SmileDirectClub offers a fast and easy at-home teeth straightening solution. They are the leader on the invisible aligners market with over 750,000 happy customers and tens of thousands of 5-star reviews.
If you think that your smile might need some correction, SDC could be a great fit. In this detailed review, we will walk you step-by-step through the Smile Direct Club treatment. Let’s get started!Creative Commons
1. Take the free Smile Assessment
First, take the free 30-seconds smile assessment to make certain you are a good candidate. Here are some things SDC checks:
- Mild spacing or crowding issues
- All permanent teeth
- Overall healthy teeth
Not so good
- Baby teeth
- Teeth sticking out above the arch
- Implants, bridges, veneers, or crowns
- Missing teeth
- Big bite issues
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Impacted or troublesome wisdom teeth
Some of these issues can be easily fixed, though. Simply treat your cavities or periodontitis with your regular dentist before starting with SmileDirectClub. This ensures safe and efficient treatment.
If you have impacted wisdom teeth wait about six weeks after having them extracted. In some cases SDC may even find a way to work around missing teeth or dental implants.
2. Order your impression kit or visit a SmileShop
Once you complete the online assessment, and if you are a candidate, you have a decision to make. You can either visit a SmileShop and have a free 3D scan (we recommend this option) or take impressions of your teeth at home.
Visiting a SmileShop
Having a scan at the SmileShop is the most popular and hassle-free way of getting your teeth checked out by SmileDirectClub. There is no risk of taking the impressions wrong.
The scan itself involves a handheld device that a SmileGuide (a trained technician) moves around in your mouth. It takes thousands of pictures to produce a 3D image of your mouth. There is a screen nearby that immediately shows you the results.
You have to wear a stretching device that helps make sure everything is clearly visible. Some patients quote this experience as funny or awkward, but it’s in no way painful.
This time is also a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have, especially if your case involves missing teeth or implants. The whole appointment shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.
Taking impressions at home
If there isn’t a SmileShop in your area or if you simply can’t make the time to schedule an appointment, you can order your impression kit online.
The price for the kit is $49 and it is shipped overnight at no additional cost. Expect it within 48 hours of ordering. The kit will also include a pre-paid shipping label, so sending your impressions in won’t be a setback.
The SmileDirectClub impression kit contains:
- two sets of trays,
- deactivated putty in separate containers,
- a Smile Stretcher,
- an impression guide, and
- a pre-paid shipping label.
The whole process of taking your impressions shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. Watch the instructional video below to understand how this works.
In case your impressions are taken incorrectly (you might even find out after you send them in) you will receive a retake kit at no cost.
3. Receive your treatment plan
Once your scan or impressions are over with, your case is assigned to a specific licensed dentist or orthodontist. He or she designs your whole treatment plan.
A text message lets you know when it is ready. You can log in online to view an interactive preview of your future smile. You will also find information about the length of treatment and how many aligners your package will include.
The plan is customized to your particular situation. Don’t be surprised if your friend or someone, whose review you’ve read, had a different amount of aligners or had to wear them for different periods of time. Some people might even opt to just do the top arch if they are happy with the bottom.
In a nutshell, though, an average plan spans out over six months and a single aligner lasts for about two weeks.
4. Get your Smile Direct Club kit
In about a month (sometimes less), your package will arrive. Get ready to work on your teeth!
The contents of the SmileDirectClub kit include:
- your customized invisible aligners,
- chewies (to help aligners slide on),
- an outie tool (to help slide aligners off),
- an aligner case (for storing your aligner while you dine out),
- premium bright on teeth whitening, and
- a lip balm.
The aligners are labeled in the following manner: month 1, week 1. This allows for you to start the treatment at a time convenient for you. There is a tracking area on your dashboard in your user profile. You can always go there to check when you should be opening a new set.
The list of components is updated every now and then so you can expect some surprising freebies as well. The lip balm, for example, is a new addition to the kit and was recently introduced after patients’ pleas.
5. Wear your aligners
At this point you will have everything you need to get started with the treatment per se. Make sure you adhere to instructions provided by SmileDirectClub.
The two options
This step depends on which option you choose: SmileDirectClub Clear Aligners or Nighttime Clear Aligners. Wear the regular trays for at least 22 hours a day and the nighttime ones for 10 continuous hours every night.
Obviously, the full-time option works faster, giving an average of six months per treatment. SDC claims that the nighttime course usually takes about ten months. The SDC app helps you keep track of when to move on to the next set of aligners. There is also a check-in every 90 days with your designated dentist or orthodontist.
Dispelling your concerns
Reviews sometimes talk about gum irritation and having to take the aligners out to eat. The former is easily solved with a nail file: simply smooth out the edges. It might take around ten minutes per aligner.
When it comes to dining out your best solution is to carry your aligner case and toothbrush with you. The extra hygiene surely won’t hurt your smile, in fact, this is a great way to pick up the habit of brushing after every meal. Just remember to find a private place to take your invisible aligners out, you are sure to dribble a little.
What about pain? With SDC, patients don’t usually experience any. Reviews sometimes mention discomfort and the aligners being a little tight. This is true only during the first few days of each new set. As mentioned above, gums might be slightly irritated too.
In terms of care and maintenance, it is important to clean the aligners regularly. You can use soap and water, but SDC also recommends vinegar, baking soda, peroxide, and retainer cleaner.
What if I feel like something has gone wrong?
If you notice anything that worries you, you can always snap a photo and send it in. The SmileDirectClub team will make sure your bite is where it needs to be by the end of the treatment.
The bite is something you should be monitoring closely throughout the process. Many SDC reviewers point out that their bite was just fine all along, but you should still visit your regular dentist for check-ups.
The bottom line is that SmileDirectClub offers great customer service and you can contact them anytime you run into trouble. Their responsiveness is usually praised, whether it be via phone, email, or chat. Don’t be shy and make sure to reach out if necessary.
6. Keep your new smile
Near the end of your treatment you receive an email about retainers. Wearing them is a necessary step in maintaining effect you’ve been working on. This is also the case with conventional braces.
The good news is that you only have to wear retainers at night, except for the first two weeks when they act as another set of aligners. This period might be a challenge.
The retainers are meant to last longer than aligners, so they are made of thicker, tougher material. Wearing them at night won’t be too bad, but you may have a slight lisp. Some patients like to use vaseline on the gums as well to reduce irritation.
A single set of retainers will cost you $99. It is recommended that you get new ones every six months. Your dentist can inspect them from time to time to make sure they still fit properly and are clean.
The cost of SmileDirectClub treatment
The prices for the SmileDirectClub treatment are fixed. It doesn’t matter what issues you specifically are dealing with. Here is a quick run-down of costs you have to consider:
|What you’re paying for||Amount|
|Straightening kit: Single Pay||$1,895|
|Straightening kit: SmilePay||$85 per month for two years and $250 deposit|
|Retainers||$99 per two arches (top and bottom)|
Right now you can get $150 off clear aligners and no payments until April 2020 with the promo code “NEW150YOU”.
If you are set on saving as much money as possible you can have a free scan instead of paying for impressions. A cost you can’t escape, though, is for a new set of retainers every six months. You will have to wear them for as long as you want to keep your smile.
Zachary Cunningham, Smile Direct Club customer
I went with SDC because of the price, great customer service, and less torture from traditional braces
There are two ways to go when paying for your SDC straightening kit: all at once (Single Pay) or in payments (SmilePay). To make things even more convenient, SmileDirectClub accepts HSA, FSA, and CareCredit. See if insurance can cover the cost of your new smile.
SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign
Invisalign and SmileDirectClub both treat dental misalignment. And the similarities don’t stop there. Both companies provide a way to straighten teeth by replacing permanent braces with clear, removable, plastic trays.
It may be surprising, then, that thus far they have been working together as opposed to being each other’s competitors. That may be changing in 2020, but the fact that Invisalign initially invested in SmileDirectClub is proof that the technology is not as risky as presented in general media.
Moreover, with the new year SmileDirectClub will be available in-office as well, much like Invisalign. SDC, however, is the only one that gives you the option to have such a big part of the treatment happen completely from home, if that is what you prefer.
With Invisalign, there are mandatory, regular visits to the dental office all throughout the treatment. It is more of a hassle, but on the other side there is more specialist support and adjustments can be made along the way. You receive your trays set by set, as opposed to all at once.
If you notice any issues during your SDC treatment, you can reach out to their customer service or your designated dentist or orthodontist. There may be something that can be worked out, and if not, you will most likely be reimbursed for the trays you haven’t used.
Going with SmileDirectClub treatment doesn’t mean you don’t have to visit the dentist, though. You should continue your check-ups twice a year and it’s also a good idea to consult with a professional before starting treatment.
The biggest advantage SmileDirectClub has over Invisalign is the price. Invisalign packages can cost as much as $9,000, while the price for SmileDirectClub won’t be higher than $2,339. Neither of those quotes includes retainers, which are a must with both technologies.
- Your schedule remains intact
- No adjustments during the procedure, unless you yourself notice a need for them
- App and chat support
- Unsatisfactory end-of-treatment results can be refined
- More expensive
- Dental visits have to be taken into account
- Your Invisalign provider will let you know if adjustments are necessary during the procedure
- Unsatisfactory end-of-treatment results can sometimes be refined
Invisalign isn’t SmileDirectClub’s only competitor. Other major home teeth straightening brands include Candid Co and byte.
Tori Patton, August 7, 2019
I first made the decision to use Smile Direct Club in April of 2019. It was a simple process, I just went to their website and ordered an impression kit and it arrived at my house within 2 weeks.
Doing the impressions was easy, I had no problems. Then I mailed it back with the prepaid shipping they provided, and I received an email with a 3d smile transformation plan.
After I confirmed that I wanted to start treatment, I received a box with all of my aligners (6 months worth), lip balm, and some teeth whitening pen samples, and chewies also within 2 weeks.
Getting started was easy. The only con I can think of is that I would have to file down some of my trays because they irritated my gums. Other than that, I had no issues getting them to fit as long as I used the chewies (something you bite down on to set the aligners onto your teeth).
They feel tight at first, which I like because I know they’re working. The first week was hard to adjust to, but after that, I got used to it even after changing into a new tray. Sometimes I forget they’re in my mouth.
I’m currently on month 5 out of 6 and the results have been amazing so far. I have not noticed any bite issues.
Customer service has been great for me, whether I use the chat on their website or contact their page via Facebook. I always get a helpful response. I would definitely recommend SDC to anyone who wants straighter teeth in a Moreno convenient way.
Some people may not like that you don’t see an orthodontist regularly, but I haven’t had any problems, as long as you follow the rules you should be fine. Lastly, the price is way better than if you were to get braces, and that was a big part of why I chose Smile Direct Club. I definitely recommend it.
Lexi H., January 25, 2020
I only have a few more trays left in my SDC journey. I initially went to an in-person scan, which I feel like may have made the most difference in my experience as opposed to the at home impression kit.
The pain during the treatment was very very mild, just a little soreness the first day or so of switching trays like when you get braces tightened. Literally a 1/10. SDC is designed to fix the front “social six” teeth so I didn’t expect 100% perfect teeth, but I am no longer self-conscious about them.
Everything arrived very quickly and correct. They include an awesome whitening kit and lip balm which I definitely used. The 90-day check in asked you to send various photos of your teeth and asked how things were going for you. I googled the dentist listed on my trays and he’s a real dentist in my area.
I can’t speak on the rumors about customer service because I didn’t have any reasons to contact them. I get a lot of questions about “if it works” or if the company is a scam. I think the results speak for themselves and I have had zero issues with trays fitting, hurting, or not arriving in a timely manner.
Of course everyone’s experience will be different but mine was good.
Demi, January 27, 2020
I’m currently two months away from finishing my treatment and it has been phenomenal! My teeth are moving the way the plan said they would and I haven’t had any issues.
I initially went into a smile shop and had the scan, as when reading reviews, more people had a better treatment plan using the scan rather than doing the impressions. This still rings true in many of the groups on Facebook.
At first, the pain at first was probably a 7/10, but after the first week it gets much easier and on a new set it goes down to 3/10. Eventually to a 1/10.
It was mostly easy to get in contact with SDC and when I did have trouble, they offered me a set of free retainers which I received sooner than expected. The 90-day check-in was a breeze. I sent in my photos and they said I was tracking perfectly and to proceed with the rest of my plan.
I wish they had added more lip balm and made the chewies less bulky or attached to a stick to keep from having to dig into my mouth to retrieve it.
I would definitely recommend the SmileDirectClub treatment to anyone that wants to fix their teeth. I also recommend asking your dentist for approval before starting treatment.
Zachary A. Cunningham, January 23, 2020
I’ve enjoyed the progress. I don’t see any improvement in the system that’s needed. I’m on month 4 of 6 right now and my progress is finally showing, everything is working out as it should.
I did a scan initially. I have a local office here where I’m at. I did the questionnaire online. They then contacted me the next day and set up an appointment. When I went in they were very warm and friendly. They set me at ease to let me know they can get me the smile I wanted. The 3D scanner was very cool and next-level technology.
It’s hard to rate the pain because it’s different with every set of aligners. For the first 2-3 days, the pain is mild. More soreness than anything else. But the pain goes away fairly fast after having the aligners in for a while.
I’ve had amazing contact with customer support when I’ve had to call. About two months into my journey, my aligners were off-track and wouldn’t fit. They were quick to get a revision appointment scheduled and then I had to wait for a little over a month to get my replacement aligners in the mail.
I just continued making my usual monthly payments and wore the previous week’s aligners to hold my teeth in place. They provide a full lifetime warranty, so if anything goes wrong they cover the costs and materials 100%. They even sent me a $25 voucher for the inconvenience of having to do a revision. I used it to buy some lip balm and a selfie light from their website.
I wish they would’ve added more of the whitening gels in my box. They give you enough for a week’s treatment (which will keep your teeth white for 6 months) then you have to buy more.
For the 90-day check-in, SDC will email you and tell you they need new images of your teeth from three different angles. They include a smile stretcher in your box to take the pictures so they can see everything. The images you email back are reviewed by a licensed orthodontist and if any corrections are needed, they go from there to make them and advise you what to do afterward.
For all the naysayers out there that have had nothing but bad things to say about this way of ortho-care are wrong. They’re scared to try new things. I see SDC as a new way of teeth correction besides the old school way of using wire.
I went with SDC because of the price, great customer service, and less torture from traditional braces. I’ve had a few dental checkups since starting my journey and each time my dentist has said that my teeth look great and they have no issues with my treatment. I’ve had several fillings before doing SDC and nothing has been adversely affected going this route.
Kylie, January 24, 2020
Even though the results aren’t exactly what I was hoping for, the treatment still brought me the confidence and comfort I was seeking.
I was hoping for a more accurate and straighter smile and for my teeth to fully touch. That being said, my smile has improved immensely. Food doesn’t get stuck, my eye teeth don’t poke out when I smile and they’re easy to maintain.
When it comes to pain, initially it was about 7/10. Thankfully this only lasted one day after each set was switched. It was uncomfortable and sore putting them in and out and sometimes during meals, but I no longer have as much pain, eating and cleaning my teeth are a breeze, and I don’t feel insecure whenever I smile or laugh!
I initially did a scan instead of doing the impressions. Now I’m just waiting for my retainers to arrive. Overall, I think it was worth it!
Beth J., January 23, 2020
My overall experience has been great. The only issue was really due to my own non-compliance. Their customer service was fantastic! I even took both my daughters in for scans to get their aligners instead of traditional braces. For the first time, I am constantly smiling! I no longer cover my mouth when I talk! My new-found confidence is amazing and I am very thankful to SDC for helping me find it.
I did the scan. My research showed that impressions weren’t always accurate and most bad reviews about SDC (and similar companies) are from people that have done the kit. It was a little painful in the beginning, nothing unbearable, though. It definitely took some getting used to and ibuprofen was my friend!
I always tell people it’s hard to rate pain because everyone’s thresholds are different. A trick I used was, on aligner changing days, I would take ibuprofen before bed and put the new trays in at night. That way you sleep through most of the big initial discomfort.
I originally started in May 2019 with an original end date of 10/30/19. My scan, which was done at the Louisville, KY location, went smoothly. The staff was phenomenal and my experience was great! Everyone was professional, courteous, and well-informed of the process. They answered all my questions and explained everything very well.
I received my box in about 4 weeks, which is pretty fast. It came with all my aligners, teeth whitening, and a mouth stretcher to take and send pictures for your 90-day check-ups. If there was anything I wish could be added to their box, it would be aligner cleaning supplies. I ended up buying some retainer/aligner cleaning tabs that dissolve in water, and that you soak your aligners in. They worked well!
One thing that wasn’t really discussed is how gross and stinky these things can get! And regular brushing and cleaning just won’t cut it sometimes, especially on the aligners that you wear for 2 weeks! I actually forgot all about my 90-day check-in and never sent it in, but everything was still on track and running smoothly so I figured it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Towards the end of my treatment, it turned out that my top aligners weren’t fitting correctly anymore, though. I contacted SDC via email explaining my issue. They responded quickly, about 24 hours. They sent back clear instructions stating how to take pictures and another email on where to send the pictures, along with my voiced concerns. After doing so, they were forwarded to an orthodontist and in about 3-4 days I received another email from SDC.
It stated that I was approved for new aligners at no cost to me and that I would need to come in for another scan or do an impression. So I went in for a rescan. Again, that went well as usual. I got 3 months of new aligners, which I am currently doing now.
Stefanie Hyett, January 25, 2020
The kit contained my entire 6-month treatment plan. I couldn’t believe what my day one aligner looked like compared to my 6-month aligner. I really didn’t think my teeth would be that straight, but they are! I feel like I was a minor case.
I had great results with SDC. At the time, the price for the impression kit was $20, but the fee was waived if the patient eventually bought their aligners. So I did the impressions and sent them immediately back to the company. I received a 3D rendering a few weeks later.
My aligners arrived around 4-6 weeks after ordering. So, around 2 months from start to finish. For me, it was quite painful as I had to switch aligners almost weekly, except for the end of the month when I wore that set for two weeks instead of one. There were actually times that I could not bite into food, but seeing the changes in my teeth early on in my treatment was enough motivation to keep going.
I had no problems getting in touch with SDC. I never had to make a phone call. They answered my private messages/emails within 24 hours. The 90 day check-ins consisted of taking pictures, just like you do when doing your impressions. The online system would send me a text every time I needed to change my aligners as well as check in. It was really easy.
I don’t have time for dentist’s appointments. I live a very busy life. For me, this was a great option. I also referred many of my friends, and got to enjoy all sorts of cash cards as compensation.