Attention: After SmileDirectClub initiated Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings on September 29, 2023, the brand decided to shut down its global operations on December 2023. The company has informed through its site that it won't continue to sell any products to new customers. Regarding previous customers, SmileDirectClub won't provide any further customer care or guidance with their alignment journey, regardless of the phase of their treatment.
Founded on 2014, Smile Direct Club is a teledentristy company based in Nashville and one of the best invisible braces companies reviewed. When we started reviewing Smile Direct Club, the first thing we noticed was their positive reviews. They really want to help people improve their lives by aligning their teeth and they care for what customers say.
The company has continued to achieve success with their teeth aligners and that growth has lead to improving and differentiating in some areas. In fact, the company was the first one of its kind, that has locations across the country. Those shops are used to obtain 3D images of your teeth, rather than trying to do that part yourself. The cool thing here is that they give you the option of doing it by yourself at home and then send it over to them or if you find it easier, can go to any of their local stores and they’ll do the “teeth work” for you.
What is Smile Direct Club?
Let’s start from the beginning, What is Smile Direct Club? It is the oldest of the new era teeth aligning companies that are emerging nowadays. They started offering this service in 2014 so they have been changing people’s smiles for 7 years now.
They create a 3D impression of your teeth which is examined by one of their orthodontists to calculate the perfect position of each one of your teeth and design your custom-made clear plastic teeth aligners to get a straighter smile in a certain period of time, depending on how severe your misaligning is.
It is important to mention that not everyone is a good fit for Smile Direct Club, there are some cases in which a visit to an orthodontist is needed. Not everything can be treated with plastic teeth aligners. This kind of invisible teeth aligners are more appropriate for small imperfections like mild to moderate teeth crowding or teeth spacing. Also, you can be a perfect candidate if wearing braces you didn’t use your retainers and your teeth have started to slightly move again.
The Clear Aligner Impression Kits
If after filling the 30 second Smile Assessment on Smile Direct Club’s website, you turn out to be a good candidate, you can continue with the procedure.
As all companies do, Smile Direct Club needs to have a 3D modeling of your mouth to study your case and to make sure that they can transform your teeth into the perfect smile they claim. In order to do so, Smile Direct Club gives you the option of rather going to any of their shops and they’ll do the modeling for FREE or ordering an impression kit for you to do it at home.
If there isn’t any shop near or you can’t just make it to an appointment you’re forced to order the initial impression kit, it comes with two sets of trays to obtain the model and simple instructions on how to take the pictures needed. Once you’re done with the kit, they’ll have it picked up.
If it turns out that you’re not a valid candidate, they’ll refund you with the kit cost.
Also, it is worth to mention that it can take 2 or 3 tries to get the impression kit correct.
Send you instructions in a starter packet upon payment, describing the steps you need to take to obtain the impressions they need to approve or deny you for aligners, as well as to design your custom aligners if you are approved. Most of the time, it takes 2-3 tries before you succeed and the company requires you to send it back and/or take pictures too. In fact, a lot of the impression kits that companies use do not fit properly enough to obtain a good reading… at least it doesn’t for many people.
We had to try three times, sending the kit to their offices. This, as sais, happens with all the companies, that’s why is such a handy feature to have physical stores where they can do our 3D impressions.
The Smile Direct Club SmileShops™
Smile Direct Club shops eliminate the hassles of facilitating your own teeth impression. You simply visit one of the nearest SmileShops™ and they will perform a 3D image of your teeth. If a shop is not close enough to be convenient, their impressions kits are well-designed to help reduce errors.
In going back to customer service part, Smile direct Club is fast to respond, whether that includes a review, an email, or a phone call. I like how they respond to everyone, including people that have complaints. They are not afraid to help you. Perhaps that is one of their secrets to their continued success. It’s obvious that they care and want to ensure that everyone has a great experience and great results.
Aligner Modeling Kits
Their modeling kits are only *$49 and that pricing is the same when visiting one of their SmileShops™. That cost is refundable if the orthodontist determines that you do not qualify for online teeth aligners.
Their invisible aligners are *$2,950. Optional payment plans require *$250 down payment and only *$89 per month for 26 months.
Their retainers (used following your aligner program) are only *$99 per set.
The length of time you wear your aligners is typically 6 or more months. One of their experienced orthodontists will determine the duration you need upon review of your 3D images.
Smile Direct club serves customers in the US.
Customer experiences vary from one client to the next, but most of them end with a positive outcome and many of those customers leave positive reviews. The biggest takeaway from using online teeth aligners from Smile Direct Club is the cost savings. Some people have had discomfort with their aligners, but that is normal no matter what company you purchase them from. During peak times, service may slow down a little and response times can vary, but that is definitely better than no responses from other companies. The good news here is that they make every attempt to respond to everyone, whether it is a positive inquiry or a negative one. That is what a reputable business should do!
Comparison of Smile Direct Club to Other Clear Aligner Providers
|1st one Free
|1st one Free, then $99 per set
|1st one Free
|Yes. The plan starts at $58/mo. for 36 months at 0% interest.
|Yes, as low as $99 for 24 months through Affirm®, 10-30% APR, possible down payment.
|Yes, 6,12, & 24-months through Affirm, 10-30% APR, possible down payment
|Yes, as low as $62 for 36 months
|Other Payment Options
|Yes, also accepts FSA and HSA.
|Yes, with FSA & HSA
|Yes, also accepts FSA and HSA.
|Yes, also accepts FSA and HSA.
|Cost: Impression Kit or Digital Scan
|$139 per kit
|$95 per kit
|Retainers are Free
|$95 per kit
|Depends on the provider.
|Free Retainers & Teeth Whitening
|Premium whitening treatment with aligner purchase
|Premium whitening kit, aligner case with aligner purchase
|BrightByte 3-in-1 Teeth Whitening Foam, HyperByte Vibration Tool & Aligner Case
How Smile Direct Club Works
Getting teeth aligners at home is fairly simple, but it does require specific procedures in order to obtain them. Smile Direct Club strives to make the process as simplified as possible. Therefore, they offer two ways to get started.
Step 1: Purchase and Impression Kit or Get 3D Images at a SmileShop™
Most companies offer an impression kit that you complete and send back to them for review. One of their dental professionals reviews your impressions and/or photos to determine your eligibility for aligners. Smile Direct club offers that, but they also offer shops called SmileShops™ where you can schedule an appointment for 3D images rather than wait for your impression kit in the mail.
The shops provide accurate results compared to the impression kits, which is why Smile Direct Club was chosen as a one of the best clear aligners provider. You see, the impression kits you get from many companies do not always fit your mouth effectively and lead to several tries and several kits before you get an acceptable impression. 3D images of your teeth provide highly accurate reflections of your mouth so that the professional dentist can make a decision efficiently.
Step 2: Purchase Your Teeth Aligners Online
Once a dental professional has approved you for clear aligners, you purchase them on their website. This part takes some time because they have to custom manufacture them to your specific needs, the ones that were established by the dental professional. They will “keep in touch” during the whole process.
Step 3: Purchase Retainers Online
After you have finished your aligner program (usually 6 months or more), you need to purchase aligners to hold your “NEW” smile in place. Otherwise, the teeth may just fall back to where they were within your gums.
Final Results: Smile Direct Club Before and After
Results can vary from one person to the next, but there seem to be many satisfying smiles from people that have used Smile Direct Club aligners and retainers. Your assigned dental professional will review your teeth towards the end of your program to determine if you need any more alignment adjustments. That is an important step to complete before moving on to using retainers.
How Much Does Smile Direct Club Cost?
If you tally up the costs listed above, your total would be *$2,050 for the 3D scans or the impression kit plus your aligner package. We didn’t add the cost of retainers because that can vary person to person. However, they are *$99 a set. If you need to apply for a payment plan, the cost reflects financing charges, which would generally tally up to about *$2,560 excluding retainer costs. That’s not much of a difference in price between an upfront payment and a payment plan, but that is mostly because they offer in-house financing.
Get Your Smile Direct Club Teeth Aligners At Home
In the end, you can have a great smile without the expensive costs of a traditional orthodontist. There are no routine visits that cost money and time, no expensive pricing for your aligners, and no gas expense. Smile Direct Club strives to bring your smile to life so they follow you throughout the program to ensure that everything is working out as planned. Sometimes, adjustments or altered wear times do occur. However, that is well worth the results you receive and you have a company that treats your teeth as if they were their own.
*Pricing is subject to promotions and adjustments. We cannot guarantee accuracy.
MY SmileDirectClub™ Clear Aligners Timeline
May 15, 2021: Qualifying for Invisible Aligners
I went to smiledirectclub.com on Tuesday the 15th and clicked the “Am I A Candidate” button to see if invisible aligners were right for me and to see if I could actually use them. It only took one minute to answer the few questions it asked. The questions were rather simple to answer. It basically wanted to know why I want clear aligners, what problem I was facing (crowded, gaps, general straightening, etc.), and how bad my situation was (mild and moderate, medium, or severe). The last question required my email to send results, but I didn’t look at the message because the questionnaire went straight to a congratulations page stating that I am a good candidate. Awesome! Time to move on.
About the Impression Kit and 3D Scans
The Congratulations page gave me two choices to get started. The first was to visit a SmileDirectClub SmileShop for a FREE 3D scan of my teeth and gums. The second was to order an impression kit, which was only $49 instead of the normal $99. I chose the second option and it also included FREE overnight shipping. Now, I just have to wait for the order to be processed and shipped to my door.
May 21, 2021: Impression Kit Arrives
Since SmileDirectClub shipped the impression kit with overnight shipping, I received it on Monday the 21st. I like that they send it through overnight shipping. I know some brands take as long as a week to get the kit, so I was happy with that little benefit.
What Is in The Impression Kit?
The kit included two sets of impression trays, two sets of putty where each set gets mixed together, a smile spreader for good teeth pictures, and instructions that tell you how to generate the best results.
May 22, 2021: Created my Teeth Impressions and Photos
Using the instructions that came with my impression kit, I created my impressions on Wednesday the 22nd and packed them up and sent them out in the prepaid FedEx packaging as instructed. I also followed the online photo assessment instructions. Overall, it wasn’t that difficult of a process to do since I read the instructions carefully and followed all steps properly. There are also some helpful videos on their website, and they offer online sessions to help people obtain good impressions, but I didn’t really need any of that.
May 29, 2021: My Impression Kit Got Me Approved for Clear Aligners!
SmileDirectClub sent me an email on this Tuesday stating that I was approved for invisible aligners. It also specified that it can take 7-10 business days to receive my treatment details, which would include the duration, images of the before results and the results I will achieve, as well as other relevant information. Since the approval for treatment was rather quick, I was hoping that this would be too.
Jun 5, 2021: My Treatment Details Arrived
I received an email that included my treatment plan information and images to show what my smile will look like if I successfully complete the program. I love that they automate the process and communicate through email at every step. It’s always good to be informed so that you are not in the dark wondering where everything stands.
Processed Payment for My Invisible Aligners Package
Now that I have the details of my treatment plan and was approved to move forward, I processed the payment for my clear aligners online. I didn’t want to deal with financing, so I just used my credit card, although it may be cheaper in the end to use financing versus having credit card interest. I was busy on Monday, so I did it on the 5th, which was Tuesday.
Jun 8, 2021: SmileDirectClub Clear Aligners Get Processed
Once again, I received an email letting me know that they started the process of making my clear aligners. They stated that it could take up to 3 weeks to get manufactured and delivered to my door. That’s not a bad wait time at all considering they have to custom make my clear aligners along with hundreds of others and allow transit time to deliver them. Currently, three days have passed.
Jun 12, 2021: Update on My Clear Aligner Making Process
On this Tuesday, I received another email stating that my clear aligners were in the molding stage. I like getting regular updates on my invisible aligner order. That way, I know the status of my aligners, and I am not left in the dark wondering where we stand with the order.
Jun 26, 2021: Clear Aligners Shipped
Exactly three weeks later following my order (how ironic), I got an email update letting me know that my invisible aligners shipped. It only took 21 days if you count the day of purchase. Which was perfectly even with the three-week range they specified. Of course, it could vary from person to person and location too. They provided a tracking number, so I knew when I was getting my clear aligners at home. There seems to be a pattern here with Tuesdays. How funny is that?
Jun 30, 2021: Invisible Aligners Delivered to My Home
As I watched the tracking information, I was able to plan for my aligners to arrive today, Saturday the 30th. Shipping was fast, and the manufacturing process went really quick too. I received all the aligner sets, so there was no waiting period for the next shipment to be delivered. In fact, they sent me a retainer case. I also received teeth whitening gels and some gum-like “chewies” for seating my new aligners over my teeth effectively. I was happy to receive the whitening gels because I wanted to compare the effectiveness between Snow vs Smile Direct teeth whitening.
So far, I am happy with their service. It’s always great when clear aligner companies take time to keep you updated on every step of the invisible aligner process, letting you know how they are made and how everything is being handled from the impression kit to the aligners. Most do not do such a thing!
July 1, 2021: I Began My Clear Aligner Schedule
The next day, which was this particular day, I reviewed all the content in my package including the directions and recommendations. I figured Sunday was a good day to break out the box and look everything over and even get started on using my first set of aligners. They felt a little uncomfortable at first, but SmileDirectClub said that you will feel some discomfort during the initial 1 or 2 days of inserting new aligners. It is because they need to effectively position themselves to start moving your teeth. But after that, they are not bad at all. I also got used to eating and drinking with them in, even though I knew I could remove them but shouldn’t.
July 3, 2021: Wearing Clear Aligners Has Become Almost Normal
After wearing them for two days (again, it’s Tuesday), I began to feel minimal discomfort because my teeth had started moving and my mind and mouth adjusted to using clear aligners. I gained a slight lisp when using aligners, but I have easily adjusted to it without much trouble. At first, I was a little concerned about discomfort, but now, I have no concerns and almost feel as if I am not even wearing invisible aligners at all.
July 8, 2021: Installed My Second Set of Clear Aligners
According to my Smile Direct aligners schedule, I was supposed to wear the first and second set for one week. After that, I needed to wear them for two weeks at a time. Therefore, the first two sets were the toughest to wear, although I didn’t struggle much as I previously mentioned. The lisp started to get better for me, probably because my mind and muscle control adjusted to it and it became the norm.
July 17, 2021: The Dog Chewed My Aligners
At this point, I totally forgot to replace my second set of clear aligners. It was already two days past due. Well, I guess it is another Tuesday! I think my brain said to wait. In any case, I rushed to get the third set out and I got a phone call. The next thing you know, my dog Matdye (pronounced Mattie) got ahold of them and chewed them up.
Keep Your Most Recently Used Aligners
At some point, somewhere in the entire aligner process, I recall Smile Direct stating that I should keep my last-used pair of aligners when replacing them so that if something happened, I could go back to using them until the next aligner set was due to be installed. Luckily, I had my backups in hand that were actually just removed a short period ago on this so-called Tuesday. I reinstalled them and kept on moving forward with my clear aligner process. If you take nothing away from this review, at least remember to keep your old ones! On the other side of the topic, just keep ONE pair and replace them each time you change your aligners. They gave me an aligner case, and I needed it for my current pair while traveling so I just bought a small container at the drug store and used that for the old ones. Of course, I also cleaned and sanitized it every time I replaced the aligners that were inside. You only have to keep them for two weeks anyway before the next ones move in.
Oct 1, 2021: My Assigned Smile Direct Club Orthodontist Checks in On Progress
So far, 93 days have passed, and my assigned orthodontist at SmileDirectClub checked in with me on this Monday to see how everything is going. It seems that I was on track and making progress. Hooray for Me! I can’t wait until I see the final results. Oh, and I forgot to mention that my teeth alignment treatment was designed to be a 6-month treatment plan. At this point, we are halfway through the process.
Nov 18, 2021: Personal Check-In on Progress
On this Sunday, I installed my 12th pair of Smile Direct invisible aligners, counting the first two with seven-day durations. Before I installed them, I checked my current results and compared them to where they were before I began my aligner treatment. It’s always hard to tell, but I did notice good progress. My teeth spacing appeared closer together, and the crookedness also looked a little better. My program was going to be finished in January 2022, so I was getting nervous, but I remained optimistic because the speed of alignment and movement can vary from aligner to aligner.
Dec 3, 2021: Ordering Clear Retainers
In my Smile Direct invisible aligners package, it told me to contact them around 4-5 weeks before my treatment was over to order retainers. That way, I have them (at least one pair) to immediately use after my aligner treatment is complete. This is an important step because your teeth can easily slip back into their old position if not handled properly or at the least, slip back some. Therefore, I called them and ordered two sets of retainers.
Smile Direct Club Retainers Are Not Free
Many other invisible aligner companies offer the first set of retainers free, which is one thing I did not like about Smile Direct. But I went ahead and ordered two so that I have a second set.
Dec 28, 2021: My Smile Direct Club Retainers Arrived
On Friday the 28th, my SmileDirectClub retainers arrived. I safely stored them until my aligner schedule was completed. They stated that it can take up to 3 to 4 weeks to deliver your aligner order and it took 25 days to get mine. Hey, that’s kind of weird that it took 25 days and December 25 is Christmas. How ironic that is. Anyhow, that delivery time fell just short of the 4-week mark by three days, but that counts Christmas too.
Dec 30, 2021: My Last Pair of Aligners
Sunday, Dec 30th was the last day to put fresh aligners in and it was to be worn for two weeks until Jan 13, 2022. Of course, I still kept my last ones in case something happened to the current ones, but I managed to get through the two weeks just fine.
Jan 14, 2022: Hooray for The Final Day of My Teeth Aligner Schedule
Yesterday, the 13th, was the final day for wearing my Smile Direct invisible aligners. I got so used to wearing them that it felt rather funny not having them in on this day, January 14th. Hmm, maybe I should have just worn them through Tuesday the 15th since that seemed to be the common day throughout my process. Anyhow, it felt so bare not wearing teeth aligners. I grabbed one of my two aligner sets and put them in. That kind of helped with the bareness I felt from not having aligners in my mouth, but they are so comfortable when compared to aligners. In reality, they can make you feel a little soar at first, but that didn’t seem to bother me since I knew their purpose.
How Long Should You Wear Retainers After Aligners?
SmileDirectClub specifies that you should wear your retainers for six months at a time and then replace them. They also state that you need to wear them 24 hours a day for the first two weeks after you complete your aligner schedule and then you only need to wear them when you go to sleep.
Many aligner users stop wearing retainers after one or two full years, which is two or four sets. However, it is recommended that you wear them for life. Regardless of your decision, you only have to wear them to bed, so it is not a big issue. You may have successfully aligned your teeth through your invisible aligner treatment plan, but your teeth will always have the capability to shift back. I didn’t really find the retainers to be an issue, especially since I want to maintain that beautiful smile I worked so hard to get!
On another note, I know that most people will finish their aligner schedule, but not everybody will have the results they expected. I am thankful that I did. But if you don’t have the look you desired, you just contact them and get started on obtaining a new teeth aligner program which often lasts for 2-4 months depending on your particular situation.
Smile Direct Club costs $1950, and if you choose the monthly payment, it’s $89 a month for 24 monthly payments with a down payment of $250. Although that’s not all, you’ll also have to pay the impression kit ($49), and the set of retainers after you finish your treatment ($99.)
Yes, it is. But Smile Direct Club doesn’t accept payments from dental insurances. You have to pay for the treatment first and, after that, your insurance will reimburse the money after you paid for your treatment (if your dental plan provides orthodontic benefits.)
Smile Direct Club treatment works like almost every teeth aligner. A dental team designs your treatment based on the impressions you sent to them; this treatment consists of a set of clear aligners that will slowly move your teeth until they’re entirely straight. Every couple of weeks, you will change your teeth aligner to another with a slight difference that makes your teeth move in the right way.
On average, Smile Direct aligners treatment takes (approx.) 4 to 6 months. But if you have chosen the nighttime version, it will take a bit longer due to the fact that you wear the aligners only at night.
Smile Direct Club only treats mild to moderate teeth or jaw misalignment, for example, tooth gaps, crowding, or rotations. Considering that, you’ll have to take a survey, what they call “Smile Assessment” and a remote impression or 3D image in a SmileShop to determine if your case is “right” to SmileDirectClub’s treatment.
It’ll depend on the case. Some cases can be treated even though there are missing teeth, but others don’t. You’ll have to take the Smile Assessment and teeth impression so the dental team can decide on your treatment. If your case can’t be treated with Smile Direct Club aligners, don’t worry about the money spent in the impression kit or scan, it’s fully refundable.
Enter the Smile Direct Club locations page and make there an appointment with the nearest SmileShop by clicking on “Book a visit”.
If you have lost your aligners, don’t worry, there’s a solution. First, you’ll have to call customer service (800-688-4010); they will ask you some questions about your treatment to know what to recommend. A dental professional will then evaluate your case and tell you what to do: whether it is to start with the next set of aligners or to ask for a replacement (replacements cost $99). Every case will be different.