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:
  • 576 Customer Reviews
  • 51% Recommend This Company
3.1 out of 5
5 star: 45% 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:

  • Elsa is the best!

    • By Chelsie A.,
    • Dallas, TX,
    • Sep 9, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: Less than 3 months
    Overall Experience:

    I had an amazing experience. Elsa was so attentive and helpful. She was so good at explaining things to me in a way I could understand. I will be requesting her every chance I get. Thank you Elsa for helping me!

    Pros and Cons:

    • Their employee Elsa was incredible
    • The appointment was quick but efficient
    • Such a kind staff
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Sep 10, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      We love providing a convenient option for our customers. Thanks for taking the time to leave us a review, Chelsie.


  • I can’t pay my bill - terrible customer service

    • By Mckenzie F.,
    • Portland, OR,
    • Sep 8, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: Less than 3 months
    Overall Experience:

    I’ve been trying to pay my bill for two months. Every time I call they tell me the same line that my account wasn’t open but that it is now and that I’ll be able to pay my bill in 3-5 business days. I’m never able to.

    I’ve told their customer service department that and they literally don’t care at all. They just give the same line over and over again until I hang up.

    Pros and Cons:

    • No “pros” were specified in this review
    • Customer service
    • Billing
    • Customer service

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

    • Sep 10, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Mckenzie, thank you for taking the time to leave us with this feedback. We are concerned to hear this as our customer care teams are available to assist via phone, email, sms, and social media 24/7. In order for us to further assist, please reach out to my team directly at reviews@smiledirectclub.com. Best, Jeff.


  • Great in-person experience

    • By Brittany F.,
    • King of Prussia, PA,
    • Sep 4, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Today was my first day with SmileDirect and I visited their physical store for a scan and ultimately bought my aligners. Lakisha was wonderful and ultimately helped me make the decision to go with SmileDirectClub.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Customer service
    • Friendliness
    • Comprehensive
    • Had to make a decision that day
    • Didn’t see my projected new smile before buying

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

    • Sep 9, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hello Brittany, thank you; we appreciate your feedback!


  • Initial visit was incredible

    • By A W.,
    • Buckhead, GA,
    • Sep 3, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I had my initial visit today with Shalom and she was courteous, knowledgeable, and friendly. I feel excited about beginning my SMILE journey, if approved.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Presentable office
    • Friendly staff
    • Quality of service
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Sep 4, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us some kind words!


  • Beginning of a great thing!

    • By Cheyenne F.,
    • Towson, MD,
    • Sep 1, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    For many years I have loathed my smile and the teeth. Going into SmileDirectClub was an amazing experience. The location was a tad difficult to find. Brittany really made me feel better about the possibility of actually fixing my teeth without paying an arm and a leg. The location was so cute and clean. Really great, I’m so excited. I told her I’m going to be acting brand new after.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Nice staff
    • Answered all my questions
    • Informative about the process
    • Location seems a tad difficult

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

    • Sep 2, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hello Cheyenne, thank you; we appreciate your feedback!


  • Great experience

    • By Jordan P.,
    • Towson, MD,
    • Aug 25, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I had a great experience with this company. Iasmin was so helpful and so nice! I felt very comfortable and excited to buy my aligners.

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

    • Sep 2, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

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


  • Treatment completed/retainers

    • By Laquita W.,
    • Columbus, OH,
    • Aug 7, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 6–12 months
    Overall Experience:

    That you SmileDirectClub for helping me along my journey, I’m truly grateful for you! Also thank you SmileDirectClub for Heather, I visited the Columbus, Ohio location and she was amazing, kind, her energy and customer service was like no other, which I made my visit more enjoyable! Thank you Heather.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Heather energy
    • Customer service
    • Cleanness
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Aug 10, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      This is why we do what we do. Thank you for the feedback, Laquita!


  • GREAT PEOPLE!

    Overall Experience:

    Sabika at the 1900 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036 location was awesome. I got an informative briefing on how the club membership works. I got to experience a really amazing 3D image rendering of all my teeth, and I received free gifts at the end. What else could you ask for? Quick service was an unexpected added bonus. I highly recommend SmileDirectClub (DC location).

    Pros and Cons:

    • Informative
    • Kindness
    • Free gifts
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Aug 3, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

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


  • Extremely excited!

    • By D'Andra B.,
    • Philadelphia, PA,
    • Jul 29, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I recently visited SDC in King of Prussia, PA. The service was extremely great. Sasha, my smile guide, was very informative and friendly. The process was extremely easy and I can’t wait for the end result.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Customer service
    • How easy the process was
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Aug 3, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      We are grinning from ear to ear. Thank you for the support, D'Andra. We are always here for you!


  • Great consultation visit!

    • By Richard L.,
    • Philadelphia, PA,
    • Jul 28, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I went in for a Smiling consultation with Sasha at the King of Prussia (PA) location and got images of my teeth done for their medical professionals to review my treatment. Sasha was very pleasant and informative. SmileDirectClub is obviously a business and pushing their products and trying to get a commitment on the spot is totally understandable, but I was very appreciative of Sasha understanding my desire to hold off and not make any impulse decisions. I would definitely recommend this location if you are strongly considering aligners at a reasonable price with a very knowledgable staff!

    Pros and Cons:

    • Informative
    • Customer service oriented
    • Safety precautions
    • Sales driven aspect (although understandable)

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

    • Jul 28, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thank you so much for this 5-star review! We appreciate you taking the time to share. We’re here for you at any time.


  • Customer service with Nigha

    • By Joceline L.,
    • Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
    • Jul 28, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Nigha and Aliah were the two people who helped me today to feel confident in choosing SmileDirectClub. As a student, there are various ways that they can help you financially that will help you get that smile with an affordable budget. Nigha helped me understand step by step with the process with the liners. Overall, she was amazing and I would highly recommend her to make you feel better about yourself and the progress to get that smile!

    Pros and Cons:

    • Customer service
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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

    • Jul 28, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Joceline, our goal is to make sure all customers walk away informed, educated, and excited. Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!


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