- Alyssa Powell/Business Insider
- I got my teeth straightened in five months using SmileDirectClub’s invisible aligners.
- The cost of treatment is $1,895 plus $99 for retainers, regardless of how extensive your corrections are.
- Below, I’ll walk you through how to get started and what to expect from the process, plus how the aligners feel and what they look like when they’re on.
If you’re anything like me, you lost your retainers some odd years ago after a painstaking and expensive course of orthodontics that you didn’t pay for yourself. Your teeth have shifted slightly out of place, and now you want a quick way to fix them. Turns out those braces your parents paid for were shockingly expensive, and so is Invisalign, so you’ve turned to SmileDirectClub as a possible solution to your dental woes.
This is exactly what happened to me, and unfortunately, the area that was impacted most was my prime smile real estate. I became self-conscious about smiling big in pictures because I didn’t want the light to catch my one tooth that had started slipping behind the others. So, when I was given the opportunity to try SmileDirectClub, I jumped on it. I’m also getting married next year, so the timing was perfect.
Below I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know about using SmileDirectClub – from how much they cost to how I dealt with removing my retainers all the time at work (spoiler alert: not gracefully).
Step 1: Getting started with SmileDirect Club
The first thing you’ll do is fill out a very short survey on the SmileDirectClub website. It asks whether or not you’ve had braces in the past, what issues you want to deal with (crowding, overbite, spacing, etc.), and how severe those issues are. You’ll get an immediate response stating whether or not you’re a potential candidate for the program, and then it gives you the option to sign up for an in-person consultation if you live near an outpost, or an at-home impression kit you’ll administer yourself.
The consultations and kits cost $45 each, but if it turns out that you’re not a candidate based on anything they find, you’ll get a full refund. The full treatment plan costs $1,895 (plus $99 for retainers) regardless of how extensive your corrections are.
Before we go any further, it’s worth noting that SmileDirectClub does not use X-rays of your teeth to determine whether or not you’re a candidate. While each treatment plan is looked over by a dental professional, you still may want to talk with your dentist first to consider any potential drawbacks of a treatment, like possible spacing or bite-alignment issues.
Step 2: The consultation process
The consultation process will differ depending on if you choose to go into a SmileDirectClub office or do the impression kit at home. I went to an in-person appointment, so that’s all I can speak to personally, but the impression kit involves filling two trays with putty, biting down into them to leave an impression of your top and bottom teeth, and taking photos of your mouth with a very funny tool that tucks into your cheeks and holds your mouth open. I also had to do that in the office so they could fit the imaging wand all the way around my mouth.
- Sally Kaplan/Business Insider
The appointment was quick and easy. The dental professional ran a wand around the inside of my mouth to take pictures of my teeth, which then got converted into a model of my smile using advanced imaging technology.
Step 3: The plan
SmileDirectClub will show you the plan for how your teeth will adjust over time using a digital 3-D rendering. You’ll be able to confirm that you’re happy with the plan and schedule the delivery of your aligners. My course was for five months, but yours may be longer – it varies from person to person.
One thing that’s really great about SmileDirectClub is that even if you have a permanent retainer that has yet to be removed, they’ll design your aligners to fit without said retainer based on the 3-D imaging or impression kit. I have a permanent retainer on my bottom set of teeth, and though I decided against getting it removed for now, if I ever choose to do so, I can go through the course of bottom aligners later on. This time, I just chose to treat my top set of teeth.
Treating just the upper or just the lower set of teeth can create alignment issues in the long-run, but wasn’t personally an issue for me because my changes were minor. It’s definitely worth consulting your dentist about it beforehand.
The aligners will arrive all at once in a box that also houses tools to help you fit them, plus an LED whitening kit to keep your teeth nice and bright.
- Sally Kaplan/Business Insider
I do wish the little baggies the aligners came in were organized a little better. They come in a long, connected string of bags marked in order that can each be torn off and thrown away once you put your aligners in. But since I only chose to treat the top set of teeth due to my permanent retainer, it was tough to keep the bottom halves in their bags and not accidentally misplace any of them. Candid’s aligner box setup seems slightly more intuitive.
Step 5: Wearing the aligners
You’ll wear three different aligners over the course of one month: the first set for a week, the second set for a week, and the third set for two weeks. This gives your teeth the chance to settle into place, and by the last week of the month you won’t really feel pressure from the aligners. You also can’t see them in whatsoever – no one ever knew I was wearing them!
SmileDirectClub tells you to brush your teeth every time you eat, and try not to exceed two hours a day with the retainers off. Honestly, I didn’t follow either of these rules. At work, I’d often take them out in the bathroom in order to eat my breakfast and forget to put them back in until after lunch, and my teeth turned out just fine. But I recommend doing as SmileDirectClub said, not as I did. Frankly, it’s just a clunky process to remove them since your saliva gets into the retainers, so I highly recommend finding a private place in which to pull them out when you’re at work or out for dinner.
Everyone who found out I was using SmileDirectClub aligners asked me the same question: Does it hurt? The answer is that no, it doesn’t hurt, but it can be uncomfortable at times. There were a couple instances where I had to use the metal file on my Swiss Army knife to sand down little sharp bits that dug into my gums, but that was about the worst of it. Of course the aligners are going to be slightly tight for the first couple days of each week or two-week course, but that’s to be expected. These feel nothing like the excruciating tightening process of braces that you probably experienced as a kid.
Step 6: Finishing your course and getting your retainers
After you finish your course of aligners, you’ll want to get a set of retainers to keep your new smile in place. They’re thicker than the aligners but only need to be worn at night, save for the first two weeks when you’re supposed to wear them all day to get used to them.
The retainers cost $99, and should be replaced every six months or so. I’ll update this review in six months to let you know how mine have worn down, and when I plan on reordering another. I’m hoping I can take care of them well enough to keep it to once a year.
No matter how long your course is, everyone pays $1,895 for a set of SmileDirectClub aligners. This is the case even if you only want to straighten the tops or the bottoms; every order will include aligners for both sets regardless. For comparison, that price is only $5 less than Candid (which we’ve also reviewed), but about $1,600 less than the cheapest average treatment from Invisalign, which can cost up to $8,000. The difference is that Invisalign is done through your dentist’s office and, in some cases, qualifies for dental insurance coverage.
SmileDirectClub doesn’t take dental insurance directly, but your insurance provider may partially reimburse you for your treatment depending on your plan. They do accept HSA, FSA, and CareCredit as forms of payment, and they also offer a monthly payment plan that involves a $250 down payment and $85 monthly payments for 24 months. Just note that this will ultimately cost you about $400 more over time.
The bottom line
Overall, I had a really great experience using SmileDirectClub. I’m happy with how my teeth turned out, and I’m actually excited to see myself smiling in pictures now. Granted, my changes were very minor so I can only speak from the perspective of someone who didn’t undergo a major transformation, but I’m pleased with how quick and simple the process has been.
I recommend looking into SmileDirectClub, but not before you check with your dentist to make sure you have the all-clear.