What’s the Difference Between Invisalign and SmileDirect

What’s the Difference Between Invisalign and SmileDirect

Crooked teeth are a common problem — and no one likes living with the side effects of an imperfect smile. From gaps to overlaps and slightly sideways to crowding, crooked teeth are a daily frustration that doesn’t leave a person wanting to smile.

However, traditional braces aren’t the only option for fixing teeth. Two popular new alternatives to braces are here, and they’re making it easier than ever before to perfect a smile without a mouth full of metal.

Here’s everything to know about “invisible” braces by Invisalign and SmileDirectClub.

Invisalign: The Invisible Braces Alternative

Invisalign was the very first alternative to traditional metal braces available in the dental world. Since 2001, Invisalign has been used to straighten teeth with clear, removable aligners. There’s no metal involved since the Invisalign treatment system simply uses plastic aligners that slowly shift teeth into place over time. [1] And since its creation, it’s revolutionized the way people achieve perfectly straight teeth.

Invisalign’s clear plastic aligners are custom made for each individual patient. After meeting with an orthodontist, who conducts a computerized scan of the patient’s mouth and develops a treatment plan, a patient’s aligners are made to suit their unique teeth and their alignment needs. During treatment, the patient wears each aligner all day and all night for a set duration of time (usually two weeks at a time). As your teeth move, you’ll be given a new set of customized aligners that continue guiding your teeth in the right direction. Designed to be invisible, these aligners are gentler than traditional braces and move teeth more subtly. [2]

The benefits of Invisalign aligners include:

  • Clear and invisible, so others can’t tell you’re wearing “braces”
  • Treatment takes just 18 months on average (and some patients achieve results in six months)
  • Cleaning your teeth is as easy as removing your aligners
  • Food won’t get stuck in your aligner; you can remove it to eat
  • No foods are forbidden, like popcorn or sticky candies
  • There’s no discomfort from wires or metal brackets

Cons of Invisalign treatment include:

  • You’ll still need to wear a retainer once treatment concludes
  • In-office visits every four to six weeks
  • Aligners must be removed before drinking anything other than water
  • Teeth must be brushed after every meal to prevent staining the aligners

The average cost of Invisalign treatment, according to Colgate, is between $3,500 and $8,000. [3] While this makes Invisalign pricier than a set of traditional metal braces, those who don’t want to change their appearance with non-removable braces will love the confidence of these invisible aligners.

SmileDirectClub: An At-Home Braces Replacement

A newcomer to the world of orthodontics, SmileDirectClub first appeared in 2013 with its own set of invisible aligners meant to help people achieve perfectly straight teeth. There’s one big difference at the heart of SmileDirectClub, though: the company’s goal is to provide people with an affordable solution for imperfect smiles. Both braces and Invisalign come with high prices and expensive orthodontist visits, and SmileDirectClub promises its aligners will save patients 60 percent on the cost of treatment. [4]

Like its predecessor, SmileDirectClub offers clear plastic aligners meant to be invisible. These aligners are worn everyday but are removable. Yet patients never need to set foot in a dentist or orthodontist office — SmileDirectClub’s process is done entirely at home. To begin, patients take a 30-second online smile assessment on the company’s website. Then, the company will direct you to one of its SmileShops, where patients undergo a 3D teeth scan, or they will mail you an at-home impression kit to make a teeth mold. A dentist will then develop a treatment plan and aligners will be shipped to your door. Patients receive all their aligners at once, meaning it’s up to each person to change out their aligners as the teeth move.

Typically, SmileDirectClub patients only need to wear their invisible aligners for six months. And there’s no need to visit an orthodontist unless you’d like to; SmileDirectClub offers online check-ins for patients every 90 days, but it’s up to you if you want to use them.

The benefits of SmileDirectClub aligners include:

  • Aligners typically only need to be worn for six months
  • The entire treatment can be done at home
  • You control when you change your aligners and pace your treatment
  • You won’t have to pay for regular office visits
  • It can perform quick and easy fixes for adults who had braces but now see crowding or slight movement
  • SmileDirectClub often offers deals and discounts for new patients to lower the price even more

Cons of SmileDirectClub include:

  • The short treatment plan and plastic aligners can only fix easy cases of crooked teeth
  • SmileDirectClub aligners don’t use as much force to move teeth as other options
  • DIY impressions, if not done correctly, will affect the success of treatment
  • The aligners aren’t very durable. If you grind your teeth, you may damage the aligners
  • If complications arise, you’ll only have your online doctor or SmileDirectClub to speak to
  • You’ll need to wear a retainer made by SmileDirectClub after treatment, which isn’t included in the cost of your aligners

When it comes to cost, SmileDirectClub doesn’t hide any fees or adjust rates depending on the severity of an individual’s dental needs. There are two options: pay a one-time fee of $1,850 up front or pay a $250 down payment along with $80 per month for two years (24 months). SmileDirectClub does also reimburse patients whose insurance is willing to cover some of the costs. [5]


  1.  “Home Page.” Align Technology, www.aligntech.com/.
  2.  “How Invisalign Works | FAQ.” Invisalign, www.invisalign.com/frequently-asked-questions.
  3.  Desfosse, Rebecca. “What Do Invisalign Braces Cost? Are They Worth It?” Colgate® Oral Care Information, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/cosmetic-dentistry/adult-orthodontics/what-do-invisalign-braces-cost-are-they-worth-it-0113.
  4. “About Us.” SmileDirectClub, smiledirectclub.com/about/.
  5.  “What’s the Difference between SmileDirectClub and Invisalign?” The Grin Life, SmileDirectClub, 1 Feb. 2018, blog.smiledirectclub.com/difference-between-smiledirectclub-and-invisalign/.