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 510 SmileDirectClub Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Customer Rating: 2.9
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 212 4 star: 19 3 star: 11 2 star: 46 1 star:  222
Bottom Line: 46% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 510
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  • Amazing experience

    • By Nadia A.,
    • West Palm Beach, FL,
    • Jan 22, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    It was such an amazing experience, Miss Emma and Miss Kimmy took such good care of me, explained everything clearly, and answered all my questions. It was such a comfortable experience, I almost felt tempted to stay there! Would recommend, 11/10!

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

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  • Great service

    • By Teresa K.,
    • Louisiana,
    • Jan 21, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    I went to the location in Shreveport and the service was great. The woman who worked with us, Alex, was very friendly and very honest about the product. It was extremely quick and easy and way more affordable than the orthodontist. My daughter has pretty straight teeth, except for her crown, which she got at a young age. The orthodontist told me it was going to be seven thousand dollars to straighten one tooth. If the issue is minor with your teeth than I recommend SmileDirectClub.

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

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    • Jan 21, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

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


  • The worse customer experience EVER!

    • By Nabiha E.,
    • Detroit, MI,
    • Jan 20, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    I went to my 3D scan appointment by the end of November 2019 and I thought that I was placing an order for my aligners as I gave the lady who made my 3D scan my card information, but after around one week on, I received an email from SmileDirectClub prompting me to order my aligners...wait a minute...I thought I did order my aligners! I called the company just to find out that my order was not placed so I ordered my aligners again on December 5th, paying $800 of my HSA before the benefits expired. I called the company by the end of December 2019 to check on the delivery date and the lady from SmileDirect told me that I needed to wait between the 5 and 6 week to receive my aligners in the mail. After 6 weeks waiting I decided to call the company again to check on the delivery date just to find out that my order was supposedly canceled but NOBODY CALLED ME OR SENT ME AN EMAIL ABOUT IT! So I don't know what happened. At this point, I lost $800 from my HSA for 2019 and I DON'T HAVE MY ALIGNERS!

    THIS COMPANY IS SCAMMING PEOPLE!

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

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    • Jan 21, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Nabiha, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. We are concerned to see this as we want to assist all club members to the best of our abilities. We did recently experience a delay in orders due to high order volume but are catching up now. In order to better assist, I will be reaching out via private messenger. Best, Jeffrey.


  • Quick and painless

    • By Michael W.,
    • West Roxbury, MA,
    • Jan 20, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was very impressed with how quick and painless my 1st visit was and I'm excited to start the road to a happier smile. I was able to make an appointment for after work hours and Yanique, the shop manager, was beyond helpful.

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

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    • Jan 21, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Michael, we're thrilled to see your kind review. Thank you so much!


  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Very shady and do not follow through

    • By Bea C.,
    • San Antonio, TX,
    • Jan 20, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    Disappointing, very pushy. Changed my mind about the product, went back to the office, told her to cancel, she reassured me she would not process...guess what? I was charged the full amount on my card and received 25 emails congratulating me about my purchase after I had canceled the same day.

    Was not told about my insurance, might cover some of the cost...$700 actually.

    Very shady business, BEWARE.

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

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    • Jan 20, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Bea, we are concerned to see this as we want to provide the most informative and comfortable journey possible. In order for us to better assist, I will be reaching out via HighYa direct messenger to gather some information and help. Best, Jeffrey.


  • Excellent experience! Why have I waited so long!

    • By Toni M.,
    • Newport News, VA,
    • Jan 16, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was elated with the entire session at SmileDirect. I was greeted immediately and seen promptly. I was able to view and snap photos of my entire profile. I am expecting a corrected beautiful smile this summer.

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

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    • Jan 17, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

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


  • My visit

    • By Maria B.,
    • Pasadena, CA,
    • Jan 16, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    I am so pleased to have made it to their clinic and so inviting that I left feeling content. Yanet the assistant is a very good listener and answered all my questions; she made the visit very comfortable and I learned other ways of treating my teeth.

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

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    • Jan 16, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thank you so much for this wonderful review!


  • Great!

    • By Jasmine C.,
    • Orlando, FL,
    • Jan 16, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    Courtney was such a great help at my appointment, very informational and all-around great! I was surprised at how many things SmileDirectClub offers. I definitely will recommend to a friend.

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

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    • Jan 16, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      We're delighted to see this. Thanks so much!


  • Awesome

    • By Mikayla L.,
    • Suwanee, GA,
    • Jan 16, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    Flor and Kim over at SmileDirectClub in Buford were amazing. I got my 3D scan and was in and out in no time. They answered all my questions and addressed every concern. They were upfront and honest about the process and made me feel comfortable moving forward!

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

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    • Jan 16, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Thanks so much for the review! We work hard to make sure every customer has the best experience in the best environment, and we are happy to see that reflected in this review.


  • CVS SmileDirect

    • By Nadine V.,
    • Allentown, PA,
    • Jan 15, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was a little unsure at first of this entire process, but Beth was able to make me feel comfortable and answer all my questions. Explained everything in detail and as she was doing everything step by step. It was definitely worth it. She was great.

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

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    • Jan 16, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Nadine, we really appreciate your positive review!


  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    No retainers after treatment

    • By Wendt S.,
    • Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
    • Jan 14, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer

    The treatment process went ok, I paid $2220 for a 6-month plan, by the end of the journey I got the email to advise to order the retainers to protect my teeth from shifting back. I followed the advice and ordered the retainer, the email said it would arrive in 2~3 weeks, now it’s 7 weeks, still no retainer. I have to wear the last set of aligners all this time and my teeth start shifting back. Contacted the company by phone and email, they gave the date for shipping, but nothing happened. Without the retainer, the whole process will be a waste of time and money.

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

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    • Jan 14, 2020

      Company Response from Smile Direct Club

      Hi Wendt, we are concerned to hear this and do not want any club members to experience a long delay with their order. I will be following up via private message for further assistance. Best, Valerie.


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