Invisalign vs. SmileDirectClub: How They Compare

Clinical Content Reviewed by Byte Licensed DDS
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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. Insurance Reimbursement
  7. Provider Convenience
  8. Comparing Appearance
  9. Comparing Customer Experience
  10. Perks & Benefits
  11. Other Options
  12. References

Invisalign and SmileDirectClub both offer orthodontic treatment with clear and removable aligners that fit over the teeth and apply gentle pressure to move them into place. If you choose either company, your treatment plan will include progressing through a series of aligner trays that will gradually correct your smile and bite.

But while both companies specialize in clear aligners, they are very different in many aspects, including pricing, customer experience, and convenience.

Invisalign aligners are provided through a network of dentists, much like braces, and issues like pricing and guarantees will usually depend on the provider policies.

SmileDirectClub is a direct-to-consumer aligner provider. After receiving an at-home impression kit or going into one of their locations for a tooth scan, you’ll pay a flat fee (or use one of their payment plans) and receive your series of aligners, checking in virtually throughout treatment.

Key facts comparing Invisalign & SmileDirectClub

  • While Invisalign aligners are provided through a network of dentists that require in-office consultations, SmileDirectClub will send your series of aligners directly to you after an in-person tooth scan or at-home impression kit.

  • Invisalign pricing varies depending on your provider and the complexity and severity of your orthodontic problem. It may range from about $4,400 to upwards of $7,000. SmileDirectClub charges a one-time fee of $2,050 and has payment plans that start at $89 a month. 

  • With Invisalign, you’ll start the process with a provider in their network, and you’ll visit them for check-ins and to receive new aligners. With SmileDirectClub, you can choose an in-person tooth scan or an at-home impression kit to start treatment. Then, you’ll receive aligners and check in virtually throughout, so your entire treatment could be completed from home.

  • Invisalign offers more customized treatment and attachments and may be able to address more serious orthodontic problems that SmileDirectClub aligners cannot.

How to get started: comparing the two

Invisalign and SmileDirectClub both offer clear aligner treatment for orthodontic issues, but they use very different business and service models. 

Invisalign offers more supervision from an orthodontist at a higher price. Their customized care and available orthodontic appliances allow for the treatment of not only mild or moderate bite issues, but some more serious ones as well. 

SmileDirectClub aligners treat mild and moderate orthodontic issues. The company offers a much more virtual experience (if you opt for an at-home impression kit, your entire dentist-monitored treatment can be completed from home) at a lower price.

Getting started with Invisalign

Invisalign is a well-known name in aligners, as they are the brand that popularized clear aligner treatment. Like braces, Invisalign aligners are provided by a dentist or orthodontist, and treatment is monitored with in-office visits. 

Pricing or service issues are addressed with your orthodontist. The pricing for Invisalign treatment varies greatly depending on the type of problem you’re addressing, but it can be an expensive option, with some treatment plans costing over $7,000.

How does Invisalign work?

With Invisalign, you’ll begin treatment with an in-person consultation with one of their licensed providers (a dentist or orthodontist). A treatment plan will be created with aligner trays that will be replaced every week or two. Each aligner tray progressively moves your teeth to where they should be. 

Throughout your treatment, you’ll visit your licensed provider to check in on progress and receive new aligners.

Getting started with SmileDirectClub

SmileDirectClub (SDC) is a popular mail-order clear aligner company that provides its products directly to customers. With SDC, you’ll have the choice of an in-person initial consultation or at-home impression kit. After that, you’ll receive your aligners and check in virtually throughout your dentist-monitored treatment. 

Like most direct-to-consumer teeth aligner providers, SmileDirectClub offers straightforward and affordable pricing. Their aligner kits cost $2,050, and they have payment plans starting at $89 a month.

How does SmileDirectClub work?

To begin treatment with SmileDirectClub, you can visit one of their SmileShops across the country for a free tooth scan or order an in-person impression kit (refundable if it’s determined you’re not a candidate for their treatment). You’ll then receive your full series of aligners, wearing each tray for a week or two before moving on to the next one. 

Your treatment will be remotely monitored by a state-licensed dentist or orthodontist, and you’ll check in virtually to ensure treatment is going smoothly.

Treatment timeline: which is quicker?

For both Invisalign and SmileDirectClub, treatment times may vary depending on the severity of your orthodontic issues and other factors.

Invisalign treatment timeline

Invisalign offers a number of different treatment programs and may customize treatments with appliances and longer treatment times when dealing with more complex or severe orthodontic issues. According to their website, treatment time for more mild problems may be as short as six months.

SmileDirectClub treatment timelines

After your in-office tooth scan or the return of your at-home impression kit, SmileDirectClub will ship your aligners directly to you within two to three weeks. According to their website, the majority of SmileDirectClub treatment plans take four to six months.

Professional supervision: are there differences between the two?

One way in which Invisalign and SmileDirectClub operate very differently is in their supervision and support during treatment.

Invisalign supervision & support

With Invisalign, you’ll start your aligner treatment through an in-office consultation with a licensed provider (a dentist or orthodontist). You’ll continue your treatment with that provider, coming into the office for treatment check-ins and to receive new aligners.

SmileDirectClub supervision & support

Your treatment will be monitored and directed by a doctor. About halfway through your treatment, you’ll also begin Smile Check-Ins. For these, you’ll send in pictures of your teeth, so your support team can assess your progress. The check-ins will continue until treatment is complete.

Comparing cost: which is less expensive?

Another major differentiating factor between Invisalign and SmileDirectClub is the price tag. While the cost of Invisalign will vary according to your provider and treatment needs, it’s generally more costly than SmileDirectClub (or most other mail-order clear aligners).

How much does Invisalign cost?

Because Invisalign offers different treatment programs (with different average treatment time and costs), and because pricing also depends on the licensed provider (dentist or orthodontist) overseeing the treatment, it’s difficult to give a cost estimate for Invisalign treatment. 

On their website, they compare their prices to that of braces, and give an example treatment cost as $3,400. According to Forbes, their average treatment cost is around $3,000 to $5,000.

How much does SmileDirectClub cost?

Like most mail-order aligners, SmileDirectClub offers much more straightforward pricing than Invisalign. Their aligner kit costs $2,050 as a one-time payment.

Payment plans are also available with $250 down and monthly payments for $89 or less for 26 months.

Insurance: can you get reimbursed for care?

Whether your dental insurance policy will cover some or all of the costs for your clear aligner treatment will depend on your policy and (in some cases) your need for treatment. 

If your policy has adult orthodontic coverage, and you are looking to treat an orthodontic problem with clear aligner treatment, you may be able to get your insurance to pay for, or reimburse you for, some or all of the cost of treatment. 

In the past, some dental insurance policies would only cover clear aligners that were provided by an in-office dentist or orthodontist. This means treatment with Invisalign, for example, would be covered, but not treatment with Smile Direct Club. 

Today, with the growth of telemedicine and teledentistry, more insurance companies are covering some or all of the costs of at-home aligners too. Several top clear aligner providers, including Byte, have partnered with insurance companies to make getting treatment covered easier than ever before. However, still, in many cases, customers must work with insurance companies on direct reimbursement.

Which provider is more convenient?

In terms of convenience, SmileDirectClub and Invisalign differ greatly. The choice may come down to personal opinion and what one considers convenient.

How convenient is Invisalign? 

  • Some people may appreciate the convenience of having a direct contact (their Invisalign provider) to talk to about any treatment concerns or questions.

  • Because of the in-person checkups, some people may find it easier to stay on track with their aligner wear.

  • It may be less of a hassle to get insurance coverage for in-office aligners like Invisalign with certain dental insurance policies.

How convenient is SDC? 

  • For some, the option to complete orthodontic treatment entirely from home is the ultimate in aligner convenience.

  • SmileDirectClub provides 24/7 access to their dental and support staff.

  • An online account dashboard with tools like aligner progress overview and access to aligner use history make it convenient to track your progress.

  • Smile Check-Ins make it easy to ensure your treatment is advancing as planned.

Comparing appearance: Invisalign vs. SmileDirectClub

Both Invisalign and SmileDirectClub claim exclusive comfort and design attributes when it comes to their clear aligners.

Invisalign clear aligners

According to Invisalign, their clear aligners have the following features:

  • They are made of a patented thermoplastic material called Smart Track (R) material that’s comfortable and easier to put on and take off.

  • The material is clear and flexible for comfort and invisibility.

  • Based on knowledge and testing of raw materials used in their aligners, Invisalign claims not to be aware of any BPA present in their aligners or retainers.

  • They sometimes feature attachments or buttons for improved functionality.

SmileDirectClub clear aligners

SmileDirectClub claims their aligners have these features:

  • They are manufactured in the U.S.A’s largest FDA-cleared clear aligner facility.

  • They are made of BPA-free clear plastic.

  • They feature Comfort Sense ™ technology with soft, medium, and hard plastics for a comfortable fit.

  • They are free of unsightly attachments or buttons.

Comparing the customer experience

For Invisalign, customers will visit their supervising dentist in-office for check-ins and to receive new aligners. In this way, the experience will be similar to going to a dentist or orthodontist.

SmileDirectClub’s approach is more self-directed for customers, with the option for a completely at-home treatment, online treatment management, and remote support.

What can customers expect with Invisalign?

Treatment with Invisalign is more traditional. You’ll go for checkups at a dental practice, in person. You might expect the following:

  • Your office check-ins will be with the dentist or orthodontist who provided the initial consultation.

  • You’ll have direct contact for any treatment concerns or questions. 

  • Your quality of care will depend heavily on which provider you choose.

  • Payments will be handled directly with the provider.

  • Any additional procedures (like x-rays or cleanings) may come with additional costs or co-pays.

What can customers expect with SmileDirectClub? 

SmileDirectClub offers a more modern experience. Customers can expect the following:

  • There is an online account dashboard with access to treatment progress updates and account information.

  • A telehealth dental staff is available around the clock. 

  • Virtual check-ins begin about halfway through treatment.

  • There is access to a dental specialist for any concerns or questions.

What perks & benefits are available?

Because Invisalign customers deal directly with a providing dentist or orthodontist, the benefits and perks will depend on what that provider offers. Some may offer discounts to certain populations (like students or military) or run periodic promotions. If you are considering Invisalign, you can ask your dentist about any upcoming deals.

SmileDirectClub regularly runs promotions, like a free impression kit after rebate. They also have a special perks programs for teens, and they include a free whitening cream in their aligner kit.

What other options are available?

For those seeking more in-office supervision, Candid is an alternative to Invisalign that offers a hybrid treatment option. Their CandidPro dentists meet with you to scan your teeth and create a treatment plan. Your aligners are then sent to you, and you can check in virtually. 

Like Invisalign, Candid’s pricing is not cut and dry. It depends on which provider you choose. Generally, they appear slightly more affordable than Invisalign.

For those looking for the brand recognition that Invisalign offers, but desiring a more convenient, at-home experience, Byte offers unmatched value and a reputation for excellence. Byte offers completely remote doctor-supervised treatment, complete with an at-home impression kit and virtual check-ins. 

Byte also offers straightforward, affordable pricing (and easy payment plans), a Byte for Life guarantee, and an award-winning app. Plus, each of Byte’s aligner kits come with the innovative HyperByte device*. This is a research-backed high-frequency massage tool that may increase comfort and bring results even faster.1 

*Preliminary clinical studies of small groups of users have shown that daily recommended use of a high-frequency seating device functionally equivalent to HyperByte with clear aligners may help with comfort and speed of tooth movement.

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.