Let’s talk invisible aligners. Pardon the pun, but are they really the clear choice? (Couldn’t help myself.) They certainly seem to be everywhere you turn when you research affordable ways to straighten teeth.
What exactly are invisible aligners?
Invisible aligners are an alternative to braces. (Traditional braces require brackets connected by wires that cause the teeth to move.) Aligners have no metal of any kind. Instead, invisible aligners are made up of a special elastic thermoplastic.
Elastic thermoplastic? Yep. It sounds like some sort of highly specialized space plastic. But it’s not.
Every single aligner is different. They are custom-made to fit each person’s mouth perfectly. The user wears a series of aligners starting with the one that just barely starts to make your teeth move into alignment, progressing in shape until the final aligner causes the teeth to be in the desired alignment.
Who can use invisible aligners?
These babies fit very snugly, so invisible aligners are a good option for teens or adults. They are not the best choice for kids. We wouldn’t suggest using them on children.
Clear aligners are best-suited for people with slightly crowded teeth or mild spacing irregularities. If your mouth has an underbite, crossbite, or overbite, major spacing issues or acute crowding, then you probably need more of a treatment plan than clear aligners can provide.
How long does invisible aligner treatment last?
Treatment time varies greatly. It is pretty incredible to know that adults who previously wore braces can readjust their teeth in as little as ten weeks. Ten weeks!! Of course, that is not typical.
Generally, treatment time ranges from ten months up to twenty-four months. This is dependent upon the severity of your bite. If the teeth require quite a bit of movement to correct, it will take longer to straighten into a beautiful smile.
SmileDirectClub has been known to achieve a client’s desired result within as little as five months. What’s more, we did a little research on SDC and have a bit of information to share with you.
SmileDirectClub is a teledentistry company. What the heck is teledentistry? Well, let me tell you. Teledentistry uses telecommunications and information technology for all things virtual in dental care—education, consultation, and public awareness.
Alex Fenkell and Jordan Katzman founded the company in 2014. It’s headquarters reside in Nashville, Tennessee. It all began with a little dream to make beautiful smiles affordable and available to people everywhere.
According to the SmileDirectClub website: “Our clear aligners and retainers are Made in the USA, BPA-free and precision cut for a smooth, comfortable fit. We manufacture an aligner every 6 seconds in our state-of-the-art 3D U.S. printing facility.”
Each person who selects SDC as their course to a straighter smile is given customized aligners. The aligners come in a full set designed to gently move teeth into the desired visible adjustment.
Their aligners are said to be so effective that they reposition teeth within four to six months. Clearly, this is faster than the typical amount of time, which we already stated is ten to twenty-four months.
Now you can understand why people are attracted to SmileDirectClub. These babies have the ability to create a straighter smile pretty darn fast!
SmileDirectClub has its own dental network.
How great is that? These aligners come with their very own set of dentists. This means they are designed and prescribed for every SmileDirectClub client by a true, certified dentist.
When you choose SDC, you get the benefit of having dentists to use without making a trip to the dental office.
Now, it’s time to learn what you can expect when you select SmileDirectClub.
First things first.
Initially, you go to the SmileDirectClub website and complete a nifty survey. It has several questions regarding the history of your teeth:
- What type of dental problems do you need to address? (overbite, overcrowding, extra spacing)
- How extreme are those dental problems?
- What is the history of your teeth? (Have you had braces?)
Once you answer these questions, you will receive a response letting you know if their products will potentially work for you. At this point, you can choose to sign up to go see a live person at one of the SmileDirectClub locations to have your bite analyzed, or you may choose the at-home option.
If you go with the at-home impression kit, you’ll just need to carefully do your own molds in the comfort of your own home.
You can order a kit for $45*. Fortunately, if you turn in your kit and your teeth do not qualify then you can expect to receive a complete refund. That’s good news. (*They frequently run deals on these kits and you get them cheaper.)
If you happen to qualify for the SmileDirectClub treatment plan, you can expect to pay $1,950 upfront and an additional $99 for the retainers. Or, you can go for their payment plan and pay a downpayment of $250, followed by $89 monthly installments.
Nope. X-rays are not going to happen when you go with SmileDirectClub. They will not take any x-rays of your teeth to decide on your eligibility. This is an important piece of information to remember.
When there are no x-rays used, any underlying or existing conditions that are not obvious on the outside will not be noticed. That being stated, it is a good idea to speak with your regular dentist and have a detailed discussion before moving forward with treatment.
Time for a consultation.
Should there be a SmileShop location near you, you can make an appointment to see someone live and in-person. This route involves wand imaging technology.
The technology is pretty fantastic. While using a plastic appliance (which I’ll describe below), you open wide as they run this nifty wand around your teeth. If you have anything on your teeth, you’ll see it on the images. So, word to the wise, floss, brush and rinse before your appointment.
They take that lovely photo and turn it into a model of your smile. It is that model that SmileDirectClub will use to make your custom aligners.
On the other hand, you may want to go the DIY route and choose the at-home impression kit. The kit comes with two trays and some putty.
You will fill each of the trays with putty and then clamp your chompers down into them. This next part is a little fun … or funny, depending on your personality.
Sooo, think Speak Out. It’s that game with the plastic mouthpiece that keeps your lips from touching and pretty much makes you look like you have horse teeth. And if that isn’t goofy enough, you have to read phrases and your team tries to guess what you’re saying.
It’s like that.
You put a similar-looking plastic doohickey in your mouth to keep your mouth open wide. It’s the perfect time to snap a photo, right? Right. Your glorious photo will be used in conjunction with the impressions to create your fitted, invisible aligners.
So, what’s the plan, Stan?
The plan you receive from SmileDirectClub will show you exactly how your teeth will move into alignment. They use a 3-D rendering for you to see the way it works.
This is the time for you to decide if you agree with that plan. If you agree, then the aligners will be shipped to you.
Do you still have a permanent retainer? No problem. SmileDirectClub will create your aligners to fit right over it.
What’s in the box?
Everything comes with the arrival of your SmileDirectClub box. You will get each progressive set of aligners, an aligner case, LED whitening kit, and a thingamabob to remove the aligners. (Yep. It’s called a thingamabob!)
If you’re anything like me, you may not remember when you’re supposed to put in your next set of aligners. Every set comes in its own bag marked with the month and week. On the downside, this attempt at organization doesn’t make it super easy to keep up with aligners and their dates.
Now that you have your aligners, what’s next?
Pay attention to your timelines in order to effectively wear your aligners. There are three separate sets of aligners to wear in your first month.
- Set number one: Wear these aligners for one week.
- Set number two: Wear these aligners for two weeks.
- Set number three: Wear these aligners for two weeks.
You may be wondering what it feels like to wear these aligners. There is a little pressure for the first month as your teeth are moving into alignment. After that, the pressure barely registers in your mouth.
A great selling point for wearing SmileDirectClub is that the aligners are barely noticeable. Many people have reported that others do not even notice they are wearing anything on their teeth. Nice.
SDC suggests brushing the teeth every time you eat, taking no aligner-free breaks that add up to more than 2 hours. Taking your aligners out is a bit gross. So, be prepared for that.
How long do you wear SmileDirectClub aligners?
This depends on the option you choose! SmileDirectClub has daytime and nighttime aligners.
Daytime aligners are worn an average of twenty-two hours per day. This will typically shorten the duration of treatment for obvious reasons. The more time spent in the aligners, the faster they work.
“Nighttime Clear Aligners is the first aligner system on the market that safely allows customers to wear clear aligners for only 10 continuous hours per night. Wearing Nighttime Clear Aligners while you sleep is more convenient to many people's lifestyle.”
After the treatment is over …
It seems appropriate to insert a little love song right here … like “Chariots of Fire.” You did it!! Ahhh, but you’re not quite finished. You need retainers.
These are retainers specific to SmileDirectClub. In the first two weeks, you will wear retainers throughout the day. Once the two weeks are up, you put them in only at night.
Another fee, ma’am.
The retainers are not part of the initial fee you pay for the kit. You will need to buy them for $99. They will also require replacement every six months.
What about insurance?
It states on the SmileDirectClub website that they are considered in-network for quite a few insurance providers.These include: Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, and UnitedHealthCare.
What if you don’t have insurance through any of those providers? SmileDirectClub is happy to help you reach out to your current insurance provider to see if you’re eligible.
Every insurance plan varies. Some of them will cover about half; it all depends on the company and the plan you are under.
SmileDirectClub customer service is pretty good.
If you were to ask Best Company, they would report that, “SmileDirectClub has received over 1,600 reviews as of November 2020, rating the company with 4.2 stars out of five on average. The majority of reviews highlight the product’s value and quality as their best features. One reviewer wrote:
‘I absolutely love the progress I've made in such a short time. This affordable option has given me the opportunity to smile and not be ashamed,’ said Kelsey.”
SmileDirectClub offers its clients the convenience of calling a customer care representative 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Clients can choose to reach out through a live chat or by giving them a jingle at 800-848-7566.
What are people saying about SmileDirectClub?
For the most part, the clients who have chosen to use invisible aligners from SmileDirectClub have reported very positive results.
According to the Better Business Bureau, there have been quite a few complaints regarding refunds, exchanges, and customer service issues. It also states that SmileDirectClub has submitted responses indicating that they have an app to help with customer service issues.
In addition, SDC has also made strides to address complaints regarding refunds and exchanges.
In the end …
The reviews for SmileDirectClub are mostly positive. Their invisible aligners are an affordable and effective alternative to orthodontic braces. That is a pretty great thing.
Be sure to check out our other posts on invisible aligner options and how they compare.