Safest Teeth Whiteners
The safest ways to whiten your teeth explained
Clear aligners are an excellent way to straighten your teeth if you are looking for a convenient option. They are a discreet and removable alternative to metal braces. The trays are made of BPA-free plastic and are virtually invisible when in your mouth.
There are two types of clear aligners available, including at-home aligners and in-office aligners.
In-office aligners, such as Invisalign and ClearCorrect, require you to visit an orthodontist or dentist for check-ups.
At-home aligners, also called mail-in aligners or direct-to-consumer aligners, do not require in-office visits with an orthodontist. These aligners are more convenient than in-office options.
Popular at-home aligner brands include:
The first step of at-home aligner treatment is to take a candidacy quiz online.
If you're a candidate, the next step is to order a teeth straightening kit. These kits are delivered straight to your door, eliminating the need to visit an orthodontist for an in-person scan.
Once you receive the kit, you'll take impressions of your teeth and send them back.
From there, an orthodontist will make a digital 3D model of your teeth. This interactive model shows your teeth straightening progress from start to finish.
If you approve the plan, a dental technician will create the aligners based on the 3D model. This is what the model will look like:
All of the aligners will be sent to your home address at once. You’ll change the trays out every 1 to 2 weeks. The aligners should be worn for 22+ hours a day.
The number of aligners you need depends on how misaligned your teeth are and the length of treatment. Some brands also require remote check-ins every two weeks (via an app) to ensure your teeth are moving correctly.
Traditional braces and clear aligners are both effective ways to straighten your teeth.
Here are the main differences:
Teens and older adults with minor to moderate misalignment are typically the best candidates for aligners. If you're younger than 12 and have severely misaligned teeth, talk with your orthodontist about braces.
Not everyone is a candidate for at-home clear aligners because they can only fix:
There are four reasons for ineligibility, including if you have:
Braces can fix more complex cases of teeth and jaw misalignment.
As with any product, at-home aligners have advantages and disadvantages:
|In-office consultation required||✕||✓||✕||✕||✕|
|At-home impression kit||✓||✕||✓||✓||✓|
(potentially unsafe option)
|Orthodontist-directed remote monitoring||✕||✓||✕||✕||✕|
All clear aligner products on this site are heavily researched, vetted, and reviewed before recommending them to readers. These are our standards for determining a reputable clear aligner brand:
All clear aligner product pages are medically reviewed by a licensed dentist or orthodontist. Our dentists flag any recommendations they don’t agree with. Any products that don’t meet their standards are removed.
Byte® is a popular at-home aligner brand. They work with orthodontists and dentists. Byte stands out in the at-home aligner industry for having fast treatment times (typically 4 to 6 months). This is made possible with the HyperByte — Byte’s very own HFV device that’s included in every treatment plan. This dental movement acceleration device should be used for 5 minutes a day.
HFV stands for high-frequency vibrations. It uses soft micro pulses that transmit through the roots of teeth to the surrounding bone. Byte claims that, due to these vibrations, daily use of the HyperByte can shorten treatment time.
Read our article comparing the positives and negatives of the HyperByte and similar vibration-based aligner therapies.
Byte has two clear aligners options, including All-Day Aligners ($1,895) and At-Night Aligners ($2,295). With the payment plan, you can pay $249 to $299 up-front and $82 to $99/32 months. The teeth straightening kit costs an additional $95.
Unlike Invisalign, treatment with Byte is totally remote. To begin, simply order an at-home impression kit from their website. Note: we do not recommend night aligners because there is no scientific proof that they are safe.
Byte's All-Day Aligners are worn for 22+ hours a day and can straighten teeth in as little as 4 months. The At-Night Aligners straighten your teeth while you sleep.
Limited Time Sale: 70% off Impression Kit, $100 off Aligners + Free BrightByte Whitening Treatment.
SmileDirectClub (SDC) is a 6-year-old company that offers home teeth straightening for 60 percent less than braces.
SDC works with licensed doctors, dentists, and orthodontists to ensure each treatment case runs smoothly and effectively. During treatment, you will track your progress remotely with a dentist or orthodontist from the comfort of home.
SmileDirectClub aligners cost $1,950 (no credit check required). You can get a free 3D scan at a SmileShop or buy a $59 teeth straightening starter kit.
With the payment plan, you’ll pay $250 up-front and $89/24 months. After treatment, you’ll buy a custom retainer for $100 to keep your teeth straight.
The biggest aligner company
SmileDirectClub is the largest, longest-standing clear aligner manufacturer. With hundreds of physical locations, you can choose an in-person consultation or order a mail-in impression kit.
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.
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 $1,245.
NewSmile’s Night Aligners require less daily wear time (10+ hours a day). They cost $1,345.
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. However, treatment is more hands-off after you approve the plan.
ALIGNERCO offers the cheapest invisible aligners on the market.
Treatment starts at $1,145 (or $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. 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. Wear time is 8 to 10 hours a day and the treatment duration is 8 to 12 months.
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 a popular at-home aligner brand that has recently shifted its business focus, no longer offering at-home impression kits. It’s now a hybrid option for those who want some of the convenience of at-home teeth straightening without sacrificing the quality of care.
To begin treatment with Candid, you’ll visit a qualified CandidPro provider (dentist or orthodontist) for an initial consultation and to have your bite digitally scanned or impressions taken. You’ll also see them at the end of treatment to ensure your teeth are aligned correctly and you’re satisfied with the results.
The CandidPro provider then has a licensed orthodontist from Candid's team personally design your treatment plan. After that, your treatment progress is monitored remotely through CandidMonitoring™, the company’s telehealth platform (mobile app).
The same Candid orthodontist who creates your treatment plan will oversee your treatment from start to finish. Treatment takes between 4 and 12 months, depending on how severe your bite issues are.
Candid aligners cost $3,300 on average, though the price may vary depending on your level of malocclusion, the state you live in, and the provider you see. You also have no direct financial relationship with Candid — the CandidPro provider is also your health care provider.
Candid offers the convenience of at-home teeth straightening with a higher level of care typical of in-office aligner brands like Invisalign.
Every treatment plan is overseen by a licensed orthodontist. Treatment is monitored with CandidMonitoring (via a mobile app).
Candid treatment costs $3,300 (on average, the price may change depending on various factors).
|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||✕||✓||✕||✓||✓|
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 moderate to severe teeth and jaw misalignment.
For example, if you have an overbite, underbite, open bite, or crossbite, braces are likely the safest and most effective option.
|Braces||In-Office Aligners||At-Home Aligners|
|Cost||$3,000 to $12,000||$3,000 to $8,000||$1,200 to $2,300|
|Treatment Time||12 to 24 months||12 to 18 months||4 to 12 months|
|Treatable Cases||Mild to severe, including skeletal issues (jaw)||Mild to severe, excluding skeletal issues||Mild, some moderate|
|Monitoring/Care||In-person, every 4 to 8 weeks||In-person, every 6 to 8 weeks||100% remote (hands-off care)|
Candid works with licensed orthodontists, so your clear aligner treatment will be overseen exclusively by these professionals. SmileDirectClub and other brands do not work solely with orthodontists; they also work with dentists and doctors.
At-home teeth aligners must be worn for at least 22 hours a day. Night aligners only need to be worn for about 10 hours a day.
Home aligner treatment takes about six months (on average). If you don’t wear your aligners as directed, treatment can take longer.
After treatment is complete, you’ll get a custom retainer to keep your teeth straight. You'll receive instructions on how long to initially wear your retainers so your teeth don’t shift back. They should be replaced at least every year.
Most clear aligner companies offer payment plans and financing options. You’ll pay a couple of hundred dollars up-front and then make monthly payments for about two years. Some aligners are partially covered by insurance. You can also use an HSA/FSA to pay for treatment. Check with the clear aligner company of your choice to determine the best financing option for your needs.