Back in the day, there was only one way to get a perfect set of straight teeth: braces. However, they were embarrassing, expensive, and really uncomfortable
Invisible aligners have been a less embarrassing option for years, but now you can get them without ever leaving your house. Smile Direct Club and Byte will both deliver custom-made aligners to your door. In many ways, these two services are similar, but we’re putting them head to head in our ultimate Byte vs Smile Direct comparison.
Smile Direct Club Vs Byte: Quick Review
|Feature||Byte||Smile Direct Club|
|Effectiveness||Typically effective in 2 to 4 months||Typically effective in 4 to 6 months|
|FDA Approved?||Yes, for minor adjustments||Yes, but maybe not as effective as is claimed|
Which Is Better, Smile Direct Club or Byte?
In broad strokes, Smile Direct Club and Byte have a lot in common. Both send you a bite impression kit to get started, then follow up with sets of invisible aligners. Over time, those will reposition your teeth for a whiter, more attractive, and even smile. Both cause less anxiety than a traditional orthodontic treatment .
Byte: Overall Winner
While at first glance there might not be a big difference between the two, Byte does have an edge over Smile Direct in several aspects, including price and treatment options.
The real clincher, however, are complaints and accusations directed at Smile Direct Club . Questionable customer service and some shady business practices might make using their service a gamble.
Byte vs. Smile Direct Price
As far as basic plans go, Byte is a little less expensive at $1895 for a one-time payment, with Smile Direct treatment costing $1950. Additional charges include:
- Impression Kit: Byte’s costs $95 vs Smile Direct’s $59
- Retainers: Byte costs $129 vs Smile Direct’s $99
- Nighttime aligners: Byte’s are $2295 vs Smile Direct’s $1950
The cost of Byte’s impression kit is often discounted, however, and can be refunded in some circumstances. Byte also offers a plan for free retainers.
Smile Direct requires a down payment of at least $250, with a monthly payment of $89/month. There’s no credit check, but they only work with one lender.
Byte monthly payment is $83/month for their standard plan, though the down payment required is larger at $349.
Both offer financing without a credit check, provided you can put down enough money to begin with.
Quality and FDA Approval
Byte uses high-quality BPA-free plastic, up-to-date techniques, and is completely cleared by the FDA. Home aligners are only approved for minor changes that are primarily cosmetic, which Byte readily admits on their website.
Smile Direct Club has run into a few problems in this regard. Earlier this year, nine congressional representatives, including former dental professionals, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking they investigate the company.
There are several reasons for that, some focusing on shady business practices—other reasons included potentially unethical behavior. First and foremost, they claimed that their product could treat even extreme problems. It cannot and is not approved for that purpose.
Smile Direct also claimed that their service was comparable to an in-office visit with a dentist. Some of that language has since been removed from the site or changed.
Numerous customer complaints also mention things like broken clear aligners and poor customer service. With that said, Smile Direct Club aligners are also made of BPA-free plastic that is fairly rugged.
Smile Direct begins with a short quiz about your teeth. Both have you purchase an at-home impression kit online to see where you’re starting from. Smile Direct Club also has SmileShops, physical locations where your teeth can be scanned for free.
Everything is reviewed by a dental professional to make sure you’re a good candidate for the treatment. After that, you’ll be able to decide whether to commit.
If your insurance covers orthodontics generally, it may also cover home aligners. Insurance options like an HSA may also be able to be applied.
Both companies have options to help you know if you are covered.
Byte has a significant advantage in this regard in a couple of ways. Their program to straighten teeth, assisted by Hyperbyte using high-frequency vibration to speed things up, typically takes between 2 and 4 months.
Smile Direct Club’s average treatment time is twice that at 4 to 8 months.
Both mention that everyone’s aligner treatment is different and some may take longer. In that case, you’re responsible for additional costs.
Smile Direct Club Treatment Plan
After your impression or scan is taken, a program for moving your teeth is put together by a dental professional. You’ll then receive all your aligner trays at once, as well as the included teeth whitening kit.
You can either wear your home aligners during the day for 22 hours at a stretch, or for 10 hours at night.
After your treatment is completed, Smile Direct Club recommends using retainers to keep everything from moving around again.
Byte Treatment Plan
The Byte treatment is similar in broad strokes, but with some key advantages. After your Byte impression kit is reviewed by their dental team, Byte uses its Smile Science to model the best way to reposition your teeth. Additionally, they develop an image of what you’re projected to look like after treatment.
Only some of the aligners are sent to you at first, as they check part way through to make sure things are going as planned, after which they send you additional aligners.
As with Smile Direct Club, you can either wear Byte at night or during the day. The daytime and nighttime aligners come with the Hyperbyte system, which is used to speed up the process of moving your teeth.
Wearing night aligners seems to be more popular and you can check out our nighttime clear aligners review to find out more.
Hyperbyte uses high frequency vibrations to encourage your jaw to let itself be reshaped by the aligner trays. It sounds a bit sci-fi, but it’s actually been a technique for orthodontic treatments in use for decades. It’s backed by actual science . As a result, Byte treatment takes only 2 to 4 months.
Pros and Cons
A free tooth whitening kit may not seem like a high priority when you’re struggling with crooked teeth. Looking at the pros and cons of each choice might make things a little easier.
Byte Pros and Cons
Beyond a lower cost, Byte has a lot to offer its customers.
- Byte offers regular discounts
- Hyperbyte shift teeth quicker
- Teeth whitening included
- Easy financing
- Smile Science helps find the perfect smile for you
- Choose to wear aligners either during the day or while you sleep
- Upload check-in photos so your progress can be checked
- Nighttime only option costs more
- Straight line across the top, not contoured to your gums
- Can take four to six weeks to receive aligners
Smile Direct Club Pros and Cons
Smile Direct Club offers a few advantages when using their service, though there are some potential disadvantages to consider as well.
- Teeth whitening included
- Aligners contour to your gums
- Services for teens include trackable cases, replacing lost aligners
- Physical locations with free scanning
- Lifetime guarantee, as long as you meet certain conditions
- Monthly payment plan available
- Lots of customer complaints
- Pending FTC investigation
- Home aligners hurt to wear for some people
- Customer service team based outside of US
What Do Customers Think?
Find out what actual customers thought of using either Byte or Smile Direct Club.
Smile Direct Club Reviews
What’s the Truth Behind Smile Direct Club Horror Stories?
As we’ve mentioned, Smile Club Direct is facing a few accusations of poor business practices. The issue has drawn enough attention that representatives to the US congress penned a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking for them to be investigated .
In addition to that, there are over 3000 complaints against Smile Direct Club filed with the BBB. They range from problems with customer service to faulty products to actual injuries.
We’re still waiting for further word on an FTC investigation into Smile Direct Club. However, the letter sent by the congressmen is available to read. It’s a lengthy 17 pages detailing a variety of issues. They tend to fall into two general categories, however.
The first lists a number of ways Smile Direct Club used deceptive language in marketing and on their website. For example, one part of their Terms of Service details customers’ rights if they should be unhappy. However, that section is later invalidated by a buried clause that releases Smile Direct Club from any sort of liability.
The second discusses how Smile Direct Club makes claims to a level of care that they don’t actually meet. They claim their products can address even larger problems and misalignments. In reality, home aligners are only approved for small corrections and cosmetic treatments.
By comparison, Byte mentions this fairly clearly on their website—invisible aligners can’t move molars or make other large changes.
While it may not seem like a big deal, straightening teeth can change the shape of your jaw and the way you bite. Misalignments can lead to migraines, jaw pain, and some potentially serious problems.
Some customers describe serious misalignments that orthodontists blamed on Smile Direct Club’s product. Less serious problems include bleeding gums and misaligned teeth.
Others describe trouble connecting with customer service, delayed deliveries, and refusal to issue refunds.
There are some advantages that might lead you to choose Smile Direct Club, which you can investigate further in our Smile Direct Club Review. Just remember that the service shouldn’t replace medical advice. It’s a good idea to work with a dentist in your area while using any home aligners, but perhaps for Smile Direct Club particularly.
Smile Direct Club vs Byte vs Invisalign
While there are some important differences between Smile Direct Club and Byte, the process runs along similar lines. Both are representative of a newer trend centered around teledentistry and home aligners.
Invisalign is sort of halfway between traditional braces and invisible ‘braces’ like Byte or Smile Direct Club. With those two, you never really have to leave your house. Invisalign you can get through your orthodontist.
In some ways, that makes Invisalign treatment safer and potentially more effective. It might also be used with more extreme cases. However, Invisalign costs about the same as traditional braces, making them two or three times as much as home aligners’ low cost.
Additionally, Smile Direct Club and Byte have some other things included in their price, like tooth whitening kits, that add even more to their value.
There are a range of Invisalign alternatives, in addition to Byte and Smile Direct club, that might be worth investigating.
Byte vs Smile Direct—which is best? Let’s finish off with a few frequently asked questions.
Which Teeth Aligners Are Best?
Byte is the best option if you’re looking to straighten a few teeth to get a perfect smile. In addition to a slightly lower cost, HyperByte means that it can take half the time to see results as other options.
If you have a serious issue with crooked teeth, however, even the best invisible braces might not be enough.
Are Byte Aligners Good?
Byte can be a great choice and compares well to other, similar options. Their aligners both cost less and take less time to be effective. It’s a hard combination to pass up.
Is Byte Bad for Your Teeth?
No, Byte should not be bad for your teeth. When used correctly, Byte aligners should straighten teeth while whitening them.
Obviously, it’s important to care of your teeth while using Byte. It also may not be a bad idea to plan on visiting a dentist a few times to monitor your progress.
What Is the Difference Between Byte and Invisalign?
Invisalign has to be obtained through an orthodontist and can cost as much as regular braces. However, they can be used in more serious cases.
Byte is aimed at straightening the most visible teeth to improve the appearance of your smile. It’s less expensive and doesn’t require a visit to the dentist. It’s also not meant to be used for more extreme cases.
How Much Does Byte Really Cost?
If you were to pay everything up front, daytime aligners would cost about $1895. That’s not the only expense, however. The home impression kit is listed at $99 to get started. After completing the treatment, it’s recommended you use retainers to keep your teeth from moving back. These retainers cost $129. The total ends up being $2123, before any taxes.
Most people are probably going to finance the cost, however. The standard plan requires putting $350 down, and an $83 monthly payment over 29 months. Including interest, that’s $2763 without including the impression kit and retainers.
The nighttime-only treatment would increase the cost by about $400 for paying in full upfront, and almost $600 when financing.
Byte does frequently have sales and deals, including a regular discount for their impression kit, which can bring the cost down somewhat.
Final Verdict: Smile Direct vs Byte
Smile Direct and Byte offer the same sort of service, allowing people to straighten their teeth for a bright, new smile. At-home aligners are also much cheaper than traditional braces and you never really have to leave your home.
It should be noted that the American Dental Association and Association of Orthodontists both state that these sorts of changes should only be made under the direction of dental professionals, and could be dangerous otherwise. They prefer closer monitoring that at-home aligners allow.
There are a few areas in which Byte shines brighter than Smile Direct Club. Their shorter treatment time, lower cost, and Hyperbyte system make them a better choice overall. While the controversies surrounding Smile Direct Club are unfortunate, Byte wins out on its own merits.
These aren’t the only two options for invisible braces, though, and it might be worthwhile to check out some other options. If you’re interested in another clear aligner brand, check out our Alignerco review to see how it matches up to Byte.
- Gao, Meiya, et al. “Comparison of Pain Perception, Anxiety, and Impacts on Oral Health-Related Quality of Life between Patients Receiving Clear Aligners and Fixed Appliances during the Initial Stage of Orthodontic Treatment.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 2 July 2020, academic.oup.com/ejo/article-abstract/43/3/353/5866289.
- “SmileDirectClub: Complaints: Better Business Bureau® Profile.” BBB, www.bbb.org/us/tn/nashville/profile/cosmetic-dentistry/smiledirectclub-0573-37111672/complaints.
- El-Bialy, Tarek. “The Effect of High-Frequency Vibration on Tooth Movement and Alveolar Bone in Non-Growing Skeletal Class II High Angle Orthodontic Patients: Case Series.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 1 Oct. 2020, www.mdpi.com/2304-6767/8/4/110/htm.
- Babin, Brian, et al. “Re: SmileDirectClub’s Deceptive Practices in Marketing and Selling to Consumers Its Orthodontic Plastic Bracket Device Product and Related Services.” Letter Asking FTC to Investigate Smile Club Direct, 27 June 2019, www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Advocacy/Files/190627_ftc_smiledirect_nosig.pdf?la=en.