Smile Direct Club vs Invisalign

Written by Josh Snow

January 29, 2021

In the quest for invisible aligners, we’re going to compare two established companies: Invisalign vs SmileDirectClub. How do these two veterans measure up in a head-to-head comparison?

(Keep up with our series on invisible aligners and you won’t need to look elsewhere for research!)

Invisalign vs. SmileDirectClub

a pair of boxing gloves


Invisalign and SmileDirectClub have some similarities because they are both invisible aligners. They are each made of a type of plastic, are created to straighten teeth, and have payment plans.

Those are the more obvious facts. This comparison will go beyond the completely obvious and compare the differences that matter between Invisalign and SmileDirectClub.

Let’s cut to the chase.

Invisalign vs SmileDirectClub: Who is the winner?

It’s almost a draw.

Invisalign has been around longer than SmileDirectClub. They can handle more severe cases of misalignment, crowding, and spacing than SmileDirectClub.

On the flipside, SmileDirectClub does not come with the hefty price tag. So their aligners are more appealing (and more realistic) for potential customers with a budget.

SmileDirectClub is slightly more convenient. That gives them a bit of a leg up over Invisalign.

Kudos to Invisalign. The two college students who introduced invisible aligners to the American public in 1997 opened up a whole world of possibilities with Invisalign.

But we cannot neglect to mention SmileDirectClub’s contribution to the invisible aligner market. They made great strides by introducing the idea of shipping aligners straight to your home … at a much cheaper price than Invisalign.

While we’ve already established that SmileDirectClub and Invisalign have similarities, the truth is that the two programs are pretty distinct.

Snow Whitening Toothpaste

What do we know about the two companies?

Invisalign cornered the market on invisible aligners over twenty years ago. They held that position for the next ten years.

It is undeniable that Invisalign is the most widely known of all the invisible aligner brands. Invisalign has acted as the straightening solution for more than eight million clients, and their brand is in 90 countries. You will even hear people refer to all invisible aligners as “invisaligners.”

In light of those facts, most home aligner systems don’t have much to say. The other brands are too new to have those numbers. However, SmileDirectClub is the next in line when it comes to experience.

SmileDirectClub came on the invisible aligner scene in 2014 and impressed customers with their development of a completely at-home service. It was this at-home service that piqued the interest of contenders.

What are the best and worst parts of at-home and in-office programs?

The means by which treatment plans are handled is very different for SmileDirectClub and Invisalign. SmileDirectClub operates through programs at home, while Invisalign operates by way of in-office visits to dental professionals.

Well, that’s just great. Cleared everything right up for you, didn’t we?

We know. You just want to know which company is better. To find out, you’ll need to keep reading our comparisons.

What do people like about in-office plans like Invisalign?

  • Seeing dental professionals on a consistent basis means that customers’ teeth are observed and adjusted as needed throughout the process.
  • In-office treatment plans allow for professionals to provide hands-on treatment for clients who have teeth that need treatment beyond the mild to moderate adjustment.
  • Treatment plans that occur in an office offer more one-on-one treatment and individualized discussions with patient and professional.

What don’t people like about in-office plans like Invisalign?

  • In-office treatment means more time and inconvenience.
  • In-office treatment means more money. Basically, it’s more expensive.

What do people like about at-home plans like SmileDirectClub?

  • At-home treatments have a shorter duration for their programs, averaging six months.
  • At-home treatments are more affordable than in-office plans.
  • At-home treatments allow for convenience.

What don’t people like about at-home plans like SmileDirectClub?

  • At-home plans are not designed to straighten extremely spaced or crowded teeth, or serious bite issues.
  • At-home plans do not have face-to-face interaction.

Which is better, in-office or at-home?

Truth be told, it’s up to you.

When you need personal, hands-on interaction, you may not like the at-home option of SmileDirectClub. When you have teeth issues that are more on the severe side, at-home treatment may not suit you.

What’s more, if budget is a concern and your teeth have mild to moderate issues, then an at-home solution like SmileDirectClub is a better option for you.

snow teeth whitening kit

Which brand works better, Invisalign or SmileDirectClub?

First things first, if the treatment doesn’t work very well, who wants it? Nobody. So, you need to think about what movement must happen in your mouth to create your desired smile.

Ask yourself:

  • Are my teeth extremely crowded?
  • Am I missing teeth?
  • Do I have a crossbite?
  • How severe is my overbite?
  • Do I have an underbite?

If this is the case, in-office treatment may be your best bet.

Ask yourself:

  • Did I already have braces?
  • Do I have minor spacing issues?
  • Do I have minor crowding?
  • Do I have a mild overbite?
  • Do I have mild protrusions?

If this is you, then at-home treatment may be a great option.

The question remains. Which treatment plan is more effective, Invisalign or SmileDirectClub?

The extra options and personal interaction make Invisalign’s treatment plan more effective than SmileDirectClub in most cases.

Side-by-side Comparison of Effectiveness


Comparable to traditional braces

Custom-fit aligners, scalloped like gums

Developed by Align Technology


Treat only mild to moderate issues

Aligners use Comfort Sense to scallop

Make aligners in-house


Who has better tech, Invisalign or SmileDirectClub?

Both Invisalign and SmileDirectClub have tech that they use to scan and create 3D models of your teeth. It also creates a treatment program.

Invisalign has ClinCheck software and a 3D scanner system called iTero. Their software and tech has shown themselves to be highly effective for many years. It is superior to SmileDirectClub’s software and technology.

Best Quality: Invisalign or SmileDirectClub

Align Technology is the parent company of Invisalign. They have more experience than every other invisible aligner manufacturer. They use SmartTrack material to produce high-quality, consistent aligners.

When they began, SmileDirectClub partnered with Align Technology to manufacture their aligners. As of 2019, SmileDirectClub started making all of their aligners in-house.

How are the aligners designed?

The difference in design for Invisalign and SmileDirectClub isn’t so plain to see. Invisalign has chosen to cut their aligners in the shape of the gum line. SmileDirectClub cuts their aligners much the same.

SmileDirectClub uses Comfort Sense technology which also keeps the aligners cut to match the scallop of the gums and teeth. They adjust their plastic from soft to medium to firm as treatment progresses.

But Invisalign doesn’t stop with aligners. They have attachments that enable their aligners to exercise their own kind of power over the teeth’s movement.

Which company is more affordable, Invisalign or SmileDirectClub?

A priority for most people is budget. Hundreds of thousands of people have lived with crooked teeth because insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of braces, making straight teeth unattainable due to a higher cost. Invisible aligners have changed that for the better.

The bottom line is that SmileDirectClub is more affordable than Invisalign.

coins pouring out of a glass jar


Price Comparison: Invisalign vs SmileDirectClub

average cost $3,000 – $8,000
retainers cost $100 – $300
Financing depends on dentist

Cost is $1,950
$99 for retainers after treatment
$59 for at-home impression kit
Down payment required, 100% approved

Nearly all of the aligner companies tout their price tags front and center on their websites, emails, and social media posts. They beat the cost of traditional braces by a decent margin.

Well, everybody but Invisalign, that is. Invisalign has a price range that varies from $3,000 to $8,000. Their prices are very much in line with the cost of metal braces.

How do you pay for Invisalign and SmileDirectClub?

Invisalign financing is solely dependent on the individual dentists. They decide how to handle and administer financing plans. Most people are probably not prepared to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.

SmileDirectClub does not perform credit checks on any of its customers. This means that everyone qualifies for their financing options. They offer SmilePay as a means to administer their payment plan. A down payment of $250 is required, followed by twenty-four monthly installments of $89.

Do Invisalign and SmileDirectClub take insurance?

In some instances, insurance companies treat clear aligners the way they do traditional braces. This means that if the insurance company decides the treatment is strictly for cosmetic reasons, it probably won’t be covered. If insurance does cover your treatment plan, it will be minimal.

There is a greater chance of receiving a bit of coverage if treatment is performed in a dental office. And, you always have the option of turning in a claim to see if you can receive any reimbursement.

Which company is more convenient, Invisalign or SmileDirectClub?

There is no quick fix for straightening your existing teeth. You will have to sacrifice some of your time to make it happen. Just how much time? Well, that is entirely up to you.

Convenience is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. For a busy person with a tight schedule, going to a dental office sounds like another chore to squeeze into your day.

SmileDirectClub allows you the benefit of having help to create your impressions at a SmileShop while never leaving home again to complete the treatment plan.

Invisalign SmileDirectClub
Regularly-scheduled in-office visits 100% at-home treatment
Treatment time of 12 - 18 months Average treatment plan of 6 months
No option for nighttime aligners Nighttime aligners worn ten hours per day
 In-person consultation with ex-rays Impressions done at home or in a SmileShop


How to start treatment with Invisalign and SmileDirectClub

Once you have made a decision to get clear aligners, it’s time to move forward.

SmileDirectClub makes their process fairly painless. It’s pretty quick and simple. You can either order an impression kit and go the DIY route, or you may visit a SmileShop for free scans rather than impressions. The SmileShops are located in over 300 locations across the country.

Invisalign treatment is individually planned by the dentist of your choosing. After a consultation, you will have your teeth scanned and x-rayed. Then the dentist will design your aligners and a plan for treatment.

Treatment Duration of Invisalign and SmileDirectClub

Treatment depends on the condition. If your teeth just need a little tweaking, your treatment plan will be done more quickly. Conversely, if you have more extreme issues, then will last longer, potentially as long as eighteen months with Invisalign.

Nighttime Aligners

SmileDirectClub has a nighttime plan. The nighttime plan is basically the exact same aligners you’d normally wear during the day, but you wear them at night for ten hours rather than twenty-two hours.

Shortening the amount of hours you wear them every day will in turn extend the duration of treatment from an average of six months to ten months.

How do they look?

Many adults hate the thought of wearing traditional braces that are usually associated with adolescence. That’s just reality. Clear aligners are much more inconspicuous. Clear aligner companies make it their mission to have the most attractive product.

We all know that looks are subjective. What one person loves, another may hate.

Invisalign SmileDirectClub
Match gum line with scallop shape Also cut in scallop shape
Frosted, matte appearance Frosted, matte appearance
Resistant to stains Resistant to stains
Appliances increase visibility  No appliances to increase visibility


Both companies use BPA-free plastic to create their custom-fitted aligners. Both companies have chosen to use a frosted, matte finish because it more closely resembles the surface of our natural teeth.

Invisalign adds appliances to their aligners to aid in the correction of more challenging issues. These added pieces make their aligners more noticeable.

Snow activated charcoal floss

Which company offers the best patient experience?

Again, so much of this is personal preference. We’re just here to report the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.

Invisalign SmileDirectClub
Dentist office IS your customer support Customer service thru phone, chat, email
Face-to-face contact with professional Past negative reviews, now more responsive
Regular office visits to track progress No scheduled contact
Changes are done at no-cost with full plan, refund policy varies by office Modify plan if not satisfied, offer full refund within 30 days of the start


Invisalign offers personal, in-office customer support. They are available during regular office hours. SmileDirectClub is available through a phone call or online chat during regular business hours and promises to return emails within twenty-four hours.

Who is right for you, Invisalign or SmileDirectClub?

Invisalign and SmileDirectClub both offer great programs to the public. They both get the job done according to who qualifies for their treatment plan.

It comes down to issue severity and budget. If your issues are on the severe side, Invisalign is your best bet. If you are on a budget, SmileDirectClub is the better option.

Be sure to check out our other posts regarding invisible aligners if you want to make a better-informed decision!