SmileDirectClub Review: Is It Legit or Just Hype?

By HighYa Staff
Updated on: Oct 17, 2017

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 using custom invisible aligners.

We’re told this process allows SmileDirectClub’s network of over 225 licensed dental professionals to evaluate a patient’s teeth from anywhere, which, when combined with 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 60% 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 a SmileShop location. There, you’ll be able to have a 3D image of your smile taken by a certified SmileGuide, 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 at-home impression kit, which will then be sent to a “state-licensed dental professional” who will create your new smile plan.

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 customer 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.

Step 2: Work the System

SmileDirectClub claims that in many cases, you’ll receive your treatment plan in days. You’ll be sent all aligners in your smile plan at one time, each of which will need to be worn in the proper order, all day and night, removing them only for meals and drinking beverages other than cool water.

SmileDirectClub’s treatment plans generally take anywhere between 4 and 10 months, depending on your plan. The average customer completes treatment in 6 months.

Once you’re finished, you’ll need to wear a 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 and 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:

  • 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 all day and night.
  • 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 online Smile Assessment is completely free. To determine if invisible aligners are a good fit for you, you’ll need to complete either a 3D scan at a SmileShop or an at-home impression kit for $95. If it’s determined that you’re not a suitable candidate, the $95 fee will be refunded.

When the time comes. SmileDirectClub provides three payment options for its clients:

  • Single Payment: A one-time payment of $1850. This is the most cost-effective payment option.
  • SmilePay™ Monthly Payments: Pay a $250 down payment, then $80 a month for 24 months. In total, you’ll pay $2170.

All SmileDirectClub invisible aligner plans include complimentary whitening gel.

Once your treatment plan is complete, don’t forget that you can pay $99 for a retainer set to preserve your new smile.

Other miscellaneous SmileDirectClub fees include 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.”

SmileDirectClub also accepts payments through HSA and FSA plans, as well as CareCredit.

A Look at SmileDirectClub Customer Reviews

Considering that SmileDirectClub (formerly Smile Care Club) has been around since 2014, 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 Founded SmileDirectClub?

Based out of Nashville, TN, SmileDirectClub was co-founded by 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.

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.

Our Bottom Line About SmileDirectClub

According to some sources, the average cost of an Invisalign treatment plan is $5,000, compared to SmileDirectClub’s flat single-pay price of $1850. 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.

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Read 137 SmileDirectClub Customer Reviews and Complaints

Write a Review
Average Consumer Rating: 2.2
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 33 4 star: 5 3 star: 2 2 star: 12 1 star:  85
Bottom Line: 29% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 137
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  • Rejected impressions, no refund on $50.

    • Virginia,
    • Apr 23, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    They rejected my impressions which were supposed to be reimbursed, now they want $50 more for new ones and won't return the money of the first ones. It's disappointing how they find excuses to keep your money.

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

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  • Great!

    • Calgary, Alberta, Canada,
    • Apr 23, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    It was so simple and easy, no fuss and felt so relaxed and comfortable. I would highly recommend it, I have wanted to get my teeth fixed for years. Lori and Madi made it an easy decision. Thanks so much!

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Awful experience

    • Clemson, SC,
    • Apr 22, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I went to a Smile shop to get scans and that went well. My first plan had an open bite and I contacted their customer service about it and another plan was given in about 5 days. Aligners were paid for and the production was supposed to start. The official production date of my aligners started 2/24/19, it's 4/15/19 and I have yet to receive my aligners.

    I have contacted their customer service nearly every day trying to get an actual answer and have been lied to every time. If your aligners are late, don't believe into their lies that they are made to say. They'll tell you that they have escalated the concern and that they are "deeply sorry." My "ticket" that was supposed to "escalated to the production team" about a month ago. I was also told that the production of my aligners was "nearing the late stages" a month ago. They'll also tell you "we are working to the tracking information from the team in charge, as soon as we get it we will email you." Don't believe this either because it's another one of SDC's lie. I've been waiting nearly two weeks for that same email that's supposed to be emailed to me.

    SmileDirectClub can't meet their demands and will lie to you so that they can stall as long as they possibly can. Other than the Smile shop experience, everything else has been awful. I feel as if I have been stolen from at this point. The aligner plan that was made for me was a 5-month plan. It's closing on 3 months in total and I haven't even received my aligners yet.

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

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  • 5 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Company and customer service are horrible

    • Minneapolis, MN,
    • Apr 17, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I wasted $2k and one year. I used their aligners and after six months I didn't get the future smile whatever they showed in 3D scan and I went for re-evaluation. I gave my 3D scan and waited for the new aligners but I didn't get the aligners. I contacted the customer service several times, but they had the same answers, you will receive the aligner. Now my teeth are in the same shape that I had a year ago. One of the account managers contacted me and he was rude. I wasted my money, time, and over a painful year when I wore their aligners. Do not spend your money and time, it's not worth it.

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

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    • Apr 18, 2019

      SmileDirectClub, LLC

      Hi Sam, we appreciate you taking the time to share your experience. We are currently experiencing a delay with some shipments, but our customer care team should be able to get an ETA for any delayed shipments. We would love to help you with your concerns, so please email us at grinners@smiledirectclub.com. Best, Madison.


  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Not willing help

    • Tampa, FL,
    • Apr 17, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I really wanted to give my money to SDC. I know I have an unusual bite. So, I wasn't expecting anything unrealistic. They approved my teeth but then after reviewing my 3D 6-month plan, I did not like how far they pushed my bottom teeth. That would not look good on my face and could possibly cause future chipping of my front top teeth. After contacting my dentist and an orthodontist, they told me what to look for. And ask for. SDC was not willing to make any slight changes or information on why they couldn't have my front teeth not pushed way too far forward. I was hoping the customer service could relay my request to a professional instead of making the decision for them. I expected them to relay the message and then get back with me. But no. They just said the "Insert speech here" paragraph. I'm just glad there are many other places that will be willing to take my money - Byte, Clear Correct, Candid, SmileLove. I hope SDC continues to get better and stop wasting their money on dog aligners.

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

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    • Apr 18, 2019

      SmileDirectClub, LLC

      Hi Luara, thanks for taking the time to leave us a review. Clear aligner therapy does have some limitations, so we may not be able to adjust a customer's SmilePlan. Our dental team is available to chat and explain the SmilePlan to a customer and the reasoning behind it. If it's possible to have it updated, we will make that request, but it's not always possible since every customer is different. We aren't making dog aligners, it was just an April Fool's joke. Our focus is still our human customers. Please reach out to us at grinners@smiledirectclub.com if there's anything we can help with. Best, Madison.


  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    This is a bad choice

    • Burnsville, MN,
    • Apr 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was excited about finally moving forward with correcting my smile. I was told during the initial consultation that I was a candidate for their product. So I paid the $250 initially and then wait for my aligners. I followed the plan as prescribed 22 hours a day and all of that. I noticed as the months went by that I still had a gap, actually a bigger gap by my canine teeth on each side. I wrote to SmileDirect and was told to take pictures. So I did all of that and sent them in. Basically came back and told me yeah, they didn't want to close that because it could affect my bite. My aligners were made by SmileDirect knowing full well that this was the case, but instead of telling me that upfront, they basically made me discover it and then tell me they couldn't fix it.

    They are offering me a partial refund and they are forgiving the remaining $1300 which does address the money I already spent and the time I have into this. On top of that, they have not informed Healthcare Finances (the company who handles the finance portion) about the cancellation, so I have been getting calls to find out why I'm not paying them. I have not seen the refund yet and I tracked the delivery of the aligners, so I know they have received them.

    Bottom line is that I would not use this company or any company for that matter that you didn't have direct access to an orthodontist. There is a reason why this route is cheaper. I never saw or heard from anyone other than the SmileDirect team (not really sure what expertise they have, it appears none). I have never really been given any information from them that actually meant anything. They ask how can they help but that's about as far as customer service help goes. Customer Service is bad, product was bad for me, and trying to get back what they owe me is yet to be seen. I would say one size does not fit all. Go to a real orthodontist if you truly want your smile corrected. This short cut is no short cut. Especially if things go wrong.

    I am planning on taking them to Small Claims court for a full refund if I don't see my partial refund in the next day or so. I just don't trust them from my current experience.

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

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    • Apr 18, 2019

      SmileDirectClub, LLC

      Hi Steven, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. We appreciate the feedback about your experience. All customers can view their SmilePlan in the dashboard. Our dental team is available to chat if a customer has concerns prior to or during treatment. If customers return aligners for a refund, it can take 7-10 business days for the return to be processed an refunded. I would love to look into this for you. Please reach out to us at grinners@smiledirectclub.com so that we can help. Best, Madison.


  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Happy consultation

    • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,
    • Apr 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I just got my free scan appointment today, the team is happy friendly, very comfortable environment and meet my/customers' needs. The ad can be a bit confusing but they aren't pushing you into anything, you make your own decisions, everything comes with it except invisible aligners which are expensive. I didn't get the treatment plan right away because of my other dentist but enjoy their service overall. Would love to consider and refer them near future depends on my financial situation, not going anywhere.

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

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    • Apr 16, 2019

      SmileDirectClub, LLC

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


  • 8 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Would not use

    • New York, NY,
    • Apr 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I wouldn't recommend that anyone use SmileDirectClub. When using their aligners, while on week 3/4, I could feel an intense amount of pressure on my front tooth but assumed that it was just because the aligners were trying to push it into the right place. For a week the pressure continued and I began having a pain in my tooth. At one point my tooth just started hurting all the time, I was not even able to drink cold beverages, and had to cover my mouth when I walked outside due to to the pain caused when my tooth felt the cold air. I called them and reached out to them and they kept trying to tell me that it was just regular tooth sensitivity, and I had to keep telling them that I have never felt this kind of sensitivity and that it did not feel like some small issue.

    After I had to keep calling them, they finally budged and told me to send in pictures. After like two days is when my tooth turned like a reddish brownish color, I started panicking and I emailed them and called them and got no response all they did was tell me to go to my dentist.

    When I went to my dentist he said that I had reversible Pulal Hyperemia, and that meant that my tooth had internal bleeding due to the amount of pressure that was on it, he said that if the blood infects the tooth that I would have to have a root canal. He also scolded me for using SmileDirectClub and stated that if the pain was caused due to their aligners that they should be the ones to examine it, that they should not just tell me to go to my dentist. I reached out to them one more time and let them know I would no longer be using their retainers and explained the situation, then an account manager called me and told me I would be getting a full refund, even after I told her I was on Month 4, week 3/4, they claimed that I should send my retainers to them and it would take seven business days to process.

    After the seven business days, they reached out to me and said I would not be getting a full refund because I used after Month 1, but I explained to her that I had already told her I was on Month 4, 3/4, and I had said it in my emails too. She was clearly lying because even from when she called I know my account should have said Month 4, 3/4, so currently I am waiting to hear back from my dentist to know if I should have a root canal or not.

    Through this traumatic experience, SmileDirectClub has been no help at all, I would not recommend you go to them because if there is an issue, they won't assist you at all.

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

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    • Apr 16, 2019

      SmileDirectClub, LLC

      Hi Hajara, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. We're disappointed to hear about this and would love to help you with your concerns. Our dental team is available to chat via phone at (800)-848-7566, or you can reach out to us at grinners@smiledirectclub.com so that we can help you with your concerns. Best, Madison.


  • 8 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Not

    • Lenox, MA,
    • Apr 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    SmileDirect retainers are not all they claim to be. The edges are sharp and cut my tongue and mouth to pieces. They are not fitted over your back teeth at all, which when I showed an orthodontist, was highly concerning. When I contacted SmileDirect about the discomfort, they recommended filing and trimming my own aligners. I had to trim them so much and cut so much off to even have them be bearable at all, I worried whether or not they would be safe to wear. I guess you get what you pay for. There is no orthodontist involved in the correction process either. The experience was a big thumbs down for me and I returned my aligners and got my money back. I’m headed to an orthodontist to use Invisalign, get a customized treatment plan from an expert, and they even offer no interest payment plans.

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

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Then the pain was overwhelming

    • Montgomery, TX,
    • Apr 9, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    The first two months of aligners worked fine...but during the third month the pressure on my back left upper tooth became terrible.

    It hurt so bad I could not wear the aligner. When my uncle called SmileDirect, they set up an appointment to get a scan at the Woodlands store. When I got to the store for the scan, they said the scan was not authorized even though we had an appointment. They took pictures and sent them to SmileDirect and then a man named Juan said my evaluation was rejected because the molars aren't supposed to move. But he would not explain why there was so much pressure on that molar. My uncle said he is going to have his attorney cancel the payments even if the attorney charges more than the remaining amount due. The pain is terrible. Watch out for these people.

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

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    • Apr 9, 2019

      SmileDirectClub, LLC

      Hi Madison, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. Pain and discomfort are normal in all teeth straightening treatments. Our dental team is always available to chat about any issues customers are experiencing regarding their aligners. They can be reached at (800)-848-7566 during normal business hours. Please reach out to us at grinners@smiledirectclub.com so that we can help. Best, Madison.


  • 5 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Spend the extra money on the real stuff

    • Texas,
    • Apr 9, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    My plan was supposed to be less than 10 months to straighten some lower gaps and outwardly angled 7 and 10 uppers that had shifted from braces when I was 16.

    I'm seriously now into my 4th or 5th "refinement" and almost three years later! Thank god there was no charge but I have to keep taking photos and coming back for scans. I would've much rather shelled out the extra 1.5k to go to a legit, local ortho.

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

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    • Apr 9, 2019

      SmileDirectClub, LLC

      Hi Joseph, we appreciate you taking the time to leave us a review. We cannot guarantee that teeth will track properly, which is why refinements are normal in clear aligner therapy and we offer them at no charge to the customer. We would love to address any concerns that you have. Feel free to send us an email at grinners@smiledirectclub.com so that we can assist. Best, Madison.


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