Does Smile Direct Club Work?

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Do Smile Direct Club work? In this article, we’ll uncover the answer.

When it comes to invisible braces and direct to consumer orthodontics, Smile Direct Club is one of the most popular brands in the market today. But does it really work?

According to a lot of their users, Smile Direct Club is definitely worth it as long as you just have minor to moderate issues of crowding, misaligned teeth, and spacing. The treatment time is shorter too!

Smile Direct Club gives teeth straightening solutions for a lower fee compared to what you would usually pay for traditional braces. It is not as expensive as getting an Invisalign treatment but it also is not as suspiciously cheap as some clear aligner brands.

It is no wonder that a lot of people are curious about what Smile Direct Club has to offer. In this article, we will give you a full review of Smile Direct Club to help you make a more informed decision of whether this is the right treatment for you.

How does Smile Direct Club work?

The Smile Direct Club aligners are custom-made and tight-fitting plastic trays meant to wrap around your teeth. They will then gradually shift the teeth into the right position as time passes.

Smile Direct Club is a remote clear aligner treatment. This means that you do not need to do any regular visits to a dentist throughout the treatment. There is no need for in person consultation or in person supervision. Everything is done in the comfort of your own home!

Once you are cleared as a candidate for Smile Direct Club treatment, an orthodontist or dentist from Smile Direct Club’s network of providers will be assigned to you. A customized treatment plan will then be created to straighten out your top and bottom teeth.

The custom treatment plan, along with a 3D preview of how your teeth should look like after the end of treatment will be presented to you for approval. Once you approve the plan and the 3D preview, they will start creating your custom aligners. Once the set is complete, they will deliver them to your home address.

Once you receive your invisible aligners, you will see that you have a couple of clear braces in the kit. You will be using one after another until the end of your treatment. The dental professional assigned to you will let you know when to move on to the next aligner on the set or if minor adjustments are needed to your treatment.

In case you encounter a dental issue during the treatment, you can easily connect with Smile Direct Club’s dental care team through video, text chat, phone, or email. They will be able to advise you on whatever concerns you may have.

Once you have reached the end of your treatment, you will be asked to wear customized retainers to retain the new position of your teeth. You can order these customer retainers from Smile Direct Club also. The retainers should be worn for 24 hours for a few months. Then, you can just wear them at night while you sleep.

Smile Direct Club treatment time

Smile Direct Club offers you two treatment options: standard and nighttime.

The standard treatment works like the classic clear aligners that are worn during the day. The standard aligners should be worn for at least 22 hours per day. The average treatment time is 4 to 6 months, depending on the severity of your dental issue.

The nighttime treatment means you wear the invisible aligners at night so you do not have to deal with them during the day when you are out socializing or working. The nighttime aligners are supposed to be worn for at least 10 hours each night. The average treatment time for the nighttime aligners is 10 months, depending on the severity of your dental problems.

You may be wondering why the treatment time for the nighttime aligners is longer compared to the standard aligners. This is because you are wearing the nighttime aligners for a lesser number of hours and because of this, the treatment time has to be longer.

Smile Direct Club aligners

Each Smile Direct Club aligner is made out of a clear, BPA-free plastic material. The material is textured and frosted to imitate the natural surface of your teeth. This gives them a more real-like appearance compared to other aligners whose surfaces are smooth and glossy, giving an unnatural shiny appearance to the teeth.

They are trimmed in a straight cut across the top of your gum line. This gives the aligner trays a good grip, which helps force the teeth to shift to the desired position. This type of cut also eliminates the need to use attachments or buttons to add more force to move your teeth, which is not only uncomfortable but also make your clear aligners visible.

The material used to create the aligners are stain-resistant but still, you have to take them off every time you eat or drink to ensure that food stains will not build up over time.

Smile Direct Club provider network

Smile Direct Club works with both licensed dentists and orthodontists. There is no way to tell whether you are going to get a dentist or an orthodontist to monitor your case. But you can be guaranteed that everyone in their provider network are licensed dental professionals and they are very much capable of handling your case.

How much does Smile Direct Club cost?

The at home impression kit costs $59. If you decide to go to a SmileShop, the consultation will be free of charge. As mentioned earlier, if you do not qualify for treatment and you bought an impression kit, you will be given a full refund.

Unlike other brands that charge a higher price for their nighttime aligners, Smile Direct Club actually charges the same price for their standard and nighttime aligners. This makes them stand out among the competition in the market. The upfront price for SmileDirectClub aligners is $1950.

If you can not afford to pay upfront, you can use SmilePay, which is Smile Direct Club’s monthly installment plan. Under SmilePay, you make a downpayment of $250 and then your monthly payments will be $89 for the next 24 months.

To help you make Smile Direct Club treatment more affordable, you can use your HSA account or flexible spending account. They also accept payments with CareCredit. This can greatly help you cover your monthly payment plan.

Smile Direct Club treatment can be covered by insurance plans that have coverage for orthodontic treatments. You will have to check with your insurance provider first to make sure that you have coverage.

Smile Direct Club also has a great refund policy in case you are not satisfied with their product. But take note that the refund must be done within 30 days of your treatment plan so that you can get a full refund. If it has been over 30 days, do not worry! You can still get a partial refund.

When you ask for a refund, they will also ask you to return all the remaining SmileDirectClub aligners. They will give you instructions on how to do this once you reach out to customer service department and ask for a refund.

If you reach the end of your treatment and you will be needing your retainers, you can get a set of retainers from Smile Direct Club for $99 per set. Unfortunately, the first set of retainer is not included for free unlike what other brands offer. You have to purchase the retainers separately.

If ever you lose your aligners during treatment, the cost for replacement or new aligners is $99.

Smile Direct Club Freebie: Bright On

Aside from the set of aligner trays that you will be using throughout the treatment, you have Smile Direct Club’s premium teeth whitening included in the package no matter what type of SmileDirectClub treatment you go for.

The teeth whitening treatment product is Bright On, which is a whitening gel that can turn your teeth nine shades whiter. Most SmileDirectClub reviews claim that the freebie Bright On is effective. They have noticed a brighter, new smile in just a week.

All you have to do is use it once in the morning and another time in the evening. Make sure that you brush your teeth before applying the whitening gel so that it will be absorbed better.

As you apply the gel on your top and bottom front teeth in a circular motion, you will notice it will start to foam. This helps the whitening elements penetrate your teeth.

Let the gel stay on your teeth for 5 minutes before spitting the excess foam out. Do not rinse, drink, or eat anything for 20 minutes because your teeth are still absorbing the Bright On whitening formula.

If you have consumed your freebie, you can purchase more on their website or through the app.

How to start your Smile Direct Club treatment

First, you have to go to the Smile Direct Club website. You need to take a short assessment test to determine if you are an eligible candidate for the treatment or not. This assessment will only take a few seconds.

Once you pass the online assessment, you will be asked to order an impression kit. Once the kit is delivered to you, you have to make your own impressions. Make sure you do not ruin the packaging since you have to use the same box to ship back the impressions to Smile Direct Club.

Since this is a very important step that will determine how your aligners will fit, you must read the instructions and follow them properly. Do not worry – the instructions are very simple and detailed.

Once you are done creating your impressions, send them back to Smile Direct Club using the prepaid shipping box that your at home impression kit was delivered in. Make sure also that you send the impressions back on or before the specified date indicated in the package. Otherwise, you may have to pay for the shipping yourself.

If you are not comfortable or confident enough in your capacity to pull off doing your own impressions, there is another option for you. You can drop by a SmileShop and get a consultation. SmileShops are Smile Direct Club’s physical locations and they are spread out all over America. There are over 300 SmileShops across the country and one is surely bound to be near you.

If you go to a SmileShop, the representative there will take a 3D scan of your teeth to determine if you are eligible for treatment. This means you no longer have to order and wait for an impression kit. Your scans will be sent to the lab and they can make your aligners out of it if you are viable for treatment.

The state licensed orthodontist or licensed dentist in Smile Direct Club will assess your impression or your 3D scan to see if Smile Direct Club will work for your case.

If upon assessment, they find that you can not be a viable candidate for treatment, arrangements will be made to send you a refund for the money you spent on the impression kit.

If you went through the SmileShop, you will be informed that you did not qualify and be given other options of treatment to have your teeth straightened.

If you are not in the USA but you want to use SmileDirectClub’s aligners, do not worry. They actually ship internationally although it might take a while for some locations. Smile Direct Club aligners can be shipped to the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, Spain, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, Austria, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Smile Direct Club pros and cons

Pros

  • Smile Direct Club is more affordable than traditional braces and Invisalign aligners.
  • Smile Direct Club offers a shorter treatment time. You can get the smile you want in just a few months.
  • Smile Direct Club does remote treatment so regular checkups to the dental office are not required. Monitoring is done through frequent check-ins through your mobile app or online account.
  • SmileDirectClub costs are easier to handle with monthly payment options.

Cons

  • Smile Direct Club can only address minor to moderate orthodontic issues. You will be rejected for treatment if you have more severe issues.

Smile Direct Club FAQs

Smile Direct Club standard vs. nighttime aligners – which one is better?

This would depend on the level of discipline you have and your lifestyle. Here are some factors that you should consider when deciding between the two.

Treatment time

The success of your treatment plan highly depends on how long you have the aligners on. Standard aligners are worn for a longer period during the day so they have the advantage of having a faster treatment time.

Nighttime aligners are only worn for 10 hours after your dinner time so the treatment time is longer.

Mealtime

Since you have to take off your aligners before you consume anything (except for water), standard aligners can be a hassle. You have to take them off when you eat your lunch and dinner and it can be inconvenient when you are dining out.

For nighttime aligners, you can wear them after dinner time (as long as you make sure you get to have them on for 10 hours) and you are free to eat anything you want throughout the day.

Discipline

Standard aligners will ask for a higher level of discipline from you compared to nighttime aligners. You have to make sure they do not get lost when you take them off during meal times. You also have to make sure they are clean and that you brush your teeth before you put them back on.

Whereas in nighttime aligners, all you have to do is put them on at home and sleep most of the duration off. There are hardly any responsibilities involved – just make sure you complete the 10 hours minimum requirement!

Confidence

Your confidence level also gets a say on which type of treatment would work out best for you. If you are confident you can pull off wearing the aligners all day without feeling conscious about it, then you should get the standard aligners.

But if you are the type who easily feels self-conscious or you are afraid that having the aligners on would affect your speech, which could get in the way of your work, then you should go for nighttime aligners.

Is Smile Direct Club better than traditional braces?

Well, this will depend on your needs. If your orthodontic issue is a severe one, you are better off treating it with traditional braces.

In fact, even if you insist on using aligners to address the problem, you will be rejected for treatment. This is because clear aligners have their limitations. They are best used only for mild to moderate orthodontic cases. If this is the case for you, then comparing the two treatments, Smile Direct Club is better.

What makes it better is the fact that it is discreet. The aligners are hardly noticeable, which is why they are also called invisible braces. You do not have to feel conscious about it at all! This is a huge advantage compared to traditional braces that are very obvious and give you that metal-mouth look.

Another advantage is that clear aligners are removable. They are not fixed on your teeth like metal braces are. This means that you do not have to worry about any limitations on your food intake. You simply take off your teeth straightening aligners and you get to eat and drink whatever you want.

You also have the convenience of doing the treatment in your home with remote supervision. This means you no longer have to go through the hassle of going to the dentist’s office all the time.

Compared to traditional metal braces where you have to deal with a lot of painful adjustments throughout the treatment, wearing aligners is almost a painless treatment! The invisible aligners will not irritate your gums or cheeks as braces do.

You only feel mild discomfort during the first few days when you try the aligners and that is just because you are still adjusting to the feeling of wearing them. After that, everything goes smoothly like a breeze.

And because you only have a mild orthodontic issue, the clear aligners are capable enough to handle your misaligned teeth for a more affordable price.

Is Smile Direct Club covered by insurance?

Yes – as long as you have coverage for orthodontic treatments. In fact, Smile Direct Club has its own instant eligibility tool that can help you find out how much your insurance may cover for you. Smile Direct Club is in-network with Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, and United Health Care.

For most cases, Smile Direct Club will be able to coordinate with the insurance company directly so all you have to do is pay the remaining balance after the insurance is applied to your total cost.

But there are also instances when the insurance company requires you to pay the total balance of the treatment then they give you a reimbursement. In this case, Smile Direct Club will give you the forms that you need to file your reimbursement claim.

If you are not sure if your insurance plan has orthodontic benefits, it is best to speak with a representative of your insurance provider first before you start treatment.

Does everyone have to go through an assessment?

Yes! The assessment is necessary because clear aligner treatment does not work for everybody. As mentioned earlier, they are only made to deal with mild to moderate orthodontic issues.

Your oral health also matters. As a general rule, you should have no dental problems if you want to straighten teeth using aligners.

This means if you have gum disease, cavities, tooth decay, and other dental problems, you will be rejected as a candidate for treatment. It is more likely you will be told to deal with these issues first before you try the Smile Direct Club treatment.

To be sure, you should see your own dentist or orthodontist personally and do a general checkup of your teeth. Even if you think they look fine, some issues could not be seen by the naked eye. This will help you get a good idea on how your oral health is doing.

You can then discuss with your dentist or orthodontist your plans to get invisible aligners. They can give you the right advice on whether this will be the right move for you or not.

Knowing the state of your oral health before you order an impression kit will save you from the hassle of all the waiting and then being rejected and then waiting for your refund to come in.

This also saves you from making a trip to a SmileShop only to find that you do not qualify. When you do a general checkup beforehand, you get to know where you stand immediately.

Does Smile Direct Club have any age restrictions for teeth straightening?

Smile Direct Club’s minimum age requirement for treatment is 12 years old plus the condition that all permanent teeth are present. For those who are under 18 years old, consent from the parent and guardian is needed for the medical and dental history forms.

What if I have wisdom teeth?

It is recommended that you deal with your wisdom first before you consider getting Smile Direct Club treatment plans.

If extraction is recommended, you have to wait for six weeks after having your wisdom teeth extracted before you can start treatment with aligners.

You can start earlier than six weeks if your dentist provides a signed certificate confirming that it is safe for you to start your SmileDirectClub treatment.

How do you use the impression kit?

When you receive your home impression kit, you should take the time to read and understand the instructions first before you do anything.

Your impressions must be done properly since they will be the basis of how your aligner trays will be created. If you mess up, your aligner trays will not fit comfortably and can mess up your treatment plan.

If you have read the detailed instructions and still fear that you may not be doing it right, do not worry. You can contact customer service and ask for someone to guide you via video chat on how to do it.

What if I am not satisfied with the result after completing treatment?

Teeth can be stubborn and they may not shift as expected. Do not worry – this is normal. This is actually why the dental team requires you to do regular check-ins in the app to track your progress. If they see that things are not going as planned, they can easily make adjustments right away.

If the result at the end of the treatment is different from that presented to you before you started the treatment, the dental team will re-evaluate your treatment plan and your check-ins. If they determine that an aligner touch-up is needed, then Smile Direct Club will create the new aligners and ship them to you at no cost.

Take note that you are eligible for the free aligner touch-up if it is proven that you have been following your treatment plan and if you did your check-ins regularly and in time.

Does remote treatment work?

According to Smile Direct Club users, it does! They enjoy the convenience of not having to do regular visits to a dental office.

Your progress will be documented online through an app on your phone or the website. You will be notified to send pictures of your teeth from time to time so that the dentist or orthodontist monitoring your case can check how your treatment is progressing.

The licensed dental professional in charge of your treatment plan will also be using the app to communicate with you. You will receive a notification if it is time for you to move on to the next set of aligners in your kit or if adjustments need to be made to your treatment plan.

One huge advantage of remote monitoring is that you actually get to spend less. If you commute, you do not have to spend money for your fare because you do not need to go out of the house. Also, you do not have to pay doctor or office visit fees. If you have any queries, you can contact the customer care team any time.

Since Smile Direct Club is a remote treatment process, all you have to do is make sure that you are disciplined enough to follow all instructions, wear your aligners in the recommended number of hours, and take care of your aligners. Discipline plays a big role when it comes to straightening teeth remotely.

Conclusion

Smile Direct Club offers you a discreet way to deal with your orthodontic issues with their quality clear aligners that come in an affordable package.

If you find yourself wishing you had better teeth, do not feel guilty about being vain! These days, it is possible and easier to work on these minor orthodontic issues without having to drain out your savings.

Remember, the condition of your teeth says a lot about you and greatly affects your confidence and the way you look. Teeth straightening may just be the boost you need to live more confidently.

Smile Direct Club is a brand that has been around since 2014 and it has grown to be one of the biggest direct to consumer orthodontics products in the orthodontics industry. You can find a lot of SmileDirectClub reviews online that attests to its lifetime smile guarantee.

If you have mild teeth straightening needs, Smile Direct Club is a worthy investment to make if you are looking for a way to have straighter teeth and a better smile for an affordable price!

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.

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