SmileDirectClub's are not suitable for severe cases of teeth misalignment, including:

  • Overbites
  • Underbites
  • Crossbites
  • Open bites

These treatment cases will require braces, Invisalign, and/or other orthodontic devices (like attachments). 

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

We recommend at-home clear aligners if you have mild teeth misalignment. View our top recommendations.

How Does SmileDirectClub Work?

The SmileDirectClub aligner process is straightforward and convenient. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Take a 30-second smile assessment on SmileDirectClub’s website, which involves answering questions about your teeth and choosing sample images that best match your teeth's misalignment
  2. Order an at-home impression kit or book an in-person scan to determine if you qualify for SmileDirect's treatment plan (only those with mild to moderate misalignment will qualify)
  3. Check your email for the treatment plan created by SmileDirect's dentist or orthodontist using 3D images of your smile 
  4. Reach out to SmileDirectClub for any questions or refinements to your treatment plan
  5. Pay the full cost of the treatment or choose their payment plan for monthly installments
  6. Receive your aligners and a complimentary whitening kit in the mail
  7. Wear your aligners, changing them out weekly according to your treatment plan

SmileDirect's aligners are cut to fit along your gumline to ensure maximum comfort. On average, your treatment can last up to 6 months, but this will depend on your unique treatment plan.

smiledirectclub bottom
sample treatment plan (bottom teeth)
smiledirectclub top
sample treatment plan (top teeth)

How Long Does SmileDirectClub Take to Straighten Teeth?

The average treatment time for SmileDirectClub is between 4 and 6 months. However, some cases may take longer, especially if you need refinements (an additional set of aligners after your initial treatment is complete).

Smile Direct Club Aligners 2
NewMouth / Alyssa Hill

Does SmileDirect Offer a Night Aligner Option?

SmileDirectClub offers two types of aligners. The most popular are the original aligners, which are worn for 22 hours a day. The Nighttime Aligners™ are only worn for 10 hours a day (at night/while sleeping). 

Disclaimer: Although night aligners may be convenient, NewMouth does not recommend them over traditional aligners. Many oral health experts are concerned about their safety and effectiveness.

More on the Effectiveness of Night Aligners

There is 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

Every additional hour that you are not wearing the aligners increases the likelihood of your teeth shifting in an undesired direction.9, 10

In addition, without a longer and more consistent wear schedule, your teeth can be left in a limbo state of inflammation. This means it would take your teeth and gums much longer to heal, if at all.9

NewMouth recommends SmileDirect's original aligners over the night aligners. Learn why.

How Much Does SmileDirectClub Cost? 

SmileDirectClub's original and nighttime aligners both cost $2,050 for a one-time payment. Their SmilePay option lets you pay $89 monthly for 26 months after a $250 deposit.

However, you'll need to order their at-home impression kit before beginning treatment. It costs $59, with a full refund if you don't qualify for their treatment. If you prefer an in-person consultation, you can book a free 3D scan at one of their SmileShops.

Once you've completed the full course of treatment, you can purchase retainers. These will maintain the results of the aligner treatment. A set of retainers cost $99.

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

Does Insurance Cover SDC Aligners?

Yes, but only if your dental plan provides orthodontic benefits. The aligners will not be covered in full

In most cases, SmileDirect coordinates payments directly with insurance companies. This means patients will pay the balance of what they owe after the insurance coverage and discounts are applied. 

Smile Direct Club Aligners 4
NewMouth / Alyssa Hill

Interested in straightening your teeth at home? Here are the best clear aligner companies.

Is SmileDirectClub Safe?

Since SmileDirect is the oldest at-home aligner company, there are many online reviews for the company.

One article from NBC News (2020) states that a patient was experiencing bite problems and pain after her aligner treatment. The patient also developed jaw issues and migraines due to improperly fitting aligner trays.1

Another patient said they were also at risk of losing a few teeth because the aligners moved them too fast.1

Because of this, nine members of Congress (five of them being dentists) asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate SmileDirectClub “to ensure that it is not misleading consumers or causing patient harm.” 1

In California, a new law requires “all teledentistry patients to get an X-ray or diagnostic bone scan before undergoing online aligner treatment.” Virginia is considering implementing similar rules.1

On the other hand, there are also many positive reviews about SmileDirectClub. These reviews are mostly written by patients who had minor teeth misalignment. 

More on At-Home Aligner Safety & Effectiveness

Most dentists and orthodontists generally recommend in-office aligner treatment (like Invisalign or metal braces) over at-home aligners. This is because remote orthodontic treatment is not monitored as closely and it is more difficult to make mid-treatment adjustments. 

With Invisalign, your dentist can make adjustments easily at any time. This is not the case with at-home aligners because you typically receive all of the aligners at once. Your dentist can also not directly intervene if there is a problem mid-treatment.

However, current research shows that direct-to-consumer aligners are generally considered effective and safe (87.5% satisfaction rate).2 To prevent poor results, make sure you follow the impression kit instructions very carefully and stick to your treatment plan.

Since at-home aligner treatment is still new, more research needs to be done on the benefits and risks of treatment. But many patients are happy with the results and prefer remote aligners over traditional orthodontics due to convenience and pricing.2

SmileDirectClub is one of the only at-home aligner brands that offer in-person scans and impressions. If you do not want to order an impression kit and take them yourself, SmileDirect recommends visiting a SmileShop to ensure your aligner trays fit perfectly.

Smile Direct Club Aligners 3
NewMouth / Alyssa Hill

SmileDirectClub vs. Other Aligners

There are many aligner options to choose from. If you're unsure which one is right for you, read the comparisons below:

Byte vs. SmileDirectClub 

Byte and SmileDirectClub both offer regular aligners and night aligners. Byte’s regular aligners cost about $100 less than SmileDirect, while SmileDirect’s night aligners cost about $300 less than Byte's. 

The length of treatment for byte and SmileDirect are also about the same (between 3 and 6 months, on average).

Read our full review of byte

Candid vs. SmileDirectClub 

Candid costs more than SmileDirectClub. You can visit a CandidPro location studio for an in-person scan to begin treatment.

SmileDirectClub's treatment time is less than Candid’s (4 to 6 months vs 4 to 12 months). 

However, based on customer reviews, Candid has better remote monitoring and customer service than SmileDirect. It also has more in-depth care, with in-office visits required at the beginning and end of treatment. 

Read our full review of Candid.

ALIGNERCO vs. SmileDirectClub 

ALIGNERCO aligners cost hundreds less than SmileDirectClub aligners. The average treatment time for SmileDirect is between 4 and 6 months. ALIGNERCO can take up to 12 months. 

ALIGNERCO only offers in-person consultations at their New York Smile Studio. Most impressions are completely remote. 

Read our full review of ALIGNERCO

NewSmile vs. SmileDirectClub 

NewSmile costs about the same as ALIGNERCO but is an even newer company.

Invisalign vs. SmileDirectClub

Invisalign is best for moderate to severe cases of tooth misalignment. SmileDirectClub is cheaper than Invisalign, but treatment is not monitored as closely.

Also, with SmileDirect, refinements cannot be made mid-treatment since you receive all of the aligners at the start of treatment.

Read our full review of NewSmile

SmileDirectClub Aligners

SmileDirectClub aligner

SmileDirectClub 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.

Rating by Alyssa Hill

Overall Value
Affordability
Treatment Time
Customer Service
Convenience
Comfort

SmileDirectClub offers remote teeth straightening for 60% less than braces, with two payment options. Their average treatment time is around 4 to 6 months, and are best for mild to moderate teeth misalignment cases.

4

Pros

  • Treatment costs thousands less than braces ($2,050)
  • Two options: order an online impression kit or visit a SmileShop for a risk-free consultation (3D images/scan) 
  • Doctor-prescribed and directed
  • Free whitening treatment (premium whitening available for an additional cost)
  • No credit check required 
  • A monthly payment plan is available
  • Accepts HSA/FSA and insurance (if you qualify)
  • Starter kit refunds (if you aren’t a candidate)

Cons

  • Quick treatment and night aligner option (we are concerned about the risks of night aligners and moving teeth too fast — learn why here)
  • Treatment is monitored 100% remotely (this means there is a slightly higher risk for complications to occur than in-office orthodontic treatment)
  • Customer service can be difficult to reach
  • Risk of impression errors with at-home kits
  • No refunds on aligners (only the impression kit) 

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does SmileDirect really work? Can treatment ruin teeth?

At-home aligner treatments are riskier than in-office treatments, like Invisalign or traditional braces. This is because dental professionals cannot personally monitor your teeth's movements. Treatment will likely be successful if you follow the instructions, wear your aligners correctly, and do not have severe misalignment issues.

Is Invisalign better than SmileDirectClub?

Invisalign is better for moderate to severe cases of teeth misalignment. 

Do dentists recommend SmileDirectClub?

Most dentists recommend in-office aligner treatment over remote aligner treatment. If you decide to go with at-home aligners, set up an oral exam and teeth cleaning beforehand to check for any dental health issues. 

What is the cheapest way to straighten your teeth?

The cheapest at-home aligners are ALIGNERCO and NewSmile. 

Does SmileDirectClub accept HSA or FSA? 

Yes. SmileDirectClub allows you to pay with an HSA or FSA. 

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 January 26, 2023
10 Sources Cited
Last updated on January 26, 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. Nguyen, V., and Dunn, L. “'Things Didn't Feel Right': Some SmileDirectClub Customers Report Problems.” NBC News, NBCUniversal News Group, 2020.
  2. Wexler, Anna, et al. “Direct-to-Consumer Orthodontics: Surveying the User Experience.” The Journal of the American Dental Association.
  3. Werner, A. “Accelerating Aligner Therapy.” Orthodontic Products, 2019.
  4. Anterior Open-Bite Treatment with Clear Aligners by Edward Davis, DMD.” Orthotown.
  5. Insurance.SmileDirectClub. 
  6. Pricing.” SmileDirectClub.
  7. How Does Smile Direct Club Work?” SmileDirectClub.
  8. Proffit et al. Contemporary Orthodontics. Elsevier/Mosby, 2019.
  9. Why Candid Doesn't Offer Night Wear Only Clear Aligners.” Candid.
  10. Why Compliance Matters: Following the Invisalign® 22-hour Rule.” Cosmetic Dentistry New York.
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