So, you're wondering about SmileDirectClub? This remote, aligner braces brand launched in the UK in 2019 and now offers Brits a way to get straighter teeth without the expense and inconvenience of visiting a dentist.
Sounds great, right? Not only can SmileDirectClub help you save time and money, but the aligners they use are nearly invisible – a big improvement on traditional metal braces. But before you sign up, you're probably wondering whether remote orthodontic treatment is safe – and if it really works.
Good news! You've come to the right place. In this article, we'll let you know all about SmileDirectClub UK by answering the following questions:
- How does SmileDirectClub work?
- What does SmileDirectClub cost in the UK?
- Is this treatment safe?
- What are the differences between SmileDirectClub and Invisalign aligners?
- What do SmileDirectClub users say?
We'll cover all this and more, so get ready to be an informed consumer!
Table of contents
What is SmileDirectClub?
SmileDirectClub (SDC) is a “teledentistry” company that offers a cheaper alternative to braces and in-person aligner treatments by dealing directly with consumers. The company is based in the US, where it is a well-known name in this kind of at-home orthodontic treatment.
This is how the process works:
- You use a dentist prescribed, at-home kit to make an impression of your teeth, or visit one of their SmileShop locations to get 3D scans
- A dentist or orthodontist checks your eligibility and prescribes your entire treatment
- You approve the plan, which includes a 3D render of the before and after of your smile
- You receive all your clear aligners in the post around 4-5 weeks later
- Every week or two you switch to a new pair of aligners as they gradually move your teeth
- Once treatment is complete, use SmileDirectClub retainers to maintain your smile
SDC can keep its prices low because there are no physical dental practices involved. Instead, an experienced dentist or orthodontist plans your treatment using digital scans and supervises your progress remotely, checking every 90 days to see if your teeth are moving as planned.
This can be an appealing option since it takes the hassle out of missing work or school to take trips to the dentist. However, there are some potential downsides to having your teeth straightened without regular face-to-face check-ups, especially if your case is more complex.
SmileDirectClub aligners are designed for minor to moderate teeth correction, so if your case falls into one of these categories, then it could still be a good choice for you. The easiest way to find out is to do their online assessment to find out if you're a candidate for treatment.
SmileDirectClub UK offers two treatment options. You must wear the standard clear aligners for 22 hours a day, and treatment takes four to six months on average. You must remove your aligners while eating or drinking anything except water. Also remember to clean your teeth and aligners before replacing them after eating or drinking.
There is also a SmileDirectClub night time option which only requires you to wear your aligners for 10 hours a day, but treatment takes around 10 months. Both options cost the same and follow the same process.
The standard option is great for people who want to get fast results and are fine with wearing their aligners pretty much all day. They are almost invisible, after all. But for those who would rather not wear aligners during the day, and are ok with the treatment taking longer overall, the night time option could be better.
SmileDirectClub currently has seven permanent SmileShop locations around the UK:
- Birmingham – Bullring
- Leeds – Trinity Centre
- London – Aldgate
- London Kensington – Hilton Hotel
- London Oxford Circus – Kenilworth House
- Manchester Cross Street
- Glasgow – Buchanan Galleries
If you visit a SmileShop, a representative there will create a 3D scan of your teeth. A dentist then uses this to check that you are suitable for these aligners and plan your treatment. During your visit, you'll also be able to ask questions you have about the treatment.
You don't actually get to meet a dentist or orthodontist in person though, which some argue is a big downside to teledentistry companies like SDC. However, for those that don't enjoy visiting a dental practice and would prefer not to, it can be an advantage.
You don't have to visit a SmileShop in order to get started with your treatment, either. There is also the option to order an impression kit which is sent to your home. You then take your own teeth impressions using dental putty and post them off to be assessed.
This process takes a while longer, and if you don't get the impressions quite right, you may end up having to purchase another kit. However, it's a convenient option if you don't live near a SmileShop or prefer to do everything from home.
This short video shows how to take your impressions at home if you decide to go down this route:
Does SmileDirectClub Work?
Invisible aligner braces are not a new concept; big names like Invisalign and ClearCorrect have been successfully straightening teeth for over two decades. The question is more about the efficacy and safety of at-home braces where you never meet face-to-face with an orthodontist and you might even have to take your own teeth impressions at home.
Naturally, the professional dental community has shown some scepticism about SmileDirectClub and other similar companies. But to what degree is this genuine concern, as opposed to them wanting to suppress a business model which cuts them out of the process?
SmileDirectClub has thousands of happy customers across the globe. You only have to check some SmileDirectClub feedback to see that many people are happy with their results. And in cases that require mild-to-moderate correction, SDC can be very effective.
If you need more significant alignment, however, it's probably a good idea to visit an orthodontist in person and have regular check-ups. You can still choose clear aligners, but you'll have the reassurance that your treatment is being monitored and tweaked throughout by a specially trained professional.
Is SmileDirectClub safe?
Every single SDC case is prescribed, directed, and monitored by a UK-registered dentist with five or more years of experience. So yes, SDC treatment is a safe and well-practised model of teledentistry.
However, there are some potential problems that could arise from not having an in-person dental assessment. We'd recommend that you have a full dental check-up, including teeth cleaning if necessary, before beginning any kind of aligner treatment. Mention to your dentist that you are planning to get aligners so they can make you aware of any potential problems with gum disease or untreated cavities.
How much does SmileDirectClub cost in the UK?
The SmileDirectClub UK price is fixed at £1,639. There is an extra charge if you choose to use an impression kit, and you'll need to pay for retainers to keep your teeth straight after treatment.
For a limited time, SmileDirectClub is offering an impression kit for just £10 but the regular price is £39.
Once your treatment is complete, you will need to wear retainers to maintain your smile, which cost £80. You can refresh your retainer every six months, but each new set will cost you £80.
SmileDirectClub also offers a Lifetime Smile Guarantee™ which protects customers teeth for life with aligner touch-ups during treatment, or even longer after it ends. As long as you replace your SmileDirectClub retainers every six months and wear them as prescribed, you qualify for a free aligner touch-up each year if you need one.
How much is SmileDirectClub monthly?
If you can't afford the full cost upfront, there is the option to pay in instalments. With monthly payments of £69.43, the total cost works out at £1,805.19 if you pay this way (not including impression kit or retainers).
The cost of SmileDirectClub in the UK is advertised on their website as 60% less than traditional braces, but this is only partly true. Treatment costs with metal braces and clear aligners depend on the amount of correction needed. Mild correction means fewer dental visits and therefore a lower cost.
In fact, metal braces start from around £1,500 – similar to what SmileDirectClub costs. It all depends on the amount of straightening your teeth require.
If you're looking for a cheap way to straight your teeth, you have a more affordable option with NewSmile. Starting at just £1,295, NewSmile aligner treatment is 100% remote and takes around six months to complete. You order an impression kit and then order your aligners when you're approved for treatment. If you aren't eligible, you can get a full refund on the impression kit.
NewSmile also has a nighttime aligner treatment option priced at £1,395 or monthly payments of £116.25, interest-free. Your NewSmile aligner treatment also includes free whitening treatment.
SmileDirectClub vs Invisalign
If you're trying to decide between SmileDirectClub and Invisalign clear aligners, know that it's not just a matter of cost, as both brands are leaders in their respective markets.
With Invisalign treatment, you'll visit your doctor every four to six weeks and use their app to monitor your progress between check-ups. If your treatment isn't going as planned, or you want some refinements, they will make adjustments as your treatment progresses or will do some refinements at the end.
If you opt for SDC, these kinds of interactions will be done with their Customer Care and Dental teams through email, phone or video call. This is all part of their package, and the service is available 24/7, so you may find this more convenient than trying to book a dentist appointment.
We should also acknowledge that some people are afraid to visit the dentist, or aren't able to attend regular appointments. In these cases, the benefits of a remote treatment option like SmileDirectClub are clear.
Reviews from users in the UK
We have a separate article where we've compiled lots of SmileDirectClub reviews from around the UK, so look at that if you want to know more about what real users say about their SmileDirectClub experience.
Overall, we can say that there is a great deal of positive reviews from SDC customers who are very happy with their results. However, it won't be right for everyone and you should consider the pros and the cons we've discussed above before deciding how to proceed.
Invisible braces are, understandably, a very popular option for people who want straighter teeth without it being too obvious. SmileDirectClub offers greater convenience at an affordable fixed cost and can be very effective for mild-to-moderate cosmetic straightening.
It's always recommended to visit a dentist for a general check-up before you start any at-home treatment. It's important to deal with any unwanted cavities or gum disease before wearing aligners and you can ask your dentist to assess your overall suitability for the treatment.
If you like the idea of being able to do everything from home, we think SmileDirectClub is a good option because it's affordable and offers great UK-based customer service. Book a free appointment at your nearest SDC SmileShop, or order your impression kit today for just £10.
What is Smile Direct?
SmileDirectClub is a “teledentistry” company that offers a cheaper way to straighten your teeth. After taking your own impressions at home, or having a digital scan done at a SmileShop location, you receive your clear aligners in the post and a dentist or orthodontist monitors your progress remotely.
How much does SmileDirectClub cost?
The package costs £1,639, but it's £39 for an impression kit plus £80 for retainers every six months, so you should think carefully about the total cost before committing.
What are some SmileDirectClub alternatives?
Clear fixed braces also offer discreet straightening. They are fixed to teeth and not really invisible, but they are suitable for almost all orthodontic cases. Six Month Smiles offers both invisible aligners and blear braces depending on the treatment needed.
There's also Impress aligners, which are a hybrid at-home/in-office option. Read more about them here.
Is Invisalign better than Smile Direct?
The downside to Invisalign treatment might be the cost, as Invisalign Comprehensive is around double the price of SDC.
Is SmileDirectClub a scam?
Many people have had successful treatment with SmileDirectClub, and it is a legitimate company. However, this treatment is only suitable for specific cases of mild tooth realignment. Individual results will vary, and some people do report problems with their teeth after treatment.
How do you cancel SmileDirectClub payments?
To cancel your SmilePay agreement, contact their customer service department and provide them with your membership details. You can then request a cancellation or a refund, whichever applies, and you'll receive a confirmation email. SDC also has a 30-day returns policy where you could get a full refund if you're unhappy with your aligners, with no questions asked.
Is SmileDirectClub good?
SmileDirectClub can be a good option, depending on what you want to achieve, and compares well against other alternatives in the UK from similar brands.
Dentistry.co.uk: Direct to consumer orthodontics still needs face to face interaction, GDC says. Consulted 28th March 2020.
British Dental Journal: DIY orthodontics – safe, cheaper option or dangerous gamble? Consulted 28th March 2020.
Prices stated are indicative only and are based on publicised treatment prices at dental clinics across the UK.