SmileDirectClub Review: A Detailed Look

By Lydia Noyes
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Jun 25, 2020

SmileDirectClub sells the promise of straighter teeth without the inconvenience of years of braces. These clear aligners will purportedly straighten your teeth within 4–6 months of continuous use—no orthodontics appointments necessary.

This straightening solution works best for mild to moderate teeth issues and is marketed towards teens, though you can use the system at any age.

The company claims that you’ll save up to 60% compared to braces and will get results more than twice as fast.

In this review, we take a look at the effectiveness and other important details of this product to help you decide if this is the right option for you.

Pros
  • More cost-effective than braces
  • Many positive customer success stories
  • Simple pricing plan, often covered by insurance
  • Faster results than traditional braces
Cons
  • Only works for mild to moderate tooth issues
  • Didn’t work for everyone
  • Some customer complaints about quality, receiving the wrong aligners
  • You won’t undergo comprehensive medical testing beforehand as you would with traditional dental procedures

How It Works

SmileDirectClub’s clear aligner therapy program works to shift your teeth into straighter positioning over about six months. You’ll receive several sets of custom-made retainers designed to build on the progress of each other.

These aligners are designed for mild to moderate teeth correction problems, including teeth spacing, crowding, rotations, and bite correction. You can take the company’s short assessment to learn whether you could be a candidate.

SmileDirectClub is available for anyone 12 and older, but teens under 18 need an adult’s permission before signing up.

You’ll start the ordering process either by visiting a SmileShop retail location for an in-person scan or ordering an Impression Kit online.

All SmileShops let you book 30-minute appointments, during which a SmileGuide will make a 3D image of your smile using an optical camera.

This scan is sent to the SmileDirectClub lab so that a licensed dental professional can assess your mouth.

If you’re found to be a good candidate for the aligners, the company will use those images to build your custom treatment plan, which includes before and after 3D visualizations of how your teeth will move during treatment.

Another option is to order an Impression Kit, which is priced at $29–$49, depending on the promotion.

The kit lets you take impressions of your smile and send them back to the company in the included prepaid packaging.

As with the SmileShop images, a dental professional will review your impression and create a plan for you if you qualify.

Your money will be refunded if the company’s experts determine that its aligners aren’t the right treatment option.

Once your treatment plan is approved, SmileDirectClub will send you a full set of custom-made aligners.

The set will include instructions for how to wear them and when to switch between them. You can register your aligners online for digital alerts when it’s time to upgrade.

Each aligner is designed to make slight adjustments to the position of your teeth so that they gradually shift into better alignment over several months.

You’ll likely feel some soreness for the first few days you wear a new aligner set, but it should go away within a few days.

As the aligners are removable, you won’t have any food restrictions during your treatment time. You also won’t need to complete any further in-office appointments but can reach out to the company for support through its telemedicine platform at any time.

The company will replace aligners for you at any time if necessary, but you might be charged up to a $99 replacement fee.

Treatment Options

Smile Direct Club currently offers two types of aligners—Clear Aligners and Nighttime Clear Aligners.

The Clear Aligners are designed for 22+ hours of wear per day and should give you results within four to six months.

This makes them the brand’s quickest option for straightening teeth, but you need to commit to wearing them at all times besides meals.

Nighttime Clear Aligners, in contrast, must be worn for only ten continuous hours at night. This makes them a more flexible option for anyone who doesn’t want to wear their aligners during the day or who is concerned about accidentally losing them.

Since you wear them for less time, it can take twice as long to achieve the same results.

After you finish your treatment, Smile Direct Club recommends that you purchase a custom-fit clear retainer. Wearing it as you sleep can prevent your teeth from shifting back over time.

Each retainer set costs $99 and will be available to purchase once you are within 4–5 weeks of completing your treatment. The company suggests you replace them every six months to keep them fresh.

The Difference Between SmileDirectClub Clear Aligners and Braces

The company claims to speed things up compared to traditional metal brackets by putting equal force on each tooth so they move simultaneously.

This speeds up the shifting process, but it also allows for less flexibility for correcting nuanced problems.

For example, the aligners won’t work for some people who have crowns or implants, and you might run into problems if you have missing teeth.

Traditional braces can be adjusted to put less pressure on these spots and may lead to fewer complications in the long run.

SmileDirectClub aligners are best for only mild to moderate teeth correction and can’t treat many of the bite and jaw disorders that regular braces address.

Dr. David Frank, the owner of Austin-based Walden Dental, has other concerns about invisible aligner companies. “The biggest concern is that there are no X-rays or any other data to rule out where the tooth roots are in position,” he shared. “It limits any type of accuracy of long term shifting of the teeth.”

This makes it almost impossible to tell if there are underlying root, bone, or jaw issues that are affecting your teeth, and whether using aligners could be ineffective or even harmful for them.

“If you have the presence of bone disease and gum disease, you will dissolve the root surface and you can cause permanently loose teeth that may result in them having to be removed,” he told us.

That’s not to say that aligners can’t be a viable option for some people, especially those who aren’t able to commit to regular braces.

“It may work for those people who have no access to dental care and have limited budgets,” Dr. Frank said, “for someone who is willing to take the risks of not having a well-controlled followed-up success, and has accepted the limitations of it not working.”

Pricing and Return Policy

Smile Direct Club offers two payment strategies. You can make a one-time payment of $1,895 or sign up for the SmilePay plan. This lets you pay $85 per month for 24 months after a $250 initial deposit, for a total cost of $2,290.

All customers over 18 will receive a complimentary one-week supply of Bright On teeth whitening. This includes four pens, each with four applications, that should be used twice per day to brighten your teeth. The results should last for up to 90 days.

The club claims their costs are up to 60% less than competitors. The American Dental Association reports that the average price for braces in the United States ranges from $5,000–$6,000, or about 59% more than making a one-time payment for the Smile Direct Club.

Your costs for Smile Direct Club will also include $49 for your initial 3D imaging and $200 a year for retainers to maintain your results.

Many insurance plans will pay for all or part of the procedure. It’s in-network for health providers such as UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Cigna. You can find out if you are covered here.

It’s possible to return any unused custom-made aligners within 30 days of receiving them.

Your treatment plan is also covered under warranty for 30 days past the end date. If at the end of the treatment, you don’t have a straighter smile, you can contact the company and have an expert re-evaluate your results. If approved, you’ll receive additional aligners to continue the straightening process.

Analysis of Customer Reviews

More than 550 customers have left reviews for the SmileDirectClub on our site, which average 3-stars and a 50% recommendation rating. Here’s a closer look at some of the most important points.

Common Compliments:

  • Worked as described to straighten teeth
  • Much cheaper than traditional straightening procedures
  • Improved teeth within six months of use

Common Complaints:

  • Some people were shipped the wrong sizes or were sent two top or two bottom aligners
  • Led to painful, bloody gums for some users
  • Some users had significant delays with their orders
  • Higher charges than some users were expecting

Popular Alternatives to the SmileDirectClub

SmileDirectClub Byte Invisible Aligners Candid
Cost $49 molding kit, $1,895–$2,290 for aligners $29 molding kit, $1,895 for aligners $95 for molding kit, $1,900 for aligners
Is Financing Available? Yes, $85/month for 24 months plus $250 deposit Yes, Bytepay starts at $62/month Yes, Affirm pricing starts at $80 per month
Treatment Timeframe 4–6 months for standard aligners (22+ hours per day) The average time is five months 6–11 months
How It Works Complete a 3D image of your mouth (either at home or at a SmileShop) and receive multiple sets of clear aligners that gradually shift your teeth to straighten them Send the company an impression of your mouth to receive a variety of aligners that straighten your teeth Make five impressions of your teeth to send to Candid (or go to a Candid studio). If approved, you’ll receive custom aligners to shift your teeth into a better position.
Return Policy 30-day returns for unused aligners Lifetime guarantee for a new set of aligners any time your teeth shift (barring the company’s exceptions) Refunds may be possible if your orthodontist approves a different treatment plan

Each of these three companies operates similarly. You’ll pay for an initial consultation/ teeth mold (which is usually refundable if you don’t qualify for treatment) and then pay a set amount for a series of aligners.

All three claim to work within the approximate same time frame, offer a payment plan, and can be potentially covered by insurance. In other words, you’re receiving a similar service with each one.

There are a few notable differences. SmileDirectClub requires you to pay an additional $99 for retainers post-treatment, while they are included free with Candid.

Likewise, Candid claims to have an orthodontist review your results, rather than a regular dentist. The company claims this extra level of education ensures that its aligners are more personalized to each patient.

One advantage of SmileDirectClub is that the company offers nighttime only aligners for the same price as traditional ones.

While this option doubles your treatment time, many people will likely prefer not having to worry about wearing the aligners during the day and potentially misplacing them after eating.

Overall, though, these differences are minor and your choice between the three will likely come down to personal preferences based around cost and your insurance plans.

The Bottom Line

SmileDirectClub claims to help thousands of people straighten their teeth quickly, and customer reviews seem to indicate that it works—at least for some people.

SmileDirectClub will only work for relatively moderate teeth alignment issues. This treatment can’t address or diagnose any underlying issues with your teeth and will do little to adjust your bite. In some cases, it has the potential to make teeth problems worse by loosening your teeth.

However, these aligners offer an excellent alternative to braces for many teens who wouldn’t be able to afford them otherwise. One clear advantage is that you can take them out at any point, which makes it possible to maintain better oral hygiene habits than some people do with braces.

Because of the potential drawbacks, we recommend talking with your dentist before committing to SmileDirectClub. They will help you understand whether you are potentially putting your mouth at risk and if your mouth issues could be better addressed in other ways.


Customer Reviews

Start your review of SmileDirectClub:
  • 563 Customer Reviews
  • 50% Recommend This Company
3.0 out of 5
5 star: 44% 4 star: 4% 3 star: 2% 2 star: 7% 1 star: 40%

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We have a zero-tolerance policy for fake reviews, and companies cannot control or alter any reviews at any time.

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  • Easy and great service

    • By Elaine G.,
    • Alexandria, VA,
    • Jul 6, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I went to the D.C. office to have the images of my teeth done electronically. The cost is $1,800 if you pay all at once (much more if you pay over time). I got a free whitening kit and a discount of $100.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Mark, the dental assistant, was great and answered all my questions
    • The facility was clean and lots of room to social distance
    • The process is simple and efficient
    • I had to wait 15 min but that was all

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

    • Jul 6, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      This is so exciting to hear! We are thrilled about this feedback. Thank you for the support!


  • Don't ever go to SmileDirect!

    • By Blayklin P.,
    • Oklahoma,
    • Apr 25, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    This is a very long review so grab some popcorn or something before you start reading this.

    I started SmileFirect very hopeful and happy to finally have my teeth fixed. I got my teeth scanned and was quoted with a 6-month plan (important for later). My new aligners arrived within 3 weeks and I was super excited about how fast they came (well, just know now that one thing is the only thing positive I have to say about them). I tear open Month 1 Week 1, and notice that there’s literally only 2 bottoms in the Month 1 Week 1 pouch so no top teeth retainer? I call them and they tell me I have two options: 1) Skip the first week and go straight to the second week, or 2) Wait 4-6 weeks extra for them to send me a new Week 1. I wish more than anything that I would’ve used that as my sign to RUN! So good decide to skip the first and go to the second week.

    I spend the next 4 months following their guidelines very strictly by making sure I have the aligners in at all times and to never switch them early. I hit Month 5 Week 1 and my aligners won’t slide onto my teeth at all. I mean, they literally didn’t even look like my teeth, they were so different from the week before that I couldn’t even believe they were for my teeth?

    So I call customer service and they agree to have me re-evaluated for new aligners. I was disappointed but okay, fine. So I get quoted that my new plan will be 3 months! And that they’ll be arriving in 4-6 weeks. Five weeks go by and I hadn’t even received an email saying they’d been shipped or anything so I call and see what’s going on. Their customer service is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I called over and over again, talked to multiple people, and had multiple people tell me they had no idea where my aligners were and had no idea when they’d be coming?! All they could tell me was that they were sorry?! At this point, I’ve been wearing Month 4 Week 3/4 aligners for 7 weeks!

    Now it’s been 7 weeks since ordering my new set of aligners and my Month 4 Week 3/4 top aligners break in half. I call and ask what I’m supposed to do since my new aligners clearly aren’t showing up anytime soon and I’m not kidding you, when I say they literally told me it wasn’t their problem that my aligners broke so if I don’t want to wear broken aligners, then I need to go invest in temporary aligners at Walmart until they can get my new aligners?! OKAY, WHAT? It’s not their problem?! They’re the ones taking an ungodly amount of time to give me my aligners?! So at this point, I’m pissed off but I want to have straight teeth, so fine!

    I proceed to call again and again and again over the next few weeks and get told repeatedly that they don’t know where the aligners are or when they’ll come but they are "oh so sorry". I end up calling during those weeks with the complaint of "okay, so now my aligners are officially in 4 broken pieces" and they still try to tell me it is not their problem! I end up throwing a massive fit with them every single day for the next 6 days in a row before finally, they offered to refund me $80 to go buy a temporary aligner! WHY AM I HAVING TO EVEN DO THIS, WHERE ARE MY ALIGNERS I PAID $2000 FOR?

    So finally after 14 WEEKS, I receive my new aligners! I see a 6-month supply (like I said earlier, they quoted me at only 3 months for my re-evaluation), so I call customer service and ask them why I received 6 months instead of 3. They literally put me on and off of hold for the next hour while they frantically try to figure out what they messed up this one billionth time and they proceed to tell me that "We’re so sorry. We just talked to our dental team and looks like you actually needed another 6 months, not 3. So this 6-month kit you got is the right one for your evaluation," and I repeat everything he said back to him and said "So you’re sure that this 6-month kit is right?" And he tells me he guarantees me that it’s right.

    So, I get 3 months into that kit and all of a sudden, I receive a random box of 3 months of aligners? I open them and THEY AREN'T EVEN MY TEETH! THEY ARE SOMEBODY ELSE'S ALIGNERS SITTING AT MY DOOR WITH MY NAME ON THEM! So I call them again and ask them what’s going on (didn’t tell them immediately about how the aligners weren’t even my teeth) and the customer service person proceeds to tell me "Oh, those are for your 3-month evaluation." So I explain how the customer service told me 3 months ago that I had to do 6 months over again and how the 3-month plan on my porch isn’t even my teeth! At this point, he’s literally not even talking anymore because he knows their company just meeeessssed something up! So after my long conversation, turns out the 6-month kit I got 3 months ago and had been wearing for 3 months were indeed the wrong kit just like I had thought. 2) The kit on my porch was for my teeth they just screwed them up so bad that I couldn’t recognize they were my teeth, and 3) That means that my new re-evaluation kit took, not 14 weeks like I had thought, but actually...26 WEEKS! Guys, that is half a year!

    So at this point, customer service is like well, just continue the 6-month plan like you’ve been doing...so I do that. Over the last 3 months of my plan, I realize my aligners are NOT OKAY! I’m waking up to blood-soaked aligners, my gums are completely destroyed, and my mouth is so sore I can’t even chew! So I call customer service and explain my issues and they said they’d have my dental call me back. They never call me back. They don’t even care that their customer is wrecking their mouth to the point of their aligners filling with blood? Not even remotely surprised at this point because I’ve already long decided this company is the trashiest company I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

    So, here I am today, April 23, 2020, on my last pair of aligners...Month 6 Week 3/4. What was supposed to be 6 months has now stretched into 15 months...and my teeth are still not straight. Imagine how you’d feel after being told you’d have straight teeth in 6 months to now being at 15 months and still having crooked teeth! I call the company and they are giving me two options: 1) I can quit on my own terms and stop now and deal with the fact I paid $2000 for nothing, or 2) I can be re-evaluated AGAIN and start a new plan with them for no cost. I talked to them about maybe being willing to be re-evaluated one more time (because obviously I want straight teeth) and they tell to send in pics for my re-evaluation and I get an email a few days later like "since we can’t do your scans in person because of Corona, we’re charging you $29 to have a kit sent to you but we’ll refund it back when you send us the kit." OKAY, I DID NOT GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO CHARGE MY CARD FOR ANYTHING!? (They charged it immediately.) And then when I asked about how long it’ll take to send me the kit, they have no idea! How are you going to place a temporary charge on people’s account with no response as to when they’ll take it off? IN THE MIDDLE OF 4.4 MILLION AMERICANS BEING UNEMPLOYED! Then, I ask them how long they think it’ll take for me to get my new plan after the kit has been sent back, plan is remade, aligners are made, and sent out...and they literally tell me they can’t give me an estimate but with everything going on, they won’t be surprised if it doesn’t come THIS YEAR! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING WITH ME!

    So after all of this I’ve gone through, I have no choice but to leave with my crooked teeth because I cannot go through what I’ve gone through these past 15 months any longer! So it started at 6 months, went to 15 months, and (considering the problems I had after my last re-evaluation- wore 4 pieced broken aligners for 7 weeks, waited 14 weeks for the wrong aligners, restarted 6 months) now they have every intention of me stretching it out another 3-6 months just to receive the aligners plus 6 months for my new plan. SO SCREW YOU SmileDirect! Six months turned into 24-37 months and that’s IF my new plan would’ve even straightened my teeth! How do they expect me to even trust them again at this point!? Also, their reviews on their site are FAKE! I checked their site at 3 pm today and they already had 7 amazing reviews posted from today alone?! Obviously they’re generating fake reviews!

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

    • Apr 27, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thanks for taking the time to leave us a review, Blayklin. This is incredibly disappointing to hear. We take pride in the level of care our team provides, so this is definitely not what we expect. I'm sending you a private message to assist further. Best, Madison.


  • You receive what you pay for!

    Overall Experience:

    It’s a great product, I’m very satisfied and happy with the results, for me it worked very well!

    Although there is one small thing that is on the negative side; when I ordered my retainers the order was not processed so after a while, I decided to contact them again and ask what’s going one with my order and they told me that there was no order placed and they will place it now and it will take up to a month until I will receive them, so in the end, I got delayed with the retainers (you have to wear them in the first 2 weeks 24/7 and after only 8 hours per night). I think they have to improve a little better in communicating with the customers at the end of the treatment. That’s all that I find on the negative side, other then that, if you are thinking to join the treatment go ahead!

    Your new smile is waiting for you!

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

    • Apr 9, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thank you so much for sharing, Alexandru! This means the world to us.


  • Longterm success remains to be seen

    • By Lyn A.,
    • British Columbia, Canada,
    • Apr 4, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Affordable.

    At the initial consult, I wasn't made aware that I'd be paying $125 every 6 months for new retainers indefinitely after my month-long process.

    How successful this process is remains to be seen (I'll give it a few years).

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

    • Apr 6, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Lyn, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. With any teeth straightening treatment, retainers are recommended to keep a customer's new smile. We offer these for $125 and suggest that they be replaced every 6 months. We strive to be transparent about this and have this information available on our website at https://smiledirectclub.ca/en-ca/pricing/. Most customers should be finished with treatment in about 4-6 months, so it shouldn't take a few years to see results. I'm sending you a private message to see how we can help with your concerns. Best, Madison.


  • Great decision!

    • By Briston G.,
    • South Carolina,
    • Apr 4, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I was skeptical because of the price difference and no one-on-one contact but it turned out to be a really good decision. I saved a bunch of money and my daughter's teeth look so good now.

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

    • Apr 6, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thank you for this wonderful review!


  • Got great results

    • By Christy B.,
    • Arizona,
    • Apr 3, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Wore my aligners for 5 and a half months and now have a perfect smile, so happy with my results and how amazing SmileDirectClub is. Was painless and barely noticeable. Super easy process and never had an issue with how my aligners fit.

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

    • Apr 3, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hello Christy, your wonderful feedback and rating mean a lot to us.


  • 100% best thing ever!

    Overall Experience:

    This was the best choice I made selecting SmileDirectClub for enhancing my smile. Yes, the first 1-2 hurt while my teeth were settling into the trays. I wore them 24/7 and not one soul could tell I had them in. I would recommend them to anyone questioning pulling the trigger on SmileDirectClub!

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

    • Apr 3, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      We appreciate your positive words! We're honored.


  • Convenient, efficient, easy

    • By Che-Lei T.,
    • Tennessee,
    • Apr 3, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I have enjoyed receiving services from SmileDirect. I love the convenience, especially since I work the night shift. I’m also so happy for the new products (especially the sanitizing machine and water flosser) that they have added to their line.

    I’m so happy I was finally able to get perfect teeth as an adult trying to date - it adds to my confidence.

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

    • Apr 3, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thanks a million, Che-Lel! Thank you for sharing the support.


  • Back to where they used to be!

    • By Emma S.,
    • Texas,
    • Apr 3, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I had slight crowding on both top and bottom teeth. SmileDirectClub straightened my teeth better than I hoped for! The aligners are tight the first few days but most of the time I rarely noticed them! I never received an email for them to check in on my smile, but I stayed with the schedule and couldn't be happier!

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

    • Apr 3, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      We are thrilled to see this awesome review on our page!


  • Great choice for me

    • By Carrie B.,
    • Colorado,
    • Apr 3, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I really liked that it was self-managed, and that I didn’t have someone giving me lectures. I was in charge.

    The only problems I had were with the edges of some aligners, sometimes cutting my tongue and being very rough. I would fix them, only to have to start over with the next set.

    The aligners never made my teeth ache, and I never had any tooth pain. It was exciting to see the progress.

    I never did get used to having the aligners in my mouth. I never forgot they were there, and they drove me nuts, but I did it and I’m very happy with the results.

    I would strongly recommend changing aligners right before bedtime so that you skip the first few pressure-filled hours in a new set. They never kept me awake.

    It took less than five months. I only wish I’d done it sooner. I recommend Smile Direct Club for two reasons, the lower price, and the lack of visit to an orthodontist. I’m pretty happy.

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

    • Apr 3, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      We are grinning ear to ear, Carrle! Thanks so much for the kind review.


  • Love my smile

    • By Donna H.,
    • South Carolina,
    • Apr 3, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I have enjoyed my experience with SmileDirectClub. For the most part, the braces fit my teeth except for the last few weeks. I had a problem with the bottom row cutting my mouth around previous dental work. Other than than, I love the fact that I would receive an email and text reminding me to change my sets.

    I wanted my top row of teeth to be straight and pretty and that goal was met by SmileDirect Club.

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

    • Apr 3, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hello Donna, we greatly appreciate the feedback! We want nothing more than for all club members to love their end results once they have completed their smile journey with us.


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