Invisible aligners are becoming more and more popular. Today, in addition to Invisalign, there are several options, and here in the United States, one of the most popular and affordable options is SmileDirectClub. I did the treatment and finished it a few months ago. As I know that many people have questions about it, I decided to write a post regarding my experience. I believe that my review can help you better understand this type of treatment’s pros and cons from a user perspective. In fact, I would like to reinforce right now that everything I will talk about here is from my experience and that each case is unique.
I went through orthodontic treatment for many years of my life. It took so many years that my dad was really pissed off at the dentist at the end of the treatment. Well, probably because of the money he had spent, lol – nothing personal against any dentist, ok? But anyway, I tried everything. I started with those external parts braced by the head, referred to as “headgear.” It was horrible. Of course, it made me a target for bullies at school. I tried to hide as much as possible, but there were periods that I couldn’t because I needed to follow a minimum amount of hours of use per day. Then I started to use the cool one: traditional braces. Finally, when I finished my treatment, I used a removable orthodontic retainer and a fixed retainer. But, don’t ask me why – that was over 15 years ago – at some point, I quit the removable retainer, and the fixed retainer was taken off. Obviously, over the years, the teeth have moved again, especially the bottom teeth. One of the central incisors started to bend. I had noticed that, obviously, but it didn’t bother me so much as it was at the bottom. One day, in January 2019, I was doing Insta stories, and this tooth caught my attention. When I looked at the mirror, I realized that it had bent a lot.
My top and bottom teeth. After scanning with SmileDirectClub, I realized that the top teeth also needed an alignment.
The decision for invisible aligners
Think about it: I was in my early 30s, working with my image on the internet. As you can imagine, obviously, traditional braces were not even considered. I already knew about Invisalign – which is probably the best-known brand today when we talk about invisible aligners. A friend of mine had told me about her treatment back in 2018, and she mentioned SmileDirectClub.
But after all, what is SmileDirectClub? The company was born to offer a better and more affordable way to straighter, whiter teeth. Founded in 2014, SmileDirectClub now represents 95% of the doctor-directed at-home clear aligner industry. A full 80% of Americans could benefit from orthodontic care, yet only 1% receive it each year, with the cost being the biggest issue. SmileDirectClub exists to help bridge that gap.
However, the company causes controversy since they eliminated visits to the dentist’s office. SmileDirectClub works with a network of 250+ state-licensed dentists and orthodontists to give you the peace-of-mind of professional treatment. Your SmileDirectClub affiliated, licensed dentist or orthodontist reviews your photos, medical history, and a 3D image of your smile before building your custom treatment plan. Yes, you got that right: you don’t see a dentist directly through SmileDirectClub. After scanning your teeth at one of the dozens of the locations, they analyze your case, create a treatment plan, and the aligners are produced. Them, the customer receives several sets of custom, tight-fitting clear aligners to gradually shift their teeth into the desired position, a process that takes, on average, 4-6 months.
I decided to schedule an appointment at one of the SmileDirectClub locations – the evaluation is free, and they have locations in several American states. When you get there, you fill out a form, answer a few questions, and are referred for consultation with a team member. I explained my concerns, and then they scanned my smile. My idea was targeting the bottom, but the associate explained that they would treat both. That was when I realized that I could improve the bottom. Would I have started treatment just for that? No. But since I was going to do it, I was excited to correct everything.
- The full treatment costs $ 1950 or $250 deposit, $89/mo. for 24 months ($2386 total)
- At the end of the treatment, you need to buy a retainer, which costs $99.
- If you use this link, you get 50% off your at-home impression kit, plus $100 off your purchase of SmileDirectClub aligners.
- They also accept some insurance.
* Click here to see how the at home-impression kit works – it is an option if there is no SmileDirectClub location near you.
After three weeks of my appointment, I received a box of SmileDirectClub with all the aligners. My smile journey would last at least 5 months, which made me particularly very motivated. I was delighted with the possibility of fixing my smile without having to commit to traditional braces. Also, I would have the flexibility of taking then off when I had events or when I was recording videos and taking photos. Each aligner comes with a date and number, for example, Month 1 / Week 1, so you know when to change the aligners. In total, you use 3 aligners per month, with the third one being used for 2 weeks.
Here, I think it is important to emphasize that a treatment like this also has some disadvantages. The promise of quick results – 5 months – has a reason. After all, it is expected that you use the aligners 22 hours a day, taking them off only for eating. This is humanly impossible if we analyze it well. I tried to follow the rules, but I believe that, on average, I used 18 to 20 hours a day. As a result, I found myself taking a toothbrush and toothpaste to appointments and other events, so I could brush my teeth and put the aligners back on. It is also worth remembering that the only thing you can drink with the aligners in your mouth is water. Today, they already offer a different plan: you use the aligners for 10 hours at night – and you are done in 10 months.
Getting used to the aligners is very uncomfortable. In the first few days, my mouth was bizarre. I was very thirsty – after all, there was a different thing in my mouth. I also had thrush and felt pain. I was already adapted in less than a week, but it is worth mentioning that each new aligner was a surprise. Obviously, to move your teeth, the aligners are tighter each week, which makes it harder for you to put them.
I started my treatment in March 2019. Two months later, I already saw a significant difference in the lower incisor teeth, but I began to notice that the upper incisor teeth were not aligned.
When I realized that my upper teeth were misaligned in May, I contacted SmileDirectClub’s customer service and explained my concerns. They asked me to send photos and returned the contact after a few days and explained that it was normal. However, in July, when my treatment was supposed to end, I was not happy with the results, as those upper incisors were still misaligned. I contacted them again and explained that I was not satisfied. So, I sent new photos. After a previous evaluation, I was asked to go back to one of the SmileDirectClub locations to do a new scan. A few weeks later, I received new aligners. And this happened again in October and January, as I continued not happy with the result.
Here, I have some thoughts to share. Talking to the customer service and doing scans bothered me a little. I wish I could chat with the dentist about my case. When I went to do a third reevaluation, I was very frustrated and even regretted. It seemed that the upper teeth would no longer align. However, I must point out that SmileDirectClub always listened to my complaints and tried to solve it. Also, I didn’t have to pay for any extra aligners – and I did a reevaluation three times! In February 2020, almost a year after starting my treatment, I was finally satisfied with my smile. So ordered my retainer – which is the same as regular aligners – and now I use it every night to sleep, as directed.
Although it took twice as long as expected, I do not regret the SmileDirectClub treatment. Even with setbacks and disadvantages, it was convenient for my life circumstances and, in a way, it was fast. If it were today, I would definitely choose the 10 hours/day treatment. Below, pictures of my smile today!
This post was not sponsored by SmileDirectClub – I’ve paid for the treatment. This post has my honest opinion as a customer. However, if you decide to make an appointment, use the links presented in the post, as they are affiliate links and, thus, you support my work.
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!