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Last Updated on September 15, 2021

SmileDirectClub Aligners Review – Everything You Need to Know

smile club aligners

SmileDirect Club is an aligner company offering two primary products: regular clear aligners and overnight only aligners. While the price is the same for either treatment route, you’ll need to use the overnight ones for a bit longer than the standard clear aligners.

Just like any company, there are some advantages and disadvantages to choosing to use them. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at SmileDirect Club and lay it all out for you.

As we mentioned, there are pros and cons to using SmileDirect Club. Let’s take a closer look at those:

Advantages

  • Competitive pricing, typically lower than other brands
  • Cases reviewed by qualified professionals: dentists and orthodontists
  • Two options for treatment are offered, so you choose which one best meets your needs.

Disadvantages

  • Retainers are not free
  • If you make a mistake, you’ll have to pay for replacement molds

What is the Background Behind SmileDirect Club? 

In 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee, Jordan Katzman and Alex Fenkell came together and approached Camelot Venture Group for some capital funds.

They founded SmileDirect Club and now have grown to hold much of the market share. According to their estimates, they provide around 95% of the doctor-directed, at-home clear aligner treatments.

Since its beginnings in Nashville, Tennessee, SmileDirect Club has grown to just under 400 SmileShop locations, with over 6,300 employees. The service they offer is typically seen as a more affordable option when compared to other types of dental treatments.

Who Can Use Aligners from SmileDirect Club? 

There is one major caveat to SmileDirect Club’s treatment: only those with minor to moderate alignment issues can use this service. This means that you are eligible if you have slight spaces between teeth or minor overlapping.

On the other hand, you are not eligible for treatment if you have significant overlapping, an underbite or overbite, or there are large gaps in your teeth.

They do offer a free, 30-second Smile Assessment that can help you find out whether you are a suitable candidate for their service or not.

They ask questions about your location, your dental health, and your goals for the treatment.

If you do order an at-home test kit and find out that you are not able to be treated by SmileDirect Club, you will receive a refund for what you paid for the kit. Another reason you might not be approved for treatment is having recent dental work or having plans to have dental work done.

How are Aligners Made? 

smile direct club aligners

The dental aligners from SmileDirect Club are made from BPA plastic with a smooth, comfortable finish. This material is used because it’s easy to produce and customize and doesn’t cause irritation to gums/cheeks like metal braces often do.

There are two ways you can have your aligners made:

At-Home

Just like their competitors, SmileDirect club offers an at-home impression kit that you can order. It will cost you around $59 and will be mailed directly to you.

They contain a putty that you will place in your mouth and bite down on, making an impression of your teeth. Additionally, you will be required to take a picture of your teeth with a special tool.

However, many of their customers have reported that sometimes it takes several tries to get accurate readings, which can be quite frustrating. This may involve a lengthy consultation period.

However, again, if it’s determined after the consultation period that you are not a suitable candidate for treatment, you will be refunded the cost of the kit.

SmileShops

As we mentioned earlier, SmileDirect Club has just under 400 physical locations across the United States, known as SmileShops. You simply book a free appointment and go in for your consultation.

The appointment takes about 30 minutes, and you will be provided with a 3D scan of your mouth. If they find that you are a suitable candidate, they will send the scan directly to one of their dental professionals to analyze your treatment eligibility.

What are My Treatment Options? 

SmileDirect Club is different from others in this business because they do offer a couple of options when it comes to treatments. This is what makes them stand out from the crowd. These options are:

  • All-day aligners
  • Nighttime only aligners

All-Day Aligners

The all-day aligners are the standard option and are usually the option that most customers choose. These are to be worn for around 22 hours a day.

The only time they should be taken out is to brush your teeth or eat. This is the best option for those who want to see their results fast. Since they are clear, they are basically invisible, which is why most people opt for them.

Nighttime Only Aligners

For those customers that don’t want to be stuck wearing aligners all day, SmileDirect Club offers a nighttime option. Instead of having to wear them for 22 hours, you only need to wear them for 10 hours while you sleep.

Since you’re not wearing them for nearly as long, this treatment option is going to take much longer. Still, it’s a great compromise if you want straight teeth but find the all-day option uncomfortable.

How Long Should I Expect Treatment to Take?

There are a few variables that have an effect on the amount of time you’ll need for treatment. The main variable is the treatment option that you choose:

  • All-day aligners: average time is 4 to 6 months
  • Nighttime only aligners: average time is 10 months

Another variable in the time it takes for treatment is the condition of your teeth. If you only need some minor corrections, it shouldn’t take very long. Additionally, it depends on how dedicated you are to wearing the aligners like you’re supposed to. If you’re not wearing them as prescribed, they’re not going to work.

Are There Additional Steps Required? 

During the treatment process, you’ll be asked to send updates of your progress every 90 days, which can be done through the app that SmileDirect Club will direct you to.

When you send these pictures, a professional will review them and make sure that your treatment is going as it should. If there are any adjustments that need to be made, they will do so.

What is the Total Cost of Treatment with SmileDirect Club? 

The cost of treatment with SmileDirect Club is determined somewhat by the options that you choose. They are definitely competitively priced and much less expensive than traditional braces.

The total cost will be around $85/month for 24 months or, if you want to pay it off at once, it will be around $1,895.

3D Scan

If you choose to go into one of the SmileShops, the scan is done at no cost to you. It just takes about 30 minutes to figure out whether you are an eligible candidate for treatment with SmileDirect Club.

Impression Kit

If you don’t want to go to a SmileShop or there’s not one near you, there’s the option of ordering an impression kit. This will cost you around $59. If you make a mistake or the impression is wrong, you’ll have to pay for a new one.

However, you will be reimbursed once you get a good impression or if it’s determined that you’re not eligible for treatment.

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Treatment

Whether you choose the all-day aligners or the nighttime only option, they will cost you $1,895 as a one-time payment. On the other hand, if you decide that you’d rather pay in installments, it will be a $250 deposit and $85/month for 24 months. This ends up costing you significantly more: $2,290.

However, it’s a great option if you don’t have the cash upfront to pay for treatment. The good thing about the financing option is that you’re not required to do a credit check and you don’t have to fill out any paperwork. With most of the other competitors, you have to do both of those.

Replacements

If you end up needing replacement aligners, you’ll be required to order a new one. This will cost you $50/tray and will take 3 to 5 weeks to get to you. Of course, in order to continue with the treatment, you’ll have to keep wearing the old one while waiting on the new one.

Retainers

Once treatment has been completed, you’ll need to wear a retainer at night to make sure your teeth remain in the new position. However, the retainer isn’t free, it will be $99/set and SmileDirect Club recommends that you get a new set every 6 months.

What are My Payment Options? 

As we have mentioned, SmileDirect Club offers 2 flexible payment options. You can pay it all upfront or you can pay it off in installments.

The installment plan requires a deposit and then a minimum monthly payment over 24 months. One thing to keep in mind is that by paying in installments, you end up paying nearly $400 more.

Does SmileDirect Club offer a Guarantee or Warranty? 

While SmileDirect Club does not offer a money-back guarantee or warranty, they are committed to ensuring their customers are happy with their results. If you find that you are not happy with your results, you might be able to get additional aligners.

As long as you have followed the directions you were provided and been diligent about updating them on your progress, you can contact them within 30 days after treatment has ended to have them resolve the situation.

What are the Age Requirements for SmileDirect Club? 

In order to be treated with SmileDirect Club, the patient must be at least 12 years old. They must have all of their adult teeth as well.

Anyone under the age of 18 must have signed consent from their parent or guardian.

Where Can I Get Treatment through SmileDirect Club? 

As we mentioned earlier, they are based out of Nashville, Tennessee and have SmileShops in 48 states in the USA.

smile direct club shops

Additionally, you have the option of ordering an impression kit if you do not have a SmileShop near you. Finally, patients located in New Zealand, UK, Australia, and Canada also have options for treatment with SmileDirect Club.

What About Customer Service? 

SmileDirect Club has pretty good customer service. This is due to the fact that they have a dedicated customer service line as well as physical stores.

They are easy to get in touch with, as you can find their phone number on the website, use the contact form on the website, or find a store near you using their store locator option.

Overall Verdict for SmileDirect Club 

Overall, SmileDirect Club is pretty impressive. Since they are one of the founding companies in the at-home aligner industry, they have helped to innovate the industry and provide a high-quality product for their customers.

Let’s look at how we’re impressed with their availability, price, ease of use, options, and their reassurance that they will work for you.

Availability

Getting started with SmileDirect Club is really easy: you can go into a store or you can order an at-home impression kit. The best way is to go into a store if you can.

This only takes about 30 minutes and you’re done. Of course, if you can’t get into a store, the at-home kits offer convenience, but the process takes a little longer and can be frustrating.

Typically, after your consultation, your aligners will arrive in 4 to 5 weeks. Of course, if you end up having to send multiple impressions with an at-home kit, it could take longer.

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Price

Pricing with SmileDirect Club is about average. There are some companies that are much cheaper and others that are much more expensive. Either way, this option is definitely much less expensive than traditional braces, even if you do choose to make monthly payments.

The drawback is that you will be charged for replacement aligners and your end of treatment retainers, whereas most companies provide these in their package. The replacement aligners cost $50/tray and the retainers cost $99/set.

You do have to pay for the at-home impression kits up front, but you will be refunded if you have to order multiple ones. Additionally, if it’s determined that you are not eligible for treatment, the cost of the impression kit will be refunded.

Easy to Use

The process is pretty easy. Once you receive your aligners, you pop them in and you’re on your way to straightening your teeth. The aligners come clearly labeled and you’ll get a reminder on the app when it’s time to move to your new set.

The app is really easy to use and it’s really easy to submit your photos every 90 days. This is helpful because it keeps you from having to go to the dentist every so often to check your progress. However, you don’t get x-rays on your teeth on a regular basis by doing this.

The biggest frustration factor in this process is the at-home impression kit. If you’re not sure what you’re doing (which most of us who are not dental professionals don’t), it can be hard to get it right the first time.

Options

You have the option of choosing the standard all-day aligners or nighttime only aligners, which is a good option to have. Of course, the nighttime only will require a longer period for treatment, but if you’re okay with that, it’s your choice.

The only other option that is offered by SmileDirect Club is the payment options. These are pretty straightforward and self-explanatory.

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Reassurance

Your aligners do come with a 30-day return policy. However, there is a caveat to that. First, a qualified dentist must verify that you will not benefit from them.

Other than that, the only reassurance you have from SmileDirect Club is that they will make it right if your treatment is not successful. Of course, this is only if you have followed the process like you’re supposed to.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a few questions that are often asked when it comes to SmileDirect Club. We’ll take a look at some of those frequently asked questions below:

Who Can Use SmileDirect Club?

While it’s true that SmileDirect Club is open for most people, there are some age limits. First, you must be at least 12 years old and have all of your adult teeth. On the other hand, there are some that are too old for treatment, as their gums are not likely to be strong enough to accept teeth being shifted.

Additionally, you must be in reasonably good dental health. Those who have not been to the dentist within the previous 12 months for a cleaning and general check-up are not acceptable candidates for treatment.

Finally, those who have severe misalignment or large gaps between their teeth are not accepted into treatment with SmileDirect Club. You can talk with your own dentist to find out if clear aligners are suitable for your teeth.

How Long Does it Take to Receive Aligners?

Once you have completed the initial process of visiting a SmileShop near you or doing the at-home impression kit, you can expect to receive your aligners in approximately 4 to 5 weeks.

They will be sent directly to your home, and you’ll get all of your aligners at once. Of course, in order to be sure the treatment will work, you’ll need to pay attention and make sure you’re using the aligners in the proper order.

Never throw away your aligners either, if something were to happen to the current set, you’ll want to have the previous set to wear until you can get a replacement.

What’s the Proper Way to Clean Aligners?

The only thing you need to clean your aligners is liquid soap and warm water. Be cautious that you don’t use cold water, as that won’t activate the soap to clean the aligners. On the other hand, don’t use water that is too hot, as that will soften your aligners and could cause them to become misshapen.

Simply add some soap and warm water to a glass and let the aligners soak for about 20 minutes before rinsing and reinserting them. It is recommended that you do not use toothpaste, as this can be abrasive and cause damage to your aligners.

How Long Will I Need to Wear My Retainer?

Once the treatment process has finished, you’ll need to wear a retainer for 24 hours a day for about two weeks to make sure your teeth remain in their new position. After two weeks, you can start wearing your retainer at night while you sleep.

Ideally, it’s best if you do this permanently and it is recommended that you replace your retainer every 6 months. If you want your retainer to remain in good condition, rinse it with warm water when you take it out and store it in the container when you’re not using it.

Is There a Nighttime Only Option with SmileDirect Club?

If you would rather not wear your aligners for the 22 hours a day that is recommended, you do have the option of the Nighttime Only aligners. You will only be required to wear these for 10 hours at night while you sleep.

Of course, this option is going to take a bit longer, but if your lifestyle/career keeps you from wearing aligners all day, this is something to consider.

Are the Changes Made to Teeth with SmileDirect Club permanent?

As long as you have followed the directions to treatment, which includes wearing the retainer after the course of aligners is completed, then your teeth should remain in their new positions for the rest of your life.

Keep in mind though, as you age, your gums will weaken and you might see some shifting with your teeth. However, this can be minimized as long as you continue to use your retainer as directed.

Does SmileDirect Club Accept Insurance?

At this time, SmileDirect Club does not accept insurance. However, you can check with your dental plan as some do include allowances for orthodontic treatment. You might be able to file a claim to get reimbursement.

You might also want to check with your HSA or FSA, as those payments are accepted. Another option is CareCredit, but that does require an application and credit check.

Bottomline

The bottom line is that SmileDirect Club is a great option if you have minor misalignment and small gaps in your teeth.

If you have major issues, this is not the best course of treatment for you. When compared to traditional orthodontic treatment, they are much more affordable and easier to use.

You can visit one of their physical locations to get started or you can order an impression kit and do it all from the comfort of your own home.

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