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Candid vs Smile Direct: Which One Is the Better Choice?

Candid vs Smile Direct: Which One Is the Better Choice?

Can’t decide on which clear aligner company is the best? It’s not surprising with all the options out there, but don’t do any more research until you’ve read what we discovered about these two popular at-home teeth strengthening brands—Candid and Smile Direct. 

Both companies offer high-quality services at affordable prices, and this Candid review vs Smile Direct Club will take a deep dive into both services and finally steer you in the right direction towards that straight smile and perfect grin.

Smile Direct Club vs Candid: Quick Review



Smile Direct Club





  • Length of treatment 6–11 months
  • Works exclusively with orthodontists
  • Remote monitoring available 
  • Great customer service
  • Partners with manufacturer ClearCorrect
  • Cuts aligners straight across the top for more effectiveness
  • Length of treatment 4–6 months
  • Works with orthodontists and general dentists
  • Produces and manufactures teeth aligners in-house
  • Nighttime clear aligner option available
  • Trims aligners to match the gumline for comfort

FDA Approved?



What’s Included?

  • Starter kit
  • Impression kit
  • Free teeth scan
  • Aligners
  • Aligner case
  • Free whitening foam
  • Impression kit
  • Free scan in-office
  • Aligners 
  • Aligner case
  • Aligner tools
  • Free teeth whitening

Smile Direct Club or Candid?

Both Candid and Smile Direct are great companies if you’re looking for affordable invisible aligners with the convenience of doing most of the work at home. But there are definitely some differences that you’ll want to take note of before deciding which company is the best fit for you.

Overall Winner: Candid

Based on our extensive research and customer reviews of Candid vs. Smile Direct Club, Candid appears to come out on top as the overall winner for two main reasons:

  1. Your Candid customized treatment plan has the best remote monitoring by licensed orthodontists with four to six years of specialized training in the art of straightening crooked teeth. Smile Direct uses general dentists and dental professionals, so it’s not guaranteed that an orthodontist will design or monitor your treatment, and video chat is not available.
  2. Customer reviews clearly show that Candid’s excellent customer support service has the edge over Smile Direct when it comes to better customer service. Candid prides themselves on prompt responses to customer issues, and their overall customer satisfaction rate is very high.

Is Candid and Smile Direct the Same?

No, these two companies are not the same. However, both of them are similar in that they offer a possibility of straighter teeth with a complete service of teeth aligners shipped directly to your home to fix minor teeth straightening and bite issues.

Founded in 2014, Smile Direct was one of the first at-home clear aligner companies with remote treatment. Even though Candid was founded later, in 2017, they took the Smile Direct model and improved on it by exclusively using orthodontists and remote monitoring.

Candid vs. Smile Direct Club Price Winner: Smile Direct

Smile Direct comes out as the price winner by offering a more affordable option of $1950, more than $400 cheaper than Candid. In addition, their mail-in starter kit is only $59, whereas Candid charges $95, but both companies offer retainers for $99 each. 

Financing Options 

Financing is available for both services, but it’s important to note that Candid requires a credit check before treatment begins.

Smile Direct’s monthly payment plan requires a deposit of $250 with monthly payments of $89 for 24 months. Candid requires a deposit of $399 with monthly payments of $99 for 24 months.

Quality and FDA Approval Winner: Candid

Candid aligners are FDA-approved, and Smile Direct is in full compliance with FDA regulations, but Candid stands out as the winner in quality. They partner with Clear Correct manufacturers to provide high-quality clear aligners at a low price. They also exclusively use licensed orthodontists to examine and design your treatment plan while monitoring your progress every step of the way.

Order Process Winner: It’s a Tie

Both Smile Direct and Candid offer online services, and both companies give the option of taking your teeth impression at home with a prepaid mail-in box or teeth scans at a local Candid Studio or Smile Shop location. 

The locations of these shops are mainly found in or near larger cities, with Smile Direct having a slight advantage with over 90 locations to choose from while Candid has 30 available options for teeth scans.

Insurance Coverage Winner: It’s a Tie

Both companies are in-network and partner with multiple insurance companies while also accepting payment through HSA and FSA, but that’s in no way a guarantee that orthodontic treatment will be entirely or even partially covered by your insurance. Check to see if your dental insurance offers orthodontic benefits before purchasing these services.

Treatment Duration Winner: Smile Direct

The Smile Direct treatment process from start to finish lasts anywhere between 4 to 6 months, whereas Candid’s complete treatment may last anywhere between 6 to 11 months. Smile Direct has the added advantage of including a nighttime-only option for those who want to wear their teeth aligners for a shorter period of time. Visit our nighttime clear aligner review for more information.

Candid Co Treatment Plan

The process to start your Candid treatment plan begins as soon as you complete your order. 

A complete impression kit will be sent to your home so you can take a mold of your teeth, or if you’re lucky enough to live near a Candid Studio, a technician will take a 3D scan and photos of your pearly whites. 

Candid works with licensed orthodontists who will review your scans and medical history, and once approved, design your personalized treatment plan.

You’ll receive your aligners in the mail within 2 to 3 weeks. After which, you’ll wear your aligners according to the instructions of your treatment.

After treatment, Candid provides the first retainer free of charge, and additional retainers are $99 each.

Smile Direct Club Treatment Plan

The treatment process is just as simple to follow as Candid, and you can get started by visiting a Smile Shop location for a free consultation or by using an at-home starter kit.

A technician at a Smile Shop location will take a 3D image of your teeth, or you can create your impression with the Smile Direct at-home impression kits.

A licensed dentist or orthodontist will review your scan, approve you for treatment, and design a custom plan for you to follow. 

They will then send a preview of your smile transformation for you to review, after which your custom aligner will be created. 

You’ll receive your aligners within a few weeks, along with detailed instructions on when to change your aligners. 

Smile Direct does not offer free retainers, but you can purchase them for $99 each once your treatment is complete.

What Do Customers Think?

Most reviews for these two companies seem very positive, with customers generally satisfied. Smile Direct reviews tend to have a few more complaints regarding customer service wait times and comfortability with aligners during the first few weeks, while Candid customers expressed very few complaints [1].

Smile Direct Club Reviews

To provide the best comprehensive view of Smile Direct services, we listed a few reviews from multiple places on the web to give you a better idea of what people are really saying. 


Candid Reviews 

We’ve included a few well-rounded Candid reviews to provide even more information.


Pros and Cons

Before you decide to move forward with treatment from one of these two companies, it’s good to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each before making that final decision. With each of the companies boasting high quality, low cost, at-home clear aligners, and so many similarities, we’ve taken the liberty to break down the pros and cons even further.

Candid Co 


  • The average treatment time is no more than 11 months.
  • Exclusively works with a network of over 50 licensed orthodontists.
  • 30 Candid Studios located near several major cities in the US.
  • A convenient teledentistry service and remote monitoring throughout treatment.
  • The first set of retainers are free of charge.
  • Financing and insurance options are available.
  • Top-quality products by ClearCorrect, a reputable clear aligner manufacturer.


  • There’s no money-back guarantee.
  • Severe cases are not eligible for treatment.
  • A credit check is required before treatment begins.
  • Candid costs are slightly more due to the remote monitoring service.
  • Treatment plans can be longer than other direct-to-customer services. 

Smile Direct Club


  • The average treatment process is 4 to 6 months.
  • Licensed dentists or orthodontists work remotely to create your individual plan.
  • The starter kit includes everything you’ll need for the duration of treatment.
  • Preview of intended results included in aligner kit. 
  • Complimentary teeth whitening treatment included.
  • Price is cheaper than most at-home clear aligner companies. 


  • All treatment is done remotely with no hands-on or in-person services.
  • There’s no guarantee that an orthodontist will oversee your treatment.
  • Dental and medical history is not used when creating individualized treatment plans.
  • Remote check-ins are every 90 days. For more detailed information, check out our Smile Direct Club review
  • Errors are possible with the initial at-home impression and can affect the end results.
  • Retainers do not have anchors and are not securely fastened to your teeth, creating slippage issues. 

Smile Direct Club vs. Candid vs. Invisalign 

Invisalign is an in-office clear aligner treatment similar to Candid clear aligners. It is by far the most expensive clear aligner treatment with prices anywhere between $3000 and $8000. 

The total price of your Invisalign costs is not known until after the diagnostic process and in-office examination. Still, they also work with many insurance companies, and financing is available. 

Like Smile Direct, Invisalign consults with dentists and orthodontists to design unique treatment plans for their patients. In-office consultation can cost $100 to $200 before treatment begins, and treatment time can take 12 to 18 months. 

The biggest difference between Candid, Smile Direct, and Invisalign is that the Invisalign treatment focuses on more complicated cases of teeth misalignment, which makes this one of the better options for people dealing with severely crowded teeth.

So, if you’re looking for a more intensive, hands-on approach or your dental issues require more attention, Invisalign is one of the best options for in-house clear aligners. Not convinced? Check out these Invisalign alternatives for more options. 

Smile Direct Club vs. Candid vs. Byte

Byte is another excellent at-home clear aligner teeth straightening service. Similar to Candid, Byte works exclusively with orthodontists to create a customized treatment plan. And like Smile Direct, Byte offers an at-night-only treatment and free teeth whitening. 

One thing that makes Byte stand out is their HyperByte vibration tool, a cutting-edge technology that cuts down on the treatment time significantly. By using this new technology, the average treatment time is only 3 months. 

Byte also uses Smile Science to construct your aligners. This requires you to take your impressions at home and take pictures of your mouth and face. That way, Byte will be able to ensure your smile fits your overall features. You can buy the Byte starter impression kit online.

The cost for Byte is $1895 for their daytime wear aligners, slightly beating out Smile Direct on price. Financing starts with $349 down with no credit check and a payment of $83 per month for 29 months. If you’re interested in the nighttime wear aligners, those will cost you a little more with a price tag of $2295 or a down payment of $449 and $99 a month for 29 months.

A bonus to Byte customers is their lifetime Byte for Life guarantee which ensures that if after you’ve completed treatment and your teeth move, Byte will send additional aligners at no extra cost.

If Byte sounds like a better option for you and you want to explore this company more, check out our Byte aligners review to compare services. 


If you have more questions, we put together a few of the most popular FAQs about these services. 

What Is Better Than Smile Direct Club?

Smile is one of many at-home clear aligner treatment services, but if you would rather have a better alternative to straightening teeth, there are a few options:

candid vs smile direct
  • Traditional aligners: Byte is an example of the widely available traditional aligners. These services offer a more hands-on approach, and treatment tends to be just 2 to 4 months. The price for the best invisible braces is much lower than their traditional counterparts. 
  • Traditional braces: These are the most conventional and comprehensive ways to treat tooth alignment, especially if you have complex alignment or bite issues. More care must go into wearing traditional braces, and prices can be higher than traditional aligners. 
  • Ceramic invisible braces: Similar to traditional braces, ceramic braces are an effective treatment for tooth misalignment. The main difference is the brackets and wires on ceramic braces are either transparent or tooth-colored, making it a more discreet option. 
  • Lingual braces: This is the most expensive option but also the most discreet. Lingual braces rest on the back of the teeth for almost invisible wear. The price for these products is between $8000 and $10000.
  • Bonding: This is the most affordable option if you only require minor cosmetic changes such as chipping, spacing, and irregular shaping. Treatment takes about an hour to complete and will only cost you $200–$500 per tooth. 
  • Veneers: If you’re looking for a complete transformation of your mouth, veneers are the way to go, but there is quite a commitment involved. The placement of veneers starts by shaving the enamel of your teeth, which is irreversible. The cost is $1000 to $2000 per tooth, but the results can be impressive.

Is Invisalign Better Than Candid?

Both Candid and Invisalign are great companies for clear aligners. Still, if you want more facetime with a dentist and in-person care throughout your treatment, then Invisalign is the better option. Invisalign is also better for complicated bite alignment, jaw movement problems, overcrowding, or severe spacing issues.  

If you want the same quality and service at a more affordable price, Byte is an excellent option.

 Is Smile Direct Club Cheaper Than Candid?

Yes. There is a price difference of almost $500 between the two companies. Smile Direct also offers the option of nighttime aligners, which is not available with Candid. However, Candid has a better reputation and lots of happy customers.

Final Verdict: Candid vs. Smile Direct Club

There’s no doubt that these are two excellent services for anyone looking for at-home teeth straightening with less pain and worry compared to regular braces [2]. Both companies have a lot in common, but Candid edges out Smile Direct as our choice for high-quality and convenient clear aligners. 

Candid does cost a bit more than Smile Direct, but those extra few dollars get you experienced orthodontists, remote monitoring with continuous tracking, and a reputable ClearCorrect product that will give you that perfect smile within weeks. 

Bottom Line: If you have minor teeth misalignment and you want high-quality treatment from trusted orthodontic professionals and excellent customer service support, Candid Co is an excellent option. Candid doesn’t have a money-back guarantee, though, so if that’s a deal-breaker for you, Byte Aligners may be a better alternative.

If you’re not convinced Byte or Candid works for you, and still you’re in the market for at-home clear aligners on a budget, check out our AlignerCo review as another option for a new smile.


  1. “SmileDirectClub: Complaints: Better Business Bureau® Profile.” BBB, www.bbb.org/us/tn/nashville/profile/cosmetic-dentistry/smiledirectclub-0573-37111672/complaints
  2. 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.
Candid vs Smile Direct: Which One Is the Better Choice?

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