Last updated on July 20th, 2021 at 11:26 pm
If your teeth are no longer as straight as you’d like them to be, you’re in luck – there are now a ton of low cost, clear teeth aligner options. Some you can get online without an in person visit, others require a trip to see an orthodontist. But they are all much cheaper than traditional braces – and in general, a lot easier to deal with. Let’s compare and review the cheapest teeth aligners to find the best one for your mouth.
Jump ahead to the cheapest teeth aligner chart – or read on to learn more about how these work and what your options are.
How do aligners work to straighten your teeth?
If you had braces when you were younger, then you probably already know the general idea of how dentists and orthodontists use treatments to move around your teeth. However, clear aligners are a bit different than those awkward braces you remember – and some of the brands do not require an in person orthodontist visit, which means you’ll have a few, new steps in your journey to a better smile. Let’s review the steps to a better smile:
Step-by-step teeth straightening overview with low cost aligners
First, most brands have you take an online quiz / medical questionnaire to review your teeth and make sure you are fit for treatment.
Next, if you are going with an option that doesn’t require an in person orthodontist visit, they’ll mail you an “impression kit.” Basically, you’re going to chomp down on a puddy that creates a mold of your teeth. Then you ship the impression kit back to the company.
An orthodontist or technician, depending on the company, will review your custom mold and will use it to create a personalized correction program for your particular situation.
The company will mail you your clear aligners, with instructions on how to use them, how long to wear them on a daily basis, and when to switch to the next one.
You then wear the aligners on the schedule that they tell you to, likely one each two or so weeks before switching to the next. They will be labeled so you know how to switch and when. Each clear aligner will push your teeth into a slightly better position. Sometimes it’s easy to see what the straightening strategy is, while other times, it may not seem like anything is happening for a month or more. But hang in there! You have to trust in the process, and it’s important you don’t deviate too early.
Some of the brands have check ins, usually online or through an app. Although, with companies like Invisalign, you will be asked to go in person to see an orthodontist periodically to review progress. And since medical professionals are not cheap, this adds a lot to the cost. The cheapest ones typically don’t require this kind of in person visit — which not only keeps the cost down, but also saves you time and inconvenience.
When you are done with your straightening treatment — usually after six to eighteen months — some of the companies have you wear a retainer, usually at night. This is to help keep your teeth from slowly sliding out alignment.
How do cheap aligners compare to traditional braces?
Relative to the braces you likely had when you were a kid, today’s low-cost aligners are less painful, way more discrete (read: less embarrassing), and don’t require an orthodontist to install a ton of metal in your mouth. On the flip side, if you have extremely crooked teeth or other more serious medical/dental problems, they may not be appropriate for you, and seeing a traditional orthodontist may be the best course of action.
Other major differences between traditional braces and clear aligners is the cost and amount of time you need to use them to get real results. Braces typically take about two years, while even the cheapest teeth aligners on the market today only take six to eighteen months.
Finally, those expensive and painful braces stay in your mouth for the entire treatment. Low-cost aligners are more like the retainers you may have had – you can take them out! Some of the brands encourage you to remove them when eating particular foods, which means you can actually enjoy some of the meals you were forbidden to eat when you had braces, like popcorn, gum and hard pretzels. Yum.
What are the cheapest teeth aligner brands?
Let’s compare the cost of these clear aligners companies and help you see which ones are the cheapest.
What’s the most affordable clear aligner company?
Starting at just $1,145, AlignerCo seems like the clear winner when it comes to the all-in cost, coming out hundreds to thousands of dollars cheaper than the other low-cost alternatives like Smile Direct Club, Byte, and Candid. That said, Fin vs Fin readers can click here to save $150 on NewSmile, bringing the total cost down to $995, and making it the cheapest aligner option on the market.
That said, while NewSmile and AlignerCo offer the lowest cost, more expensive options like Byte, Smile Direct Club, or Candid are all much more affordable than more traditional clear aligner solutions like Invisalign.
If you’re curious to learn more about AlignerCo, read this recently published review comparing Byte vs AlignerCo to see how they stack up.
If you’re willing to pay a tiny bit more, Byte is a very reasonably priced option at just $1,895 all-in. That includes the impression kit and a retainer post alignment. The brand has thousands (potentially even millions) of happy customers and really positive reviews online, which sadly can’t be said for other players in the space. Their product also works faster than AlignerCo and other competitors. So if you’re looking for a more battle tested solution with a lot of promising results, byte is a real bargain. They also make it easy to get started with an impression kit for just $29.95.
Use code 01BYTEFVF100TS at checkout to take advantage!
Impression kit cost comparison
The low cost aligner vendors also require you to take an impression of your bite using an impression kit that they’ll mail to you (assuming you don’t go to an in person clinic for a mouth scan.) These impression kits usually cost something – here are the prices by brand:
Which aligner brands require in person visits?
Some aligners require in person dentist or orthodontist visits – and if you are a busy person with a job, this can be a hidden cost that you might want to take into consideration. There are pluses to an in person though – in particular the American Association of Orthodontists point out a number of problems that can happen if you have extreme conditions going on in your mouth, or if you have a difficult to spot condition.
- Invisalign – in person visits required
- clearconnect – in person visits required
- Uniform Teeth – in person visits required
- Smile Direct Club – optional 1st scan visit
- SnapCorrect – no in person visits
- byte – no in person visits
- alignerco – no in person visits
- Candid – optional 1st scan visit
Who should not use at-home teeth aligners?
Each brand has a different list of conditions that make you not eligible for their particular treatment option. It’s very important that you disclose to the company that you are considering any medical conditions that you have, especially as they relate to your mouth. You don’t want to end up with a bigger problem than crooked teeth!
Some of the general medical conditions that might make you ineligible for these affordable non-braces options include:
- Major overbite
- Major underbite
- Teeth that need to move in 3 dimensions
- Complex alignment issues
- People who need to widen their palate
- Wisdom teeth – especially impacted teeth
Again, make sure you let the company you are working with know about any medical conditions that you have so that they can make sure their treatment option is appropriate for you. The list above is only a summary of some of the issues the brands list on their sites; it’s not all.
And remember, in person orthodontist visits are still the gold standard of tooth straightening and jaw alignment. Picking the cheapest option is not always the best way to go, especially if you have a more complicated situation (or more complicated mouth!)
Which clear aligner companies take insurance, HSA or FSA money?
One easy way to lower the cost of using clear aligners to fix your crooked smile is to use your dental insurance, HSA or FSA savings. Some, like Invisalign, make it easy to apply through your dental insurance or HSA/FSA money (actually, with Invisalign you pay through a dentist office or orthodontist office, so if you pick a good one they’ll handle the insurance paperwork). Others, like byte, will give you the forms that you can use to file a claim/get reimbursement – but you have to do the work.
This chart breaks down which aligner companies work easily with insurance or how you can use your HSA or FSA savings. Of course, your insurance program has to include this type of orthodontic work in the first place!
|Yes – through the dentist office||Yes – through the dentist office||Buy now|
|Yes – through the dentist office||Yes – through the dentist office||Buy now|
|Yes – through the dentist office||Yes – through the dentist office||Buy now|
|Yes – Smile Direct Club can process FSA and HSA debit card payments||Yes – Smile Direct Club can provide the forms you need to file for insurance||Buy now|
|Yes – SnapCorrect can provide the forms you need pay using your HSA or FSA||Yes – SnapCorrect can provide the forms you need to file for insurance||Buy now|
|Yes – byte can process FSA and HSA FSA and HSA debit card payments||Yes – byte can provide the forms you need to file for insurance||Buy now|
|Yes – alignerco can process FSA and HSA debit card payments||No||Buy now|
|Yes – Candid accepts FSA and HSA payments||Yes – Candid is in network with several insurance companies, and will file the forms for you with other insurance providers||Buy now|
|Yes – NewSmile accepts both FSA and HSA payments||No||Buy now|
If you are choosing to get your treatment through your local dentist or orthodontist, then you’ve probably already done the research to know that Invisalign and ClearConnect can be paid for using your insurance, subject to whatever limits or deductibles that your plan has. And since your dentist can probably process HSA and FSA card, you can pay for Invisalign and ClearConnect with those savings programs.
If you are getting your clear aligners through one of the teledentistry/online brands, and want to use your insurance benefit, then Candid is the leader. Candid is even in network with one of the largest insurance providers in the country, Anthem. Anthem includes Empire BlueCross, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield and Anthem Blue Cross. Candid will also file the paperwork for you if you have a different insurance company, and they’ll process your HSA and FSA payments. So, if you are looking to save money using insurance, Candid may likely be your cheapest option.
If you’re getting your teeth straightened, you probably ought to care about more than the cost – other factors matter, like how long you’ll have to use the treatment, if the plan comes with whitening and how good the online reviews are.
|12 to 18 months||Not included||3 stars on TrustPilot|
|~6 months||Not included||4.5 stars on Consumer Advocate|
|4 to 6 months||Included||4.5 stars on Trustpilot|
|3 to 18 months||Included||4.5 stars on Trustpilot|
|2 to 4 months||Included||3 stars on Trustpilot|
|6 to 12 months||No||4.5 stars on Trustpilot|
|~6 months||Included||3 stars on Trustpilot|
Obviously the length of time that it takes to straighten your teeth varies by clear aligner company, with the dentist supervised Invisalign taking, on average, the longest, at 12 to 18 months. ClearCorrect typically takes about six months, and the well known, online brands like Smile Direct Club and alignerco all take a variety of months based on your personal situation.
The major expectation to the amount of time required to get straight teeth is byte – their system takes on average three months. That’s a lot faster than the other players, and it’s because byte has a special tool that you use daily to speed up the process. They call this their “Hyperbyte,” and it’s basically a thing that vibrates your teeth to make the move faster. Yes, it’s a vibrator for your teeth; if you want all the funny jokes you can read them in our Candid vs byte vs Invisalign review.
So, for some people, time IS money, so the cheapest option isn’t just based on the cost, it’s based on the amount of time and effort required to get your teeth straightened. If that’s you, we’d suggest byte, because it’s so much faster than the other options.
Nighttime Teeth Aligner Treatments
As we’ve already discussed, one of the major advantages of the clear aligners is that, well, they’re clear! So your friends and coworkers won’t really easily notice that you are wearing them during the day.
However, some of us don’t want the hassle of wearing the aligners during the day. Perhaps we have jobs where we have to talk a lot and are worried about how we might sound with something in our mouth. Perhaps we were so traumatized by our orthodontic experience in middle school that we are NOT going out of the house with a medical device in our mouths. Maybe we’re broadway singers who have to perform every evening, or were professional football players and have to wear an anti-concussion mouthguard. Well, probably not the last ones, but regardless – even some of the cheapest aligner companies have come up with a solution: nighttime teeth aligners.
These are treatment programs and special teeth aligners that you only wear at night, when you are asleep in the privacy of your own home.
Smile Direct Club Nighttime Clear Aligners vs Byte At-Night
Both Smile Direct Club and byte have their own “night only” aligners. Like the aligners that you wear during the day, these are clear ones that you only wear while you sleep. SDC’s night treatments cost $1,895, while byte’s is $2,245. Smile Direct Club’s nighttime clear’s will take approximately 10 months, while byte’s take less time – 5 to 6 months. This faster time is due to byte’s teeth vibration device, which we mentioned earlier.
Which low-cost clear aligner system is best for your mouth?
If you only care about cost, AlignerCo and NewSmile are the cheapest options, with their treatment and impression kit coming in ~$1,000 or just a smidge over. Plus, they have solid reviews. Visit AlignerCo now to see if they are right for you, or save $150 on NewSmile now.
On the other end of the price spectrum is Invisalign. Remember, if there is anything tricky going on in your mouth or with your medical situation, you should talk to your dentist before beginning any of the cheap, clear at-home aligner systems. Invisalign is still considered the gold standard of clear alignment brands, and because you’ll get in-person, regular checkups with an orthodontist, so that’s the smartest way to go if you have any complications that need dedicated medical care. But it’s going to set you back thousands of dollars more than the other brands that we’ve reviewed here.
A couple of great, middle of the road options that still clock in at a reasonable price are Smile Direct Club and Byte. Both of these brands let you get treated without having to visit any impression center/in-person dentist. Plus, they both have nighttime treatment options for folks who don’t want the inconvenience of having to wear clear aligners during the day, and they both come with whitening.
We really love how byte has innovated and come up with the vibration treatment that reduces the number of months that you have to wear the aligners. Check out byte today and get 70% off their impression kit +$100 off aligners!