Four At-Home Aligners to Help Get Your Smile Back
A time- and cost-effective solution for those looking to straighten up their teeth
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You’re never fully dressed without a smile. The cast of hit musical “Annie” said it once, and I’ll say it again. Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you. Flashing those pearly whites can exude confidence, kindness, love, warmth…you get the gist.
But if you’re not feeling confident about your chompers, you might be inclined to stay tight-lipped. That can make you seem unfriendly, cold and overly serious. And who wants that? Even those who suffer from a case of the RBF know there’s a time and a place to pop out a big ole beam.
If crooked teeth are eating away at your confidence, don’t fret. As an adult, the idea of going back to the drawing board and getting braces probably seems like a nightmare of middle school’s past. But, technology has gotten us pretty far on the teeth-straightening front. Today we’re talking about one of those high-tech solutions: aligners. Specifically, at-home aligners.
At-home aligners are a time- and cost-effective solution for those looking to straighten up their teeth; they’re much more affordable and require a lot less time spent in an orthodontist’s office than braces or Invisalign. If you’re considering getting your smile back with a set of at-home aligners, stick with us. We chatted with Dr. Jonathan Snow, DMD, about all things at-home aligners and picked out the three best options on the market if you’re ready to make the purchase yourself.
At-home Aligners 101
Aligners are clear plastic trays that, over time, slowly shift the position of your teeth. They’re barely noticeable, so you can wear them (and in order for them to be effective, you have to wear them) all day and night.
While each company functions a bit differently, the general process is as follows: you get an impression of your teeth made, a doctor makes a treatment plan for you based on that mold, and a custom tray and treatment plan is sent to your door. Sounds easy enough, right?
And it is, but as with anything medical, it is good to proceed with some caution. It’s easy to think of teeth straightening as something strictly cosmetic, but it’s important to remember that it really is a medical issue. So, who should steer clear of at-home aligners?
“Any at-home treatment is potentially dangerous if you hadn’t been to a dentist in the last 6 months for a full check-up and cleaning and clearance to begin tooth movement,” says Dr. Snow. Doctors take into account your nerves, bone structure, and overall oral health before creating your treatment plans. These at-home kits on the other hand, do not.
Moving your teeth has the potential to lead to infection or even permanent loss of one, or several, teeth if you have any underlying oral health issues. So, before you jump right into straightening, make an appointment with your dentist for a comprehensive checkup including teeth cleaning and X-rays. Let your dentist know you want to try at-home aligners and discuss if you’re a good candidate for the treatment.
An in-office treatment like Invisalign is ideal, says Dr. Snow, but if that’s not conducive to your budget or lifestyle and you get the ay-okay from your dentist an at-home treatment is a good alternative.
So, now that you’re cleared you finally can jump right in. Below are the four best brands to start the at-home teeth straightening process with when you’re ready to do so.
Candid is the closest to an in-office treatment in that it works exclusively with orthodontists to guide your treatment with a high level of expertise and care.
How It Works: The first step is to go to a CandidPro doctor near you for an in-office visit. Candid partners with doctors all over the country who will give you a comprehensive screening including X-rays, a medical history questionnaire, intraoral and extraoral photos, and more, to ensure you’re a candidate for the treatment. If you are, you’ll be able to get your impressions done and be on the road to aligners. You’ll get your aligners as well as a CandidMonitoring device and teeth whitener. This scanning device syncs with your smartphone and allows you to send your CandidPro doctor real-time scans. You’ll check-in with your doc every 14 days to ensure your treatment is on track. The treatment plan varies from person to person and your doctor will prescribe the wear schedule, but you can expect to wear them almost all day. While everyone is different, on average a Candid treatment lasts about 6 months.
Cost: Price varies based on plan created with CandidPro doctor
- Partners with non-profit Smile Train to help provide cleft lip and palate treatments to children around the world.
- Your treatment is closely and frequently monitored by a licensed professional. If something goes wrong, they will be able to catch it earlier on.
- The thorough pre-treatment screening ensures the treatment you get is right for you and your specific needs.
- The Candid app offers easy access to help when you need it.
- If you want something entirely remote, this does require an in-office visit. You must live near one of the offices to get a treatment plan.
- Candid is more expensive than most of the other treatments on this list.
If you’re looking for quick results, Byte promises to start seeing results in as little as 30 days.
How It Works: Byte starts with an at-home impression kit. Once created, Byte will make a custom treatment plan for you. Each set of aligners from Byte should be worn for about one week. Byte has an app that can guide you through the process and help you track your progress. Byte All-Day Aligners should be worn for about 22 hours a day. There are also At-Night Aligners, which need to be worn for at least 10 hours each day. Results usually take about 4 months, but Byte has created the HyperByte device to try to cut that time in half. You put this high-frequency vibration device over your aligners and use it for 5 minutes a day. It is an added cost, but the idea of a 2 month long process is pretty enticing.
Cost: $1,895 for All-Day Aligner System; $2,295 for At-Night Aligner System or Byte Pay financing for $83 / mo.
- Promises results in as little as two months if the plan is followed properly.
- Options for nighttime and daytime aligners.
- Hyperbyte helps make treatment less painful.
- You switch your aligners every week. This change-up may cause discomfort in some people.
- This is a completely at-home treatment, so you can’t go into an office and have your teeth scanned.
Founded in 2014, SmileDirectClub was one of the first companies to start doing at-home aligner treatments and have treated over a million patients to date.
How It Works: SmileDirectClub wants to make things convenient for you, so your journey starts off with an at-home impression kit or an in-office scan. Based on your impressions or scan, a licensed dentist or orthodontist will create the right treatment plan for you. You can choose from either nighttime (worn for 10 hours at night) or daytime aligners (worn for 22 hours a day), whatever is best for your lifestyle. You won’t need to go into an office to have your teeth checked, but you’ll have regular virtual Smile Check-ins where your assigned dental care team will be able to monitor your treatment. There’s also an app for easy access to care providers and customer service. People who use SmileDirectClub usually see results between 4 to 6 months, but that exact timeframe depends on your specific case.
- With its easy-to-use app, day and night aligners, options for in-person or at-home impressions, SmileDirectClub really prioritizes convenience.
- You must verify that you’ve visited a dentist within 6 months of starting your treatment, which shows they take patient clearance seriously.
- If you follow your treatment plan correctly but aren’t happy with the results you can take advantage of the Lifetime Smile Guarantee and have your doctor re-evaluate you for a possible next step at no added cost.
- You are not able to get refunds after the first 30 days of treatment.
- These aligners are pricier than some other options on this list.
AlignerCo is one of the most affordable at-home aligner treatments on the market, making it an easy choice if you’re simply shopping by budget.
How It Works: To get started with AlignerCo, you’ll order an impression kit online. Take your dental impression at home and send it back to the team. The brand does have one in-person Smile Studio in Long Island, NY, so if you are local there you have the option to go in-person to do this step as well. Next, AlignerCo’s team of experts will customize a treatment plan just for you and your smile. In a few weeks, your aligners will show up at your door. Aligners should be worn for 20-22 hours a day, every day. You’ll get multiple sets of aligners and each should be worn for 10 days. Depending on the severity of your situation, you’ll likely wear the aligners for somewhere between 4 to 6 months.
Cost: $1,145 for All Day Invisible Aligners; $1,345 for NightOnly Clear Aligners
- Most affordable option on this list. The brand often runs discounts and promotions that make the service even cheaper.
- There’s also a nighttime-only aligner treatment option called NightOnly if you don’t want to have to wear aligners during the day.
- You have access to a Smile Crew Member, who you can contact if you have any questions or concerns. They’ll get the proper answers for you from a dentist.
- There’s only one in-person location.
- No refunds or free refinement aligners. If you’re not satisfied with the results, you kind of just need to deal with it.
- It’s a smaller, newer company so there aren’t as many reviews out there as compared to other brands on this list.
- You don’t meet directly with an orthodontist or dentist during the treatment plan.
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