NewMouth is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links.
CAN MOUTHWASH KILL COVID-19? FIND OUT WHAT THE RESEARCH SAYS

Jump to topic

Clear Aligners Overview

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:

  • Candid Co
  • Byte®
  • SmileDirectClub
  • Aligner Co
  • SmileLove

What Are Teeth Straightening Kits & How Do They Work?

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. 

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. 

How Do I Know if I am Eligible for Online Teeth Aligners?

Not everyone is a candidate for at-home clear aligners because they can only fix mild teeth misalignment cases, such as:

  • Crowded Teeth — when some or all of your teeth overlap.
  • Gapped Teeth — one gap or multiple gaps between the teeth.
  • Other minor spacing or bite issues.

There are four reasons for ineligibility, including:

  • Your teeth are severely misaligned.
  • You have untreated jaw discrepancies that require in-office orthodontic treatment (e.g., braces).
  • You have gum disease or untreated cavities. 
  • You have a permanent retainer (must be removed before treatment).
  • You have existing dental restorations, such as implants, bridges, or partial dentures.

Only Invisalign and braces can fix more complex cases of teeth misalignment.

Pros and Cons of At-Home Teeth Straightening 

Pros of at-home aligners

  • They are cheaper than traditional braces, lingual braces, Invisalign, and Clear Correct. Invisalign can cost up to $8000, while at-home aligners cost up to $2500. 
  • No in-office visits are necessary before, during, or after treatment. All check-ups are completed remotely with a licensed orthodontist or dentist. 
  • Treatment is significantly faster than braces or Invisalign, typically between three and six months (only minor cases can be treated, though).
  • The aligners are discreet and removable. You don’t have to worry about having visible metal brackets and wires on your teeth throughout treatment.
  • Some brands also offer nighttime clear aligners (that you only wear while sleeping), making them even more discreet and convenient. 
  • Payment plans are available for those who don’t want to pay for the total cost upfront. 

Cons of at-home aligners

  • They only offer remote monitoring, so there is a slightly higher risk of complications because treatment is less predictable without in-office visits. However, when monitored by an experienced orthodontist, remote invisible aligner treatment is effective and safe.
  • At-home aligners can only treat minor misalignment cases, including slightly crowded/crooked teeth and gapped teeth. Overbites, underbites, open bites, and similar forms of malocclusion require more invasive orthodontic treatment.
  • You will not get x-rays taken of your teeth before the treatment plan is created. It is essential to visit your dentist to ensure you don’t have any cavities or other problematic oral health conditions before beginning clear aligner treatment. 
  • At-home aligners are not supported or endorsed by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) because of the risks of tooth and root damage without the direct supervision of a dentist.

How Do I Get Started With At-Home Aligners?

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.

Best Home Teeth Straightening Kits

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. 

Candid Co

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. 

candid starter kit and impressions

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 $99/24 months. After treatment, you’ll buy a custom retainer for $100 to keep your teeth straight. 

Candid Advantages
  • Customer safety is a top priority; only minor cases of teeth misalignment are eligible for treatment
  • Convenient and affordable aligners
  • Completely remote treatment 
  • Risk-free teeth scan 
  • No diet restrictions 
  • Free teeth whitening treatment
  • Monitored by experienced orthodontists (an established orthodontist, Dr. Hurst, oversees the product, vision, and safety of customers)
  • Communicative customer service
  • Payment plan available
Candid Disadvantages 
  • No refunds on Candid aligners
  • No nighttime aligners available 
  • A credit check is required
  • Can only treatment minor cases of misalignment
  • Remote treatment (slightly higher risk for complications to occur than in-office aligners)

Byte®

Byte® is another popular at-home aligner brand. Similar to Candid, they work exclusively with orthodontists. 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.

byte aligners

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. 

Byte Advantages
  • Completely remote treatment (orthodontists only)
  • Free retainer included
  • Treatment time is 2x faster than competitors (with HyperByte use)
  • Night aligners available 
  • Aligner-safe whitening gel (BrightByte) included 
  • Lifetime guarantee (if you wear your aligners and retainers as directed)
  • Good customer support
  • No credit check required (100% approval with no credit impact)
  • Payment plan available
Byte Disadvantages
  • Remote treatment (slightly higher risk for complications to occur than in-office aligners)
  • No refunds on aligners
  • Can only treatment minor cases of misalignment

SmileDirectClub

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.

smile direct club aligners

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. 

SmileDirect Advantages
  • Treatment is monitored remotely
  • Affordable nighttime and traditional clear aligners 
  • Risk-free teeth scan 
  • No diet restrictions 
  • Free whitening treatment
  • Insurance is accepted
  • No credit check required
  • Payment plan available
SmileDirect Disadvantages
  • Remote treatment (slightly higher risk for complications to occur than in-office aligners)
  • Treatment can be overseen by a dentist or orthodontist (less predictable)
  • No refunds on aligners
  • Can only treatment minor cases of misalignment
  • Customer service can be hard-to-reach 

Teeth Straightening Kit — FAQs

Does an orthodontist oversee home teeth straightening treatment?

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. 

How often do I need to wear home teeth aligners? 

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. 

How long does home aligner treatment take? 

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.

What happens after home aligner treatment is complete? 

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.

Are financing/payment plans available?

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. 

Resources

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.

calendar icon
Updated on: November 18, 2020
Author
Alyssa Hill
About
calendar icon
Medically Reviewed
erica medical reviewer
Erica Anand
About
menu