Candid vs Smile Direct

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When it comes to teeth straightening, invisible braces or clear aligners are now the go-to solutions for people who want to be discreet in their attempt to correct their dental situation.

Unlike metal braces, which are very obvious, invisible aligners are hardly noticeable, allowing you to smile confidently without having to be self-conscious about it. Plus, it is a home teeth straightening treatment, meaning you can do it remotely and you no longer have to do regular office visits to dentists or orthodontists.

Invisible aligners are removable, transparent trays that are made to fix minor cases of misaligned and crooked teeth. The aligner treatment time will vary depending on the dental case. In general, it will take 6 to 12 months. A dentist or orthodontist will be able to guide you in every step of the treatment online.

Before, you need to go to the dental office to address your teeth straightening concerns. Today, there have been advancements made in dental technology that allows you to address these concerns remotely. This makes it possible for companies to produce direct-to-consumer invisible braces and have aligner treatment monitored remotely for an affordable price.

When it comes to remote treatment for clear aligners, two aligner companies stand out in the market: Candid and Smile Direct. These aligner companies have been leading in the market with mostly positive reviews and they are both available for reasonable prices. So, if you are looking into getting invisible aligners with a remote treatment process, these two must be among your top options.

Candid and Smile Direct actually have a lot in common so sometimes it could be impossible to spot out immediately which one is the better choice. But if you take the time to do your research and dig a little deeper, you will see that there are some differences between the two.

Do not worry! You do not have to do your own research. In this article, we will discuss Smile Direct vs Candid and how they work so you can have everything you need to make an informed decision by the end.

Candid vs Smile Direct: Brand reputation


Candid has been around since 2017. Though fairly new in the industry compared to its competitors, they are able to fare better in the market because of their quality materials, aligner treatment process, and customer service.

Smile Direct

Smile Direct is an older company compared to Candid. The company started in Nashville, Tennessee and has been around since 2014, and is actually the first company to offer invisible aligners online. Today, there are over a hundred Smile Shops across the United States.

Candid vs Smile Direct: How it works


To get started with Candid, you will have to order an impression kit online. The starter kit will have everything you need to create an impression of your teeth. Make sure you follow the instructions on the starter kit carefully as this will be the basis for your clear aligner trays. You will then have to send them back to Candid for assessment by their orthodontist.

If you want to make sure you get a thorough fitting or you are not confident using an impression kit, you can check if there is a Candid Studio in your area. They will do a free scan of your teeth and all you have to do is wait at home for their approval.

The best thing about Candid is that they will only approve you for their clear aligner treatment if they are confident that Candid works for your dental situation. They will not abuse you for profit!

If they find that your case is too severe for their aligners to handle, they will give you a full refund for the impression kit and refer you to a licensed orthodontist in your area to help you with your dental needs.

If you get approved for Candid treatment, you will then receive your clear aligners within 2 to 3 weeks. Candid will send all the aligners you will be needing to complete the treatment so make sure that you store them properly.

An orthodontist will be assigned to your case and will monitor your progress remotely through phone scans that you are required to send every 10 days through an app. The orthodontist will then inform you whether you should be moving on to the next set of clear aligners or not.

When your Candid treatment is done, you will receive a custom retainer to ensure that your teeth will maintain their straighter condition for a long time. This set of retainers will cost $99.

Smile Direct

Just like Candid, you will have to order a Smile Direct impression kit that allows you to make an impression of your teeth and do a 3D scan of it. Then, you should send back the impression to Smile Direct where it will be reviewed by a dentist or orthodontist. You can save money if you live near a Smile Shop. They can scan your teeth for free. All you have to do is make an appointment.

After assessing your teeth scans and it is found that you need more dental work or attention, you will be informed that you are not able to use Smile Direct. You will be given a full refund for what you spent on the impression kit.

If you are approved for Smile Direct treatment, your impression will be used to design and create your personalized clear aligners. The set of clear aligners needed for your treatment will then be sent to you.

For remote monitoring, you will check in with your assigned dentist or orthodontist online by taking pictures of your teeth. The dentist or orthodontist will monitor your progress remotely and will inform you if you can move to the next set of clear aligners or not.

Once the treatment is over, you will be sent a customized retainer for $99. This will help keep your teeth stay straight for the rest of your life.

Candid vs Smile Direct: Treatment


Candid only works with licensed orthodontists who are experts when it comes to teeth straightening so you can be assured that you are being monitored by a professional with years of advanced knowledge. They will pair you with a licensed orthodontist in your state to oversee your treatment.

Using an app, you will have to do a virtual check-in where you send a scan of your teeth every 10 days. This allows the Candid orthodontist to monitor your progress closely. If they find that your teeth are aligning well, they can advise you to move on to the next set of clear aligners even if it has been less than 2 weeks. This could greatly shorten your treatment time.

Candid gives a free teeth whitening foam with every package. This free whitening product is also made out of high-quality materials and is found to be very effective.

Smile Direct

Smile Direct also works with dentists aside from orthodontists. They can only guarantee that you will be treated by a dentist so this means that you may or may not be working with an orthodontist.

This could affect the quality of care and service that you get during the Smile Direct treatment. Dentists are, of course, qualified and highly educated but they do not have the next-level knowledge and expertise that an orthodontist has.

When it comes to keeping track of when to change your clear aligners, you have to log in to your account on their website and check your dashboard. Your dashboard will show when you are scheduled to move on to the next set of clear aligners, how many sets are left in your treatment plan, and how many days are left in your Smile Direct treatment.

As for remote monitoring, you will be sent an e-mail for your virtual check-ins and you should reply with the requested photos of your teeth.

Like Candid, Smile Direct also comes with a free whitening treatment for your teeth. This means that you do not only get to have straighter teeth but you also get to have whiter teeth as well.

Candid vs Smile Direct: Treatment time


You will have to wear your Candid aligners for a minimum of 22 hours a day to straighten your teeth effectively. The average treatment time can last for 4 to 6 months.

Smile Direct

You will have to wear your Smile Direct clear aligners at least 22 hours per day. The Smile Direct Club treatment can last for 6 to 12 months.

If you do not want to use the invisible braces all day, they also have nighttime aligners which you have to wear for 10 hours per month. This treatment plan can last for 10 to 12 months. When it comes to Candid vs Smile Direct, Smile Direct offers more flexibility due to their nighttime aligners.

Candid vs Smile Direct: Material


Candid aligners are made out of a rigid but durable plastic material called Zendura, which is stain resistant. Zendura does not have any BPA, parabens, or phthalates so they are very safe.

Since the material is harder, the clear teeth aligners are more durable and ensures that the clear aligners are a snug fit. The Candid clear aligners will fit into the contours of your teeth, making them appear natural that people will not be able to determine that you have them on.

Smile Direct

The material of Smile Direct’s clear aligners are more flexible. The plastic is BPA-free, so the material is totally safe to use. The clear teeth aligners are also unnoticeable and are stain-resistant.

Since the teeth aligners are more flexible, they will probably be a more comfortable fit. However, you have to remember that the aim of having teeth aligners is to move your teeth to the right position so a snug fit has a better advantage.

Candid vs Smile Direct: Price


Invisible aligners from Candid will cost $2400. The impression kits will cost you $95 but you can find a lot of online deals that will give you generous discounts. You can also get a free impression if there is a Candid Studio in your area.

You can choose to pay Candid upfront but there is also a payment plan available. The downpayment for the payment plan is $399 and you will have to pay $99 per month for 24 months.

Candid accept HSA and FSA. As for insurance, some policies will cover part of the treatment cost but you have to check with your insurance provider to be sure.

You should know that Candid does a credit check for you to avail of the payment plan. This is to ensure that you are capable of paying them monthly.

Smile Direct

Invisible aligners from Smile Direct are cheaper as they cost only $1950. The impression kits will cost $59. If there is a Smile Shop in your area, they can do the 3D scan for you for free.

You can pay the $1950 upfront. A payment plan is available where the downpayment is $250 and you have to pay $89 per month for 24 months.

Smile Direct also accepts HSA and FSA. You should also check with your insurance provider if your policy can cover the treatment.

Smile Direct does not require any credit check for their payment plan. This makes them a viable choice for those who want straighter teeth, but has to work with a tight budget.

Smile Direct Club vs Candid: Customer service


Candid has been known for its exceptional and consistent performance when it comes to customer support. This is something very important for a company that offers its treatment and services remotely.

Smile Direct

Smile Direct does not fare as much as Candid when it comes to their customer service. Some customers have experienced delays with them. But it is also noted that they are making an effort to improve their customer service.


Are invisible braces right for me?

This will depend on what you want to correct or the gravity of the situation. Generally, invisible braces only work for those who have mild to moderate types of malocclusion or crooked teeth.

Generally, invisible braces can be a successful treatment plan for underbite, overbite, open bite, crossbite, crowded teeth, and gap teeth.

Are invisible braces better than metal braces?

Metal braces used to be the only option in traditional braces. However, they are not that pleasing to look at plus you would have to deal with the pain of adjustments and avoid getting hurt by sharp metal brackets. Do not forget that traditional braces are very expensive. It also takes you at least two years to be treated with traditional braces.

Candid and Smile Direct invisible braces are made out of a gentler material and they are hardly noticeable so you can get to smile with confidence. They also come with a shorter treatment time.

Do take note though that clear aligners can only treat those who have mild to moderate cases of misalignment or crooked teeth. If you have a severe case that needs more orthodontic attention and treatment, you will have to end up using metal braces, since they are more equipped to handle such situations.

Do invisible braces hurt?

No matter if you go with Candid or Smile Direct, you will be experiencing some sensitivity and discomfort during the first 2 to 3 days – especially if you have never tried metal braces before. Take note that you will be switching to a new set of clear aligners every 2 weeks. But as you adjust, you will hardly notice that you have them on.

How old do I need to be to use invisible braces?

Generally, the minimum age is 18 years of age. Minors aged 16 or 17 are allowed to use them as long as a written consent is provided, signed by their guardian. This is to ensure that you are dealing with your adult set of teeth.

It is best to consult your dentist first before trying invisible braces out. There are some dental issues that could not be determined by the physical eye. These issues can only be determined with the help of a thorough exam and evaluation.

Take note that you need to have good oral health to be approved for clear aligners. So if they find that you have cavities, gum problems, and other dental issues that needs to be addressed, they will tell you that you are not fit to use clear aligners and will refer you to work personally with a dentist or orthodontist instead.

Remote teeth straightening vs dental office straightening

There are two ways to get invisible braces: remote (direct to consumer) or in the dental office.

The remote process is done online. You do not need to visit the dental office or go to a studio. Everything can be monitored online. The starter kit and aligner trays will be delivered to your home. This is the process that Candid and Smile Direct follow.

Getting your clear aligners from the dental office means the whole process will be monitored and completed in person every step of the way. Frequent office visits to do the orthodontist or dentist will be required.

What is the difference between dentists and orthodontists?

They both are dental experts but orthodontists have a higher ranking over dentists. Only orthodontists have specialized training when it comes to tooth movement and they go through more years in school to acquire that knowledge and they are equipped with more hours of training and experience. Think of it as the equivalent of pursuing a medical degree after going through dental school.

Dentists can work on teeth alignment with their general knowledge – but it is not their expertise. When it comes to teeth straightening, you are better off working with an orthodontist. This is why when it comes to Candid or Smile Direct, Candid has the upper hand when it comes to quality care and treatment.

How long do I have to wear a retainer after Candid and Smile Direct treatment?

When it comes to retainers, Candid and Smile Direct Club follow the same protocol to ensure that your newly straightened teeth will remain that way.

For the first 2 weeks after your treatment, you will have to wear a retainer for 24 hours a day (except when you are drinking or eating). After the 2 weeks, you will only wear your retainers while you sleep.

Take note that you have to replace your retainers every 6 months to keep them fresh and sanitary.


Home teeth straightening products like invisible braces are revolutionizing the way people improve their smiles and confidence. All it takes is a starter kit and you can get your own invisible braces in a few weeks!

When it comes to your teeth straightening needs, both Candid and Smile Direct can get the job done. It is all a matter of preferences.

Smile Direct has been around longer, is cheaper, and has more physical stores all over the United States compared to Candid.

Smile Direct works best for those who want to straighten their teeth discreetly and in a remote manner, those who want to pay the cheapest price for the service, and who do not care if they are dealing with a dentist or an orthodontist.

Candid, on the other hand, only works with orthodontists who specialize in teeth straightening, offers high-quality products, has a better AI technology for virtual check-ins, and a more responsive customer service.

Candid works best for those who are looking for a discrete way to straighten their teeth from home, want quality work but something that pays less than market leader Invisalign, and have a preference to work with an orthodontist only.

But if you have to choose just one between Smile Direct and Candid, Candid has the upper hand. Given all the factors above, Candid gives a higher quality of service and when it comes to your smile, you should not compromise on quality.

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.