Being a standard millennial, I got my teeth straightened in middle school but stopped wearing my nighttime retainers in high school. Then my wisdom teeth came in, and there went the investment.
My teeth didn't look terrible, but they were janky enough that I figured I'd get some prices for Invisalign.
At my annual visit to the dentist, he quoted $4000 for an Invisalign treatment that would take just over half a year. That's horrific, so I looked into other options and found SmileDirectClub (SDC).
SDC is a relatively new "DIY" invisible aligner system. The catch is that it offers an Invisalign quality treatment at a significantly lower price point.
The price won me over. Compared to the $4k quoted for Invisalign, SDC only cost me $1,600 (in June 2017 with a $100 off promo code).
The price is independent of how long the treatment will take, and you can pay in one lump sum or with a payment plan.
How It Works
First, you have to create a model of your teeth for aligner fitting and treatment progression. There are two options:
- Purchase a impression kit to make your own model of your teeth at home. (You are refunded if you are deemed ineligible for treatment.)
- Visit a "SmileShop" in your closest city and have a professional create the model with a 3D scanner.
I chose the later since I lived near a SmileShop, and it's the free option.
After SDC receives your model, they'll determine whether or not you're eligible for treatment. If you're not (ie: you can't fix your mouth with just aligners), you'll have to visit an orthodontist.
If you are, SmileDirectClub will create your treatment program, provide you will 3D images of your progression, and give you the option to make a purchase.
Aligners didn't take long to manufacture and ship. In fact, I had them within one week.
They send you 3-4 sets at a time. Additional ones are sent every few weeks.
The experience? Invisible aligners are fantastic. You wear each set for two weeks, then move on to the next. Wear them all of the time except when you're eating. Eat anything you want.
Other people don't notice them, and they don't impede your speech much. Pain is practically non-existent; only one set out of 15 was uncomfortably painful for a few days.
SmileDirectClub vs Invisalign
So how do they compare to Invisalign?
I'm an authority because I was one of the lucky ones that had Invisalign in middle school for two years. And I can tell you that with one small exception, they are the exact same aligners. They're manufactured by the same company, and there's absolutely no difference in quality.
The one difference is that Invisalign has outward divots that help your teeth grip the aligner. (Your orthodontist places small bumps on your teeth that align with the divots.) Having experienced both aligners, I discovered that the grips don't make a difference.
The only important difference between an Invisalign treatment and a SmileDirectClub one is that with the former, you have a dentist/orthodontist to visit if there's a problem.
However, if your teeth really aren't that bad, you should be just fine with SDC.
The only way that you can mess up is if you ruin or lose a set. Even if you do, just call them for a replacement.
First, the little storage case they give you didn't fit my aligners. (I know I'm not their target audience, but that's unacceptable.)
Next, receiving the retainers I ordered at the end of my 30 week treatment ($100) took way long. They were sent to my old address too, but thankfully I still had a friend living there.
Results + Verdict
I was impressed (no pun intended) with the results. I'll post a pic of my results shortly.
- Cheap ($1600 vs $4000)
- Exact same quality as Invisalign
- Aligners arrived in the mail quickly
- Results are fantastic
- You don't have to periodically visit your dentist/orthodontist for new aligners and pay for the visit
- You don't have access to a dentist or orthodontist if something goes wrong (but nothing usually does)
- The ugly purple storage case didn't fit my aligners
- Making my final retainer took a long time, and they sent it to my old address
Should you do it? If you're teeth aren't super messed up, yes.
I'd give them a solid 9/10.
If you use this link to buy an impression kit, you'll get it for 50% off!
Full disclosure, if you use a link on this page to purchase an impression kit, I will receive a small commission that I'll use to keep my website online. For the sake of ethics, here's some more info:
- I was not paid or compensated to write this review
- I paid for SmileDirectClub at full price
- Potential for commissions never influences my content
I appreciate your support.