Smile Direct Club vs Orthodontist: Compare Teeth Straightening Options

Back in the 18th century, Dr. Pierre Fauchard is said to have founded modern orthodontics.  Two-hundred and ninety-three years later, the technology surrounding orthodontal care is mesmerizing.  Orthodontists spend years in training, understanding facial symmetry, jawlines, tooth structure, and problem-solving cases to offer clients a better and healthier smile.  Providing a Smile Direct Club vs Orthodontist comparison is important to show a “then and now” factor.

In 1997, a Stanford graduate caught the attention of orthodontists around the world.  Zia Chishti developed the first clear aligners to be used as a replacement for braces.  The innovation itself was unfounded, but orthodontists offered mixed reviews.  Some were excited for the invention while others felt it would be the end of normal orthodontal care.

Over time, clear aligner companies like Invisalign incorporated orthodontists in their program.  Today, visit any orthodontist, and they have some form of a clear aligner.  Invisalign dominated the market until Smile Direct Club (SDC) started offering an at-home impression kit, remote monitoring, and a cheaper price in 2014.

How do Clear Aligners Work?

Most clear aligner companies offer treatment plans lasting 6 months on average.   Invisalign’s average in the beginning was 12 to 18 months.  However, the process today involves more movement in less time, and without excessive pain or discomfort.

While your teeth move at a rapid rate compared to 20 years ago, it is still gradual.  You are given a set of aligners worn for 1 to 2 weeks.  You then wear the next set for the same amount of time.  This continues, but the timeline depends on each individual patient.

Scientifically, the ligament around a tooth is stretched on one side and compressed on the other.  The stretched area sees bone cells break down while the compressed side creates new bone cells.  This slowly moves the tooth into the proper position.  The area will be inflamed, so your root, socket, and jawbone need to adjust to the change.

Important Smile Direct Club vs Orthodontist Features

Smile Direct ClubOrthodontist
Offers daytime and nighttime aligners.Work for companies like Smile Direct Club, Byte, Candid, and Invisalign.
Sends an impression kit to your home, you return it, and they create a treatment plan, then ship all your aligners in one box.Spend at least 7 years in training to master orthodontal care.  Today, orthodontists are going back to school for clear aligner therapy education.
Offers one of the cheapest prices for clear aligners.  Smile Direct has the largest clear aligner manufacturing facility in the United States.Review your impressions for at-home clear aligner companies and create treatment plans based on their findings.
One-time payments are offered at $1,950 or $250 down and $89 for 24 months.Only Some direct-to-consumer companies require their orthodontists to create the treatment and utilize remote monitoring to track a patient’s progress.
Accepts HSA, FSA, CareCredit plus any insurance reimbursementExtremely helpful helping patients understand financial options
Average treatment plans last 6 months.  Mild cases can be as short as 4 months.

Smile Direct Club Order and Purchase Process

Everything is completed online.  Visit the Smile Direct Club website and click the “Am I a candidate?”  You will answer a series of questions, then be directed to purchase an impression.  It takes a couple weeks to be delivered.

Once you receive the impression kit, follow the directions, then return it to Smile Direct with their pre-paid return shipping.  Upon arrival, an orthodontist will review the impressions, create a treatment plan, and setup a remote meeting.  Everything is explained, questions can be asked, and the orthodontist will ask for your approval.

You will then be directed to the payment process.  When everything is complete, your entire treatment plan will arrive in 2 to 4 weeks.  Several Smile Direct reviews believe it is simple.

Smile Direct Club vs Orthodontist

Honestly, it is difficult to offer a Smile Direct Club vs orthodontist comparison.  The pros and cons are built for comparing companies.  Instead, will provide as much positive and negative information regarding SDC as possible.

Smile Direct ProsCons
Cheapest price on the market.  Serviced over a million customers.  Cuts treatment times compared to an orthodontist in half.Utilizes licensed doctors, dentists, and orthodontists.  Difficult for at-home clear aligner services to take on severe cases.
Uses state-of-the-art Smart Sculpt technology to provide precision when creating your clear aligners.  The company also takes advantage of Comfort Sense technology, which helps move your teeth in safe and gradual way.Does not have as many technologies as an orthodontist.  Companies like Invisalign have 5 to 10 different state-of-the-art systems in place for in-office visits.  However, these create a clinical markup in the market.
SDC never shaves down healthy teeth to reduce crowding.  They also offer better oral hygiene with clear aligners compared to braces.  They also send all their clear aligners at once.Providing the entire treatment plan’s aligners is a risk.  Patients should never work ahead of the treatment plan or it will not be as effective.  It might create problems.
There are three ways to get started with Smile Direct: visit a SmileShop for a free scan, have an impression kit delivered, or find a partner network dentist.It is important to go over your insurance coverage before deciding.  It is possible your plan will not cover at-home clear aligners.  However, they would cover it if you went to a SmileShop for your 3D imaging scan.
Financing is 100% guaranteed.  There are no credit checks, and you do not have to worry about filling out an application.  SDC also offers a Lifetime Smile Guarantee, not offered by most of its competitors.If you do not have insurance or an HSA, FSA plan, SDC offers CareCredit as a finance option.  You might be able to get payments less than the $89 a month through Smile Direct.
No mandatory office visits or glued tooth attachments needed.  Smile Direct Club clear aligners will safely and effectively shift teeth.Even though the average treatment plan length is 4 to 6 months, some cases take longer.  It is also possible attachments will be needed during the treatment.  This depends on the severity of the case.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Smile Direct Club better than Invisalign?

Invisalign requires patients to set appointment and visit local offices for clear aligners.  Smile Direct Club requires impression kits to be completed and sent back to their orthodontists to create a treatment plan.  It is the same quality for half the price.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign has been around for 24 years.  They are the founder of the industry and are in a large network of orthodontists around the United States.  Their clear aligners are built upon state-of-the-art technology and has been for decades.  Plus, they are the best choice for extreme cases where constant adjustments are needed.

Is there a difference between an orthodontist and licensed doctor in aligner therapy?

Yes.  An orthodontist studies for over 7 years to become an orthodontist.  They specialize in braces as well as clear aligners, as well as other notables.  A licensed doctor in aligner therapy specializes in clear aligners and has at least 5 years of experience.

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