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 Clear Correct, require you to visit your 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 types of aligners are more convenient than in-office aligners.
Popular at-home aligner companies include:
The first step of at-home aligner treatment is to take a candidacy quiz online. Then, if you are a candidate, you’ll order a teeth straightening kit. These kits are delivered straight to your door, eliminating the need to visit an orthodontist for an in-person teeth scan.
Once you receive the kit in the mail, you will take impressions of your teeth and send them back. From there, a dental technician will create the aligners based on the impressions you sent. They will also send you a treatment preview of how your teeth will look from start to finish.
Clear aligners are an effective and cost-effective treatment for crowded teeth, gapped teeth, and some cases of overbites and underbites. Learn about how they work, popular brands, and costs.
After the treatment plan is approved, the aligners will be sent to your home address. You’ll change the trays out every 1 to 2 weeks and wear each new set of aligners for 22 hours every day. The number of aligners you receive depends on how crooked your teeth are and the length of treatment. Virtual appointments with a doctor or orthodontist will also be required to ensure your teeth are moving correctly throughout the treatment process.
Traditional braces and clear aligners both offer effective ways to straighten your teeth. However, the type of treatment you need depends on a few factors:
Teens and older adults with minor to moderate misalignment cases are typically the best candidates for aligners. If you are 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 mild teeth misalignment cases, such as:
There are four reasons for ineligibility, including:
Only Invisalign and braces can fix more complex cases of teeth misalignment.
As with any product, at-home aligners have advantages and disadvantages:
Before ordering a teeth straightening kit, you can take a free candidacy quiz on candidco.com, byteme.com, or smiledirectclub.com to ensure eligibility. If you order the impression kit and are deemed ineligible for treatment, you will get a full refund for the kit.
Candid Co, Byte, and SmileDirectClub are three of the most popular at-home clear aligner brands. All three companies sell teeth straightening kits online and provide free candidacy quizzes on their websites. Candid and SmileDirect also offer in-office teeth scans, depending on your preference.
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 are specifically instructed to flag any recommendations they don’t agree with. Any products that don’t meet their high standards are removed.
Byte® is another popular at-home aligner brand. They work with orthodontists, dentists, and doctors.
As a Byte customer, you’ll receive a HyperByte® (an FDA-cleared dental movement acceleration device) with your purchase. You only have to wear it for 5 to 10 minutes per day.
With daily HyperByte use, Byte aligners can straighten your teeth in as little as three months, which is faster than any other brand on the market. Byte also provides two clear aligners options, including All-Day Aligners or At-Night Aligners. Byte also claims using the Hyperbyte makes changing your aligners more comfortable as it uses vibration technology to help adjust the roots to their new position.
Byte aligners cost $1895 to $2245 (no credit check required). The teeth straightening kit costs an additional $95. You’ll pay $349 to $419 up-front with the payment plan and $83 to $99/29 months. A first free retainer is included with every purchase.
Quickest treatment time and best value
Byte's All-Day Aligners are worn for 22 hours a day and can straighten teeth in 3 months. The At-Night Aligners straighten teeth while you sleep and can take up to 6 months.
Byte also offers a lifetime guarantee.
Candid Co only works with licensed and qualified orthodontists, rather than general dentists and other dental professionals.
This ensures you receive high-quality treatment from a professional with years of experience in the teeth straightening industry.
To begin treatment with Candid, you will order an impression kit online or visit a Candid Studio for a free scan (risk-free). If you are approved for treatment, you’ll receive the aligners within 2 to 3 weeks. The same orthodontist who creates your treatment plan will oversee your treatment from start to finish. On average, Candid aligner treatment takes about six months.
Candid aligners cost $2400 (credit check required). You can get a free dental impression at a Candid Studio or buy a $95 teeth straightening starter kit. With the payment plan, you’ll pay $399 up-front and $99 for 24 months. After treatment, you’ll buy a custom retainer for $100 to keep your teeth straight.
Only works with licensed orthodontists
It's not just about a great smile. Candid is committed to improving your quality of life. Your treatment plan is overseen by a qualified orthodontist with over 20 years of experience. This means you'll receive high-quality care from start to finish.
SmileDirectClub is a 6-year-old company that offers home teeth straightening for 60 percent less than braces.
SmileDirect 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 $1950 (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 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.
ALIGNERCO offers the cheapest invisible aligners on the market.
Treatment costs $1,145 (or $99 for 11 months with the payment plan). Other clear aligner competitors are more expensive ($1,800 to $2,400).
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.
Want a straighter smile? Read our reviews of the top clear aligners of 2021
They will create a customized treatment plan and send the aligner trays straight to your door.
ALIGNERCO also sells NightOnly Clear Aligners. They include the same benefits as regular aligners but require less daily wear time. Wear time is 8 to 10 hours a day and the treatment duration is 8 to 12 months.
The most affordable aligner
ALIGNERCO is making a name by providing a reliable at-home aligner experience at a budget-friendly price. Treatment costs just $1,145 vs. up to $2,400 for competitors.
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 $1,195.
NewSmile’s Night Aligners have the same benefits as normal aligners but require less daily wear time (10+ hours a day). They cost $1,295.
Most comfortable aligner design
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.
Similar to ALIGNERCO, NewSmile aligners are more affordable than other brands.
Candid and Byte only work with qualified and 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. Byte and SmileDirect offer night aligners. Candid only offers traditional aligners.
Home aligner treatment takes about six months (on average). Byte aligners move your teeth the fastest (treatment takes 3 to 6 months). If you don’t wear your aligners as directed, treatment can take longer.
After treatment is complete, you’ll order a custom-made retainer to keep your teeth straight. Byte provides a free retainer with every purchase. SmileDirect and Candid retainers cost an additional $100. Retainers are to be worn for a lifetime. Each company gives instructions on how long to initially wear your retainers so your teeth don’t shift back.
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 directly with the clear aligner company of your choice to determine the best financing option for your needs.
|Best Remote Monitoring||Quickest Treatment||Best Budget Aligner||First-Ever Remote Aligner|
|Cost||$2,400||$1,895 to $2,245||$1,145||$1,950|
|Treatment Length||6 to 12 months||3 to 6 months||8 to 12 months||4 to 6 months|
|In-Office Consultation Option||✓||✕||✕||✓|
|Premium Whitening Treatment||✓||✓||✕||✓|
Blue Ocean Publishing Group. The Million Dollar Smile, Changing Lives with Cosmetic Dentistry. 2018.
Candid. “Discover the Candid Difference.” Candid, www.candidco.com/why-candid.
Candid. “Candid Starter Kit.” Candid, www.candidco.com/products/starter-kit.
Candid. “Candid Clear Aligners.” Candid, www.candidco.com/faq/p/treatment.
SmileDirectClub. “Insurance.” https://smiledirectclub.com/insurance/.
SmileDirectClub. “Pricing.” https://smiledirectclub.com/pricing/.
SmileDirectClub. “How Does Smile Direct Club Work.” https://smiledirectclub.com/how_it_works/.
FAQs About Invisible Aligners. (n.d.). Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.byteme.com/pages/faq.
Hyperbyte: The Technology Behind Faster Invisible aligner results. (n.d.). Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.byteme.com/pages/hyperbyte.
Insurance Coverage for Our Invisible Aligners. (n.d.). Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.byteme.com/pages/insurance.
Ke, Y., Zhu, Y., & Zhu, M. (2019, January 23). A comparison of treatment effectiveness between clear aligner and fixed appliance therapies. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6343314/.
Weir, T. “Clear Aligners in Orthodontic Treatment.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 14 Mar. 2017, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/adj.12480.
“What to Expect with Invisalign® Treatment.” Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.com/how-invisalign-works.