SmileDirectClub Review: Is It Legit or Just Hype?

By HighYa Research Team
Updated on: Jun 11, 2019

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” via teledentistry that can help you straighten your teeth using custom clear aligners.

We’re told this process allows SmileDirectClub’s network of more than 225 licensed dentists and orthodontists to evaluate your teeth from anywhere, which, when combined with their 3D treatment modeling and direct-to-consumer convenience, means they can work around your schedule at a fraction of the price. You’ll even get to see a 3D preview of your new smile before you begin the process.

Regardless of what you’re shopping for, it’s difficult to resist 60-percent 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 and Setup

First, you’ll make an appointment through SmileDirectClub’s website to visit a SmileShop location. There, a company representative called a “SmileGuide” will take a 3D image of your smile, which they state takes about 30 minutes. After you’re finished, you’ll immediately be able to see the 3D image of your smile.

There are over 250 SmileShop locations across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Some of these locations are inside CVS and Walgreens stores. Not near a SmileShop location? You can complete an impression kit at home instead.

You’ll then be assigned a duly licensed dentist or orthodontist who will review and approve your 3D smile plan and guide your new smile from beginning to end.

SmileDirectClub says that, in many cases, within 72 hours you’ll receive your treatment plan showing how your smile will transform. Next, they’ll begin production of your clear aligners custom-created for your teeth.

Step 2: Using Your Aligners

You’ll be sent all aligners in your smile plan at one time, along with SmileDirectClub’s bright on premium teeth whitening. It’s important to wear your clear aligners in the proper order, all day and night, removing them only for meals and drinking beverages other than cool water.

You’ll check in with your doctor every 90 days through your customer account, so he or she can monitor your progress. (If you have any questions, you can reach out to a SmileDirectClub customer care specialist 24 hours a day, seven days a week via phone, email, or live chat.

The average SmileDirectClub customer completes treatment in 6 months.

Once you’re finished, you’ll need to wear a custom-fit retainer to prevent your teeth from shifting back into their original positions. For the first 2 weeks after treatment, you’ll wear them all day and night (except when eating and drinking anything other than cool water), just as you did with your aligners. After that, you’ll only need to wear them at night.

SmileDirectClub recommends replacing your retainers every 6 months to keep them clean, fresh, and tight-fitting.

How Do Clear Aligners Straighten Teeth?

Unlike braces, which use interconnected brackets and wires, “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.

SmileDirectClub aligners are made of BPA-free plastic, which is fairly common among competitors, too (more about this soon).

The Pros and Cons of Clear Aligners

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

  • Can be removed and generally aren’t as noticeable
  • Generally need to be worn for a shorter period of time
  • Eliminate having to worry about difficulty eating or food getting stuck
  • Cause less discomfort (you’ll still feel some discomfort, especially for the first few days after changing to a new set of trays)
  • Offer little chance of tooth discoloration

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

  • You’ll have to brush and floss after each meal.
  • You’ll also need discipline in order to stick to your treatment plan and keep the trays in place all day and night.
  • Clear aligners can’t be used for those with bridgework or those with complicated issues that require moving teeth vertically, rotating canines or premolars, or those with anything more than mild-to-moderate crowding, rotation, and/or bite correction.

How Much Does SmileDirectClub Cost?

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

Your online Smile Assessment is completely free. To determine if clear aligners are a good fit for you, you’ll need to complete either a free 3D scan at a SmileShop or an at-home impression kit for $49. If it’s determined that you’re not a suitable candidate, the $49 fee will be refunded.

When the time comes, SmileDirectClub provides two payment options for its customers:

  • Single Payment: A one-time payment of $1895. (This is a more cost-effective payment option.)
  • SmilePay™ Monthly Payments: Pay a $250 down payment, then $85 a month for 24 months. In total, you’ll pay $2290.

All SmileDirectClub clear aligner plans include complimentary whitening gel.

Once your treatment plan is complete, a set of retainers to preserve your new smile is $99.

Other miscellaneous SmileDirectClub costs include a $50 fee for individual replacement trays (or $99 per set) if lost, as well as a $49 fee for any additional impression kits. Regarding this last one, the fee “can be deducted from your treatment plan cost when you purchase your aligners,” the company says.

All Canadian pricing can be found on SmileDirectClub’s Canadian website.

Finally, SmileDirectClub provides a Smile Guarantee, which stipulates that if you’re dissatisfied for any reason, simply return your unused aligners, and they’ll refund the prorated amount.

Customers are eligible for a full refund if they return the aligners within 30 days of delivery. In order to request one (or to ask any questions), customer service you can reach their customer service department at 800-848-7566.

Those who have orthodontic benefits in their dental plan could be “reimbursed directly from your insurance company after purchasing your aligners.”

However, they note that they do not accept direct payments from insurance companies.

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

A Look at SmileDirectClub Customer Reviews

There is a wide variety of customer input regarding the SmileDirectClub both on YouTube and various review sites including HighYa and Yelp.

YouTuber misselissalk seems to have had a positive experience with SmileDirectClub, finding it less expensive than the competition and 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 the company’s FAQ, SmileDirectClub generally recommends against straightening just your top or bottom teeth, since this can significantly change your bite.

She noted that rough edges on SmileDirectClub’s aligners created sores and cuts in her mouth. She went on to say that the company provided a file to smooth out rough edges and that orthodontic wax helped, too. Over time, though, her mouth healed and the pain receded.

She didn’t like brushing her teeth after eating or drinking something other than water and felt that the company’s email communication was “kinda poor.” Specifically, she noted long response times with several follow-ups required.

At the time of publishing, 158 HighYa reviewers gave the company an average rating of 2.2 stars, with 29 percent saying they’d recommend the service to a friend.

Of the 10 most recent reviews, six were one star, two were two stars and two were five stars. There were multiple complaints of poor customer service, long wait times between aligners and cracked aligners, too.

The five-star review praised the company for a positive in-person experience. The reviewer noted that the people who helped her were dental professionals and that the equipment used was, in her opinion, top-of-the-line.

SmileDirectClub Compared to Candid

According to Colgate, the average cost of an Invisalign treatment plan ranges from $3,500 to $8,000 compared to SmileDirectClub’s single-pay price of $1,895. SmileDirectClub offers better pricing by a wide margin.

However, SmileDirectClub isn’t the only non-Invisalign company who provides clear aligners. We’ve done an in-depth review of Candid, a company very similar to SmileDirectClub whose prices are slightly higher: $1,995.

They take you through a similar progression as SmileDirectClub and they also offer brick-and-mortar locations where you can start your alignment process. Because the two companies are so similar, we suggest that you call each one and interact with their customer service people to see which company you are drawn to.

The Bottom Line on SmileDirectClub

We believe the strengths of SmileDirectClub are that you have the freedom to get aligners without ever having to leave your home. You don’t have to deal with a dentist’s chair and you may be able to avoid the cost of braces, which are significantly more expensive than the aligners the company offers

Their aligners are cheaper than what you’ll get with Invisalign and competitor Candid, too.

The downside of the company’s service is that the reviews we read were below average, with multiple reviewers complaining of poor customer service and cracked aligners. There were also complaints about waiting times.

As for who is a good fit for these aligners, we think WebMD makes some excellent points about this. First, they say that custom-built aligners tend to have a tight fit and are best suited for adults and teens rather than kids.

“Young people, and their mouths are still growing and developing; the doctor must think about this when setting up treatment,” they said.

They go on to point out that clear aligners, no matter which online company you choose, have their limitations.

“Clear orthodontic aligners are typically used for patients who have mild or moderately crowded teeth, or have minor spacing issues. Patients who have severe crowding or spacing problems -- or severe underbites, overbites, or crossbites -- may need more complex treatment,” they note.

The site goes on to say that the smart way to go about using aligners is to get a diagnosis from your dentist first. If they say aligners are a good fit for what’s going on with your teeth, you have the green light to research the options you have for SmileDirectClub.


Read 461 SmileDirectClub Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Customer Rating: 2.9
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 191 4 star: 17 3 star: 11 2 star: 40 1 star:  202
Bottom Line: 46% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 461
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  • Started out great, NOT ANYMORE

    • New Jersey,
    • Dec 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I got my first set of aligners super fast the aligners did not fit well so I did another impression kit and a second set of aligners arrived quickly.

    As of the first week of October 2019 what was supposed to be the last aligner and end of my treatment, my teeth still weren't right so I did another impression kit (arrived quick). I sent the impressions back the day after I received them, SmileDirect confirmed they had them and were making my aligners but 2 weeks later I was notified that I have to do yet another impression kit due to a flaw (seriously, it takes 2 weeks to figure that out). So meanwhile I found a CVS 45 minutes from my house that just opened a Smile Center that I can get a scan through, so I had the scan on October 30th (I opted for a scan in hopes it would speed things up).

    Well, here I am December 5th, 2019 and still waiting for my new aligners, plus I'm paying monthly on my credit card for treatment that's stopped.

    I'm wearing the very last aligner because I don't want my teeth to shift back before the last of my treatment. It feels so gross wearing plastic in my mouth for this long even though I use mouthwash and brush the plastic like I care for my teeth.

    When I call SmileDirect for an update they can't even tell me when I can expect my aligners. I ask them can you at least contact the manufacturer and ask them for an estimated date, they tell me that's not an option.

    I'm like, how can that be that you sell a product that you don't communicate as a team on behalf of your clients-patients, this is my teeth we are talking, about not a pair of mittens!

    Oh, and did I mention I go for my dental cleaning every 6 months and have a broken cap that my dentist can't replace until I'm done with treatment in order to get a proper fit for a new cap? SOOOO FRUSTRATING!

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

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    • Dec 13, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thank you for leaving us a review, Denise. We have experienced a delay and we're working diligently to process all affected orders and work to prevent delays like this in the future. I would really like to look into this for you, so I'll be following up with you privately to help. Best, Madison


  • Their payment system sucks

    • Colorado,
    • Dec 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Not only do I still have a big gap by my back molar that STILL collects food, but when I lost my job and had no money in my account, they kept running it back through - costing me $35 a pop! I called and asked them to stop and they basically told me they would not do so, that I was "under contract".

    Never ever let this unscrupulous company put you on autopay. I have never dealt with a company that refuses to work with me before!

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

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    • Dec 13, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thanks for leaving us a review, Rhonda. Since customers agree to the payment plan, they are contractually obligated to pay the monthly installments on the total aligner cost. Sometimes we can work with the customer to move payment dates. We're more than happy to help with any concerns, so I'll be following up with you privately. Best, Madison


  • So friendly and knowledgable

    • Lebanon, PA,
    • Dec 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Kami at the Lancaster, PA Smile Club really knows her stuff! Ask her any question and she will have the answer. She cleared up all the hesitations we had due to reading bad reviews.

    I am confident that once I have completed my treatment I will have the smile I’ve always dreamed of!

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

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    • Dec 13, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

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


  • Mixed feelings

    • Wisconsin,
    • Dec 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Started my journey with SmileDirect in February of 2018, after several tries on satisfying modes, receive my 6-month supply of correctors. May 7th I started. They said they would alert me when to change to the next set, at first they were there, but that changed no more alerts. I was pleased with the corrections that were happening, October 21st was my final finished date, but I was not happy with my number 7 tooth, hadn’t turned as much as I would have liked, new scan was done and received 3 months of correctors. After those months, my dentist said it would be best to do a crown on number 7 tooth. On July 8th I received my crown, after returning from a vacation end of July, went to have my final scan done on August 30th, still waiting. They said the retainers were delivered September 17, but not here. Reordered on October 3rd, they sent a top only from a scan that was done in January, October 21st. October 31st talked with someone higher up and said no problem, we’ll get them ordered. November 19 called and the gal said there was nothing on order. The gal never ordered the retainer. So on November 19th ordered again. Calling every week to make sure it’s on order, November 27 and December 5.

    So I am still waiting for my retainers from a scan done August 30th.

    I am very pleased with the results which I am nursing my last set carefully until my retainer gets here, hopefully next week.

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

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    • Dec 13, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      We appreciate you taking the time to leave us a review, Linda. We have experienced a delay and we're working as hard as possible to get all affected orders out. We would be more than happy to check on this for you, so I'm reaching out to you privately to get some more information. Best, Madison


  • 10/10 would recommend

    • Pittsburgh, PA,
    • Dec 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was a little apprehensive about my first initial appointment, but soon after getting there, my smile guide, Mac, made me feel 100% comfortable! She was really friendly and took the time to explain the entire process and answer all my questions. I came away from that appointment really excited to get started!

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

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    • Dec 13, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thank you for your kind review. We are happy to pass along your comments to the team here at SmileDirectClub!


  • Don't wait for your smile!

    • Las Vegas, NV,
    • Dec 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    From beginning to end, it was an impeccable service. My technician was Diamond, and she answered all my questions, was a true professional throughout the process. The aligners will be custom-made and shipped within a month. You can pre-pay, or do monthly auto-pay (additional costs).

    I can't wait for my new smile to become a reality.

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

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    • Dec 12, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Kathy, thank you so much for the positive review!


  • HORRIBLE

    • Texas,
    • Dec 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was told I would get my new smile started within 4-6 weeks of the order date. 10 weeks went by, 6-8 representatives, and 5 different stories - they NEVER came in the mail. I was lied to MULTIPLE times, I was devastated because I took a chance in order to feel better about myself and they completely let me down. I emailed corporate with screenshots of all the different stories I was given via live chats/emails/phone calls, but heard NOTHING back. This is a company FILLED with empty promises and constant lies. They are money hungry and feed off of the desperation of those who want a better smile. DON'T USE THEM, I PROMISE.

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

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    • Dec 12, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      We appreciate you leaving us a review, Jordyn. We are disappointed to hear about this and would be happy to help with any concerns. I'm following up with you privately to get some additional information to see how we can assist. Best, Madison


  • Best thing I have ever done!

    • Florida,
    • Dec 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I decided to try SmileDirectClub after having braces on twice and not being able to use retainers due to discomfort and cutting my mouth. My teeth had shifted BADLY! My bottom row looked like my teeth were falling out of my mouth. After my first month, they are already up where they belong. I used to be able to stick my tongue out the hole between two of my teeth but not anymore. I am amazed at how fast they are moving. The aligners are so comfortable and it only took a few days to get comfortable speaking with them in.

    Tanya, my Smile Guide, has been amazing. I had a problem with one of my aligners and she told me to come in. After checking they did a rescan and are sending me the corrected aligners. No questions asked, just excellent customer service.

    I recommend these to everyone who needs their teeth straightened. I do my research and they have the best ratings of all of the lower cost aligners. Very high tech and accurate.

    Definitely the best thing I have ever done for myself!

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

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    • Dec 11, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Mary, thank you for your kind review. We are happy to pass along your comments to the team here at SmileDirectClub!


  • Great scanning experience

    • Somerset, NJ,
    • Dec 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Lelani helped me out a lot at my scan! Even though there was an issue with logging into my session, she was able to find a way around it and get my session started. The scan was simple and everything was clearly explained to me, from the scanning process to how to use the teeth whitener. I cannot wait to get in my aligners. I would encourage my friends and family to visit the South Plainfield, NJ SmileShop where Lelani and her great co-workers do a fantastic job!

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

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    • Dec 11, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      We really appreciate your positive review, Caryn!


  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Biggest joke, save yourself

    • Montreal, Canada,
    • Dec 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Worst company and customer service I have ever dealt with in my entire life. After getting cuts from the horrible quality of these stupid aligners and my jaw dislocated, I was told to stop the aligners, and requested a cancellation. Yet they kept charging me for something I wasn't using when they had the option of putting my account on hold. I have been promised to be contacted by an "account manager" between 3-5 days LAST MONTH. I've been calling and messaging almost every day and the "customer service team" promises me that someone will contact me by the end of the day. FOUR WEEKS LATER, STILL NOTHING. This company doesn't know anything about dental medicine. Their answer to my problem was "go see your local dentist". So easy at taking money, but when it's time to refund, they make it extremely complicated, presuming that all they can do is "write a note" and have no way of directly contacting the account management team. Forget. About. It. You'll be hearing from my bank soon you thieves.

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

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    • Dec 11, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Rania, thanks for taking the time to leave us a review and share feedback with us. We're unable to stop payments if a customer decides to no longer use the aligners. Customers are eligible for a full refund for returning the aligners within the first 30 days. After this point, customers are eligible for a pro-rated refund based on the unused and unopened aligners, but our account management team is there to ensure customers are getting the best resolution based on the circumstances. We would be more than happy to help, so I'm following up with you privately to get some additional information. Best, Madison.


  • Customer service

    • Montreal, Canada,
    • Dec 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I heard about SmileDirectClub on social media and was skeptical at the beginning. Then I decide to take a chance and booked an appointment. I have a space between my teeth because of an extraction of a baby tooth and over time, the space is enlarged and annoys a lot me when I smile. A very big thank you to Charlotte who was my smile guide the day of my consultation. She was very polite and friendly and made me comfortable the whole time of the consultation. She was very clear and precise in her explanations.

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

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    • Dec 10, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Wow! This means a lot to us, Azika. 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.


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