About SmileDirectClub

Interested in straightening your teeth, but don’t have the time for regular orthodontist visits? Or, do you have the time, but cringe at the thought of traditional braces?

In either instance, SmileDirectClub promises to deliver an “innovative remote treatment process” that can help you straighten your teeth and brighten your smile using custom invisible aligners.

We’re told this process allows SmileDirectClub to evaluate a patient’s teeth from anywhere, which, when combined with the their 3D treatment modeling and direct-to-patient convenience, means they can work around your schedule at a fraction of the price. You’ll even get to know what your new smile will look like before beginning the process.

Despite this, SmileDirectClub promises to do this without sacrificing quality. In fact, they claim to “use the same labs as our competition.”

Regardless of what you’re shopping for, it’s difficult to resist 50% off. But will you have the same teeth-straightening experience with SmileDirectClub as a traditional orthodontist? In other words, even if it is less, does SmileDirectClub represent a solid deal? That’s exactly what we’ll explore here.

How Does SmileDirectClub Work?

Overall, we can break the SmileDirectClub process down into two steps:

Step 1: Initial Consultation & Setup

First, you’ll make an appointment through SmileDirectClub’s website to visit one of their SmileShop locations. There, you’ll be able to have a 3D map of your smile taken by a certified smile tech, which they claim takes about 30 minutes. After you’re finished, you’ll be able to immediately see the results.

Then, your scan is digitally sent to a licensed dentist, who will “create a personalized plan showing you exactly how your new smile will look.”

Not near a SmileShop location? If so, you can complete an online photo assessment (you’ll need to have a friend’s assistance to take the pictures). Afterward, the company will send you an at-home impression kit, which will then be sent to a “state-licensed dental professional” for “review and set-up.”

Once all of this occurs, SmileDirectClub’s dental professionals will determine your exact treatment option based on the information available. If you have any questions, you can reach out to a SmileDirectClub patient care specialist via phone, email, or live chat.

From initial consultation through the end of your treatment plan, SmileDirectClub’s proprietary SmileCheck software provides a connection between your dental professional and helps manage your case records. There, your doctor will be able to view uploaded images and dental impressions, as well as prescribe your treatment, while SmileTechs can use the system to perform their work and manage your case file.

Step 2: Work the System

SmileDirectClub claims that in many cases, you’ll receive your treatment plan in days. If you pay all at once, you’ll be sent a complete 5-aligner set, each of which will need to be worn in the proper order, 20-22 hours per day, removing them only for meals and drinking beverages other than cool water.

On the other hand, if you choose a monthly option, you’ll receive a new set of aligners once per month as your payments are processed, according to your treatment plan schedule. Each package will be marked and numbered so you’ll always know in which sequence the aligners should be worn.

As soon as you start wearing your aligners, one of SmileDirectClub’s smile care specialists will check in regularly until you “graduate with your new smile.” This can take anywhere between 3 and 10 months, depending on your diagnosis.

Once you’re finished, you’ll need to continue wearing your custom fit retainer while you sleep in order to avoid dental relapse (i.e. your teeth attempting to shift back into their original position).

Exactly how do these invisible aligners do their job?

How Do Invisible Aligners Straighten Teeth?

Unlike braces, which use interconnected brackets and wires, invisible aligners “are a series of tight-fitting custom-made retainers that slip over the teeth.” Each tray will slowly move your teeth into the desired position, leaving you with straighter teeth and a brighter smile over the course of several months. Regarding SmileDirectClub specifically, their aligners are made of BPA-free plastic, which is fairly common amongst the competition (more about this soon).

The Pros & Cons of Invisible Aligners

On the positive side, compared to traditional braces, invisible aligners:

  • Can be removed and generally aren’t as noticeable
  • Often need to be worn for shorter periods of time
  • Remove having to worry about difficulty eating or food getting stuck
  • Cause less discomfort. However, you’ll still feel some discomfort, especially after the first few days of changing to a new tray
  • Offer little chance of tooth discoloration

However, invisible aligners aren’t perfect. Here are some potential drawbacks:

  • Price (invisible aligners can be twice as expensive as metal braces, or more).
  • You’ll have to brush after each meal, or your aligners could become stained.
  • You’ll also need discipline in order to stick to your treatment plan and keep the trays in place 22 hours per day.
  • Invisible aligners can’t be used for those with bridgework, or those with complicated issues requiring moving teeth vertically, rotating canines or premolars, or those with anything more than mild-to-moderate crowding, rotation, and/or bite correction.

If invisible aligners sound like an ideal solution, how much will you pay through SmileDirectClub?

How Much Does SmileDirectClub Cost?

Your online SmileDirectClub assessment is completely free, which will help you find a nearby location. When visiting a SmileShop, you’ll need to pay a $95 evaluation fee. If it’s determined that you’re not a suitable candidate, this fee will be refunded.

When the time comes. SmileDirectClub provides two payment options for their clients:

  • Single Payment: $1,500. If you choose this option, the company will send you a complimentary tube of whitening gel.
  • SmilePay Monthly Payments: Pay $250 at the time of purchase, plus $99 per month for 15 months, which includes lab setup costs. In total, you’ll pay $1,735.

Once your treatment plan is complete, don’t forget that you’ll have to pay another $99 for a retainer set.

Other miscellaneous SmileDirectClub fees include a $95 missed appointment fee, a $50 fee for each replacement tray if lost or damaged, as well as a $49 fee for additional impression kits. Regarding this last one, the fee “can be deducted from your treatment plan cost when you purchase your aligners.”

Finally, SmileDirectClub provides a Confident Smile Guarantee, which stipulates that if you’re dissatisfied for any reason, simply return your unused aligners and they’ll refund the prorated amount. In order to request one (or to ask any questions), customer service can be reached at 800-848-7566.

Does SmileDirectClub Accept Insurance?

Here’s what the company has to say:

If your dental plan provides orthodontic benefits you may be reimbursed directly from your insurance company after purchasing your aligners. SmileDirectClub doesn't accept direct payment from insurance companies.

What Kinds of Reviews Will You Find for SmileDirectClub?

Considering that SmileDirectClub (formerly Smile Care Club) has been around since 2008, there wasn’t a whole lot of online customer feedback at the time of our research. And what feedback there was seemed to be largely through video.

For example, YouTube user Ashley S posted four reviews for SmileDirectClub spanning the course of a month. Overall, she claims she experienced a very long delay at the beginning, without hearing so much as a peep from the company. She spoke with customer service on several occasions, which only served to further frustrate her—and even after finally receiving her aligners, she found the top one didn’t fit well at all.

On the other hand, misselissalk seems to have had a much better experience with SmileDirectClub, finding them less expensive the competition, while receiving everything right on time. She also enjoyed the 3D digital model that shows you what your teeth will look like with each tray.

Interestingly, she was able to correct her top teeth only. Per their FAQ, the company generally recommends against straightening just the top or bottom, since this can significantly change your bite.

She noted that SmileDirectClub’s aligners didn’t hurt at all, but they did give her a slight lisp. She didn’t like brushing her teeth after eating or drinking something other than water, and felt that the email communication between her and the company was “kinda poor.” Specifically, she noted long response times with several follow ups required.

In her follow up video, misselissalk provides some great product tips to accompany your aligners, so be sure to give it a view as well.

As a company, SmileDirectClub had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (as of 7/16/16), based on 19 closed complaints. Most of these seemed to reference poor customer service, problems receiving aligners on time, or difficulties obtaining refunds. The company responded to each of the complaints.

Who, exactly, is behind the company?

Who Founded SmileDirectClub?

Based out of Nashville, TN, SmileDirectClub was co-founded by Doug Hudson, David Katzman, Jordan Katzman, and Alex Fenkell, who recognized that 3D printing and telehealth “could bring about disruptive change to the invisible aligner market” by delivering “dramatically lower” prices. You can even find Doug’s original Indiegogo campaign pitching the idea of SmileDirectClub.

From a financial perspective, SmileDirectClub is backed by Camelot Venture Group, the same private investment group behind 1-800-CONTACTS, Quicken Loans, and many other successful direct-to-consumer companies.

Is SmileDirectClub Better Than Invisalign? Should You Join?

According to some sources, the average cost of an Invisalign treatment plan treatment plan is $5,000, compared to SmileDirectClub’s flat full-pay price of $1,500. That’s well over a 60% savings, which is huge.

On top of this, there don’t appear to be any clear (no pun intended) differences between the BPA-free plastics used between Invisalign and SmileDirectClub’s trays, or the results you might achieve with them.

In fact, SmileDirectClub claims their trays come from many of the same labs used by the mainstream competition, and you won’t have to glue any clips to your teeth. You will, however, probably have to wear a retainer for the rest of your life.

Even compared to traditional braces—which can also cost up to five grand and might look unsightly—SmileDirectClub’s aligners seem to have a sharp advantage.

Taking all of this together, does this mean a SmileDirectClub treatment plan will deliver straighter teeth and a brighter smile? As long as you only require mild to moderate straightening, it certainly seems like it might fit the bill. And if your personal preferences dictate, you might be able to save a whole lot of moolah compared to the competition.

How well did SmileDirectClub work for you? Give us the inside scoop by writing your very own review below!

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8 Customer Reviews for SmileDirectClub

Average Customer Rating: 2.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 2 4 star: 1 3 star: 0 2 star: 1 1 star:  4
Bottom Line: 38% would recommend it to a friend
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  • Great product and great value

    • Stillwater, OK,
    • Aug 18, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had braces when I was a teenager. I was not instructed to wear retainers, and my teeth (especially bottoms) are now worse than before I had braces in the first place. I am very self-conscious about my crooked teeth and had been looking to get braces for over a decade. I am a "mature" user of the product and have had them for one month. VERY impressed already. I can see a difference and the fact that they give you whitener too makes me want to show off my smile even more.

    I still have several months left, but I am thrilled with the cost savings and improvement in my smile and confidence.

    Yes, there was a delay in the first shipment, but I had waited years to do this so, what was another week. Be patient; it's worth it.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 8 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Horrible

    I had a horrible time working with this company. Every step of the way was difficult. They do not follow through with what they say they will do. My aligners broke OFTEN, so I had to call them about once a month to get a new set of aligners, and every time the customer service representative said they would get a new set shipped out, but they NEVER shipped out a new set of aligners.

    I ALWAYS had to call a second and sometimes a third or fourth time to ask again if I could get a new set of aligners. One of my aligner sets was even missing a tooth! The customer service representatives do not communicate well with each other because I would tell one representative I had a badly made set of aligners and that representative said they'd fix it. After a few days with no word from SmileDirect, I would call back and ask them about it, and they would tell me they had no record of my previous issue.

    I always had to call multiple times asking for a new set of aligners before they would ever send a new set out. Most of the time, I was wearing broken aligners for weeks at a time because they couldn't get their stuff figured out. During the last week of my month three, I realized that I never received my month four package and that I would need to be changing into in a few days.

    So I called SmileDirect, and they told me that they were backlogged and that I would not be receiving my next month of aligners. They did not give me an estimate of when I would get them; they simply said I wouldn't get them. Plus, they were NOT going to inform me that I would not be receiving my next set of aligners because they were backlogged. If I hadn't reached out and asked them about it, they would have never told me. Last, but most definitely not least, after making four impressions of my top and bottom row of teeth, SmileDirect told me I needed to wear aligners for four months in order to have straight teeth.

    At the end of those four months, guess what? My teeth were NOT straight. I called and told them, and they did say I would need to take new impressions and they would make me a new treatment plan. I am guessing I will need one or two more months of aligners than they originally prescribed in order to get straight teeth. Hopefully, they will not charge me for this as they were the ones who told me it would only take four months to get straight teeth when in reality it would take longer than that.

    Honestly, I think the invisible aligners you would get through your dentist/orthodontist would be higher quality than the ones SmileDirect give out. The SmileDirect invisible aligners are flimsy, not well fitting and very easily broken and quite frankly they don't even fit that well! You would DEFINITELY get better customer service and treatment plans through your dentist/orthodontist. I truly think you are getting what you are paying for with SmileDirect. You pay a cheap amount of money for cheap invisible aligners, cheap customer service and cheap results. The aligners have been working, but it has been a slow and painful process working with them and their crappy aligners. And honestly, my teeth were not bad to begin with. I only had cosmetic issues with my teeth. I did not have serious structural problems or anything like that. My teeth were an easy fix yet SmileDirect did a crap job fixing them. If you can afford to go elsewhere, I would seriously consider it.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 6 people found this review helpful

    In love with my new smile

    • New York,
    • Jul 10, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had amazing results with SmileDirect. After being quoted over $5000 for Invisalign, I thought I was never going to have straight teeth. But then came SmileDirect. It was the best decision I ever made. In only seven months my teeth are straight and white; it's like a dream.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 12 people found this review helpful

    OK product; terrible customer service/fulfillment

    • Brooklyn, NY,
    • Jul 8, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    This is a typical tech company who went to market without having fundamental customer service and fulfillment in place. I went through the initial consultation and received my aligners with a few issues, and my teeth started to align, but when I needed a replacement set of aligners, it took months, and my teeth reverted back. Customer service repeatedly lied and said they were overnighting them or they would be there in a week (etc., etc.), but it took months. I had to go back in trays to fix, which was a painful process.

    I finally finished and now it's been months since they were supposed to send my retainers and my teeth are reverting back again. I won't go through the process again and am trying to get my money back.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 13 people found this review helpful

    SmileDirect in-person experience

    The tech was very sweet. Stark setting. Unsanitary equipment.

    The tech had on blue surgical gloves she used to handle all equipment including iPad and 3D scanner. She put gloves after being all over the equipment into my mouth with the camera. I saw no alcohol or bleach products to clean equipment from one customer to another.

    Now I have a summer cold, quite possibly because the equipment was not cleaned from what I could see.

    Also, the gloves were not sanitary because the tech did not change them from the previous patient and kept them on even after handling the iPad that consumes touch all morning long.

    One gets what one pays for. This is fact.

    However, the tech very sweet in her chair side manner. The staff could use training in sanitary practice and the office could use some cheer from its stark appearance.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Jul 20, 2017

      Emma

      Why in the world didn't you ask her to change her gloves? It makes your whole comment seem exaggerated. I can't believe someone would just lay back and let a tech use obviously dirty gloves. If it is true, grow a pair and stand up for your health.

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  • 19 out 19 people found this review helpful

    Avoid this joke of a company!

    • Nashville, TN,
    • Jun 12, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Stay far, far away from this joke of a company. It has now been six months since I started my process and have yet to even receive a correct set of aligners.

    When I first ordered and sent my impressions, I was sent a message saying they weren't good enough, and I would have to pay for another set and send them in. Ok. The second set looked exactly like the first ones I sent, but they were fine. Great.

    Then four weeks later I get an email saying due to higher than expected volume, my aligners would be delayed two weeks. Ok.

    I get the first set. I can't even wear them. They are so sharp and flared out along the edges that they are literally cutting my cheeks and tongue. I called and am told to just file them. On the bottom, the aligner is so much wider than my teeth that I can actually stick the tip of my tongue in between the aligner and my tooth. I call back, and they tell me I have to take pictures and send them. So I do.

    A couple of weeks goes by, and nothing. I call and they say they need more pictures. What the? I send more pictures. A couple of weeks, and no more contact. I call back and am told they will review with the lab and get back to me. In the meantime, I've been sent a second round of aligners and receive an email wanting to know how my plan is progressing. You've got to be kidding me!

    I call and ask them what the heck they are doing. I'm told I am being sent a new impression kit so we can start all over. My aligners and plan will be expedited since I have had so much trouble. Funny, they have had no trouble or delay taking the payment each month for the last four months.

    I received the new impression kit and sent it back the next day. Three weeks later I get an email telling me my new plan is ready but I need to order and make another down payment. Needless to say, my blood boiled. I get on the phone and am told to hold. So I do. For 20 minutes. Only to be told the email was sent in error, that my new aligners will be shipped in 3-4 weeks. Excuse me? Three to four WEEKS?

    Needless to say, I have washed my hands of this joke of a company and am filing a charge-back for all payments.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 18 people found this review helpful

    Unresponsive to insurance questions

    • Boston, MA,
    • May 13, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    My biggest problem with SmileDirectClub is that they do not respond to any insurance questions. I have a premium dental insurance with Cigna so it should cover everything, but SmileDirectClub is not willing to spend any time to work with me to get the reimbursement.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • May 24, 2017

      MK

      It clearly states that if your insurance pays for Orthodontics, they pay you first, then they send the paid bill to Cigna, Aetna, Humana, etc. They should refund your money. If not, you still spent less than half of the deductible or even the total out of pocket expenses, plus time off from work and traveling.

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  • 15 out 18 people found this review helpful

    Very Happy with Smile Direct Club

    • New Port Richey, FL,
    • Apr 17, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I started SmileDirectClub back in August and I'm currently on tray 11 of 16. So far I'm very happy with my results and can't wait until I complete my treatment plan. I wanted Invisalign for years but it's too much money for me. Smile Direct Club was in my budget and I did a ton of research prior as well.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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