What is Smile Direct Club (SDC), and is it the best option for you?
In this article, we'll let you know all about Smile Direct Club and we'll answer the following questions:
- Does Smile Direct Club work?
- How long do you have to wear Smile Direct?
- What does Smile Direct Club cost?
- Is Smile Direct Club safe?
- What are the differences between Smile Direct Club and Invisalign?
- What are the Smile Direct Club before and after results?
- Is Smile Direct Club a scam?
If you want to skip all of that and find out right away whether we recommend SDC, here's our answer: They are one of the better brands on the market, but there's another brand that we think is even better—Candid.
We'll talk more about Candid further down, but you can find out if you're eligible for treatment with their clear aligners by taking their free Smile Assessment now! If it turns out you're a candidate for treatment, you can follow their steps online to purchase an impression kit, and make sure to take advantage of the current promotions. You can also look to see if there's a Candid Studio near you.
Table of contents
- 1 What is Smile Direct Club?
- 2 How does Smile Direct work?
- 3 How much does Smile Direct Club cost?
- 4 Smile Direct Club vs. Invisalign
- 5 Smile Direct Club vs Candid
- 6 Does Smile Direct Club work?
- 7 Smile Direct Club Competitors
- 8 Conclusion
- 9 FAQs
What is Smile Direct Club?
SDC is a “teledentistry” company that offers a cost-effective alternative to braces and clear aligners like Invisalign. According to their website, there are three main steps involved in the SDC process:
- Use an at-home kit to make an impression of your teeth (or visit one of their SmileShop locations to get digital scans)
- Receive clear aligners in the mail
- Keep your teeth in alignment with Smile Direct Club retainers
They are able to keep their prices lower than other clear aligner brands because there are no in-office visits with a dentist or orthodontist. But don't worry! That doesn't mean your treatment isn't supervised. In fact, the entire course of your treatment with SDC will be closely monitored by a licensed orthodontist or dentist, who will check in with you every 90 days.
The difference is that it will be done remotely, taking the hassle out of missing work or school to take trips to the dentist. Your assigned dentist or orthodontist will analyze the digital dental scans of your teeth and plan your treatment accordingly. This plan works for many people, but may not work in cases of very severely crooked teeth, when strict orthodontic supervision is required.
So how do you get started? You can start by ordering your impression kit online and making your impressions at home.
If you're feeling uncomfortable about taking your impressions at home, you also have the option of going to one of SDC's SmileShops, where a specially trained representative will be happy to assist you in taking the digital scans of your teeth. There are SmileShops all over the country, so chances are, there's one near you. If you think you'd be interested in this option, all you have to do is make an online appointment for your in-person visit.
Keep in mind that you must have all of your permanent teeth and be at least 12 years of age to receive treatment with SDC.
How does Smile Direct work?
There are two treatment options with Smile Direct Club; which one works best for you?
Standard treatment option
The original SDC treatment costs just $1,895 if you want to pay all at once, or just $85 per month with a $200 deposit.
The typical treatment time for this option is an average of 6 months, compared to the 18–24 months it can take with traditional metal braces. You need to wear your aligners 22 hours per day, both day and night.
When you get your aligners in the mail, you'll also receive free teeth whitening so you can get whiter teeth while you straighten them.
Nighttime Clear Aligners
Nighttime Clear Aligners are a new option offered by SDC. The average treatment time is 10 months, and they only require 10 hours of daily wear, meaning most treatment can be done while you are sleeping. Many professionals love this option because they don't have to wear their aligners to the office. Another great part about Nighttime Clear Aligners is that they cost the same as the traditional SDC treatment option.
Another brand that offers nighttime aligners is ALIGNERCO, and its nighttime cost is more than $500 less than the SDC option.
Smile Direct Club locations
There are SmileShops in 45 states and in Puerto Rico, so if you want to you can go into a physical shop and have a ‘SmileGuide' take your impressions. It isn't mandatory to go into the store; the entire process can be completed online and at home, and there are no physical meetings with a dentist or orthodontist. Some people like the idea of not having to go to the orthodontist, but some dentists and orthodontists are skeptical, arguing that in-person visits with your dentist or orthodontist are an important part of the teeth-straightening process.
How much does Smile Direct Club cost?
True to their word, Smile Direct does not cost as much as traditional braces or leading brands of clear aligners. Traditional metal braces cost between $2,500 and $7,500 and invisible braces cost between $2,000 and $8,500.
Smile Direct Club discount codes
Smile Direct Club coupons can be found on popular discount sites like Groupon, and if you visit their site, you can sometimes find a Smile Direct Club promo code for even more of a discount. Just visit a SmileShop and look for a banner at the top of the page. That's where the promo codes are usually hanging out!
Smile Direct Club vs. Invisalign
At first glance, it may seem like SDC is just like Invisalign or other clear aligner brands, but with a lower price. However, there are some key differences that we'll go over now.
Smile Direct Club is a type of at-home clear aligner, so treatment can be done remotely, with in-person assistance at a SmileShop if needed. Invisalign and other in-office brands of clear aligners differ from SDC because their treatment includes regular visits to your dentist or orthodontist. Treatment consists of receiving a new aligner every one to two weeks, based on what your dentist thinks is best. Your dentist will check the progress of your treatment every four to six weeks during in-office visits. You can check out our article on invisible braces like Invisalign here for more information.
With SDC, even though you don't have to physically go see your dentist, your treatment is developed and closely supervised every step of the way by a licensed dentist or orthodontist, with check-ins every 90 days.
Watch the following video that explains why Caitlin decided to choose SDC over Invisalign, and read our article that goes into more detail about the differences between Invisalign and Smile Direct Club.
The following list shows the main differences between SDC and in-office braces:
- The convenience of remote care
- Much lower cost
- SmileGuides use digital scans of your teeth to use in treatment, (these are 7–8% more accurate than molds)
Smile Direct Club vs Candid
The other at-home clear aligner company that's at least as popular as Smile Direct Club, and growing in popularity by the minute, is Candid. As we mentioned in the beginning of the article, we actually slightly prefer Candid to Smile Direct Club.
One of the main reasons for this is that with Candid, you work exclusively with an orthodontist, and with Smile Direct, you could end up with either an orthodontist or a dentist. The reason why this is important is that orthodontists are dentists who then go on to study specifically the art of teeth straightening, making them the ultimate experts in the field.
We also prefer Candid because they have stellar customer service, including a live video chat option, and they have partnered with the medical tech company Dental Monitoring, which allows them to use AI technology to remotely monitor your progress, and you can virtually check-in with your orthodontist every 10 days, making treatment with Candid more effective and more efficient. You can read more about why we prefer Candid over Smile Direct in our article here.
Like Smile Direct, Candid has physical locations called Candid Studios, where you can have a free one-on-one consultation and get 3D scans taken of your teeth. 3D scans are more accurate than taking molds of your teeth, meaning your orthodontist will better be able to plan your treatment. If you'd prefer to take your own impressions at home, you can certainly do that too by ordering your impression kit.
Does Smile Direct Club work?
The Mayo Clinic approves the use of clear aligners as a viable way to straighten teeth that aren't severely crooked. And of course, if you visit the SDC website, you'll find plenty of reviews and information that confirming the success of this type of treatment.
But in cases when teeth are severely crooked, hands-on orthodontist supervision is necessary for a truly effective teeth-straightening process. Before beginning treatment, you can visit a SmileShop for a consultation to make sure it's the right course for you. And if you turn out not to be eligible for any reason, your home impression kit will be refunded.
We have a separate article featuring a selection of independent SDC reviews so you can see for yourself what other patients thought of their experience.
Smile Direct Club before and after
Check out the following comprehensive video from a person who wanted straighter teeth, and didn't have the money to pay for standard braces or clear aligners. He tried SDC for six months and explains his experience and his Smile Direct Club results. This video is great if you're wondering about Smile Direct treatment, and want to know about the following:
- Is Smile Direct Club safe?
- Is it a scam?
- Smile Direct Club timeline
- SDC Customer service experience
- Smile Direct Club Before and after pictures
His review is pretty balanced. He concludes that it maybe wasn't the right treatment for his specific case, but that SDC is a good company and that many people receive the results they want.
Smile Direct Club Competitors
SDC is not the only company that has seized on the opportunity to attract people who want straighter teeth but for a lower price and convenience of remote care. We've already mentioned our top pick Candid, but other similar companies include Smilelove and SnapCorrect. They follow the same business models, but they don't all use qualified orthodontists to monitor your treatment progress. For this reason, they are regarded with a certain amount of skepticism by some in the professional medical and dental community.
With Candid, you work exclusively with orthodontists and treatment is more effective and efficient because of their advanced AI monitoring technology. Treatment with Candid is a little more expensive than with Smile Direct, but much more affordable than with Invisalign. Many people choose this option because it's convenient and affordable, without sacrificing quality of care. You can read more about Candid vs Invisalign here.
And then there's the newest aligner to the at-home braces game: Byte. Byte also works exclusively with orthodontists and treatment time as little as three months. If you'd like to find out more about Byte, check out our article here.
Additionally, you can have a look at the following table for a summary of the differences in price between SDC and competitors:
Straightening your teeth is an important part of not just your appearance, but also your overall oral health. Braces are expensive, noticeable and can be time-consuming. But that's because a lot goes into to straightening your teeth. Cheap options like Smile Direct and their competitors can be a good choice if you don't think you can afford traditional braces or clear aligners, plus they have the added benefit of being more convenient if you can't take a lot of time off work for orthodontist appointments.
We like Smile Direct Club, and if you're happy with what you've read, then you can visit a SmileShop or order an impression kit.
But keep in mind that we think Candid is better because they work exclusively with orthodontists, they have an advanced remote monitoring system and they have stellar customer support. You can get started with them by booking your appointment to visit a Candid Studio or ordering your impression kit online.
What is Smile Direct Club?
Smile Direct Club is a “teledentistry” business 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 aligners in the mail and a dentist or orthodontist monitors your progress remotely.
What are some Smile Direct Club alternatives?
Some Smile Direct Club alternatives are clear aligner brands like Invisalign and ClearCorrect that require periodic visits to your dentist and cost considerably more. Candid, SmileLove and SnapCorrect are other businesses with the same model as SDC, and also don't require in-office visits. Read about these and other invisible aligner options in the US here.
What is the cost of Smile Direct Club?
The cost of Smile Direct Club services is just under $2,000 and they often have promotions for extra discounts on treatment or impression kits.
Is Smile Direct legit?
Many people have had successful treatment with Smile Direct Club. But since every case is different, you may want to visit a SmileShop for a consultation in person.
Is Smile Direct covered by insurance?
Most cosmetic dentistry for adults is not covered by insurance, but you should definitely check with your plan.
Does Smile Direct Club really work?
According to reviews and plenty of testimonials, both by dentists and patients, SDC does work on mild to moderate malocclusion cases. To make sure you get the most out of your treatment, make sure to follow through and invest in the Smile Direct retainers after treatment.
How long do you have to wear Smile Direct?
Standard Smile Direct treatment takes an average of 6 months, wearing them 22 hours per day. There's also a nighttime option with an average treatment time of 10 months with 10 hours of wear per day.