If you have ever considered straightening your teeth with aligners, you have probably come across the Invisalign vs Smile Direct Club debate.
While they may look very much the same at first glance, there are some important differences to consider before you make your choice. So, what are the pros and cons of both Smile Direct Club and Invisalign, and how do they compare?
While Invisalign has been operating for more than 20 years and treated more than 11 million patients using advanced technology, Smile Direct Club is also a good treatment option, especially if you have a mild case and are on a budget.
Let's take a closer look at the similarities and differences as well as answering the following questions:
- How do they work?
- Who is eligible for treatment?
- What do they cost?
- What do reviewers have to say?
- Which ones are right for you?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about these clear aligner brands, so you can make an informed decision about the best adult braces for you.
Table of contents
Smile Direct vs Invisalign: How do they work?
The main differences between Invisalign and Smile Direct Club are the complexity of cases they can treat, the length of treatment, and the difference in treatment monitoring.
Costs vary between the two companies as well, but that is to be expected with the differences in treatment and technology.
Both are a type of clear aligner used for teeth straightening, and they are both popular with adults and teens since they are nearly invisible.
For each of the two systems, the steps are generally as follows:
- Eligibility for treatment is determined
- A mould or digital scan is taken of your teeth to get 3D digital images
- Treatment begins with clear aligners that change roughly every two weeks to gradually align and straighten your teeth
- Once your treatment is complete, you wear retainers to maintain your smile
The main difference, aside from the cost, is the way in which your treatment is monitored.
Invisalign works in the same way as traditional metal braces: You visit for an initial consultation and you return for regular checkups during your treatment. SmileDirectClub, on the other hand, relies on newer remote monitoring technology. This means that there is no need for any visits to a dentist as your treatment progress is tracked via an app.
This different treatment model has a few implications. Firstly, SmileDirectClub costs just £1,639, which is significantly less than most Invisalign treatment courses. Secondly, because you're not getting hands-on care and the aligner technology is not as advanced, SmileDirectClub can't treat such a wide range of cases as Invisalign can.
However, there's an easy way to see if you're eligible for SmileDirectClub treatment: take their free online assessment now. Or, if you prefer to speak to someone in person, book a free appointment at a SmileShop near you. Here, you can ask any questions and get a free 3D mouth scan which is used to plan your aligner treatment.
Invisalign treatment options
Another similarity when it comes to Smile Direct vs Invisalign treatment is the availability of multiple treatment options. Let's take a closer look at the treatment options available with each brand.
- Invisalign Comprehensive: The most common Invisalign treatment is a fully comprehensive system for mild to complex cases and the treatment time is normally from 12 to 24 months.
- Invisalign Lite: This option is for mainly mild and some moderate orthodontic cases and the treatment time is between six and eight months.
- Invisalign Express: Meant for very mild cases and the treatment time is generally three to six months.
- Invisalign First: This system is made specifically for the growing mouths of children, and the aligners come with indicators that let parents and dentists know how often they've been worn.
Smile Direct Club treatment options
- Smile Direct Club Clear Aligners: Average six-month treatment plan with 20-22 hours of wear per day.
- Nighttime Clear Aligners: Average 10-month treatment plan, 10 hours of wear per day (while you sleep). Many professionals opt for Nighttime Clear Aligners because they don't have to wear them at the office.
Invisalign vs Smile Direct cost
Invisalign treatment can cost anywhere between £2,000 and £5,500. This depends on the complexity of your case and your particular orthodontist or dentist's prices.
The price of Smile Direct Club starts at £1,639, and both regular and nighttime options cost the same. You can pay a lump sum of £1,639 or opt for their payment plan. The payment plan is £69.43 per month (£1,805.19 total).
Have a look at this table for a summary and comparison of Smile Direct and Invisalign treatment costs:
Smile Direct Club
£2,000 - £3,000
Standard or Nighttime plan (as many aligners as needed to successfully complete treatment)
Fixed cost of £1,639 or monthly payments of £69.43 (total of £1,805.19)
£2,500 - £4,000
Smile Direct Club has a fixed price and Invisalign does not, so we recommend you make an appointment with an Invisalign provider to find out what your treatment cost would be and to work out a personalised treatment plan for you. Alternatively, if you are happier with the lower cost of SmileDirectClub and are ready to get started with treatment, book a free appointment at a SmileShop or order your impression kit now.
Smile Direct Club vs Invisalign reviews
Check out Hannah's Invisalign review in the video below. She is currently on her ninth week with her trays, and everything is going well.
Hannah had braces in the past but her teeth became crooked again after treatment. She talks about the Invisalign process – from consultation to wearing aligners – and gives some helpful tips and tricks along the way.
Now have a look at this Smile Direct Club video review; the reviewer, Lorelai, checks after finishing her Smile Direct treatment. Overall she is happy she chose Smile Direct, but it wasn't a perfect journey.
Lorelai shares her before and after photographs and shares some tips for getting through your treatment.
It can be difficult to find impartial opinions from dentists about either of these brands.
That being said, in the video below, Dr Dave does a really good job explaining that in his opinion, Smile Direct Club is for cases where teeth are not severely misaligned.
According to Dave, patients who have really complex cases of malocclusion would probably be better off with traditional braces.
He also mentions how it took him years to learn how to take a perfect dental mould. As a result, he's a bit concerned that patients are expected to do this by themselves in their homes with some kinds of clear aligners.
This isn't necessarily the case with Smile Direct, however, since you have the option to go to a SmileShop where a trained representative will take digital scans of your teeth. Dr Dave says these are 7–8% more accurate than moulds. He also emphasises that these digital scans are really important in creating an accurate treatment plan.
Which is the better brand?
Well, the answer to this question certainly depends on your individual case. Invisalign can treat a full range of cases and uses advanced technology as indicated in this study, including their SmartForce attachments. With the use of this new technology, the aligners can have much more control over tooth movements and bite alignment.
At-home aligners can be a successful solution for milder cases that don't require any complicated tooth movements. So if you do choose to go down this route, make sure you see a dentist before any at-home treatment and choose a brand where a qualified dentist or orthodontist will be planning and monitoring your treatment.
Consider nighttime aligners if during the day you have to speak with important clients, give speeches, or adhere to strict aesthetic requirements, or if you'd simply rather not have to deal with aligners while you're at work.
Just keep in mind that nighttime-only treatment does take on average four months longer overall, and is not available from Invisalign or other in-office systems.
If you still aren't sure which brand to go with or are concerned you may not qualify for either, make an appointment with SmileDirectClub to discuss your options further. You can also take their free online assessment to see if you're a candidate for treatment before committing further.
- Both Smile Direct Club Clear Aligners and Nighttime Clear Aligners come with their ‘premium teeth whitening' solution. The Invisalign system doesn't come with complimentary whitening, but you can purchase other whitening kits separately.
- As mentioned before, with Smile Direct Club, if you aren't comfortable taking your digital scans at home, you can go to a physical SmileShop location and a trained representative will assist you.
Summary of the differences and similarities
That's a lot of information to take in! Have a look at the table below for a summary of the differences to help you choose the best brand for you:
Smile Direct Club
In-office visits with your Invisalign doctor every 4–6 weeks and track your progress with the Invisalign app
Remote supervision by qualified professionals with virtual check-ins every 90 days and in-person assistance at SmileShops
Who is eligible?
Mild to complex cases
Mild and some moderate
Treatment length average
Whitening treatment included?
Other aligner brands
If you're still not convinced by Invisalign or Smile Direct Club, you can read about some other top teeth aligner brands in our separate guide.
This is an important investment in your smile and you want to make sure you are getting the best care possible!
When looking at other brands of clear aligner, be sure to check reviews of their customer care, since this is the first place you'll need to turn if you're unsure about something during your treatment.
If you're trying to decide whether Invisalign or Smile Direct Club aligners are best for you, it may simply come down to a balance of individual preference and budget. Sure, SmileDirectClub is more affordable in most cases, but you're not getting hands-on care from a dentist or orthodontist.
If you want to get a second opinion before committing to a certain brand, you can ask a dentist, but make sure to find one that you can trust to offer you an unbiased opinion.
We recommend you read our full guide to Invisalign alternatives if you'd like to know more about the other brands available.
Ultimately, SmileDirectClub aligners are an affordable way to correct mild orthodontic issues without having to deal with traditional braces or dentist appointments. Book an appointment at a SmileShop, or order your impression kit now to find out if you're a candidate and to get started with your treatment.
What is the cost difference between Smile Direct and Invisalign treatment?
There are two ways to pay for Smile Direct Club. You can pay a lump sum of £1,639, or you can pay in instalments of £69.43 per month (£1,805.19 total).
Invisalign also has the option to pay all at once or to follow a payment plan. The prices vary a lot more with Invisalign options than with Smile Direct Club. Invisalign treatment costs anywhere from £2,000 to £5,500.
Is Invisalign or Smile Direct Club safer?
Both Smile Direct Club and Invisalign work with qualified dentists and orthodontists to develop and supervise your treatment, so safety shouldn't be a concern.
Is Smile Direct Club as good as Invisalign?
Yes and no, depending on the treatment you need. Invisalign aligners can treat mild to complex cases of malocclusion, while Smile Direct can only treat mild to moderate, and mostly mild at that.
Some people with mild teeth straightening needs have had successful treatment with this brand, but for more severe cases, you'll have to choose an in-office brand like Invisalign, or even traditional braces.
Does Invisalign own Smile Direct Club?
Align Technology is the company that makes Invisalign's aligners, and at one point part-owned Smile Direct Club. They have since parted ways and Smile Direct is now owned by Camelot Venture Group.
NCBI. Efficient Design of a Clear Aligner Attachment to Induce Bodily Tooth Movement in Orthodontic Treatment Using Finite Element Analysis. Consulted 23rd February 2022.
Prices stated are indicative only and are based on publicised treatment prices at dental clinics across the UK.