Candid vs. SmileDirectClub: A Third-Party Comparison

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Table of Contents

  1. Key Facts
  2. How to Get Started
  3. Treatment Timeline
  4. Professional Supervision
  5. Comparing Cost
  6. Reimbursement for Care
  7. Provider Convenience
  8. Comparing Appearance
  9. Comparing Customer Experience
  10. Alternative Options

SmileDirectClub used to be a competitor for Candid in the at-home aligner space. But SmileDirectClub went out of business in September 2023 when they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and stopped operations.

In 2022, Candid transitioned out of the direct-to-consumer aligner business. Today, they exclusively offer their products via doctors and dentists.

Before this point, these two companies had a lot of similarities and some differences. You can see how they compared below.

Candid vs. SmileDirectClub: A Third-Party Comparison
How to get startedIn personIn person or telemedicine
Treatment timeline6 months4–6 months
Professional supervisionTelemedicineTelemedicine; In person available for emergencies
CostVariesAbout $2,000
ConvenienceVery convenientVery convenient
AppearanceClear alignersClear aligners

Key Facts when Comparing Candid & SmileDirectClub

Both Candid and SmileDirectClub offered clear aligner therapy with a telemedicine option. Before SmileDirectClub went out of business and Candid transitioned to their in-person, doctor-directed model, there were still core differences between the two companies.

Candid and SmileDirectClub differed in the following ways:

  • Price: Candid costs $2,400, while SmileDirectClub costs $2,050.

  • Kickoff: SmileDirectClub has the option of a telemedicine for treatment kickoff, while Candid requires an in-person appointment.

  • Timelines: Candid treatment can take a little longer than SmileDirectClub.

How to Get Started: Comparing the Two

Aligners are medical devices that apply gentle pressure to teeth. Their work is both significant and lasting, and you'll need a professional to oversee the process. SmileDirectClub handled this demand differently than Candid does.

Both companies offered an in-person option to start your journey to a better smile while SmileDirectClub also had a telemedicine option.

Getting started with Candid 

You had to work with a qualified Candid provider, and while there are many, they may not be located close to you. If you live in a small town, or you don't have reliable transportation to a major city, this may not be the right choice for you.

If you can find a provider, you'll sit for an assessment, including dental impressions. That data will help your doctor create your treatment plan. Your team could also help to diagnose health issues that could impair your treatment plan.

How does Candid work? 

Once your treatment plan was approved, your treatment began in earnest. Candid used a telemedicine option, so you wouldn’t visit your doctor in person again.

The Candid company would send you aligners, and you would wear them according to your treatment plan. You would check in with your treatment team via photos, and you would have someone always available at the company to help with questions and concerns. In a few months, you would be done.

Today, Candid works differently via their new CandidPro system. CandidPro is available to patients exclusively via doctors.  

How customers got started with SmileDirectClub

SmileDirectClub provided two main methods to begin your smile journey.

  • In person: Shops were scattered throughout the country, and some were even housed in pharmacies like Walgreens or CVS. It was very easy to get in-person help with impressions if you chose this company.

  • At home: You could also skip in-person appointments and use at-home impression kits instead. You would pay $59 for this option with SmileDirectClub.

How did SmileDirectClub work?

Dental professionals looked over your impressions and provided a 3D model of your current teeth and your future smile. If you approved of the plan, SmileDirectClub would create your trays and send them to you.

You would wear your trays per recommendations, and you would use telemedicine to stay in touch with your dental professional. In a few months, your treatment plan would be completed.

Treatment Timeline: Which is Quicker?

Aligners slide over your teeth, and while they can be slightly uncomfortable, they shouldn't cause intense pain. Even so, few people want to wear them longer than they must. Timeframe differences and a few process options differentiate SmileDirectClub from Candid.

Candid vs. SmileDirectClub: A Third-Party Comparison_1
6 months4–6 months

Candid treatment timeline

Treatment with Candid involved aligners that are worn for 22 or more hours per day. Treatment times vary, but most people need about 6 months to finish the process.

Today, you’ll work with your CandidPro provider to determine your expected treatment timeline.

SmileDirectClub treatment timeline

SmileDirectClub customers needed 4 to 6 months of treatment. And they had two types of care to choose from.

  • Standard aligners: Customers would wear them all the time, except when eating or drinking.

  • Nighttime aligners: Customers would wear them for just 10 hours per day (typically while they were asleep).

Most people will need to wear their aligners for the majority of a 24-hour period.

Professional Supervision: Are there Differences?

Both Candid and SmileDirectClub had qualified professionals capable of giving you the smile you always wanted—and CandidPro still does. But the programs worked a little differently.

Candid vs. SmileDirectClub: A Third-Party Comparison_2
In-person options availableYesKickoff and emergencies only
Available everywhere?Limited by local availabilityYes

Candid supervision & support

A network dentist began your treatment process. You would have an in-person, full-mouth examination and assessment with someone who knew your teeth inside and out. After this sole visit, you would use telemedicine treatment for the remainder of your plan.

Every 14 days or so, you would submit photos to the Candid website. A doctor would look over your progress and reach out if something changed. You could reach out to customer service via the website if something went wrong.

If your treatment went very wrong, you could potentially go back to your dentist for help. But this may not have been required.

With Candid’s current model via their CandidPro system, you’ll be under a doctor’s care the whole time with in-person visits.

SmileDirectClub Supervision and Support

A network of over 200 dentists and orthodontists participated in SmileDirectClub. When customers signed up, they were matched with a professional licensed in their state.

Every 90 days or so, customers would log into the SmileDirectClub for a telemedicine progress report. If they have questions or concerns, they could reach out for support via the website.

Comparing Cost: Which is Less Expensive?

Both SmileDirectClub and Candid were cheaper than braces. But significant cost differences separated them from one another.

DID YOU KNOW Byte aligners may be covered by your insurance–but cost as little as $89 a month even without coverage.

Candid vs. SmileDirectClub: A Third-Party Comparison_3
CostVaries by provider$2,050

How much did Candid cost?

The Candid program cost varied with their direct-to-consumer model, and it still varies now with CandidPro. Dentists and orthodontists can set their own pricing. They can also offer discounts and guarantees.

How much did SmileDirectClub cost?

SmileDirectClub offered two treatment plans:

  • Daytime: Customers wore their aligners most of the day.

  • Nighttime: Customers wore their aligners at night.

Can you get Reimbursed for Care?

Since aligners are medical devices used to correct a legitimate health issue, it's reasonable to expect insurance companies to chip in to cover the cost. But in reality, getting payment can be tricky.

Insurance companies may have rules regarding the following:

  • Necessity: If your teeth are slightly crooked but don't cause harm to your mouth or overall health, aligners may seem like a cosmetic solution rather than one dictated by medical needs. Insurance is more likely to pitch in on the cost if you need your teeth straightened for a medical reason.

  • Authorization: Some companies require a professional (like a dentist) to prove that you need care before they’ll cover the cost.

  • Limits: Some companies will only pay a portion of your bills rather than covering all of them.

Sorting through these questions takes time. CandidPro doctors may be able to advise you on this process of reimbursement.

Which Provider is more Convenient?

Both Candid and SmileDirectClub offered clear aligners to help customers get an optimized smile. But convenience levels varied between the two companies.

Candid vs. SmileDirectClub: A Third-Party Comparison_4
Who answers questions?The Candid team, or your dentist in an emergencyTelemedicine team
How do you stay connected?TelemedicineTelemedicine
Who can participate?Anyone who lives close to a Candid providerAnyone

How convenient was Candid? 

Some people find at-home assessments convenient, but others really want to see someone in person for an exam. Candid's convenience came in the following ways:

  • Detailed kickoff: A dental professional did an exam and took tooth impressions.

  • Online support: The Candid website made it easy for you to talk with your treatment team, get answers to questions, and more.

  • Emergency assistance: If your treatment plan went seriously wrong, you could potentially visit your dentist for help.

How convenient was SmileDirectClub?

SmileDirectClub provided some customization options, so customers could get the help they needed. SmileDirectClub's convenience came in these ways:

  • Options: Customers would kick off their program with an in-person appointment, or use a kit to take impressions of their teeth at home.

  • Telemedicine: Customers would work remotely with their team, so they could skip appointments and long waits.

Comparing Appearance: Candid vs. SmileDirectClub

Clear aligners are not as visible as braces. Both Candid and SmileDirectClub offered clear, plastic aligners, but the appearance could be slightly different. Today, the CandidPro system still offered subtle and discreet aligner options.  

Candid clear aligners 

Candid clear aligners look like this:

  • Cloudy: Trays are slightly frosted. Some say this makes them harder to see. 

  • Variable: Trays are cut to follow the edges of your gums. 

  • Fixed: You don't need appliances to keep trays on your teeth. They snap in place. 

SmileDirectClub clear aligners

Smile Club clear aligners look like this:

  • Clear: Trays are made of clear plastic free of BPA.

  • Square: Trays are cut straight across rather than following your gum line.

  • Fixed: Trays snap on your teeth, so they don’t move.

Comparing the Customer Experience

Both Candid and SmileDirectClub used telemedicine techniques, so people can skip appointments and take care of their teeth at home. But customer experiences between the two companies could vary somewhat.

What customers could expect with Candid 

Candid's process began with a visit to a professional in your city. You would sit for an exam and impressions of your teeth. Their model used to involve a fair amount of telemedicine, but with their newer CandidPro system, these aligners are only available via dental professional offices.  

What customers could expect with SmileDirectClub

SmileDirectClub offered the opportunity for an in-person assessment. Then, customers moved to telemedicine appointments.

What Other Options are Available?

Many companies provide aligner treatments. Both SmileDirectClub and Candid’s original direct-to-consumer model no longer exist. Here are other solid options for at-home aligner treatment:

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.