On the left you’ll see my very slight front snaggletooth, and on the right you’ll see how it was corrected using SmileDirectClub. The change is slight, but I’m really happy with it. Alyssa Powell/Business Insider
  • I had my teeth straightened in five months using SmileDirectClub’s invisible aligners. 
  • The treatment is $1,950 plus $99 for retainers, regardless of how extensive your corrections are.
  • Below is each step of my straightening process, how the aligners look and feel, and the final results.
  • Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews health products.

Reflecting on the “Smile Care Club Results,” it’s clear that the journey to a perfect smile can often begin with a youthful misadventure. Like many, my childhood involved the hefty investment of orthodontics, only for the fruits of that labor to be somewhat undone when I misplaced my retainers shortly thereafter. This led to a slight, yet noticeable, misalignment of my teeth over time. The desire for a quick and effective solution to rectify this became a priority, especially as I entered adulthood.

The predicament of feeling self-conscious about my smile in photographs, particularly wary of how a single tooth might appear if it caught the light just so, was a source of personal discomfort. The prospect of revisiting orthodontic correction was daunting, not least because of the high costs associated with options like Invisalign — a path eerily reminiscent of the expensive braces experience financed by my parents years earlier.

Enter SmileDirectClub, a beacon of hope offering a more accessible alternative both in terms of cost and time commitment. With prices touted to be a fraction of those associated with Invisalign, coupled with a significantly reduced timeline for treatment, the appeal was undeniable. The opportunity to trial SmileDirectClub’s aligners emerged as a serendipitous prelude to my wedding, a milestone event where I envisaged myself smiling with unbridled joy and confidence.

Embarking on the SmileDirectClub journey wasn’t a decision made lightly. The importance of seeking professional dental advice before pursuing any treatment was paramount. Nevertheless, my personal account of navigating this path with SmileDirectClub underscores a transformative experience. For those contemplating a similar course to address dental adjustments, this recount serves as a testament to the potential benefits and considerations involved in the process.

Concerns with SmileDirectClub, right off the bat:

Addressing the “Concerns with SmileDirectClub, Right off the Bat,” it’s essential to navigate the evolving landscape of teledentistry with a discerning eye. From its emergence, the teledentistry sector, including prominent players like SmileDirectClub and Candid, has been met with skepticism by dental professionals. One of the primary criticisms revolves around the industry’s approach to evaluating a patient’s oral health. Specifically, the lack of comprehensive assessments, such as X-ray examinations, before recommending treatment plans. This omission raises concerns about the inability to consider critical factors such as nerves, blood supply, and bone structure beneath the gums, which could significantly influence treatment outcomes. Therefore, consulting with a dentist or orthodontist prior to initiating services with SmileDirectClub is strongly advised.

Further complicating the perception of SmileDirectClub are legal challenges, notably a lawsuit brought forth by a coalition of orthodontists and consumers. This group alleges that SmileDirectClub has negatively impacted dental practices by engaging in unauthorized dental practices and deceiving customers. Despite these accusations, SmileDirectClub, headquartered in Nashville, insists on its compliance with legal standards and refutes the lawsuit’s allegations.

Customer feedback also plays a crucial role in shaping the narrative around SmileDirectClub. In a notable instance reported by the Nashville Business Journal in October 2019, SmileDirectClub highlighted its reception of over 56,500 reviews across various platforms within a three-month span, boasting an 86.9% positivity rate from over 49,000 favorable evaluations. Despite receiving 1,216 complaints through the Better Business Bureau over five years, SmileDirectClub emphasizes its commitment to resolving these grievances, noting that only 47 were clinically related.

Deciding to pursue treatment with SmileDirectClub ultimately rests with the individual, influenced by personal needs and the extent of dental adjustments required. My own experience with SmileDirectClub was positive, attributed to the minor nature of the adjustments I needed. For those considering SmileDirectClub, it’s vital to weigh these factors carefully, and I’ve compiled a comprehensive overview below to aid in making an informed decision.

Step 1: Getting started with SmileDirectClub

Getting Started with SmileDirectClub” marks the initial phase in your journey towards a more confident smile. Embarking on this adventure begins effortlessly on the SmileDirectClub website, where you’re prompted to complete a concise survey. This preliminary questionnaire inquires about your past orthodontic history, specifically if you’ve had braces. Additionally, it delves into the specifics of what you’re hoping to amend—be it crowding, overbite, spacing, among other dental concerns—and the severity of these conditions. This swift process leads to an instantaneous verdict on your eligibility for their program, subsequently offering you the choice to proceed with an in-person consultation at a nearby facility or opt for an at-home impression kit that you can manage independently.

Both the consultation and the at-home impression kit are priced at $45, ensuring a straightforward start to your SmileDirectClub experience. Notably, should the assessment conclude that you’re not a suitable candidate for the treatment, the company guarantees a full refund of this initial outlay. For those advancing beyond this stage, the comprehensive treatment plan is offered at a flat rate of $1,950, with an additional $99 required for retainers, irrespective of the complexity of your dental corrections.

An important consideration with SmileDirectClub is their decision against utilizing X-rays to ascertain treatment eligibility. Although each treatment scheme receives the scrutiny of a dental professional, it is advisable to consult with your dentist ahead of time. This discussion can help identify any potential complications that might arise from the treatment, such as issues related to spacing or bite alignment, ensuring you’re fully informed before proceeding with SmileDirectClub.

Step 2: The consultation process

The most beautiful I’ve ever felt, just getting ready to have my teeth photographed by a high-tech imaging wand. Sally Kaplan/Business Insider

The Consultation Process” in your SmileDirectClub journey is a pivotal moment that shapes the path forward, tailored to your specific dental needs. The nature of this consultation hinges on whether you opt for an in-person visit to a SmileDirectClub office or decide on the at-home impression kit route. My firsthand experience is rooted in an in-person consultation, offering a unique perspective on this direct interaction. However, for those curious about the at-home impression kit, it entails a slightly different approach.

The at-home kit process involves the use of two trays filled with a putty-like substance. Participants are required to bite down into these trays, creating detailed impressions of both the upper and lower teeth. The kit also includes a rather peculiar, yet ingenious tool designed to hold your mouth open by tucking into your cheeks, facilitating the capture of comprehensive photos of your mouth’s interior. This step, albeit amusing in its execution, is crucial for acquiring accurate dental records.

During my in-person consultation at a SmileDirectClub facility, I encountered a similar procedure. The session necessitated the use of the cheek-tucking tool to ensure unobstructed access for the imaging wand, enabling it to navigate the entirety of my mouth’s landscape efficiently. This process, whether conducted at home or within the clinical setting of an office, is instrumental in laying the groundwork for a customized treatment plan, tailored to address and rectify your dental concerns with precision.

The wand imaging technology is so advanced that the photos even captured tiny bits of food in my teeth. I probably should have brushed them beforehand. Sally Kaplan/Business Insider

The Consultation Process” at SmileDirectClub exemplifies efficiency and technological sophistication, designed to streamline your journey toward achieving the perfect smile. My personal experience with the appointment underscores its swift and hassle-free nature, a testament to the convenience offered by SmileDirectClub’s innovative approach.

Upon arrival, the dental professional employed a high-tech wand, meticulously maneuvering it within the confines of my mouth. This device captured detailed images of my teeth, serving as the cornerstone for the subsequent steps in the treatment plan. The captured imagery underwent a transformation through advanced imaging technology, culminating in a precise, digital model of my smile.

This model is pivotal, as it lays the groundwork for a personalized treatment strategy, aimed at addressing individual dental concerns with unmatched accuracy. The use of cutting-edge technology in this consultation process not only expedites the initial assessment phase but also ensures that the proposed treatment aligns perfectly with the unique contours of each client’s smile, setting a solid foundation for the transformative journey ahead.

Step 3: The plan

You can see that pretty much the only adjustment involved my four front teeth, so my bite wasn’t affected. Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

The Plan” with SmileDirectClub unveils a tailored roadmap to your new smile, leveraging the power of digital technology to forecast the transformation. Upon finalizing the consultation phase, SmileDirectClub introduces you to a futuristic depiction of your dental journey—a digital 3-D rendering illustrating the sequential adjustments your teeth will undergo.

This pivotal moment allows you to visually confirm your satisfaction with the proposed treatment plan, setting the stage for the next crucial step: scheduling the delivery of your custom aligners. My personal treatment trajectory was outlined over a span of five months, though it’s important to note that duration can vary significantly among individuals, tailored to meet the specific needs of each person’s dental profile.

An interesting facet of SmileDirectClub’s approach is its adaptability concerning permanent retainers. For those like me, who have a permanent retainer, perhaps on the lower teeth, and are not inclined to remove it, SmileDirectClub ingeniously designs the aligners to work in harmony with the existing retainer. This was precisely my scenario, where I opted to maintain my lower permanent retainer. Despite this, the flexibility of the treatment allowed me to focus on adjusting only my top set of teeth at this juncture, with the option to address the bottom set at a later date, should I choose to remove the retainer.

It’s worth acknowledging that focusing treatment on just the upper or lower set of teeth has the potential to lead to alignment challenges over time. However, in cases where the adjustments are minimal, as was mine, the impact can be negligible. Nonetheless, this is a critical aspect to discuss with your dentist prior to embarking on the treatment, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the potential implications and ensuring the best possible outcome for your dental health.

Step 4: Receiving the aligners

This is the top level of the box your aligners will come in. There’s a drawer underneath that holds your full course. Sally Kaplan/Business Insider

Receiving the Aligners” marks a significant milestone in your SmileDirectClub journey, transitioning from the planning phase to tangible action. This step culminates with the arrival of your personalized aligners, delivered directly to your doorstep. Enclosed within a single package, you’ll discover not only the set of aligners designed to gradually perfect your smile but also a suite of accessories engineered to enhance the treatment experience.

Included in this comprehensive kit is an assortment of tools meticulously curated to assist in the fitting process of the aligners. These tools are instrumental in ensuring that your aligners are properly seated and comfortable, paving the way for an efficient and effective treatment process. But the attention to detail doesn’t end there; SmileDirectClub goes a step further by incorporating an LED whitening kit into the package. This addition serves a dual purpose: it not only complements the straightening process but also works to brighten your teeth, ensuring that your smile is not just aligned but radiantly white.

This thoughtfully assembled package embodies SmileDirectClub’s commitment to providing a seamless and enriched treatment experience, allowing you to embark on your journey to a perfect smile with confidence and excitement.

The baggies that your set of aligners comes in will tell you what month and week you’re on. Sally Kaplan/Business Insider

Receiving the Aligners” in your SmileDirectClub journey introduces a practical aspect of the process—the organization and management of your aligners upon their arrival. When the aligners are delivered, they come neatly packed in a series of small baggies, each connected in a row and clearly marked to indicate the sequence in which they should be worn. This system allows for each aligner to be easily removed and discarded after use, facilitating a straightforward progression through your treatment.

However, it’s worth noting a personal observation regarding the packaging’s practicality, especially for those, like myself, who opt for a targeted treatment. In my case, I decided to focus solely on correcting the alignment of my upper teeth, considering the presence of a permanent retainer on the lower set. This decision introduced a minor challenge in terms of managing the aligners for the bottom teeth, which remained unused. Keeping these bottom aligners organized without inadvertently misplacing any proved to be slightly cumbersome, as they were intended to be part of the sequential use and disposal flow.

This experience highlighted a potential area for improvement in the packaging and organization of the aligners, particularly for cases involving partial treatment. A comparison could be drawn with Candid’s aligner packaging, which may offer a more intuitive setup for managing and accessing the aligners throughout the treatment process. Nonetheless, this aspect is but a small component of the overall journey with SmileDirectClub, which remains focused on delivering a personalized path to achieving a straighter, more confident smile.

Step 5: Wearing the aligners

No one, including me, could ever tell when I was wearing my aligners. Sally Kaplan/Business Insider

Wearing the Aligners” is a critical phase in your SmileDirectClub experience, encapsulating the essence of the journey towards achieving your desired dental alignment. This step involves a systematic progression through a set of three different aligners over a one-month period. Initially, you will wear the first set of aligners for a week, followed by the second set for another week, and finally, the third set for a duration of two weeks. This staggered approach allows your teeth to gradually adjust and settle into their new positions, with the intention of minimizing discomfort towards the end of each cycle.

An impressive aspect of these aligners is their virtual invisibility when worn. Their discreet nature ensures that your dental correction process remains a private affair, often going unnoticed by others. This feature significantly enhances the user experience, providing confidence and convenience throughout the treatment period.

Despite the recommendations provided by SmileDirectClub, which include brushing your teeth after every meal and limiting the time spent without the aligners to no more than two hours daily, adherence to these guidelines can vary among individuals. My personal adherence to these rules was less than strict; I frequently removed the aligners during work hours for meals and occasionally delayed their reinsertion. Remarkably, even with this deviation from the suggested practices, the outcome of my treatment remained positive. However, it’s worth noting the importance of following the provided guidelines to ensure optimal results and minimize potential issues.

The removal process of the aligners, admittedly, can be somewhat cumbersome, primarily due to the nature of the fit and the inevitability of saliva buildup. This underscores the recommendation to find a private space for removal, particularly in public or professional settings, to manage this aspect of the treatment with discretion.

A common inquiry regarding the use of SmileDirectClub aligners revolves around the experience of discomfort or pain. It’s reassuring to note that while the sensation is not painful, it can be characterized by moments of discomfort, particularly when adjusting to a new set of aligners. Any minor issues, such as the presence of sharp edges, can typically be resolved with simple modifications, like the use of a metal file for smoothing.

It’s natural to experience a sense of tightness with each new aligner set, a sensation distinct from the more intense adjustments associated with traditional braces. For those concerned about potential changes to their bite, it’s comforting to know that significant alterations are unlikely, especially in cases involving minimal corrective needs. This phase is fundamental in steering the treatment towards the envisioned outcome, marking a significant stride in the journey towards dental perfection.

Step 6: Finishing your course and getting your retainers 

Finishing Your Course and Getting Your Retainers” marks the culmination of your alignment journey with SmileDirectClub and the beginning of maintenance mode to preserve that hard-earned smile. Once you’ve navigated through the series of aligners and witnessed the transformation of your teeth, the next crucial step involves transitioning to retainers. These devices, while thicker than their aligner counterparts, play an indispensable role in ensuring the longevity of your new dental alignment.

Initially, you’ll find that these retainers require a bit more commitment—they need to be worn continuously, day and night, for the first two weeks. This adjustment period is essential for acclimatizing to the feel of the retainers and allowing your teeth to stabilize in their new positions. After this initial phase, the retainers only need to be worn at night, simplifying the process and minimizing any impact on your daily life.

The retainers come at an additional cost of $99 and are typically advised to be replaced every six months to ensure they remain effective. However, the frequency of replacement can vary based on personal habits, particularly for those who tend to grind their teeth at night. My own experience extended the lifespan of the retainers to about a year before the wear and tear from nighttime grinding necessitated a replacement. This indicates that the standard recommendation for replacement can be flexible, contingent upon the individual’s usage and the degree of teeth grinding, if present.

This phase is a testament to the importance of post-treatment care in preserving the alignment results achieved through SmileDirectClub. By committing to the use of retainers as directed, you can enjoy the benefits of your new smile for years to come.

How much SmileDirectClub costs

“How Much SmileDirectClub Costs” delves into the financial aspect of achieving your ideal smile transformation through SmileDirectClub, offering a clear breakdown of expenses associated with their aligner treatment. The pricing structure is straightforward and inclusive, ensuring that every individual pays a flat rate of $1,950 for a full set of SmileDirectClub aligners. This fee remains constant regardless of the complexity of your dental needs or whether you choose to focus on either the top or bottom set of teeth, with each order comprising aligners for both.

When placed in comparison, this pricing is marginally lower than that of Candid, another company in the teledentistry space, with only a $5 difference. However, when juxtaposed with Invisalign, a traditional orthodontic treatment option, the cost savings become significantly more pronounced. Invisalign treatments, which are administered through a dentist’s office and sometimes covered by dental insurance, can escalate to as much as $8,000, making SmileDirectClub a notably more affordable alternative by approximately $1,600 to $6,050.

While SmileDirectClub does not process dental insurance claims directly, they facilitate a process whereby customers may seek partial reimbursement from their insurance providers, depending on the specifics of their dental plan. Additionally, SmileDirectClub accommodates a variety of payment options to enhance accessibility and affordability. These include the acceptance of Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), and CareCredit. For those preferring to spread out the cost, a financing option is available, requiring a $250 down payment followed by monthly installments of $89 over a 24-month period. It’s important to note, though, that choosing the monthly payment plan results in a total cost that is approximately $400 higher over the duration of the payment period compared to the one-time payment option. This comprehensive outline of the cost structure aims to provide clarity and assist potential customers in making informed decisions about pursuing treatment with SmileDirectClub.

The bottom line

“The Bottom Line” encapsulates my personal journey with SmileDirectClub, a venture that has significantly enhanced my confidence and satisfaction with my smile. Engaging with SmileDirectClub’s services has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. The transformation of my teeth, although modest, has had a profound impact on my self-perception, especially in how I view myself in photographs. The joy of smiling without reservations is a newfound pleasure that I attribute to the effectiveness and simplicity of the SmileDirectClub process.

It’s important to note that my treatment involved only minor adjustments. Thus, my testimony reflects the experience of someone whose dental corrections did not require extensive intervention. Despite the limited scope of my treatment, the speed, efficiency, and ease of the SmileDirectClub process have left me thoroughly satisfied with the outcome.

For those contemplating a similar path to dental improvement, I advocate for considering SmileDirectClub as a viable option. However, it’s crucial to initiate this process by consulting with your dentist. Securing professional approval ensures that you embark on this journey with a comprehensive understanding of your dental health, aligning with the prerequisites for a successful and safe treatment experience with SmileDirectClub. This precautionary step not only fortifies your decision but also maximizes the potential for achieving the best possible results, mirroring the positive experience that I’ve had.

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