If you are annoyed at the way your teeth are aligned, it’s time to do something about it! You’ve got some great options to get them looking great — several companies, including SnapCorrect and Smile Direct Club, claim to be able to help straighten your smile online. But how do these two teeth aligner companies compare, what do they cost — and do they work?
Invisible teeth aligners might be the right path to a perfect smile. For a lot of people, invisible aligners can adjust and straighten your teeth – just like braces – without the discomfort or embarrassing impact on your appearance. Anyone who’s been a brace-face before understands: metal braces cause some serious pain throughout the treatment period – and require you to visit an orthodontist multiple times during your treatment.
Invisalign® is the biggest name in invisible aligners, and it’s been around since the late 1990s. It’s the first brand name that most people think of when it comes to invisible aligners, but direct-to-consumer teeth alignment startups are beginning to give Invisalign® a run for its money.
Direct-to-consumer aligner startups can beat out Invisalign® when it comes to cost-efficiency and convenience. But, these companies are younger than Invisalign®, with fewer testimonies to back them up. Considering that using one of their products can make a long-term change to your smile (and, as a result, your life!), let’s discuss two of these newer players, SnapCorrect and Smile Direct Club, in detail to see if one is right for you.
First, Let’s Talk Teeth Aligners.
So, metal braces are no longer the only strategy for attaining a straight smile – invisible (usually “plastic”) teeth aligners can do the same job for many people, without all of that metal in your mouth. But, how exactly do they work?
This kind of treatment involves a series of custom-fitted mouthpieces. These are basically little fitted trays that are custom made and that fit tightly over your teeth and work to gradually shift them into the desired position. You’ll typically wear each one for about two weeks, when it will be time for the next one. Each aligner will move your teeth, millimeter by millimeter, until they’re perfectly straight. They are all slightly different, each one designed to take over from the last, as your chompers slowly move into position.
If you’ve never undergone orthodontic treatment, teeth aligner treatment can take anywhere from 10 months to two years, depending on the initial positioning of your teeth. Keep in mind that invisible teeth aligners are also an awesome choice for adults who had braces as a kid, but have experienced mild shifting of the teeth since then. In this scenario, you could achieve that flawless smile in as quick as 10 weeks!
Comparing Invisible Aligners To Braces
If you’re seeking straighter teeth, it’s hard not to wonder whether invisible aligners could be a superior option to traditional braces. The appeal of a removable, invisible tray over a bulky metal appliance is obvious, after all. But, how do these two teeth-straightening options really stack up?
As we compare invisible aligners to braces, keep in mind that braces are usually the best treatment option for individuals with severe tooth or jaw alignment problems. If you have significant dental concerns, visiting an orthodontist will likely be the safest, most effective option for you. If you have any major mouth issues, and are talking with SnapCorrect or Smile Direct Club, make sure you let them know so that they can tell you if their solution will work for your particular situation.
Now, let’s review the main differences between invisible aligners and braces:
Appearance During Treatment
There’s no hiding metal braces. While you can opt for clear rubber bands, metal brackets and wires are locked on your teeth for the extent of your braces treatment. For many people – especially adults – that’s a major disruption in day-to-day life. On the plus side, you probably aren’t in middle school anymore, so it’s probably not going to kick you out of the cool kids club. 🙂
Invisible aligners, on the other hand, are unobtrusive. Made from a clear plastic material, they aren’t typically noticeable and won’t have an impact on your appearance. This makes them a good option for adults with minor teeth configuration issues and who don’t want to have immediately obvious orthodontics happening.
Metal is a weighty material that can cause significant discomfort in braces treatment. Your teeth and gums will be sore after the braces are first applied, and the metal may scratch the inside of your mouth. Wires and rubber bands used in braces treatment put significant pressure on your teeth, which will be uncomfortable until your mouth gets accustomed to it. If you had braces when you were a kid you probably get what the experience will be like.
It’s important to note that invisible aligners aren’t totally discomfort-free, either. They are going to shift the position of your teeth, which can cause pain during treatment. You may also experience a scratching sensation inside of your mouth after you first start wearing them. However, since plastic is less abrasive than metal, this pain will be less intense than what you would experience with braces.
For braces treatment to be safe and effective, you’ll have to wave goodbye to all of your favorite sticky, chewy, crunchy, and otherwise dentally-demanding foods. This includes hard candy, popcorn, caramels, corn on the cob, and even chewy breads like bagels. Crunchy fruits and veggies, like apples and carrots, have to be cut into small pieces for braces-wearers to enjoy. You’ll need to follow these restrictions for the full duration of your braces treatment.
On the other hand, you’ll simply remove your invisible aligner before eating. It’s as easy as that! So, you can keep those chewy foods in the pantry and enjoy corn on the cob at your next cookout – it won’t have any impact on your teeth straightening treatment. Pop out the tray, eat, and put it back in.
On average, braces cost between $5,000 and $6,000. Less expensive braces treatments may cost just $3,000, while pricier ones can cost upwards of $10k.
All three of the DTC invisible aligner companies that we’re spotlighting here – SnapCorrect, SmileDirectClub, and AlignerCo – cost under two grand. That’s a fraction of the cost of braces.
Invisalign® is generally somewhat less expensive than braces, but not by much. In the U.S., the average cost of Invisalign® is between $3,000 and $5,000.
DTC teeth aligners and Invisalign®: What’s the difference?
If you’re deciding between DTC teeth aligners and Invisalign®, your choice will likely come down to your priorities. Will you opt for a higher level of orthodontic care offered by Invisalign or the low cost and convenience of DTC aligners?
1. The Benefits of Orthodontic Care
Now, let’s be clear: while DTC teeth aligners are undeniably affordable and convenient in comparison to Invisalign® or braces, in-person orthodontic care provides unmatched benefits.
For one, the level of individualization in care is far higher when you’re seeing an orthodontist. They’ll have the time to address your unique concerns and make a detailed diagnosis with x-rays and digital scans. When it comes to teeth straightening and jaw alignment, seeing an orthodontist will provide the highest quality in care – period.
That being said, we’re living in a country with sky-high insurance prices and fast-paced, ultra-packed schedules. Sometimes, seeing your orthodontist for an extended treatment plan just won’t fit in the budget or the daily schedule. In this scenario, DTC teeth aligners can provide some significant perks:
As we mentioned above, Invisalign® is only a bit less expensive than braces, costing around $3,000 to $5,000. DTC invisible aligners are a significantly less costly option and lead to the same outcome for most people – a straight, perfect smile!
3. Office Visits
With DTC aligner treatment, you don’t have to head back to your dental or orthodontic office for regular visits. But, you can only receive Invisalign® through a specially licensed dentist or orthodontist, which means that you’ll have to dole out cash for office visits throughout the treatment period. Generally speaking, Invisalign® requires in-office check-ins with your orthodontist every 6 to 8 weeks — those copays can add up. On the one hand, you are seeing a real “mouth doctor” in person. On the other, that’s a lot of time and money to see them every few weeks.
SnapCorrect vs Smile Direct Club vs AlignerCo: Which one is right for you?
SnapCorrect, Smile Direct Club, and AlignerCo are three established competitors in the race to become the best DTC clear aligner brand. At first glance, they all have pretty similar benefits. However, there are some places where they are different – the main factors that differentiate them are price and treatment time frame.
SnapCorrect and AlignerCo also emphasize the clear, comfortable design of their aligners, which we’ll talk about in more detail below. AlignerCo also has several payment options that may reduce the cost to people who have more flexibility to pay bigger amounts (vs. the other two players who offer up front payment or straight financing options). AlignerCo is also, generally, the most affordable option we’ve seen.
SnapCorrect vs Smile Direct Club vs AlignerCo: Comparing Teeth Aligners
|Cost of Aligners||$1749||$1950||$1145 – $1320|
|Cost of Impression Kit||$95||$49||$39.99|
|Cost of Retainers||Free with aligners||$99||Free with aligners|
|Payment Plan||Starts at $80.84/month||$89/month||$95 – $110/month|
|Time Spent Per Day||20 to 22 hours||22 hours||20 to 22 hours|
|Treatment Time Frame||3 to 18 months||4 to 6 months||6 to 12 months|
|Review by Professional||Licensed dentist, orthodontist, or dental technician||Licensed dentist or orthodontist||Licensed orthodontists|
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Now, let’s break down each brand in more detail:
SnapCorrect Truly Invisible Aligners
SnapCorrect advertises “truly invisible aligners” for a single price pay of $1,749. The company also offers a payment plan that starts at $80.84 per month, which is based on a purchase price of $1,749 at 10% APR for 24 months. Rates range from 10 to 30% APR.
With SnapCorrect, you’ll make your impressions at home and send them back to a lab. The impression kit isn’t included in the price of the aligners and will cost you an extra $95 (or $45 on special, which SnapCorrect frequently offers – click here now to see if they are offering the special). In addition to taking the impressions, you’ll need to upload pictures of your teeth to the SnapCorrect system for review. Afterwards, your trays are shipped to your doorstep in a kit that includes a free retainer and whitening products to further improve your smile.
Treatment plans through SnapCorrect are created by their dental team, which consists of dentists, dental technicians, and orthodontists. Their aligners should be worn for 20 to 22 hours per day, and the treatment length ranges from 3 to 18 months, with 9 to 10 months being the average.
One of SnapCorrect’s big marketing points is that their aligners are clearer than competing options. On their site, you’ll see photos of aligners from Snap Correct, Invisalign®, and SmileDirectClub. SnapCorrect is visibly clearer with contoured edges; the other options look opaque and textured. When you read the SnapCorrect reviews, you’ll see that a lot of people appreciate how their trays are less conspicuous and look truly invisible.
SnapCorrect also doesn’t use 3D printers, allowing their aligners to fit more closely to your teeth. You’ll notice that SnapCorrect aligners have contoured edges, rather than the raised borders seen with SmileDirectClub’s aligners. The company says that this creates a more snug and comfortable fit.
Smile Direct Club's Invisible Teeth Aligners
Smile Direct Club has emerged as one of the most well-known DTC clear aligner companies. Their aligners are made from 3D-printed, BPA-free plastic and the average treatment time is just 4 to 6 months. This super-short treatment time frame is particularly appealing to consumers today. Additionally, all their treatment plans are reviewed, altered as needed, and approved by a licensed dentist or orthodontist.
In addition to their original, 22-hour-a-day aligners, Smile Direct Club offers Nighttime Clear Aligners for added flexibility. These clear aligners are worn for just 10 hours each night, and the treatment lasts for 10 months on average. They’re an awesome option for anyone who wants to straighten their teeth without the commitment of all-day wear. Both the original clear aligners and nighttime clear aligners from Smile Direct Club are priced at $1895 total, or $85 per month.
Smile Direct Club gives you two options for taking teeth impressions: book an in-person visit to one of their “SmileShops” or order a remote impression kit. SmileShop locations can be found in all 50 U.S. states, Canada, and Puerto Rico. An in-person SmileShop visit is free, while the impression kit costs $49. After you complete either option, you’ll get to see a free 3D preview of your projected post-treatment smile. From there, you can order your clear aligners.
Their kit also includes “Chewies” with your treatment to help fit your clear aligners for better comfort. Chewies are pieces of rubber that you simply chew on for 10 to 15 minutes, two or three times a day, until you reach the perfect aligner fit.
AlignerCo Teeth Aligners
AlignerCo is unique in that it offers three different plan options: SmileAdvantage, SmileFlex, and SmileFlex Easy. SmileAdvantage is the most affordable plan at $1,145 total, but it must be made as a one-time payment. SmileFlex is an installment plan including 12 installments of $110, for a total of $1,320. SmileFlex Easy also totals $1,320, but in an installment plan of $95 per month for 11 months, along with a $275 down payment. All plans include an impression kit, aligners, retainers, an orthodontist prescription, and shipping.
With AlignerCo, you’ll start by taking your dental impression at home with the impression kit. Then, you’ll send the impression back to AlignerCo, where their team of orthodontists will draw up your personal treatment plan.
AlignerCo treatment generally lasts from six to twelve months. You should wear your aligners for 20 to 22 hours per day, depending on your prescribed treatment plan.
AlignerCo boasts super-clear aligners that are trimmed to the gum line. This allows for a close, comfortable fit. The material used for these aligners is FDA-approved and created by RaintreeEssix, Inc. USA, a manufacturing company that specializes in dental appliances and equipment.
The Verdict: Which D2C Invisible Aligners are right for you?
When it comes to choosing between SnapCorrect, Smile Direct Club, and AlignerCo, the right option depends on what you’re looking for. If affordability is your main worry, AlignerCo offers the lowest prices on invisible aligners around. For in-person impressions, Smile Direct Club has the largest number of physical locations available. We’d also recommend Smile Direct Club for anyone who’d rather straighten their teeth overnight, which is now possible with their Nighttime Clear aligners.
When it comes to SnapCorrect, we like that their aligners are super clear and conform to your gum line. This’ll provide a comfortable fit for aligner wearers. Otherwise, SnapCorrect is pretty middle-of-the-road as far as price and treatment time (though we love that they provide retainers for free).
While you’re researching aligners, you should check out this list of the cheapest teeth aligner brands that we put together. While there are lot of options on the market, we also recommend you check out Byte which has thousands of happy customers and can help straighten teeth faster for less than $2k all in.
Have you given invisible aligners a shot? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!