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:
  • 590 Customer Reviews
  • 52% Recommend This Company
3.1 out of 5
5 star: 46% 4 star: 4% 3 star: 2% 2 star: 7% 1 star: 39%

 Our Promise to You

To safeguard you and ensure helpfulness and relevance, our compliance team manually assess every customer review before it goes live.

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

Sort reviews by:

  • Greatness all around

    • By Sedrick C.,
    • Memphis, TN,
    • Nov 15, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Coya made me feel at ease, explained everything to me to the point where I understood, and the process was simple and easy. Thank you! I'm looking forward to my great smile.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Service
    • Personnel
    • Time
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Nov 15, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Sedrick, we strive for 100% satisfaction, and it's always our goal to give customers an informative and exciting experience. Thank you so much.


  • Awesome!

    • By Ben S.,
    • Nov 3, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    SmileDirectClub makes it super affordable and it's way less of a hassle than traditional braces. My SmileGuide, Ana, was great. She walked me through the plan and now I am excited to see the end results.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Affordability
    • Easy-to-use
    • Great service
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Nov 4, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Ben, we're proud of our team - thank you so much for the shout out!


  • #5 Bus in Abilene, Texas

    • By Arthur L.,
    • Abilene, TX,
    • Oct 27, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I love the appointment I had with Diana and Billie Jo. They were very nice and told me all the info that I needed to know, I didn't have to ask any questions. It also felt like we were friends, like we've known each other all of our life, LOL. I will be using their service and I would recommend them to friends, family, and strangers. Thank you for your great service, Diana. Bus number 5 is the best.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Price
    • Service
    • Quality
    • Helpfulness
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Oct 28, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Arthur, we're proud of our team - thank you so much for the shout out!


  • Where is my money?

    • By Elicia S.,
    • Havelock, NC,
    • Oct 26, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 2+ years
    Overall Experience:

    This has been the worst experience I’ve had in regards to customer service.

    I received my Invisalign and everything was great until I no longer had a use for it and they informed me I would be able to send the ones I didn’t use back and get refunded. So I called almost 4 months ago to receive a refund in exchange for the Invisalign I was no longer using. I confirmed with the operator that they would refund me back the money on my card. A few days pass and I see no refund. I call back and they tell me they’ve put it on my OLD card even though I told them it was inactive. They informed me their policy is to put it on the card that I purchased the Invisalign with. So even though it told them that card was inactive and I was paying them with a NEW card I had for months, they still chose to put it on the old card. Which I had no idea they were going to do. I assumed they would put it on my current card that I had been paying them monthly for months.

    They told me I must speak to my bank to confirm I did not receive the payment. So I did. Back and forth for 3 months with SmileDirect because of their mistake. So many lies spewing out of their mouths. Probably 10 different people I spoke to. Telling me they would refund me on my current card. Once again, still no refund.

    I call back to let them know I see no refund STILL. At this point, I’m so frustrated that I’m just crying on the phone. Finally, they tell me they will Venmo it to me. I’m so happy and I thank them for everything. A few days pass, and nothing. No refund. I call them back and they tell me they have no notes of this Venmo refund. Therefore, it was never processed. Jordan D, supposedly a Supervisor in the resolution department, then told me my issue was that my card was inactive...something I figured out and thought to be corrected weeks ago with them. I asked to speak to someone above him because he clearly was lost and only had information from about a month ago and he told me I need to wait 48 hours for someone higher than him to call back. He was not able to give me his last name or tell me what happened to my information with the Venmo account I gave them a week prior. He also said he doesn’t have a supervisor number, which I found odd, so I just got Jordan D, he said he’s the only Jordan there so if I speak on our conversation to a manager they would know who he was.

    So everyone I have spoken to has done nothing but lie to me about my refund and gave me the runaround. They kept saying they have spoken to their manager and higher ups and my refund will be here soon over and over again but I have nothing. No money back from them. No Invisalign. Absolutely nothing. Now I have to email and contact more people for a simple refund back from them that I truly believe will never come because all they do is lie about giving back the money. This is by far the worst experience out of every company I have ever purchased anything from. No one at this company either is genuine or truthful that I have spoken to, or simply are not qualified or trained in the jobs that they are obtaining. They are all over their places with notes and communication with each other and their customers. My husband and I are appalled at the level of incompetence displayed by many of the staff members. I just want my money back and for their staff to be properly trained. This is truly an embarrassment to the company and I hope they screen and hire more qualified and competent people to address any situations or issues at hand.

    Pros and Cons:

    • No “pros” were specified in this review
    • Terrible vertical and horizontal communication
    • Knowledge level
    • Reliability

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

    • Oct 27, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Elicia, thank you for taking the time to leave us with this feedback and provide us with this information. We are concerned to hear this as we want to help all club members to have a comfortable and easy process with any request. In order for us to further assist, please reach out to us directly at reviews@smiledirectclub.com. Best, Jeff.


  • Awesome experience with Natalie in Columbus

    • By Paul R.,
    • Columbus, OH,
    • Oct 24, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: Less than 3 months
    Overall Experience:

    Enjoyed my visit with SmileDirect in Columbus. Natalie was fantastic, nice, and beyond helpful. She took her time to explain the process and make sure all my questions were answered.

    Much appreciated!

    Pros and Cons:

    • Friendly
    • Easy
    • Cost-effective
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Oct 26, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Paul, thank you so much for taking the time to share! We truly appreciate seeing this on our page.


  • Grinning from ear to ear

    • By Tashira R.,
    • dadiva84@ymail.com,
    • Oct 23, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I had a wonderful experience getting my son’s 3D scan with Sarai. The SmileDirect experience was quick, straightforward, and very informative. Tyler was also very helpful. They were professional and attentive to us as customers.

    Sarai made my son feel very comfortable with the entire process. She spoke to me but she also spoke to him as a person and not just a kid. This will, after all, be his teeth journey. He was so excited that he came up with a whole plan on how he would improve his daily dental routine.

    We are both excited for him to start this aligner process and we can’t wait to see the results.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Ease of process
    • Comfort level
    • Time
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Oct 23, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Wow! This means a lot to us, Tashira. We sure are proud of both our team and the technology we use in order to give our customers a cost-effective and convenient option. Thank you so much for your kind words of support.


  • First appointment - excellent impression

    • By Meredith R.,
    • Burlington, Ontario, Canada,
    • Oct 21, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I had my appointment with Neha from Brampton Smile Shop. Neha was very friendly, professional, and made the entire initial process both comfortable and easy to understand. I'm really looking forward to getting my aligners and I'm very happy that my appointment was with her.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Friendly
    • Professional
    • Easy to understand entire process
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Oct 22, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Meredith, we're proud of our team – thank you so much for the shout out!


  • Horrible customer experience

    • By Patricia A.,
    • California,
    • Oct 15, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I had the most horrible experience with Samantha on Bus 2 in Temecula. This was my second time and I was pretty much ready to buy this time, but not once I encountered this young lady. When she said "are you Patricia" and I said "yes," then she says "you've been here before right," I told her "yes," she said "fill this out, and I'm going to need your credit card" straight from the beginning, but she already had attitude, so there was no way I was going to give her my credit info. I explained to her that I had gotten some work done and then gone to an orthodontist who said I was not a candidate and she says "you are, here's your last reading, you just wanna look at those" with attitude. Long story short, I still yet to receive my plan. I do want to buy them but just not from her.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Cheaper than braces
    • Convenient
    • Attitude
    • Rudeness

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

    • Oct 20, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Patricia, thank you for taking the time to leave us with this feedback. We are concerned to hear this as we want every SmileShop or SmileBus experience to be fun, informative, and friendly. I will be passing this feedback along to the local team for coaching and development. If we can be of further assistance, please reach out to us directly at reviews@smiledirectclub.com so we can further assist. Best, Jeff.


  • Excellent experience

    • By Maritza M.,
    • Temecula, CA,
    • Oct 13, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    It was a pleasant experience - friendly, professional service! Highly recommend! Awesome 3D technology was quick and easy without any discomfort. I was really impressed with the whole experience.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Quick process
    • Friendly professional staff
    • Awesome 3D technology
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Oct 15, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a review and putting a smile on our face!


  • Best experience ever imagined

    • By Rodney A.,
    • Tampa, FL,
    • Oct 1, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    My daughter had a great experience and her teeth are beautiful. So I had to see what all of the hype was about from my daughter. I decided to work on my smile so the appointment made was easy and seamless. The consult during my appointment was helpful and ensuring; and all of this while the technician walked me through and asked my history and what I wanted and then shared with me what to expect (awesome). Cheivia was very thorough and patient with me as I went through the process. The 3D images were amazing and nothing a traditional dentist would have provided. I did not feel like a number or a transaction, I felt my smile was important to Cheivia. Thank you and I will continue to refer friends and family.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Seamless
    • Engaging
    • Great experience and the whole smile thing
    • Too many pre-appointment reminder emails
    • Too many reminder texts of appointment and post appointment text
    • Communication overload between emails and text both pre and post appointment, then no order number on any of the communications

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

    • Oct 2, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Rodney, reviews like this give us motivation and help us ensure we provide high-quality care.


  • Great customer service. Ana and Andrea were amazing.

    • By Vanessa P.,
    • Riverside, CA,
    • Oct 1, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Everyone was really nice and the service was great. I’m glad I made it to my appointment. Ana and Andrea were very nice and really good at their jobs!

    Pros and Cons:

    • Nice people
    • Quick
    • Friendly
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Oct 2, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Vanessa, we're proud of our team – thank you so much for the shout out!


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