If you are looking to straighten your teeth for a more beautiful smile, then you will be glad to know that metal brackets and wired braces are no longer your only option. More and more dental offices are offering clear aligners for a more practical, convenient, discreet, and even faster treatment time. Additionally, more and more home treatment brands of clear teeth aligners have emerged in the past few years, and they all claim to deliver effective and quality treatment processes, for a fraction of the price. But who should you trust your hard-earned money and precious teeth?
To help you decide, here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the best clear aligners in the market today.
Best Clear Aligner Brands Today
Teeth aligners can be categorized into two types: in-office aligners and home aligners. Each type is effective in its own way and has its own set of pros and cons. Moreover, it is important to note that the treatment plan of different brands largely depends on your unique circumstances, goals, and priorities. Nevertheless, here’s a list of the most popular brands of aligner companies and their products to help you choose.
Brand 1: Invisalign
By far the most popular brand in the aligner treatment industry is Invisalign, a wordplay on “invisible aligner”. Known for having pioneered the world’s first clear aligner treatment, Invisalign is also the most well-established and trusted brand by dentists and orthodontists. The teeth straightening brand truly revolutionized the landscape of orthodontic treatment.
There’s a good chance you have heard of Invisalign before and how well the aligner treatment is accepted. The clear transparent tray is made with BPA-free plastic. It is relatively translucent, making it discreet, almost invisible (hence the name). This is the primary reason why people opt for this treatment over traditional braces. It is also less painful and more comfortable to wear, compared to traditional metal braces.
How it works
The teeth straightening process in Invisalign is quite similar to braces – it puts pressure on the teeth to encourage cell stimulation on the roots of the teeth to gradually move the teeth in the right directions and in their preferred spots. However, the way it executes the teeth straightening process is quite different compared to its traditional counterpart.
Instead of attaching to each tooth through dental glue, the Invisalign aligner completely covers the entire row of teeth. Worn like a mouthguard, the aligner puts pressure on each tooth and moves them all at once.
The treatment process starts with the accredited orthodontic taking the impression of your mouth and teeth. To get the perfect mold that covers all the outlines and the precise movements of each tooth, they work with a lab technician to make a 3D impression of your mouth. The mold is then sent to an Invisalign specialist. Some orthodontists use x-ray and high-definition photos to make mouth and impressions of their patients. Both options are widely used. From here they will determine whether you are a good candidate for the treatment or not.
The Invisalign specialist will then use special software to create the step-by-step roadmap that aligns with your treatment plan. The specialist will work closely with your orthodontist to create a personalized treatment for you. They will make a number of revisions to perfect the retainers customized for you.
As soon as your retainers reach your orthodontist, you will need to visit the dental clinic for fitting. In many cases, people feel discomfort during their first fitting. This is because the retainers are designed to put pressure on your teeth to gradually force tooth movement. You can take over-the-counter pain medications to alleviate the pain. The pain usually goes away after a couple of days.
The whole Invisalign treatment revolves around the use of a set of trays of tiny increments. You will switch from one tray to another every two weeks or so. Each increment is predicted by the millimeter to move your teeth and set them in their preferred position, based on your treatment plan.
The average treatment time last 9 to 12 months, some a little longer (up to 18 months) depending on the severity of the malocclusion. The aligners must be worn for at least 22 hours a day and can only be removed when you eat, drink, or brush and floss your teeth. And to make sure the treatment is going according to the plan, you will have to visit your orthodontist every 4 or 6 weeks for monitoring.
Invisalign works best for mild to moderate orthodontic problems. However, some have used it for complex cases and have seen significant improvements.
The Invisalign brand and the company have grown significantly over the past few years, and now they offer a wide range of Invisalign products and treatment packages to treat even severe malocclusion. They also sell retainers, which must be worn after the whole treatment with their invisible trays to keep the teeth from moving back to their previous places. Some patients are advised to wear their retainers nightly for 6 to 9 months, while are prescribed to wear them for 2 years or more.
Cheaper and faster options for minor problems
They also have a more affordable option for a shorter treatment period for minor problems. It’s called the Invisalign Express, and it is specifically designed for cases that don’t need the full treatment. There are two options for this treatment – the five aligners which last about three months, and the 10 aligners which take about six months. This is best for patients with early relapse from previous orthodontic work, mild front teeth crookedness, slight spacing problems, or mild overcrowding.
Teeth whitening at the same time
What is even more attractive about Invisalign treatment is the ability to whiten your teeth while straightening them. They actually offer professional-grade teeth whitening products specifically designed for use with their aligners and retainers.
Pros and Cons
• Time-tested, well-established brand
• Trusted by many orthodontists (with more than 40,000 partner clinics all over the U.S.)
• Discreet (less noticeable)
• Comfortable (significantly less painful compared to traditional braces)
• Convenient (removable, easy to remove and clean, and less visits to the dentist for adjustments)
• Fewer potential issues (traditional braces can break easily, which needs emergency visits to the dentist)
• Accepts FSA/HSA
• Design for mild to moderate malocclusion problems
• Expensive (compared to other clear aligner treatments in the market)
• Food limitations (due to soreness)
• Requires maximum compliance
Invisalign treatment can cost around $3,000 to $5,000 (based on the national average in the U.S.). Some cases can go as high as $8,500. The cost, of course, differs from a lot of different factors, such as the complexity and severity of the malocclusion and treatment duration, your location, your orthodontist’s rate, etc.
You can check with your dental insurance if they cover this kind of treatment. Some dental insurance includes this in their coverage.
You can also use your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or health savings account (HAS) to pay for your treatment. If you don’t have any dental insurance coverage, you can talk with the clinic if they offer any payment plan for the treatments. Many dental and orthodontic treatments actually offer to treat different payment plans for their patients. Many clinics also offer special promos.
Invisalign’s customer service is available 24/7. You can contact them via email, send a message through their website, or via chat support.
Brand 2: AlignerCo
AlignerCo offers quick, convenient, and affordable teeth straightening treatment. Compared to the leading brand Invisalign, AlignerCo allows you to get straighter teeth right at the comforts of your own home. This means they can be categorized as at-home teeth straightening treatment. While they offer fewer startup options than Invisalign, it kind of works to their advantage since people don’t get too confused about what to get to start the treatment.
How it works
The treatment plan starts with the use of an impression kit to make a dental impression. Yes, the patient will be the one to provide the dental impression to start the treatment. The impression kit will be mailed straight to the patient, and the patient will then send their dental impression back to AlignerCo can make the trays.
Those who live close to New York, or are able to visit their one and only headquarters at Long Island, New York, can have their teeth scanned for a quick and comprehensive 3D impression. This is ideal for anyone concerned about taking their own dental impressions at home.
Using your own impression, AlignerCo, with their team of orthodontists will determine whether you are a good candidate for the treatment or not. If they decide that you are not a good candidate, you will receive a refund for your impression kit.
If they determine you are a good candidate and you decide to move forward with the treatment, they will then send you your aligner trays straight to your doorsteps. This means no need to set an appointment with your orthodontist to get the clear aligners.
3D rendering for treatment preview
The great thing about Aligner Co is that they will show you their preview of what your teeth should look like after the treatment. This is great since it will help you visualize the end results.
Like in Invisalign, you will switch out your aligners every two weeks until the whole treatment process is completed. And like in Invisalign, the average duration for the whole process is about 8 to 12 months. Some are even faster (6 – 11 months). The fastest reported treatment time was 3 months. Of course, again, the duration of treatment depends on a lot of factors, such as the complexity and severity of the malocclusion, patient compliance, etc.
While Aligner Co is an at-home treatment, you will still be monitored by their licensed orthodontist remotely to make sure the treatment is going according to plan. You will be required to send photos for progress reports to your assigned orthodontist.
Pros and Cons
• Affordable (one of the most affordable clear aligner teeth straightening treatment in the market)
• Convenient (remote impression, trays sent straight to the patient, remote monitoring)
• Durable aligners
• Multiple payment plans (monthly payment plans)
• Refund for starter kit (if they determine you are not a good candidate for the treatment)
• 24/7 chat support
• Accepts FSA/HSA
• No physical locations (no clinics or offices for free and comprehensive scans)
• It takes longer for them to prepare your treatment plan and ship out your aligners
Aligner Co offers three basic payment plans for the standard treatment, namely:
• SmileAdvantage (costs $1,145 inclusive of impression kit, aligner tray set, and retainers)
• SmileFlex ($110/month for 12 months, or a total of $1,320)
• SmileFlex Easy ($95/month for 11 months, with a down payment of $275, for a total of $1,320)
They also have NightOnly aligners, namely:
- NightAdvantage ($1,345, inclusive of impression kit, a set of aligner trays, and retainers)
- NightFlex ($125/month for 12 months, for a total of $1,500)
- NightFlex Easy ($105/month for 11 months, with a down payment of $345)
Their customer service is available 24/7 via chat support and email. They also offer online video chat should you have any questions when taking your impressions.
Brand 3: Smile Direct Club
Smile Direct Club offers solutions to your dental woes for half or even a third of the price of the leading clear aligner in the market Invisalign, for almost a quarter of the time. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because they have actually managed to cut some of the expenses in the consultation process.
Unlike Invisalign, Smile Direct Club doesn’t usually assess their patient’s oral health in full detail before prescribing the treatment. They don’t ask for x-rays, which means the treatment plan won’t account for the bone structure underneath the gums, the nerves, and the blood supply. In many cases, these factors can affect the treatment. Nevertheless, their treatment is still effective in many cases.
How it works
To get started you need to fill out a quick survey from their website. The questions are pretty basic, which includes whether you have worn braces in the past, what type of malocclusion you have that needs fixing (overcrowding, spacing, overbite, etc.), and their severity. Based on your answers they can identify whether you are a good candidate for their treatment or not. If they think you are a candidate for the program, you will be sent to a page where you will have to sign up for either an in-person consultation (if you live near their partner clinic) or a home impression kit that you will administer yourself. It’s a pretty quick and straightforward process.
The most common dilemma of most people is if they mess up their impression kit. SmileDirectClub covers this – they analyze the impression and should they determine the patient needs to re-do their impression, they will let their patient know. You will have to order a replacement kit, but they will refund the cost once you go for the treatment and purchase the aligners.
3D rendering for treatment preview
One of the nice things about SmileDirectClub’s treatment is they show you the 3D rendering of the treatment plan. This will give you a good visual idea of what your teeth would look like every step of the way and after the treatment is complete. The number of aligners and the treatment duration depends on the type and severity of your malocclusion and the treatment needed.
As soon as you approve the treatment plan, they will send you your set of aligners. The package includes the tools you need to fit the aligners to your teeth.
As with most clear aligner treatments on the market, you will be asked to wear retainers after completing your treatment to keep your teeth from moving back.
Teeth whitening at the same time
Another great thing about their treatment is they include an LED whitening kit to help keep your teeth nice and white throughout the treatment.
Pros and Cons
• Convenient and discreet
• No food and drink restrictions
• Cheap teeth straightening solution
• With free teeth whitening
• Accepts insurance
• Available all over the country
• They don’t take x-rays for the consultation
• The treatment process is not supervised by an orthodontist
• Some report delivery issues and broken aligner issues
• No refunds
SmileDirecClub consultation and impression kit costs $45, but you will get a full refund if it turns out you are not a candidate for the treatment.
Regardless of how extensive the corrections are needed, treatment duration, and the number of trays you will need, the whole treatment plan costs $1,950, plus $99 for the retainers.
It is worth noting that SmileDirectClub doesn’t take dental insurance directly. But depending on your plan, you may get partial reimbursement from your insurance provider. They also accept FSA, HAS, and CareCredit as forms of payment.
Another good thing about their payment method is they also offer a monthly payment plan which costs $89 per month for 24 months, plus a down payment of $250. Obviously, this will cost you $400 more.
SmileDirect’s customer support team is available 24/7 by phone, email, or web chat to help out.
Brand 4: Byte
The byte is another at-home clear aligner brand that offers affordable, quick, and remotely monitored teeth straightening treatment. Yes, they claim their treatment typically takes 4 to 6 months.
Byte stands out from other at-home invisible aligner brands for a lot of reasons. For one, it is the number one rated doctor-driven at-home aligner brand that delivers professional results in half the price and time compared to traditional methods. Strategically headquartered in Los Angeles, the brand has a nationwide reach, thanks to its wide network of licensed orthodontist partners that oversee every treatment.
How it works
As with other clear aligner brands, Byte treatment starts with the use of the impression kit, which is available from their website. Their in-house orthodontists use your impressions to assess whether you are a candidate for the treatment program or not. Unlike the market leader Invisalign, Byte treatment is completed remotely.
Taking your own impression can be quite tricky. Byte understands this dilemma, thus, they offer “Impression Session” on their website, which you can sign up for to help you take your own impression at home. You will be guided by a core team through a video chat. Also, they provide patients with two chances in their impression kit for both the top and bottom sets of teeth. Plus, also send another set of impression kits (which you will pay for the shipping) should you need to try again.
After a few weeks following your approval, Byte will send you your aligner kit via mail.
Each kit contains:
• The set of aligners in your treatment plan
• HyperByte vibration therapy
• BrightByte whitener
• A carrying case.
As with other aligner brands, you have to wear each aligner for a couple of weeks before moving to the next one. By the end of your treatment, you will be prescribed night retainers. Unlike other brands though where the retainers are prescribed for 6 months or so, you will have to wear the nightly retainers for the rest of your life. Retainers are for free though (for 5 years).
And yes, you read it right; there is a teeth whitener included in the package. It’s called the BrightByte, a signature tooth whitening treatment from Byte.
This is the primary treatment plan from Byte, which works just like most clear aligners in the market; you will have to wear the aligner for at least 22 hours a day. Also included in the aligner kit is the HyperByte device, which you will have to use for 5 minutes daily.
Byte claims that if you follow the program by the dot, their whole treatment can be faster than other aligner brands in the market.
As its name suggests, this plan is for nighttime. Their nighttime aligners must be worn at night for at least 10 hours per day (or per night). This is ideal for people who want to be more discreet in their quest for straighter teeth, have a job that requires posing for photos on a regular basis, giving speeches, etc.
Aligners in this plan are made with thicker material designed to put extra pressure on your teeth to move them while you sleep. Additionally, this plan requires the use of the HyperByte vibration therapy for at least 10 minutes per day. Compared to the other plan, this treatment may take longer, since the aligners are only worn at night.
This device easily sets the brand apart from other aligner options in the market. It is probably the only brand that offers such a feature.
HyperByte is actually a High-Frequency Vibration (HFV) device that uses vibration-based therapy using gentle micro-pulses. These gentle vibrations provide ease to reduce discomfort on the gums caused by the pressure from the aligners. They claim this also aids treatment time for faster results.
Vibration therapy in orthodontics is nothing new. Orthodontists have actually used this technique for decades for traditional braces treatments.
Pros and Cons
• Remote treatment, no in-clinic visits
• Free online assessment
• Flexible payment plans
• With teeth whitener
• Free retainers (5 year supply, plus free replacement for misplaced aligners)
• Accepts HSA and FSA, CareCredit, Splitit
• Lifetime guarantee (additional aligners at no extra cost)
• No shops or clinics for in-person scans
• They depend solely on your answers from their questions, not your dental history
• Aligners are solely based on your impressions
• For mild to moderate cases of teeth misalignment only
• Fast treatment comes with risks
• No in-depth monitoring
The All-Day Byte aligner plan costs $1,895. They have a payment plan of $83/month for 25 months, with $349 down payment. Aside from that, you will have to pay $95 for the impression kit. The first set of post-treatment retainers is free, but the next set cost $99.
For At-Night Byte aligners, the one-time payment costs $2,245. It is also available for a payment plan of $98/month for 25 months with a $41 down payment. The impression kit is the same, and you will also get your first set of retainers for free.
Byte accepts dental insurance, as well FSA and HAS accounts.
Byte customer care is available through text, social media, and website. They take pride in their superb customer service. As a matter of fact, it is one of the best features of their brand, and people love how prompt and helpful they are in all their channels.
Brand 5: Candid
Candid is another clear aligner company that offers affordable, convenient, fast, and effective teeth-straightening solutions worth looking into if you are in the market for invisible aligners.
How it works
To start the treatment, you have to visit a partner CandidPro provider orthodontist for the initial consultation. Your mouth will be digitally scanned and from there the orthodontist will make the impressions of your bite. Then, your impressions will be sent to Candid’s team for a personalized treatment plan.
In most cases, the treatment is completed after 6 months. Many have completed their treatment in four months, while very few took nine to eleven months.
Comfortable and durable aligners
Unlike some brands where people complain about durability, Candid takes pride in their aligner’s build. Fabricated in Silicon Valley, Candid aligners are made with Zendura FLX, a triple-layer material that provides a perfect balance of comfort and force. This aligner is quite similar to the industry-leading brand Invisalign in terms of comfort. Moreover, Candid’s aligner is BPA and phthalate-free, and stain-resistant.
Also included in the package is gentle whitening foam that you can use to clean, disinfect, and keep your aligners fresh.
Dental monitoring app
The app is what sets Candid apart from other aligner brands out there. The CandidApp is a teledentistry service that provides remote monitoring. It connects you to their partner orthodontist virtually.
You will send your progress photos every two weeks using the app’s CandidScan, which is included in the treatment package.
Sounds a lot? Well, you will be glad to know that the box will walk you through the whole process for each scan. The app also lets you set notifications on your phone to make sure you don’t miss out on sending photos to your partner orthodontist.
Your orthodontist will then contact you a couple of hours after you send the photos through the app. If your orthodontist determines some issues, he/she will instruct you on what to do and how to get the treatment back on track.
Pros and Cons
• Lots of physical locations to choose all over the country
• Works with orthodontists
• With dedicated smartphone app
• Comprehensive in-person scan for best-fitting impressions
• Accepts FSA/HSA
• Cheek spreader for better photos
• Flexible payment plan
• Superb customer service
• Replacement retainers aren’t free
• They no longer offer at-home impression kit
• More expensive than other brands
• Only has 6-month retainer with purchase
Candid used to cost just $1,895 for the whole treatment. However, after they switch their strategy to getting the services of an only licensed orthodontists, many have reported the cost to reach up to $3,500. Today, the cost for the whole treatment largely depends on the orthodontist, as well as the complexity and severity of the problem.
They also offer a payment plan of $79/month for 36 months, with a down payment of $299.
As with other brands, they accept FSA/HSA to cover the full cost of the treatment.
Candid’s customer care is superb, and they continuously receive positive reviews from this aspect alone. One of the reasons why customers love them is their online video chat feature, which allows customers to talk straight to someone in real-time about any issues they are having with their aligners or the treatment.
Other Clear Aligner Brands to Consider
ClearCorrect is quite similar to Invisalign, from the consultation process to the treatment. Unlike at-home aligners, you need to visit your dentist to have your impressions. Your dentist will also include your records, photos, and x-ray to send to ClearCorrect lab. From there, ClearCorrect will start manufacturing the 3D model of your mouth and bite and map out the treatment plan for your problem.
They will show you their treatment plan, which includes the realignment and repositioning of your teeth. Once you agree with the plan, they will start manufacturing the aligner trays. They use state-of-the-art digital mapping and molding technology to manufacture custom-fit aligners.
The treatment involves four phases of aligner therapy; each phase requires you to wear a new set of clear aligners. Depending on your malocclusion, the treatment can last one to two years.
ClearCorrect offers three treatment options:
• Unlimited – you will be provided with as many aligners as needed to complete the treatment
• Limited 12 – 12 set of aligners
• Limited 6 – 6 set of aligners
Obviously, the treatment and its cost vary from one case to another. However, the price range for ClearCorrect is approximately at $2,500 to $3,500.
You can reach them through their website, hotlines, and social media.
NewSmile is quite new to the party, however, that doesn’t mean they are lagging behind.
What sets this brand apart is its unbelievably cheap price tag ($1,395). They also claim to have one of the faster teeth alignment treatments (four to six months) in the market.
NewSmile uses a similar process to Byte. At-home impression kits to make molds for the aligners, no appointments and frequent visits to the dentist or orthodontist, no waiting rooms, etc. Patients can start consultation and finish the whole treatment right at the comfort of their own home. Also, they have an aligner that must be worn 22 hours a day, and a nighttime-only aligner treatment.
To help would-be patients make their own impressions at home, NewSmile offers video call support with the help of their impression specialist. They also use an assessment quiz to find out whether you are a candidate for the treatment or not. Those who don’t get approved as candidates for the teeth alignment program will get a refund for the impression kit. Also, unfortunately, NewSmile is purely online. They don’t have an actual office or a partner clinic for mouth scans.
Like Candid, they also have an app to remotely monitor their patients. However, they also offer free whitening kits and a free set of retainers.
NewSmile actually offers two aligner options; the Fast Track aligner (which must be worn for at least 22 hours a day, which is similar to other clear aligners), and Night Aligners (must be worn at least 10 hours a day). The Fast Track version costs $1245, while the Night version costs $100 at $1,345. Also, they offer financing plans.
They also offer a payment plan of $74/month for 18 months for the Fast Track aligners and $80/month for 18 months for the nighttime aligners.
You can contact them through their social media accounts, email, or phone.
SnapCorrect is one of the newer and smaller invisible braces companies in the market today. Yet, they claim to have one of the best clear aligners in the industry. The brand offers hassle-free at-home direct-to-consumer teeth straightening treatment through affordable clear aligners that are cut perfectly along the gum line.
SnapCorrect takes pride in its clear and comfortable aligners. Their aligners are specifically designed to not push down to the gums and cause irritations. Their edges are meticulously contoured to provide raised borders. Their aligners fit snuggly for efficient pressure, all without being too obstructive.
With a treatment duration of 3 months to 18 months, the brand surely has one of the fastest treatment programs in the market.
Their whole treatment is priced at $1,849, which is easily one of the cheapest in the aligner market today. What is even better is they provide upfront pricing. This means you know what to pay for your whole treatment, no surprises for additional fees. If you don’t want to shell out the big amount of money upfront, then you can opt for their payment plan, which is at $85.45/month. Additionally, they provide free retainers after the completion of the program. They also offer a full refund for the impression kit should they decide you are not a good candidate for their teeth alignment program.
Unfortunately, they have no clinics for checkups and follow-ups. Thus, you will have to be compliant with the treatment and follow the guidelines and instructions by the dot to ensure its efficacy.
Indeed, the days of the traditional metal braces as the only option to straighten your teeth and beautify your smile are long gone. Today, there are more than enough options to choose from to get that perfect smile you have always deserved.
As you can see, each brand is different. They have different methods on how to get impressions, different dental professional partners, duration, etc. While aligners may seem to be a godsend for people with malocclusion problems, it is important to note you have to understand the underlying issue of the problem first. Thus, you should always seek the advice and guidance of your dental health provider.
Clear aligners are like mouthguards, you wear them over your teeth. Thus, if you have underlying dental issues like cavities, the problem could get worse as the aligner tray can cut off the oxygen supply to the teeth and gums, creating an environment where bacteria can thrive. This leads to tooth decay, which is something you absolutely cannot have when you are in the process of straightening your teeth and fixing your bite.
Moreover, aligners, whatever their brand may be, only deliver their purpose when they are in your mouth. Thus, compliance is a must.
The best candidate for clear aligner teeth straightening treatment are patients with mild to moderate malocclusion problems. Thus, it is important to speak to your dentist or orthodontist for any possible underlying conditions, such as jaw position discrepancy, the health of the tissues, gums, and teeth, etc.
To ensure the success of the treatment, follow the guidelines and instructions of your aligner product by the dot. More importantly, take extra care good of your oral health.