Invisalign vs. SmileDirectClub: How They Compare

Clinical Content Reviewed by Byte Licensed DDS
Last Modified:

Table of Contents

  1. Key Facts
  2. Treatment Timeline
  3. Professional Supervision
  4. Comparing Cost
  5. Insurance Reimbursement
  6. Provider Convenience
  7. Comparing Appearance
  8. Comparing Customer Experience
  9. Perks & Benefits
  10. Other Options
  11. How to Get Started

SmileDirectClub used to offer at-home aligner treatment, but they went out of business in 2023.

Invisalign offers orthodontic treatment with clear and removable aligners that fit over the teeth and apply gentle pressure to move them into place. Your treatment plan will include progressing through a series of aligner trays that will gradually correct your smile and bite.

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

SmileDirectClub was a direct-to-consumer aligner provider. After receiving an at-home impression kit or going into one of their locations for a tooth scan, customers would pay a flat fee (or use one of their payment plans), receive their aligners, and check in virtually throughout treatment. In September 2023, they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and ceased all operations.

Key facts comparing Invisalign & SmileDirectClub

  • Invisalign is offered through a network of dentists. You visit offices in person for assessment and check-ins.

  • SmileDirect club is no longer in business. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2023.

  • Invisalign pricing varies depending on your provider and the complexity and severity of your orthodontic problem. It may range from about $4,400 to upward of $7,000. SmileDirectClub charged a one-time fee of $2,050.

  • Invisalign offers more customized treatment and attachments. They may be able to address more serious orthodontic problems than SmileDirectClub could.

Comparing the two

Invisalign and SmileDirectClub both offered clear aligner treatment for orthodontic issues, but they used 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 is no longer in business. When they were, they offered aligners to treat mild and moderate orthodontic issues. The company offered a much more virtual experience 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.

How customers got started with SmileDirectClub

SmileDirectClub (SDC) was a popular mail-order clear aligner company that provided its products directly to customers. With SDC, customers had the choice of an in-person initial consultation or at-home impression kit. After that, they would receive their aligners and check in virtually throughout treatment.

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

How did SmileDirectClub work?

To begin treatment with SmileDirectClub, you could visit one of their SmileShops across the country for a free tooth scan or order an in-person impression kit, which was refundable if it was determined you were not a candidate for their treatment. You would then receive your full series of aligners and wear each tray for a week or two before moving on to the next one.

Your treatment would be remotely monitored by a state-licensed dentist or orthodontist, and you would check in virtually to ensure treatment was 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 would ship your aligners directly to you within two to three weeks. SmileDirectClub claimed that the majority of their treatment plans took four to six months.

Professional supervision: are there differences between the two?

Invisalign offers more intense supervision and support than SmileDirectClub did. 

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

For customers of SmileDirectClub, treatment was monitored and directed by a doctor. About halfway through treatment, customers would also begin Smile Check-Ins. For these, they would send in pictures of their teeth, so their support team could assess their progress. The check-ins would continue until treatment is complete.

Comparing cost: which is less expensive?

Another major differentiating factor between Invisalign and SmileDirectClub was the price tag. While the cost of Invisalign will vary according to your provider and treatment needs, it’s generally much more costly than mail-order clear aligner companies (like that previously offered by SmileDirectClub).

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 offered more straightforward pricing than Invisalign. Their aligner kit was priced at $2,050 as a one-time payment.

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

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

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.

If you were a past customer of SmileDirectClub, you can inquire with your insurance company if they will provide any reimbursement for your past treatment. Since the company’s lifetime guarantee is now void (since the company no longer exists), you will likely need to seek treatment from another aligner provider. Ask your insurance provider if they will offer any reimbursement for that care.

Which provider is more convenient?

In terms of convenience, at-home aligner companies and Invisalign differ greatly. SmileDirectClub’s model was more convenient in some ways, but the company is no longer in operation.

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 was SDC? 

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

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

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

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

  • Many of the benefits of their model are available via other at-home aligner treatment companies like Byte.

Comparing appearance: Invisalign vs. SmileDirectClub

Clear aligners are subtle options to straight teeth. While you can see them in certain light, they offer an understated path to a better smile.

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

Before the company went out of business in 2023, SmileDirectClub claimed their aligners had these features:

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

  • They were made of BPA-free clear plastic.

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

  • They were free of 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 did customers expect with SmileDirectClub?

SmileDirectClub offered a different experience based on the telehealth model. Customers expected the following while the company was still operating:

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

  • A telehealth dental staff member was available around the clock.

  • Virtual check-ins began about halfway through treatment.

  • There was 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 ran promotions, but there weren’t options for customers to get their money back after the company went out of business. Their lifetime guarantee doesn’t mean anything at this point since the company no longer exists.

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.