Smile Direct Club is an “at home braces” service which gives you multiple sets of clear aligners that straighten your teeth over time.
It’s basically exactly the same as Invisalign, but it’s a lot cheaper because you order it online and don’t have all those pricey trips to the clinic.
Smile Direct Club costs $1,895 whereas Invisalign can cost $3,500 – $8,000 depending on the length of the treatment.
The company started in 2014 and successfully disrupted the orthodontics industry – they now represent 95% of the “at home aligners” industry, boasting 391 studio locations and 6,300 employees across the globe.
SDC has had well over 1 million customers at this point, and boasts an impressive 5-star Trustpilot rating. It’s the most popular invisible aligners company after Invisalign.
They had been on my radar for a while, and it was finally time to give them a try.
Pros and Cons of Smile Direct Club
- Cheap price ($1,895 USD)
- Straight teeth in 4-6 months on average
- Barely noticeable transparent aligners
- Zero or one trip to a studio
- 391 studio locations across the US, Canada, UK, and more
- At-home teeth impression kit available
- 5/5 Trustpilot rating
- Monthly payment plan available ($250 followed by $85/mo)
- My new smile looks awesome!
- At-home impression kit costs $49
- A little bit uncomfortable
- Uses dentists as well (orthodontists are better for this)
- Only check on your teeth every 90 days
- Customer service team mostly based in Costa Rica
- Post-treatment retainer sets cost additional $99
Things to Consider Before Buying
Before you purchase Smile Direct Club, there are some things you need to ask yourself:
Am I Suitable for Invisible Aligners?
When you sign up for SDC, they ask you a bunch of questions about your top and bottom teeth, such as whether you have overcrowding, spacing, an overbite, etc. They must’ve had a field day with my answers.
If you have more serious dental problems, you may not be eligible for clear aligners.
90 Day Check Ups
Smile Direct Club remotely monitor your teeth once every 90 days to check they’re being straightened correctly. Some other companies, like Candid Co, do this every two weeks.
Are you okay with being monitored less? My teeth turned out fine, but I was nervous about this personally.
Do you have insurance?
Smile Direct is cheaper than Invisalign and 60% cheaper than traditional braces, but $1,895 is still a lot of money and the payment plan works out to $2,290 over a couple of years.
They do accept HSA, FSA, and CareCredit insurance, which could reduce costs to $795 or less.
It’s worth it to save a few bucks where possible!
Features & Benefits of Smile Direct Club
Teeth Straightening in 4-6 Months
Invisalign usually takes around 12 months to complete, but Smile Direct Club can align your new smile in as little as 4 months.
Of course, the process is different for everyone – it depends on how much straightening you need.
I actually used the service for around 7 months, but I had quite a few dental problems to work through.
A licensed dentist or orthodontist will design your “custom smile plan” for you and give you an idea of roughly how long it will take. The cost is the same no matter how many months you wear the teeth aligners.
Going on a “smile plan” sounds weirdly dystopian to me. Like something from 1984.
Also, if your teeth aren’t suitable for these alignment products (i.e. you NEED traditional braces) then they refund you there and then. That’s nice – some companies would take that money and run.
Simple process lets you live life as normal
So, how does Smile Direct Club work?
Well, the process is really easy – they take an impression of your teeth, design several months’ worth of aligners which you change every two weeks in sequence, and then you wear the aligners for 22 hours a day.
It’s really that simple.
If you need to eat, drink, or brush your teeth, you can just take them out. Truth be told, I wasn’t the best at sticking to the rules (a few times I took them out for dinner and forgot to put them back in) but my results still turned out great!
Barely noticeable invisible aligners
When I told friends and coworkers that I was wearing clear braces, 90% of the reactions were “are you?”
Most people hadn’t even noticed I was wearing aligners.
If you look closely, you might see that someone’s teeth have a slight plastic-ey shine over them, but it’s hard to spot.
The only folks who noticed my aligners were my partner (obviously) and a couple of coworkers who’d used Smile Direct Club in the past. That was it!
Honestly, I felt like I was working a case undercover.
Very affordable price (with monthly payment options)
SDC costs just $1,895 as a one-time payment, or you can choose to pay $250 followed by $85/month until you pay back a total of $2,290.
You might also be eligible for an insurance discount – they accept HSA, FSA, and CareCredit insurance. You can get the price down to $795 or even less.
Basically, you have options.
I didn’t have any eligible insurance, so I bit the bullet and went for a one-time payment. I know $1,895 isn’t an easy figure for many people to splurge, but it beats the $3000 – $8000 for Invisalign.
Stay at home or go to a Smile Shop
For your initial teeth impressions, you can either visit a Smile Shop studio for a 3D scan (they have them in 47 out of 50 states) or you can ask for an at-home impression kit where you make a mold of your teeth and send it back to them.
I lived a few miles away from a Smile Shop, so I just turned up in person. I must admit that I think “Smile Shop” is a dumb name, but whatever.
The staff was very reassuring – I’d recommend people go to a physical Smile Shop if possible.
The staff was actually really pleasant and after the scan they showed me exactly how they would fix my crooked teeth on their computers. I felt like a doctor or something, it was awesome.
Teeth whitening included for free
It wasn’t my main reason for buying Smile Direct Club clear braces, but SDC does come with premium teeth whitening included as part of the treatment plan.
You don’t have to do it, but my poor lifestyle choices of ungodly amounts of coffee and cigarettes have stained my teeth over the years, so I was more than happy to take it.
I’ve used teeth whitening kits at home before, and I’d say the quality was comparable. It was also free, so I’m not gonna scrutinize it too much!
10 Hour Night Time Aligners Option
Don’t wanna wear aligners all day?
Smile Direct Club offer a 10-Hour Night-Time Aligners package for exactly the same $1,895 price tag.
Basically, you wear the aligners for 10 hours a day at night, so while you’re asleep and a couple hours before bed.
The downside? It takes longer to complete the treatment overall. I know a guy who did this and it took him about 10 months to complete the process, which is still pretty good if you ask me.
Smile Spa Machine kills 99% of bacteria
In the Smile Direct Shop, you can buy the Smile Spa Machine for $38, which I thought was a decent price. I decided to get one.
Basically, it’s a cleaning machine that uses ultrasonic and UV cleaning to kill 99% of odor-causing bacteria (so they say). You can use it to clean your aligners, retainers, toothbrush heads, and more.
I noticed a fresher feeling in my aligners after using this machine. It could be a placebo effect, but I choose to believe that I noticed a difference!
Even if you don’t get the aligners, it’s a decent little machine for cleaning toothbrush heads and stuff. It’s the sort of fancy stuff that dental professionals use.
Other People’s Smile Direct Club Reviews
I’m only one person, so I decided to have a lot at Smile Direct Club’s Trustpilot page – they have an impressive 5/5 Trustpilot rating from 11,500+ reviews!
Here are some people’s experiences:
“They did a very good job with explaining what to expect and the pros and cons about the whole smile direct experience and were very patient with me and I highly appreciated that!”
“Going in for the scan was great option for me. The office is clean and modern and the staff was professional and friendly.”
“It’s the staff made me feel appreciated made me relaxed and comfortable it was a great experience watching her examine my teeth on video.”
Iralee French Sr
“They explained everything in detail, step by step, and seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the work they’re doing to help me to the smile I want.”
My experience with Smile Direct Club was pretty good overall, though the company does have its pros and cons.
Here’s how some of their competitors compare:
Byte costs exactly the same as Smile Direct Club ($1,895) but you have to use an at-home impression kit because they don’t have physical studios. However, Byte can help you straighten your teeth very quickly, with some people getting it done in just 3 months.
This is because of the “HyperByte” – an FDA-approved piece of technology that uses high-frequency vibration therapy to reduce the overall treatment plan time. I’m not gonna pretend to understand how the HyperByte device works, I’m just gonna take their word for it that it does.
Candid is probably SDC’s biggest rival when it comes to quality of care. You see, Candid uses ONLY licensed orthodontists to plan and monitor your teeth alignment journey, whereas SDC uses a dentist or orthodontist. In this case, orthodontists are more suited to the job than dentists, so working with exclusively orthodontists is better.
Candid also do remote monitoring inspections where they check your teeth every two weeks to make sure that everything is okay – SDC only checks every 90 days, which is quite a difference. So what’s the catch? Well, Candid is more expensive, costing $2400 (or $399 followed by $99/month) which won’t be affordable for many people.
If you want cheap, cheap, cheap, then Aligner Co is a teledentistry company based in New York that offers teeth straightening plans for just $1145 (or $110/month with no deposit). This makes it much more affordable, but the service is a lot more no-frills and there are a few add-ons you have to pay extra for.
Treatment with Aligner Co takes 6-12 months on average, so it’s not as fast as some of their competitors. Their inspections are also very limited, so you’re not going to have the same level on ongoing supervision that you get with other invisible braces companies. Still, you save a bunch of cash at least.
SDC Review Final Score
So, is Smile Direct Club effective? It sure seems to be! My teeth are whiter and straighter than ever, so I’m pretty pleased with the results.
The price is decent, the Smile Shops are filled with brilliant staff, and I got a nice new smile in 7 months. I can’t complain! I give it a solid 4.5 out of 5.
Whoever you go with, good luck with your new smile!