About SmileDirectClub

By HighYa Staff
Updated on: Oct 17, 2017

Interested in straightening your teeth, but don’t have the time for regular orthodontist visits? Or, do you have the time, but cringe at the thought of traditional braces?

In either instance, SmileDirectClub promises to deliver an “innovative remote treatment process” that can help you straighten your teeth using custom invisible aligners.

We’re told this process allows SmileDirectClub’s network of over 225 licensed dental professionals to evaluate a patient’s teeth from anywhere, which, when combined with their 3D treatment modeling and direct-to-patient convenience, means they can work around your schedule at a fraction of the price. You’ll even get to know what your new smile will look like before beginning the process.

Despite this, SmileDirectClub promises to do this without sacrificing quality. In fact, they claim to “use the same labs as our competition.”

Regardless of what you’re shopping for, it’s difficult to resist 60% off. But will you have the same teeth-straightening experience with SmileDirectClub as a traditional orthodontist? In other words, even if it is less, does SmileDirectClub represent a solid deal? That’s exactly what we’ll explore here.

How Does SmileDirectClub Work?

Overall, we can break the SmileDirectClub process down into two steps:

Step 1: Initial Consultation & Setup

First, you’ll make an appointment through SmileDirectClub’s website to visit a SmileShop location. There, you’ll be able to have a 3D image of your smile taken by a certified SmileGuide, which they claim takes about 30 minutes. After you’re finished, you’ll be able to immediately see the results.

Then, your scan is digitally sent to a licensed dentist, who will “create a personalized plan showing you exactly how your new smile will look.”

Not near a SmileShop location? If so, you can complete an at-home impression kit, which will then be sent to a “state-licensed dental professional” who will create your new smile plan.

Once all of this occurs, SmileDirectClub’s dental professionals will determine your exact treatment option based on the information available. If you have any questions, you can reach out to a SmileDirectClub customer care specialist via phone, email, or live chat.

From initial consultation through the end of your treatment plan, SmileDirectClub’s proprietary SmileCheck software provides a connection between your dental professional and helps manage your case records. There, your doctor will be able to view uploaded images and dental impressions, as well as prescribe your treatment.

Step 2: Work the System

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

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

Once you’re finished, you’ll need to wear a custom fit retainer while you sleep in order to avoid dental relapse (i.e. your teeth attempting to shift back into their original position).

Exactly how do these invisible aligners do their job?

How Do Invisible Aligners Straighten Teeth?

Unlike braces, which use interconnected brackets and wires, invisible aligners “are a series of tight-fitting custom-made retainers that slip over the teeth.” Each tray will slowly move your teeth into the desired position, leaving you with straighter teeth and a brighter smile over the course of several months. Regarding SmileDirectClub specifically, their aligners are made of BPA-free plastic, which is fairly common amongst the competition (more about this soon).

The Pros & Cons of Invisible Aligners

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

  • Can be removed and generally aren’t as noticeable
  • Often need to be worn for shorter periods of time
  • Remove having to worry about difficulty eating or food getting stuck
  • Cause less discomfort. However, you’ll still feel some discomfort, especially after the first few days of changing to a new tray
  • Offer little chance of tooth discoloration

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

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

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

How Much Does SmileDirectClub Cost?

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

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

  • Single Payment: A one-time payment of $1850. This is the most cost-effective payment option.
  • SmilePay™ Monthly Payments: Pay a $250 down payment, then $80 a month for 24 months. In total, you’ll pay $$2170.
  • Klarna Financing: Opt for monthly financing without a down payment through Klarna. Pay $87 a month for 24 months for a total of $2088.

All SmileDirectClub invisible aligner plans include complimentary whitening gel.

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

Other miscellaneous SmileDirectClub fees include a $50 fee for each replacement tray if lost or damaged, as well as a $49 fee for additional impression kits. Regarding this last one, the fee “can be deducted from your treatment plan cost when you purchase your aligners.”

Finally, SmileDirectClub provides a Confident Smile Guarantee, which stipulates that if you’re dissatisfied for any reason, simply return your unused aligners and they’ll refund the prorated amount. In order to request one (or to ask any questions), customer service can be reached at 800-848-7566.

Does SmileDirectClub Accept Insurance?

Here’s what the company has to say:

“If your dental plan provides orthodontic benefits you may be reimbursed directly from your insurance company after purchasing your aligners. SmileDirectClub doesn't accept direct payment from insurance companies.”

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

What Kinds of Reviews Will You Find for SmileDirectClub?

Considering that SmileDirectClub (formerly Smile Care Club) has been around since 2014, there wasn’t a whole lot of online customer feedback at the time of our research. And what feedback there was seemed to be largely through video.

For example, YouTube user Ashley S posted four reviews for SmileDirectClub spanning the course of a month. Overall, she claims she experienced a very long delay at the beginning, without hearing so much as a peep from the company. She spoke with customer service on several occasions, which only served to further frustrate her—and even after finally receiving her aligners, she found the top one didn’t fit well at all.

On the other hand, misselissalk seems to have had a much better experience with SmileDirectClub, finding them less expensive the competition, while receiving everything right on time. She also enjoyed the 3D digital model that shows you what your teeth will look like with each tray.

Interestingly, she was able to correct her top teeth only. Per their FAQ, the company generally recommends against straightening just the top or bottom, since this can significantly change your bite.

She noted that SmileDirectClub’s aligners didn’t hurt at all, but they did give her a slight lisp. She didn’t like brushing her teeth after eating or drinking something other than water, and felt that the email communication between her and the company was “kinda poor.” Specifically, she noted long response times with several follow ups required.

In her follow up video, misselissalk provides some great product tips to accompany your aligners, so be sure to give it a view as well.

As a company, SmileDirectClub had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (as of 7/16/16), based on 19 closed complaints. Most of these seemed to reference poor customer service, problems receiving aligners on time, or difficulties obtaining refunds. The company responded to each of the complaints.

Who, exactly, is behind the company?

Who Founded SmileDirectClub?

Based out of Nashville, TN, SmileDirectClub was co-founded by Jordan Katzman and Alex Fenkell who recognized that 3D printing and telehealth “could bring about disruptive change to the invisible aligner market” by delivering “dramatically lower” prices.

From a financial perspective, SmileDirectClub is backed by Camelot Venture Group, the same private investment group behind 1-800-CONTACTS, Quicken Loans, and many other successful direct-to-consumer companies.

Is SmileDirectClub Better Than Other Teeth Straightening Methods? Should You Join?

According to some sources, the average cost of an Invisalign treatment plan is $5,000, compared to SmileDirectClub’s flat single-pay price of $1850. That’s well over a 60% savings, which is huge.

On top of this, there don’t appear to be any clear (no pun intended) differences between the BPA-free plastics used between Invisalign and SmileDirectClub’s trays, or the results you might achieve with them.

In fact, SmileDirectClub claims their trays come from many of the same labs used by the mainstream competition, and you won’t have to glue any clips to your teeth. You will, however, probably have to wear a retainer for the rest of your life.

Even compared to traditional braces—which can also cost up to five grand and might look unsightly—SmileDirectClub’s aligners seem to have a sharp advantage.

Taking all of this together, does this mean a SmileDirectClub treatment plan will deliver straighter teeth and a brighter smile? As long as you only require mild to moderate straightening, it certainly seems like it might fit the bill. And if your personal preferences dictate, you might be able to save a whole lot of moolah compared to the competition.

How well did SmileDirectClub work for you? Give us the inside scoop by writing your very own review below!

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22 Consumer Reviews for SmileDirectClub

Average Consumer Rating: 2.0
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 4 4 star: 2 3 star: 0 2 star: 1 1 star:  15
Bottom Line: 27% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 22
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  • Big let down

    • Ecorse, MI,
    • Feb 15, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Hi. I ordered the SmileDirectClub impression kit, I did the impressions, sent them in, took the pictures, uploaded the pictures, and they told me I was a candidate. Then they received my impression and told me they are getting my smile plan ready and it would take 2 weeks. I was so excited. I waited 2 weeks, and then they say I’m not eligible. I am so dissatisfied and disappointed I wasted time and money, and they got my hopes up for a total let down. Don't waste your time on SmileDirectClub.

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

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  • SmileDirect

    My experience has been very good. No complaints. They have been very responsive to every concern and question. They treated me an additional two months to get my teeth straighter. They had me come into their office to reassess for two months more treatment. They credited me one payment when my aligners were late. They have done absolutely everything a reasonable customer could ask for in service. I felt compelled to write a review for them when I saw that there were some negative reviews.

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

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  • 8 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Risky, wasn't worth the wasted year

    To save you the read, they will send you aligners that don't fit. They will either be warped and twisted like they melted a little, or your molars will fit snug in the tray, but your front teeth aren't in, and when you push on your front teeth to make them snug in the tray, your molars will pop out. Like a see-saw. This WILL happen. It WILL take weeks for you to be able to resume your treatment. I had a four-month plan, it took six months to get this far, and I haven't even started month four yet.

    If you want to hear more:

    I had to go in for a mid-course correction at the end of month two. The scanned my teeth with a laser, and month three (when they arrived) they fit really well! Awesome, right? Not exactly.

    When it came to putting on in month four, they didn't fit. The top row was the see-saw from the above paragraph, and the bottom row magically assumed my bottom teeth were already straight, when they knew they weren't. They said it was a manufacturing defect, and I waited yet again, and the new ones were EXACTLY the same.

    I went back in for another laser scan (surprise, right?). This time, they realized that the plan they made was flawed and destined for failure. Although month three fit, so I was completely on track, month four was jacked up, and it was impossible for my bottom teeth to fit side by side.

    So they sent me a brand new plan. This time, eight months. This new plan also leaves me with a gap in my front teeth because to correct for their screw up, they needed to push all of my teeth forward. Also, they wouldn't admit fault; they were trying to use the dentist who made this plan (whom I also have never met) as a scapegoat by constantly telling me they don't know anything, they aren't a dentist, etc.

    This is a textbook example of a company that grew too big too fast and was unable to identify their growth plans and process gaps in order to deal with issues like this. They also, in my case, would go nine days without responding to be, and it takes time to make new aligners. Keep that in mind that you never really know if they fit like they're supposed to. In my case, that final aligner's gumline was a good 3mm above my actual gum line, and of course, this was because the teeth were crowded and not straight. It's like trying to shove 100 singles into your wallet and fold it in half. You can't. Too much bulk.

    So remember me, friends, on your journey to straightening that smile. unfortunately, SmileDirectClub will not let you see each week's trays ahead of time to so can try to protect yourself from this nonsense. You're going to have to take a leap of faith, and I truly hope you don't get burned.

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

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  • 10 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Worked for a few aligners

    • Las Vegas, NV,
    • Jan 8, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    In the beginning of my treatment, everything was going great. I was on a 4-month plan to realign both upper and lower teeth. Somewhere around month 2 and 1/2, the trays did not fit correctly on my upper teeth.

    After contacting customer support, I was advised to send in the aligners that seemed to not be fitting correctly. Then they said the doctor would review the aligners and determine if something went wrong on their part. If not, I was to keep wearing the aligners and finish my treatment. Customer service said I would have to pay to ship them in and this whole process may take 3-4 weeks. In the meantime, I should wear the next set of aligners while this is all going on. I asked them why shouldn't I just wear the next set and skip all of the shipping back and forth of an aligner tray that would be obsolete? They agreed, and the matter was closed.

    Every aligner tray after that, including the ones that created this issue, did not fit correctly at all. In fact, I began to wonder if I had the correct ones or was going backward in alignment. Nevertheless, I pressed on through the end of treatment. I even ordered retainers. Still, nothing fit correctly for the upper teeth. I double checked my 3D “new smile” that they had created on their website to see if I was somehow missing something, and sure enough, my upper teeth look nothing like the computer rendition.

    Any type of response to an email I sent in about this? Nope. A small refund? Nope. An offer to take new impressions and somehow try to fix this? Nope.

    I'm saddened and shocked this would be the outcome. Yes, my teeth WERE correctly adjusting. No, they are nowhere near what SmileDirectClub had shown me in their 3D "new smile" computer prediction. I think 1 or 2 more months of correct aligners would absolutely fix this issue. I'm out quite a bit of money and am extremely disappointed.

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

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  • 5 out 7 people found this review helpful

    No good, will take your money!

    • Myrtle Beach, SC,
    • Jan 2, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    So I paid for the kit and did perfect impressions, but I got an email saying it wasn’t deep enough, which is a lie and all they wanted was my money! And wanted me to buy ANOTHER kit, wasn’t even generous enough to lend me another one! Don't waste your money!

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

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  • 7 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Have not received aligners, paid $1800.00.

    • Hudson, WI,
    • Dec 19, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    They were happy to send an impression kit, but once I sent them money on November 6, 2017, I have not gotten my aligners. I called last week and was told they would get back to me within 24 hours; crickets! Is this a scam? And to top it off, they said my dental insurance would cover some of the costs, but MetLife denied my claim! I paid $1800.00 for nothing!

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

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  • 10 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Worthless!

    • Rock Hill, SC,
    • Dec 14, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Stay away from this company; they promise things they cannot produce.

    We paid for it, then it took four months longer to get the first set of retainers, but they kept charging me. Now I finally got them on August 17 and they are telling me I'm done (November 17, 4 months) and want me to by the end of process retainers.

    Buyer beware. Stay away from this company.

    They rather you pay the total up front because they know it won't work. Warning, stay away from giving these scam artist your money or you will regret it. Four months of retainers and not one tooth was moved. I have talked and emailed no less than 22 people and each claims to be serious about helping me, but no one knows who the other is or what their email is.

    Warning, warning, warning. Stay away from giving these scam artists your hard earned money.

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

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  • 9 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Do not get scammed!

    Do not get scammed into the hype of this dishonest and bogus company. They are frauds.

    I had a 4-month plan. The entire 4 months my bottom aligner never fit properly. After several calls, I kept getting "it will take time." Well, 4 months passed and my bottom teeth never shifted. What a waste of money, time, pain, etc.

    After taking additional impressions, I was approved once again to receive an aligner correction, which would only take an additional 4 weeks. Well, I’m writing this at 7 weeks and no aligners.

    After several calls and having to call BBB, I received a bogus email that my aligners was shipped with an unknown tracking number. So once again I called and was hung up on with several representatives, with one telling me "oh, the tracking number is incorrect so I'll have to look into getting a correct one." I’m still waiting.

    At this point, if BBB cannot do anything I will sue the company for all money, as well as for pain and suffering. Please be advised, sometimes it's worth paying more to get the quality and service you desire.

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

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  • 8 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Not upfront with clients, don't live up to expectations. Decent product.

    Very unsatisfied with the end result and time it takes to receive aligners.

    First, I'm told it's going to take 7 and a half months, but they lost one of the shipments and delayed the process by two weeks. Then I see my Smile on the last aligner and my Smile still needs work, so I called customer service, got an email and followed directions on what to do and got a response after 10 saying I was "approved for refinement." What if I don't know any better and don't say anything at all believing that my treatment is over and that's the best that can be done to my smile?

    I went the next day to get the scans done at an office and checked today that my case has been approved but got no notification from the company. I called customer service and they say it’s going to take 3 to 4 more weeks to get new aligners, so all in all, 2 months wasted.

    I see real potential for complaints and lawsuits opportunity as the company relies on client expertise or sense of knowledge in Orthodontics to yield the results we are paying for but not delivered. I do not see anywhere on brochures or website disclosing that company may not deliver expected results and client should consult with third-party specialist or SmileDirectClub for final results. This is the closest to fraud and advertising as it can get.

    Nevertheless, I will escalate this to American Board of Orthodontics to see how they can make companies like this be more accountable with products and expected results.

    Oh, and I will post this everywhere I can to promote awareness.

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

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  • 8 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Do not use!

    • Chicago, IL,
    • Nov 20, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do not use SmileDirectClub. They are a total scam. They have the worst customer service. They always give you the runaround. I emailed to have mine canceled and was told it was canceled and I would not be charged again. And they charged me and claim the agent who called in response to my email was not authorized to cancel orders. Still, I don’t understand how an agent they hired and trained called me to cancel my order if they weren’t authorized to cancel my order.

    I thankfully disputed with my bank and they sided with me. But I still lost $500! Please be warned, do NOT use this service.

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

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  • 5 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Just starting!

    I am confused by the varying accounts of the SmileDirectClub process. I do understand that something in the company changed and maybe they do things differently than they did as little as 6 months ago.

    I went in person to a SmileDirectClub office in Chicago. They took tons of pictures of my teeth. At the time I picked the payment option I would use should I be approved, thinking that there would be one more step of "click here" to place your order. This was important to me because I wanted to check in with my dentist at home and simply say "hey I'm thinking of getting Invisalign, do you think I'm a good candidate?" To see if they would say yes or say I would actually need tooth extraction before doing something like that.

    My smile was approved, and they just charged me. I freaked out and called and explained that I thought when I was approved there'd be one more step to click for finalizing of payment, and explained I didn't want to purchase just yet because I wanted to check in with my dentist at home in New York first. They were very kind on the phone, the woman I spoke with did a stop payment with my credit card and said to just let them know within 90 days if I wanted to proceed, or else you just have to come back in for more photos.

    In my time between then and ordering, I was sent a bunch of different offers for money off and such, but I hadn't been able to get to my dentist yet. About two months later they sent me another offer I just couldn't refuse, so I jumped and bought them.

    They came in 4 weeks, as was stated, they were even able to change my delivery address and carrier preference days before they were sent out. They were so helpful.

    I received my aligners yesterday. All of them. I have a 40-week program to follow, and they sent all 20 aligners at once, none of this "they ship one every couple weeks to you and having to worry if it will be on time" stuff. They are all here.

    I still do want to check in with a dentist because it's mainly a crowding issue I'm dealing with in my top 6 front teeth, and I'm just not convinced this is going to work. I want another opinion. I would rather save myself the pain if it isn't. But like I said, the final offer they sent me I just couldn't refuse and figured it wouldn't be much wasted if it doesn't work out, but that the offer more than likely wouldn't come again.

    I am excited and nervous about this journey.

    I just wanted to say I've had a great experience so far. Communication has been great, and the live chat feature on their site has been amazing.

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

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