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 380 SmileDirectClub Customer Reviews and Complaints

Write a Review
Average Consumer Rating: 2.8
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 148 4 star: 13 3 star: 8 2 star: 33 1 star:  178
Bottom Line: 43% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 380
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  • Great experience

    • Attleboro, MA,
    • Oct 23, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Crystal was great, she was explaining and answering all my questions. She made the process easy and fun.

    Great experience overall, now looking forward to a new smile and brighter teeth.

    Thanks Crystal.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful
    Updated review

    Update

    • New York,
    • Oct 22, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do not be fooled by the message they left regarding working with me in private off-line. Despite having left them my cell phone number on their private response last week, nobody has contacted me and nobody is working with me to resolve the situation.

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

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    • Previous review
    • Oct 19, 2019

    Update

    I was contacted by customer service due to my reviews. They again apologized and assured me the replacements would be mailed 1 week after the last date they assured me. That will be 8 weeks, considerably different than the original commitment of 10-14 days. Considering this new delay comes 5 days after the last assurance and delay, I’m not optimistic. I was called by sales today asking if I wanted to spend $99 for a retainer now that I have "completed my smile journey". A disorganized and dishonest company.

    • Oct 21, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thanks for updating your review. We'll continue following up with you privately for the security of your information.

    (read moreread less...)
    • Previous review
    • Oct 17, 2019

    Horrible customer service

    The first encounter is great and efficient. Heaven forbid you have a problem after you pay. I lost an aligner and was told it would be 10-14 days. I have now been waiting a month and after multiple calls, loooong hold times, Supervisor discussions, they say they "hope" it will be mailed by 6 weeks. In the meantime, my teeth have shifted and I’m certain the replacement aligner won’t fit. PROCEED WITH CAUTION! If you have a problem it will not be fixed.

    • Oct 18, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thanks for leaving us a review, Tracey. We have experienced a delay with some shipments and are working as hard as possible to get these all out. All affected customers were sent an update on 10/9 via email, but we're happy to look into this further for you. I'm sending you a private message to see how we can help. Best, Madison.

    (read moreread less...)

  • SmileBus

    • North Carolina,
    • Oct 22, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Oh, my goodness gracious! After way too many years of being embarrassed by my teeth, I'm FINALLY on my way to beginning my Smile Journey.

    I purchased a kit, but decided against it. And I couldn't be more happier. Not only is there a SmileShop about an hour away from where I live, but Smile Direct Club came to me! Well, to my city, that is. The big, purple bus made me grin from ear to ear when I saw it parked outside the mall.

    What made me smile even more, was the wonderful ladies who greeted me and made me feel welcomed. And at ease. As for my Smile Guide, I was SUPER blessed to have a young lady by the name of Destiny! She totally rocks!

    The whole process was fun and relaxing. I totally recommend getting a scan over taking impressions yourself. It's fast, painless and more accurate!

    Can't wait to get my aligners! And to start smiling!

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

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    • Oct 22, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Jannette, thank you so much for the positive feedback and for taking the time to post this review. Our customers help us to constantly learn and improve what we do. I'm so glad the SmileShop visit was a great one and will pass on the feedback to our shop managers!


  • Reimbursed if you have orthodontic benefits - FALSE STATEMENT

    • Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
    • Oct 22, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    When I went to SmileDirect in the first place, I told them that I will only sign on to the treatment if my insurance company covers the procedure. She assured me that yes, if I have orthodontics coverage then it will be covered. EVEN to the point that she said "insurance companies like to see monthly charges" (the monthly payment plan was actually $200 MORE expensive than just paying for the full fee upfront, approx. $2200). Now I am paying out of my pocket, so WHY couldn’t I have just paid for the whole procedure up front to save money! Since JULY, I have been arguing with SUNLIFE and SmileDirect. This is very exhausting and time-consuming! Now I understand that there is NO coverage from insurance companies for TELEDENTIST. I think SmileDirect should reduce my charges for their services because they NEVER sent an estimate to my insurance provider from the start; they were only concerned with getting the SALE.

    With regards to the procedure, I am half way completed, and my teeth are not aligning correctly when chewing on back teeth.

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

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    • Oct 22, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Crystal, thank you for taking the time to leave us with this feedback. We are concerned to hear this as SmileDirectClub works with most insurance companies in terms of reimbursement. We do offer reevaluations at the end of each SmilePlan if the ideal results are not reached. I will be reaching out via direct messenger to further assist. Best, Jeffrey.


  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Absolute disappointment

    • Florida,
    • Oct 21, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I received my aligners, after wearing them for two days I cleaned them with warm water and they melted...I had to wait a month to get started again with a new set of aligners, it sounds like it was my fault (even though that's what they recommend for cleaning the aligners). After a month, I finally receive the new set and start again, month 2 week 3, I went to switch to my new set, and they were completely off, they did not fit my teeth, they were huge. I had to go in for a scan again where the manager treated me horribly, and told me that unfortunately, it will take 4-6 weeks for my replacements to arrive "SINCE THEY GET A LOT OF ORDERS" (Who cares? That was not my mistake.). I called customer service several times and they told me they were going to expedite my process and that I was going to get my new aligners, after 9 weeks and plenty of frustrating calls to customer service where they could not solve this problem because they tell you they have a lot of orders coming in and that their doing their best, I receive my new aligners. I was supposed to get 9 aligners and they only sent me 6 which means I will have to wait another month and a half for the rest of my treatment to arrive...I am tired and looking for solutions to try to cancel my membership. Any suggestions? They are telling me that there was a laboratory error that they will send me my 3 pending aligners in an expedited shipment, but everyone knows how the story continues.

    DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY.

    Thanks!

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

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    • Oct 22, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Karen, thanks for leaving us a review and sharing feedback about your experience. We have experienced a delay with some orders and should have any affected orders out by the end of the month. We understand how frustrating this is and are working to improve shipping times to prevent delays in the future. I'm reaching out to you privately to get some additional information to see how we can assist. Best, Madison.


  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful
    Updated review

    Update

    • Ohio,
    • Oct 19, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    They sent the correct aligners after 2 months and 8 phone calls and chats and numerous promises that were not kept. Although I received the new aligner the bottom one doesn't fit. The top one is perfect, but the bottom is correct. I can wear Month 5 week 2, but Month 5 3/4 week is not right. I tried on Month 6 Week 1 and I can get that one on, but not the one they sent me. I've called to let them know. I hope it won't take another 2 months! I should have been finished with this program by now!

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

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    • Previous review
    • Oct 10, 2019

    Can't get my aligners

    I'm on my 14th set. The 15th ones were wrong. They sent two uppers. I called on August 8th to get the right ones. They said it would take 7 to 10 business days. I still don't have them. I have called or chatted online about 8 times. Everyone that I have talked to just says the same thing. They are in production. I've been told they reordered and the new ones will come within 7 to 10 business days. They didn't come. I've been told twice that someone would call me, but they have not. They have given me free retainers and have taken off $150. I keep telling them I just want my aligners. This is crazy! I wish I knew what to do. This is very disappointing.

    • Oct 10, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hey Jeffrey. Thanks for taking the time to leave us this review. As we take pride in the services that we provide, we are concerned to see this. We will be reaching out via DM to speak further about this. Best, Thom.

    (read moreread less...)

  • Don't waste your time and money

    • Vermont,
    • Oct 19, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have had to have my impressions done 3 times in hopes to have results promised by SmileDirectClub. I had braces at 14 but my teeth had moved back now. My "smile plan" was for 6 months and I paid for my aligners up front. First set of aligners came labeled all wrong, month 1 was labeled month 6, etc.

    Most of the aligners had jagged edges which I had to trim to avoid having cuts inside my mouth. I realized after month 4 that the teeth that needed straightening most were not moving, so another impression was done and new aligners. Three months into the next set, no results and once again was approved for new aligners. Also let me add that the nearest scan center is an hour away so I have done the impression kit each time. Weeks have gone by with no response about getting my new impression kit and when I call in SmileDirect claims they have no emails from me, even though I have an email trail. I've stated that my money should be refunded and that I speak to a manager and have gotten no where. This company is a joke, spend the extra money and go to Invisalign or an actual orthodontist.

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

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    • Oct 21, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thank you for leaving us a review, Jackie. We always want to provide quick resolutions for our customers when issues arise, so we're disappointed to see this. I'm sending you a private message to see how we can help. Best, Madison.


  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Excellent service

    • Calgary, CA,
    • Oct 19, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Excellent service I experienced when I visited the clinic. Awesome, very friendly staff.

    Shout out to Alice who did my procedure. She explained thoroughly all the processes that will follow through. Highly recommend to the people who need this excellent service.

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

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    • Oct 21, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

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


  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    So disappointed

    • New Mexico,
    • Oct 18, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I am so disappointed in this company. I purchased the starter kit using my debit card. When I was sent the impression kit, I filled out the payment plan card. I was given the option to pay with a different card or the card on file. I chose to pay with a different card and put in all of the information to have that card charged. I check my bank account and $1795 was taken out of my checking account instead of the credit card I had provided the information to have charged. I can’t afford to have the full amount taken out of my checking account, that’s why I asked that it was taken from another card.

    I call immediately and ask to have it refunded and taken from the other card provided. I was told it would be refunded in 7-10 business days. I don’t have 7-10 business days to have $1795 missing from my account. They offered to discount $100 off of my total for the mishap. $100, as if that would even begin to cover the potential overdraft fees. I had them just cancel my order altogether. I called back and spoke to someone else who offered me free retainers on top of the $100 off in order to keep my service. No thanks. He then said that he would leave a call back message for an account manager so that I may discuss having my money expedited...but the catch...I would have to wait 3-5 business days for a call back.

    I’m fuming! I don’t have near $1800 to just have out of my account while they figure out when to send me my refund. They don’t care to keep you as a customer or the fact that you’re potentially having to pay fees for their mishap. I definitely would not recommend this company to anyone! If a company can do this before I even receive my aligners, I’m going to guess it doesn’t get any better per other reviews.

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

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    • Oct 21, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Dominique, thanks for leaving us a review. This is concerning to see and we would really like to make this right. I am sending you a private message to get some more information so we can help. Best, Madison.


  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Smile experience

    • Montreal, Quebec, Canada,
    • Oct 18, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    My SmileGuide, Anahi, was the nicest person, very relatable and explained the whole process very clearly. Got me excited to have chosen SmileDirectClub. The screening and teeth evaluation was seamless and included a teeth-whitening gift. Strongly satisfied with the quality of service provided.

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

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    • Oct 21, 2019

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Federico, we really appreciate your feedback!


  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Dental scan at the Coral Springs SmileDirectClub

    • Wellington, FL,
    • Oct 18, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Had an awesome experience at the Coral Springs location. The technician, Jodi, was amazing. She was very professional, courteous, and she did a great job taking my dental scans, thank you. Highly recommend going to this location.

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

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    • Oct 21, 2019

      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, Albert.


Showing 1-11 of 380

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