So, you're interested in at-home teeth straightening? Lots of companies have started offering remote orthodontics in the UK in a relatively short space of time, so it's understandable you're unsure whether this treatment is right for you. Checking some Smile Direct Club reviews will hopefully help you understand more about this brand and what the treatment involves.
To save you having to spend ages trawling the internet for Smile Direct Club reviews from the UK (because they can be hard to find among all the American ones), we have compiled this collection for you. We hope this helps you get better informed about what to expect from at-home aligners and whether Smile Direct Club is the right choice.
Smile Direct Club aligners cost £1,539, a lot less than in-office aligners, but there's an even cheaper option for people on a tight budget. Straight My Teeth aligners cost just £999 without compromising on quality or service.
Table of contents
Smile Direct Club overview
In case you're not too familiar with how Smile Direct Club (SDC) works, we'll quickly explain before we jump into our Smile Direct Club reviews. They provide clear aligners to straighten your teeth, a bit like Invisalign. The big difference is that at-home aligners don't require visits to a dentist's office; your aligners are posted to you and a dentist or orthodontist monitors your treatment remotely.
You have two options to get started with your SDC treatment. One is to order your impression kit online. You'll get your kit delivered to you at home, so you can take the impressions of your teeth on your own and send them back, making treatment 100% remote.
Your other option is to go to a physical Smile Direct location, known as a SmileShop, where a trained representative will take 3D scans of your teeth. There are currently 21 SmileShop locations in the UK.
Whichever option you choose, a dentist or orthodontist will then analyse your teeth and come up with a treatment plan. All your aligners are posted to you at once, and you can begin your treatment, switching to a new set of aligners every week or two as instructed. Your dentist or orthodontist will monitor your treatment remotely and check in periodically to make sure your teeth are moving as planned.
The end result, in theory, is straighter teeth that have cost you a lot less than if you visited the dentist for braces.
Would you like to see what you might look like after your treatment? Invisalign have a smart tool called SmileView, and it's free to use even if you're not an Invisalign patient. Simply upload a grinning selfie and you'll have your new smile preview in about a minute. Give it a try now!
We have a separate article which explains more about how SDC works and how it compares to other brands in the UK offering a similar product.
Smile Direct Club UK reviews
Now let's look at some Smile Direct Club reviews from the UK. It's easy to find reviews from American users because the brand has been operating there for so much longer, although there have been reports of SDC in the US getting dissatisfied customers to sign a non-disclosure agreement, preventing them from speaking out about their experience, before they can get a refund.
In the UK, where the brand is still quite new, there is a smaller pool of reviews to choose from since not so many people have undergone treatment yet.
TrustPilot is one place you can look, where SDC have 4.2 stars from over 3,000 reviews. That sounds pretty good, but when you examine them more closely you'll see that the majority of these are from people who are basing their rating purely on their experience at a SmileShop. They praise the friendliness of their staff and say they can't wait to receive their kits, but this is not a good indication of the performance of the product itself. It's also interesting to note how the number of five-star reviews dropped dramatically during the UK's lockdown period – when SmileShops were forced to close.
One reviewer named Angela actually confirms the company's strategy, saying:
“They ask you to leave a review after you get a scan – don’t be fooled! The aligners arrived after 7 weeks – they don’t fit! Had an absolute nightmare trying to get replacements which was me constantly calling them to ask for an update however after 1 month of them arriving and still no response I have sent them back. It’s worth the extra £1000 to go via your dentist – don’t be fooled by this company’s tactics.”
In fact, customer service problems seem to be a recurring theme, with others complaining the services is US-based so it's hard to coordinate a time to call. One woman complains about “spending a fortune” on unanswered calls to a US number. Even when it comes to email communication, there are cases when SDC has taken days or weeks to respond.
So putting aside the 5-star SmileShop experience, here are some comments from people who have at least started their treatment:
“The aligners themselves are good and aren’t noticeable so they work. But the service is horrendous. Better off paying abit more to have it done properly through an actual dentist.”
“The initial process was smooth, the 3D scan was easy enough and I received my aligners as expected. When it come to the aligners they're a real bunch surprises. Some come and are well filed, smooth on the edges and then others come that are rough around the edges and cut into your gums. Although I've felt some changes when it hit the 90 day mark, I wasn't particularly happy. I took photos as requested and sent them off but haven't had a response whatsoever, just some generic email saying well done.”
“Currently a month into my treatment and very impressed with the results so far. Amy was very helpful and professional.”
“Absolutely shocking service. My time has been wasted on several occasions. Did the treatment, teeth weren’t as they should be after 6 months, they agreed 2 months more was required, sent everything to the wrong address after making me wait 6 weeks. All teeth moving back to the original location, now they are asking me to wait another 6 weeks. Shocking. Will be requesting a full refund.”
“I received my box in 3 weeks so that was great and within the time period they gave me. Initially my teeth felt weird when I put the aligners in but by day 3 they were fine. I am now on Week 2 and can feel a slight pressure on the teeth so they must be working. I wear mine all day apart from when I eat which is approx 3 times a day, breakfast lunch and dinner. I can't snack when the aligners are in so its great to stop me from snacking.”
All in all, there are a few positive experiences there but they are hidden among the complaints and the hundreds of people who have been asked to leave a review before even receiving their aligners.
If you do want to take the advice of some of these reviewers and visit a dentist for clear aligner treatment, see if you're eligible for Invisalign. Invisalign Lite, which provides mild to moderate straightening similar to SDC, costs £1,800 – £3,500 so you may not have to pay that much extra. In return, you're being treated with the world's leading brand of aligner and have in-person checkups every month or two.
Invisalign have a large network of providers around the UK and you can search for your nearest one here. Most offer a free initial consultation, so you can ask any questions and get a personal cost estimate for your treatment before deciding what's best for you.
SmileDirectClub unboxing and first impressions
Let's begin with this video from Georgia. It's not a review as such, because she has only just received her box of aligners. But it's interesting to see her opening the box, talking us through what's inside, and then fitting her first set. You can see how you need to use the “chewies” provided to get the aligners to click into place.
So far so good, but in a second video giving a 1-month update she reveals some of the things she wasn't told before starting treatment. She also shows her ‘before and after' progress so far.
The worst thing for Georgia was the pain which kicked in on the second day. “It's like a really bad throbbing pain and your whole mouth aches and I literally couldn't talk,” she explains. Painkillers helped with the pain, and the next day wasn't so bad. However, when she fitted her next set the pain returned and it felt like her “teeth were going to fall out”.
Then, there were sharp edges on the aligners cutting her gums. She recommends stocking up on nail files so you can smooth them down as needed.
Next, she has had problems with her teeth (or gums) bleeding. From speaking to other people undergoing treatment, this seems to be quite a common problem, but it's not a normal side-effect of orthodontic treatment. Bleeding gums is usually a sign of gum disease, in fact.
Another thing Georgia has struggled with is the limitations with eating and drinking. She thinks it's unrealistic to take them out every time she drinks something other than water, and instead she uses a straw. Note that this is not recommended with SDC or any other brand of aligner, since sugar from the drinks can get trapped under the aligners and damage your teeth. If you're going to wear clear aligners, you should be prepared to follow the instructions and only drink water while wearing them.
Smile Direct Review after 1 week
“I was in agony for two days”
Molly's 1-week update mentions many of the same struggles as Georgia, plus a few more:
- Really bad pain for the first two days
- Sharp edges cutting her tongue
- Difficulty getting the aligners in and out
- A noticeable lisp
- A delay receiving her aligners, which eventually turned up a couple of weeks after she contacted customer service
Aisha's 2-month update
“It's a really simple process… I don't have a bad thing to say about it.”
Aisha is two months into her treatment and is really noticing the results now. Watch the video review below to find out how she is getting on.
Aisha's treatment has been very straightforward and she is happy with the results so far. The only thing she would like to see is a more thorough check-in process with SDC.
Luke's Smile Direct Club review
“At the moment, I am really really happy with how my teeth are looking”
Half way into his treatment, Luke shares this Smile Direct Club video review to show what his teeth are looking like after 3 months of aligners. Overall, he says, he is really happy with the progress and is excited to see his end results. He's already feeling more confident about his smile.
Luke mentions that the one area he feels SDC could improve is with their one-to-one support. At the end of month 3 you have to send them some photos of your teeth to check your progress, but Luke says he would have appreciated having the option to return to a local SmileShop for a checkup. The same goes for the end of his treatment – he would like to be able to see someone in person rather than relying on photos to confirm the results are acceptable.
Don't forget – whichever type of braces you're considering, you can use Invisalign's free SmileView tool to see what you'd look like with straighter teeth. Why not try it now?
“It's a bit frustrating…”
“If it starts to go wrong, there's nobody to pick up on it.”
Journalist Claire was placed on a 4-month plan to close some small gaps and straighten her bottom teeth, but the tooth movement was not exactly as expected. In this Smile Direct Club review video she talks us through her experience trying to sort out a new treatment plan. Although SDC customer service always get back to her quickly, she seems to have got stuck in the system and is finding it quite frustrating.
At the time of writing there has been no update video from Claire, but from the comments she's posted in this one, it's not sounding too promising.
She says that she would regret not visiting an orthodontist, was it not for the fact that she completed her treatment during the UK's lockdown and so didn't have that option anyway.
Smile Direct Club review and tips
Finally we have this two-month update from an American reviewer – we've included her video because it has some interesting ‘before and after' images of her treatment so far, and she also compares her teeth to the simulation provided by SDC to see if they are moving according to plan. She then offers some useful tips based on her Smile Direct Club experience so far.
This reviewer is using Smile Direct Club's nighttime aligners, which just need to be worn for 10 hours a day. This is really convenient, but does make the treatment longer.
Here are some of the tips she mentions in her video review of Smile Direct Club after two months of using the aligners:
- The ‘chewies' provided are really helpful for getting the aligners into place correctly, especially for the first couple of days wearing a new set.
- Similarly, the ‘Outie' tool comes in handy for removing aligners when they are very tight. One end is shaped to pull the top aligners down and the other end is for pushing the bottom aligners up.
- Denture/retainer cleaning tablets are a more convenient way to clean aligners than brushing with soap and water.
- When wearing aligners just at night, your teeth can be sore for the first hour after taking them out, so have plenty of soft foods on hand for breakfast.
We hope this collection of Smile Direct Club reviews from the UK (and one from the US!) has been helpful. If you're still wondering whether to go with this particular brand of at-home aligner, we recommend you check out one of their competitors, Straight My Teeth, as well. Straight My Teeth are also quite new to the UK market but have already earned a good reputation, and they cost just £999 – a big saving compared to SDC.
If it turns out you're not eligible for at-home aligners but you want to avoid metal braces, invisible braces from Invisalign are a great option. They can treat around 90% of orthodontic patients, and you can take their quick Smile Assessment to see if you're a good candidate. Looking at some opinions of Invisalign patients will help you compare them with SDC.
You can also visit an Invisalign provider near you to discuss your options and get a quotation. Invisalign prices are higher than at-home aligners, but Invisalign Lite starts from around £1,800. With the reassurance of in-office checkups every 4-8 weeks, many people decide it's worth paying the extra for a well-established brand.