Invisalign vs Smile Direct: Which is Right For Your Needs?

Invisalign vs Smile Direct: Which is Right For Your Needs?

The great moment you have been planning for days, weeks, or even months has finally come: you decided to use a clear aligner.

The reasons behind your decision can vary. Maybe you’ve always wanted to straighten your teeth but never put yourself to it, and now you decided to give clear aligners a chance. We can’t blame you — they’re everywhere, and they seem to get more famous every day. Whatever the reason, there might be something bugging you in the way to make your final decision: which brand are you going to buy?

When you search for clean aligners, millions of brands come out screaming you to buy them. You barely knew what a clear aligner was not so soon ago. What are you going to do with all of this information? Don’t worry! We’re here to make this task easy for you.

Today, we will objectively see the main differences between Invisalign and Smile Direct Club. However, if you want a more detailed opinion, you will find it at the end of this article, where you will see our final pick. This way it will be easier for you to choose.

Main Differences Between Invisalign vs Smile Direct Club

The Main Differences Between Invisalign vs Smile Direct Club are:

While these two products have a few things in common, they also have some key differences, as well. The main differences between Invisalign and Smile Direct are:

  • Invisalign is sold by dentists and orthodontists, which means you have to go to an in-office consultation to acquire it, whereas Smile Direct Club doesn’t require this interaction with the dentist, and you can obtain the product without leaving your house.
  • Invisalign makes the dentist accountable for the patient’s progress, whereas Smile Direct Club makes the consumer responsible for their own improvement since this service doesn’t provide in-person consultations, only virtual meetings.
  • Invisalign can straighten all sorts of teeth misalignments, from mild to severe, whereas Smile Direct Club only works for mild and moderate teeth misalignments.
  • Invisalign is perfect for correcting all kinds of bite issues, whereas Smile Direct Club only works for minor bite issues, and it’s best to use another brand for more severe cases. 
  • Invisalign is higher in price, whereas Smile Direct Club is cheaper. Usually, Invisalign prices vary from $3000 and $8000, and Smile Direct Club charges about $1850.

These can be very serious considerations, and depending on your orthodontic goals and budget, can have a big impact on the choice you make.

What Are Invisalign Clear Aligners?

Invisalign Clear Aligners

Invisalign was the first specialized clear aligners company. It started in 1997, and despite having more than two decades of expertise, it has become much more famous in recent years. Why is it so famous? Invisalign provides the public with an orthodontic treatment that uses clear aligners to align the teeth. It’s an excellent alternative for traditional metal brackets.

First, orthodontists analyze the position of the teeth using 3D computerized images. Then, they design a complete treatment plan that shows how the teeth will change during the process until the patient achieves the desired final position. This way, the patient will know how long will be the treatment and the expected improvement over time.

After this, clear aligners are made with specific characteristics for each patient, keeping in mind that the teeth move little by little in each phase of the treatment.

How Do Invisalign Clear Aligners Work?

Invisalign

Invisalign clear aligners work by producing tooth movements in a carefully controlled manner.

Due to this, every Invisalign treatment has different stages where only a few teeth movement is allowed. Depending on the severity of the case in question, the dentist will decide how many clear aligners the patient will have to use over time.

The licensed dentist or orthodontist assigned to your case will decide how many weeks you’ll use each aligner.

The Pros of Invisalign

There are quite a few advantages of using Invisalign clear aligners. These include:

  • They are practically invisible. This characteristic makes Invisalign clear aligners more aesthetic than metal braces, allowing orthodontic treatment without anyone noticing.
  • They are comfortable to use, as they do not cause friction or discomfort in your mouth. Users report this brand provides one of the more comfortable to wear clear aligners.
  • They are removable, so it is possible to remove them to brush your teeth and floss, thus achieving better oral hygiene.
  • There are no restrictions on eating and drinking. Unlike braces, Invisalign aligners allow patients to eat any type of food without altering their regular diet during treatment.
  • In-office consultation is better for some users since they consider the attention to be better.
  • There are a lot of payment plans that adapt to you and your wallet.
  • It takes 2 to 4 weeks to obtain the first set of aligners after the user’s treatment plan is established. This period is faster when compared to other clean aligners.
  • Invisalign has an impressive reputation and has been on the market for almost two decades, so it is a reliable company.
  • Invisalign allows its users to see how their teeth are changing thanks to their ClinCheck technology.
  • Several insurance programs can help the patient to cover some of the expenses.

The Cons of Invisalign

Despite being revolutionary technology with numerous advantages, there are a few downsides to Invisalign, as well. These include:

  • Invisalign treatment can be expensive. It can be as high as $8000 if your case is severe.
  • The process of straightening your teeth can be uncomfortable.
  • The user has to wear the aligner at least 22 hours a day. So the quality of the treatment depends on the user and their discipline to see some results.
  • Most of the time, you will have to buy the retainers separately, since they don’t come with the treatment.
  • The user has to be patient if they want to see results. On average, the treatment takes from 12 to 18 months to complete.
  • Some patients report staining of their Invisalign clear aligner after drinking coffee or eating food with artificial coloring.

What is Smile Direct Club, And How Does It Work?

Smile Club

Smile Direct Club started in 2014, so it comes across as a new company compared with Invisalign. They work similarly to them, but Smile Direct Club’s more distinctive characteristic is that they specialize in teledentistry.

What Exactly is Teledentistry?

As the name hints, teledentistry represents all the methods to provide health information to the public through technology. These methods include all kinds of plans to give public dental awareness and even consultation.

How Does the Process Work?

Smile Direct

Smile Direct Club works similarly to any other clear aligner. It also takes a 3D image of the user’s teeth, but the main difference and what makes it stand from others is the teledentistry part.

Namely, with this kind of treatment, the patient won’t ever need to leave their house if they don’t want to. If they chose to, they can go to a SmileShop and do the scan in person. Smile Direct Club also provides the user with special kits to do the scans by themselves. After this, a licensed orthodontist will assign the aligners and monitor the patient’s improvement over time.

This kind of treatment is created with different stages, too. Smile Direct Club gives the patient all the clear aligners it will need at once, instead of making the patient go to the orthodontist to change it like in the Invisalign program.

Pros of Smile Direct Club

Like Invisalign, there are several notable benefits of using Smile Direct Club. These include:

  • They’re removable and made with transparent materials, which makes them almost invisible.
  • It’s a more affordable way to align your teeth when compared to other clear aligners’ brands.
  • Smile Direct Club has a large-scale SmileShop network, which gives you the option of remote printing service, and it also comes to your home for free.
  • Your buy includes teeth whitening products made to complement your Smile Direct Club program.
  • Smile Direct Club results are quicker. It usually takes 6 months to align a mild to moderate case of teeth misalignment.
  • The company does not use any industrial chemicals.
  • You don’t have to go to an in-office consultation to get your treatment.
  • Their customer service is remarkable. Most of the time, they give an immediate response regarding any requirement through the Smile Direct Club page or even email.

Cons of Smile Direct Club

Smile Direct Club isn’t perfect, though. Even though they have many benefits, their downsides include:

  • The plan treatment price doesn’t include retainers, and the user will have to buy them separately.
  • Smile Direct Club doesn’t treat severe cases of teeth misalignment.
  • Smile Direct Club can’t treat malocclusion or bite problems like underbite or overbite. 
  • Every 90 days, the patient will have a virtual consultation to see the progress. It seems like a long time compared to other clear aligners where the patient has to go monthly to consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is a clear aligner?

Answer: Clear aligners are a type of orthodontic treatment. Their main objective is to fix different kinds of teeth misalignment, and unlike braces, they are transparent.

Question: Do clear aligners work as well as braces?

Answer: Yes! The main difference between the two is that aligners are easily removable, whereas braces are not. Invisalign states the success rate of their clear aligners is 85% over 6 million patients.

Question: What is the main difference between Invisalign and Smile Direct Club?

Answer: The principal difference is the user interaction with the dentist. Smile Direct Club offers a teledentistry service. On the other hand, Invisalign proposes an in-person consultation with the orthodontist.

Question: What do Invisalign and Smile Direct Club have in common?

Answer: There are a few things that Invisalign and Smile Direct Club have in common, such as:

• They have a group of licensed dentists and orthodontists who make and supervise the treatments.
• They personalize the clear aligners and treatments for each patient.
• They use advanced technology and effective programs to assign their patient’s plans.

Question: How are clean aligners made?

Answer: Smile Direct Club only uses 3D teeth printing in their stores. The user can also make the scans themselves with a remote kit with all the instructions about its use. On the other hand, besides 3D printing, Invisalign also takes samples of the user’s teeth with plaster and x-rays to see their bone and root structure.

Question: Which one is cheaper between Invisalign and Smile Direct Club?

Answer: Smile Direct Club is significantly more affordable, at anywhere between ½ to ¼ the cost of Invisalign. 

Question: How much does Invisalign cost?

Answer: It depends on how severe your case is and for how long you will need to be on treatment. The official Invisalign page says the price can vary from $3000–$7000.

Question: How much does Smile Direct Club cost?

Answer: It usually depends, but they generally charge about $1850.

Question: How long will I be on treatment with each company?

Answer: The more serious your malocclusion, the longer you will require the treatment. Most of the time, you will have to use the clear aligner for anywhere between 12 months and up to 18 months with Invisalign. 

However, Smile Direct Club claims their treatment takes about 6 months. It looks like a shorter amount of time, but Smile Direct Club can only treat mild cases, whereas Invisalign usually treats moderate to severe ones.

Question: How do I know if I need a clear aligner?

Answer: You can use this kind of treatment if you need to straighten your teeth, as simple as that. When you decide to use them, make an appointment with a licensed orthodontist from Invisalign or Smile Direct Club.

This is especially true if you have other severe teeth misalignments or in case you are not sure a clear aligner is right for you. The dentist will tell you if you qualify for the treatment and the reasons behind their decision.

Question: Does teledentistry really work?

Answer: Teledentistry is an excellent way for dentists and orthodontists to reach potential patients all across the countries in the world. However, there is the disadvantage that the patient won’t ever go to a real office, and it might be hard to follow up the treatment because of it. It’s a method where a big deal of the results will depend on the patient discipline.

An assigned practitioner will constantly monitor the patient’s progress, but it’s up to the patient to keep doing it.

Final Verdict

Invisalign and Smile Direct club are two companies dedicated to the clear aligners industry. They both perform a 3D scan of the user’s teeth. After that, they decide whether the user is a candidate for the treatment or not. Also, they make a set of clear aligners the patient had to use for a specific amount of time, depending on the orthodontist’s recommendation.

 Another similarity is that these companies assign a licensed dentist or orthodontist to each patient to supervise the process. It can be either in a personal consultation where the user goes to their office or by teledentistry. So, if they both are too similar, which one is better?

If we were to choose one, we would pick Invisalign. Their years being successful in the market guarantee that they take their company seriously. The only con that makes us doubt buying an Invisalign clear aligner will be the price; they are expensive, and the treatment doesn’t give you results that fast. It would be an investment not everyone can afford.

About Smile Direct Club, we’re just not 100% sure about teledentistry, as there are too many risks that can arise during a course of treatment. Nevertheless, we imagine Smile Direct Club has gained clients this last year because of the pandemic and because it’s easier and safer to do a consultation by video call.

So the bottom line? It really depends. Invisalign if you can afford it, but if you choose to go with Smile Direct Club because of the lower price, you have to be aware of the cons presented in this article. Nevertheless, our bet is on Invisalign.

Either way, we hope this article has been helpful in your way to pick which clear aligner is best for you. And above all, always remember to smile! 

If you still haven’t decided which to choose, check out more alternatives that are worth considering.

Karyl Trejo

Karyl is a freelance medical writer from the beautiful Central Coast of California. She has been writing professionally for over a decade and has written over a thousand well-researched, factual articles about dental healthcare. She is the go-to writer for hundreds of dental practices across the nation and readily knows the difference between an inlay and an onlay. She currently holds an AAT in Psychology, and when she’s not busy penning articles about teeth, she’s either working as an optician or chipping away at her next science fiction novel.​

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