Smile Direct Club Vs. Traditional Braces: Here’s What We Think (+ Save Over $200!)

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woman holding smile direct club smile stretcher

In the market for a new smile?

Even those of us with a generally well-aligned smile probably wouldn’t mind the chance to have a new-and-improved set of teeth. Whether it’s slight crowding or spaces that are a little too wide for your liking, chances are there’s a little somethin’ you wanna improve.

Unfortunately, corrective dental options are pricey… like, SUPER pricey. That can be a deterrent for a lot of folks, especially those without insurance. So when the team heard about Smile Direct Club and their affordable aligners, our curiosity was piqued! We decided to try ‘em out and see if they’re a viable & affordable alternative to spendier dental corrective procedures.

So what’s Smile Direct Club and how does it work?

box of dental impressions and pamphlet on counter

First off, your interaction with Smile Direct Club can remain pretty much all online, which is super convenient for a lot of folks (but also a downside for others…more on that later). Of course, if one of their facilities is close to you, you can definitely opt to visit and get your impressions made in person.

Once you find out if you’re eligible, you can order your impression kit and choose from one of two payment plans.

Just follow the super simple ordering process:

Order the Smile Direct Club Impression Kit $59
Use code “HIP200” to get 70% off your impression kit
Score FREE Overnight shipping
Final cost just $18 shipped

But better yet, it’s FREE after rebate when you return your completed impressions!

After you’ve gone through the impression process, you pop them in a return package and send them off! Smile Direct Club will contact you with a digital rendering of what you have to look forward to with your new smile.

And speaking of the impression process, it seemed pretty easy!

woman wearing gloves behind counter with smile direct club kit on it

The kit comes with a few things, including gloves, putties, and dental trays. First, you put on the gloves that came in the box from Smile Direct Club. After you’re gloved up, you mix the two differently-colored putties together for a minute.

When they’re well-mixed, you want to quickly roll the putty into a cylinder shape and place it evenly in the dental trays.

woman putting dental impression kit in mouth

Then, you open wide and use your hands to press the tray with the putty to the top of your mouth until you can feel the bottom. You just hang out that way for a few minutes as you wait for the putty to harden.

woman holding smile direct club kit in hands

When you take the tray out, you’ll be able to see your impressions and the putty should be nice and solid.

Repeat these steps three more times–one more top imprint and then two on the bottom–and then you’re almost done.

The last step is everyone’s favorite part… or is it? 🤣

woman wearing smile stretcher and holding bag in hand

The weird plastic contraption you get with your kit is a smile stretcher. You pop it in on each side of your mouth, and then take three photos to send to Smile Direct Club so they can get the full picture of what your mouth looks like. We’d suggest doing this alone unless you don’t mind your friends and fam having a laugh… but we can’t blame them. 😝

When you’ve finished all the steps, you put everything back in the box with a prepaid shipping label and send it on back!

The Smile Direct Club setup is super easy, and we really liked doing all this without leaving home, but what about the price?

woman holding dental tray and smiling

Overall, purchasing an aligner from Smile Direct Club has the potential to be a lot cheaper than traditional corrective procedures.

If you have insurance, the type of insurance you have greatly affects the price of Smile Direct Club aligners vs. traditional braces. You can check to see your potential savings with the handy insurance tool on the Smile Direct Club website.

However, if you don’t have insurance, Smile Direct Club will almost surely be a cheaper option for ya. While we can’t exactly pinpoint the cost of braces or other aligners because they vary so much, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. And yikes, that’s a lot of money to pay out of pocket!

If you’re debating whether or not to give Smile Direct Club a shot…

woman holding open smile direct club kit on counter

After discussing the experiences & cost our team has had with braces, and weighing the pros and cons, we think Smile Direct Club is a great option for some folks! But for others, going the traditional route might be the best.

Smile Direct Club might be a great option for you if:

  • You don’t have insurance. This is a biggie since Smile Direct Club’s single pay option is going to be hard to beat. Or, you can also choose to pay $89/month–pretty reasonable price for many people compared to traditional braces.
  • You do have insurance, but it won’t cover your desired dental corrections. This really all depends on each individual’s insurance provider, but it’s not always straightforward and unfortunately, some may not cover it.
  • You only need minor corrections. Now “minor” can have a lot of different definitions, but in this case, we mainly mean issues with spacing and/or crowding. If you or your child has a major over or underbite or other severe dental issues, it may be best to stick with traditional braces.
  • You don’t want to be hassled by going to the doctor. Some folks just aren’t crazy about going to the doctor’s office more than they have to, so Smile Direct Club’s teledentistry would be a major plus!

You might wanna consider other options if:

  • You have coverage. If cost isn’t a factor because your insurance covers most of, if not all, the cost of the procedure, you might be more comfortable just sticking with that.
  • Your insurance company is open to negotiation. My Hip teammates Lina and Krystal made a great point that you can negotiate coverage with your insurance provider and potentially save a ton! Ask your provider if they recommend an orthodontist as those are sometimes easier to bargain with.
  • You don’t want to have to worry about a retainer. Everyone, but teens especially, might have trouble keeping up with a removable aligner. Those are NOT cheap, so if there’s a chance it’ll get lost, it might be best to visit your orthodontist for a set of braces.
  • You need a major corrective procedure. Unfortunately, some dental issues will require a more invasive solution than Smile Direct Club can provide. When checking out their eligibility quiz, they only addressed crowding and spacing. It might be best to see a specialist in person for more serious dental work.
  • You prefer in-person help. While Smile Direct Club’s teledentistry is a major bonus for some, it’s also a pain point for others. If you’re more comfortable going to an orthodontist you know & trust, it’s better to stick with that.

All that being said, Smile Direct Club is an awesome option for a lot of people!

smile direct clubdental impression molds in box

So if you’re looking to try out this convenient, affordable alternative to traditional dental work, we have good news! You can score this exclusive deal and save a ton of $$$ while getting a straighter smile.

woman holding first impression sign

Use code HIP200 at checkout to get 70% off your impression kit (FREE with rebate) + $200 off your aligner purchase!

woman smiling and holding smile direct club box

Have any of you Hip readers tried Smile Direct Club? If so, let us know all about your experiences and what you thought!

Wanna whiten your teeth naturally? Try coconut oil pulling!

Brandi has an Associate's Degree and 5+ years of experience writing and creating online content for local businesses.

Join The Discussion

Comments 40

  1. Jane

    My husband is two weeks away from finishing his Smile Direct Club treatment and we see a major difference! He’s very happy with his results so far. We just hope that the retainer will keep his teeth in place after the treatment.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Yay! SO glad to hear that, Jane! Thanks for sharing his experience with us! Glad it is going well so far!

  2. C. H.

    I think that you should fully consult with your dentist on which option is right for you. I had movement after going thru braces at a younger age. My dentist explained it as the Invisalign like options only move your teeth from a visible point…..while braces actually move your teeth with the root structures. So if you do clear plastic trays for a smile improvement it is like a tree being planted at a angle versus a tree being plant straight up and down. Braces actually keep the structure of your teeth stronger….just a thought

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Interesting! Thanks for taking the time to share that! This option may not work for all circumstances.

  3. Emily

    I had a terrible overbite before I got braces (like tops of my bottom teeth touched the roof of my mouth bad). I spent almost 2 years in braces with headgear to correct my overbite. So glad I did it, though!

  4. Jen

    Am interested in hearing feedback about this. Thanks

  5. Rgibs2012

    I am about a month in and I already see a difference. One of my front teeth were leaning in front of my other front tooth. Only a month in and it’s already shifted over!! Now it just needs to scoot back in place. They send you all the aligners you need and even send you a whitening kit!! The confidence I have now is so worth it. 😁

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Awesome! Thanks a bunch for the feedback! Happy it is already working!

    • Lisa K.

      Thanks for your feedback on this since I have a tooth shift like that too – and it’s exactly what I was considering using Smile Direct to try to correct – so thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  6. Kiki

    I asked my dentist about this for my son because he doesn’t need much correction with his teeth and braces are so expensive. He told me he’d rather I skip braces for him than go this route. 🤷‍♀️

    • Barb

      Did he say why

  7. Paisley

    I used smile direct club two years ago to correct my teeth. I had braces when I was younger (many years ago 😛), but I did not keep up with wearing a retainer as an adult. My corrections were not anything major, but two of my front teeth had shifted in a way that I could not stand how they looked. Smile Direct Club completely straightened my teeth, and I am now diligently wearing my retainers!

  8. Sarah

    Please do your own research and consult your dentist before doing this. There are thousands and thousands of horror stories about this company, and also they tried to shut people up from writing any negative reviews. Unsupervised orthodontic treatment is super risky and could cause long term damage to your teeth. Not worth the discount H2S is pushing.

    • Lmason84

      I am one of the horror stories. My regular dentist said it was the worst possible thing for me to use. It is only for aesthetics and doesn’t address the real issues.

    • Jen

      Please Please Please think carefully before going this route. There are many things to consider besides just pricing. I understand that some people may not be able to afford “straight teeth” unless going this route, but there are also some people who end up losing teeth because they went this route and were not supervised correctly. When you go to a reputable orthodontist, you have to get clearance before they even consider putting braces on you to try to ensure that you are a proper candidate. If you have other dental issues like periodontal disease, poor oral hygiene, or even multiple cavities it would be considered supervised neglect to start orthodontic treatment without addressing these issues first. Please talk to your dental professional first.

  9. Amber

    I seriously thought about Smile Direct but was too nervous so just paid out of pocket for invisalign. I occasionally browse ‘aligner’ platforms to see before and afters and hear different experiences and there are countless unfortunate stories concerning Smile Direct. Sometimes you pay more money for a product for a reason.

  10. Lora

    I took my child to a dental school. It was almost half the price of regular braces, plus they had the latest equipment and were supervised by some of the best orthodontists. Talk to your dentist first. There is a lot that can go wrong with mail order teeth alignment.

    • alexandra

      Please tell me more about dental school. Where are you located? Was it a long process?

      • 5pink1blue

        My sister lives in Cleveland and used the dental school at CWRU for her three children. The appointment times are not as flexible as others but the cost is so much less.

      • Lora

        Your dentist can tell you where your nearest dental school is. In Ohio, there is CWRU and O SU. There are monthly visits to tighten braces and updates are made throughout to adjust for progress. Length of time wearing braces varies from person to person.

    • Jen

      Yes!!! Dental schools are a great option!

  11. Tracey

    I wish I could have used something like this but I have a lot of teeth that were slightly twisted and have had to have a lot of “attachments” placed on my teeth during the Invisalign process to correct that. It’s been 2 1/2 long years and only one more month to go! It was very expensive; almost $5K but did the monthly payment route. My parents could not have afforded for all 5 kids to get braces back in the day (only 1 sister got them). So now, at 57, I feel like I can finally smile with my teeth showing! I would definitely check with a dentist or orthodontist first but seems like the Smile Direct would be a good option for those without too many existing teeth problems.

  12. Ce

    There are also other clear aligner companies out there that you may want to consider, like Byte and Candid. I personally went with Candid because they only use orthodontists and you check in with your orthodontist virtually through the app every two weeks. Cost wise, they’re the middle ground between smile direct and invisalign. Plus, they have some physical locations where you can get your initial scans done… more accurate and you’ll get your aligners sooner. They have sales all the time, especially around the holidays.

    Regardless of which one you choose, here are some things that I wish I knew for the process:

    1) The first 3-5 days are excruciating, but it gets better. You can use Tylenol, but not Advil for the pain. Start it right before bed, on a weekend. I took zero pain meds when I had my 2 kiddos, but the pain from the aligners were literally tear inducing. Pain goes away after first set.

    2) you won’t be able to bite or chew the first couple of days because your teeth will be super sensitive, so soft foods or liquid meal replacements will be your best friend.. you may even lose weight. They say you can eat with them on, but it’s a really unpleasant sensation and then you’d have food stuck in them, etc., so not really worth it.. much easier to just take them out for eating. I can drink iced coffee and ice tea (no hot drinks) through a straw without staining the aligners because I soak them in clear mouthwash while I eat

    3) you will get cuts in your gum/cheeks/tongue as your mouth gets used to having the aligners. To avoid this, use dental wax (equate brand from Walmart is cheapest but effective). Also, get a cheap dremmel or electric nail filer to smooth out the sharp edges of the aligners. Your mouth with thank me.

    4) the cleaning/whitening foam they give you is expensive. When you run out, Eversmile on Amazon is almost identical and 1/4 of the price. Amazon’s clear/whitening/no alcohol mouthwash is really good for soaking the aligners while you eat to clean them.

    5) as your teeth moves, it’ll create temporary gaps in your teeth, which means you’ll have food stuck in your teeth where you’ve never had issues before. So always carry floss with you. Also, do yourself a favor and get a waterpik/water flosser. It does have a learning curve, but it’ll help a lot.

    6) you will have a lisp at first, so if you have a job where you need to talk a lot like customer service, you may want to start on a Friday night so you can get used to talking with the aligners in by Monday.

    7) you will have a lot of saliva so you’ll be constantly sucking/swallowing. Which means your mouth and lips will be super dry. Get a few tubes of chapstick to put around the house, you’ll need them.

    8) use your “chewies” to avoid being stuck on a set for longer, even if it’s painful.

    Hope that helps.

    • Jen

      Wow, this was so helpful. TY! Can you explain number 8? Chewies?

      • Ce

        Your aligners are supposed to fit like a glove around your teeth by the end of each set because that’s the position your teeth should be in at the end of the set. So in the beginning of each set, your aligners may not be a perfect fit and you’ll see a small gap between a few of your teeth and the aligner. This tiny gap/halo effect is called “unseating”, which is undesirable because then the aligner can’t move your tooth/teeth properly. So they give you these little rubber things called chewies to bite down on for the tooth that has unseating to close that gap between your tooth and the aligner. I noticed that the teeth that were unseating tends to be the one they are trying to move for that set and are the most sensitive, so using the chewies on them can be a bit uncomfortable but it’s a necessary evil. Some people find using a baby teething ring can also work. You just don’t want anything too hard or you risk cracking the aligner.

        • *Angela-Miles*

          I experienced all of the bullet points you listed, when I had braces back in middle school. Except for the chewies Lol. Although I wish I had used more wax because I have scars on the inside of both cheeks from the rubbing.
          Your description of the aligners brought back all my braces memories 🙂

          • Serena

            I still have scars too and it’s been 16 years since my braces have been off.

    • tia in boise

      1. Thanks for all that great info! so helpful and informative!

      2. I had braces as a kid, and there has definitely been movement (40 years later)–but I have read that is typical.

  13. Kristina

    I had never heard of this company, so thanks for posting, H2S! However, what’s not clear to me is the cost of the aligner. Seems that the deal is for the kit that creates the impression. Pressumably you then send this to the company and they send you a retainer? an aligner of some sorts? That thing, how much does that cost? Is it a one-time payment?

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re welcome, Kristina! This deal also includes $200 off your aligner purchase.

  14. Lynn

    I researched this before I got invisalign. Please note this company says right in their literature that they don’t correct your “bite” it is just a cosmetic look fix. if you don’t fix the bite, you are just going to crack teeth and have to spend more money on crowns, etc. as you age. Each crown is about $1000 each and if you have to get a root canal that can be $1500. It’s better to spend the money now to get your bite fixed. I am having to pay $300 out of pocket a month for invisalign. However, I kept cracking teeth and my dentist told me unless I get my bite fixed I am going to continue to have more and more issues. So praying this works! Dental work is painful and expensive. It’s hard getting old – LOL!

  15. Boy.Mommy3

    I am currently using byte. I am on my 5th tray & I really have not seen a difference yet. I had braces about 17 years ago & never kept up with wearing my retainers afterwards & now some teeth have shifted. One tooth on the bottom & one on the top have been pushed back along with one tooth on the top that seems to be falling forward. I hate wearing them though. I snack a lot & I hate having to constantly floss and brush after eating/drinking (besides water of course) I dislike having to brush & clean them multiple times a day before putting them back on. I should have just gotten braces again. I bought byte before they came out with byte at night 😩 I so would have went with that route even if the process took longer, because clearly this entire routine has been a hassle for me.

  16. DB

    My son is on his 11th week of Byte at night, and we are really pleased with his results. He has never had any pain. They give you a vibration device to use each night that helps with that. Our insurance doesn’t typically cover aligners, but after a phone call, they paid in full for the entire cost!

  17. Jazmin

    Please do your research before you try these! I work at an orthodontic office and we see soooo many patients who have had horrible results. Many of those patients have complex cases and should have consulted an orthodontist/dentist first. An Ortho consult is usually free so I always encourage people to go get a consult first and then compare treatment plans. You could end up losing teeth if they are not moved correctly or if you have gum recession. Which will end up costing you triple the amount you spent on these aligners to correct your bite. These types of aligners usually work for those that need minimal correction.

  18. FosterMomsNeverHaveEmptyNestSyndrome

    We got SmileDirect for one of my boys- and then his dentist told us that as a diabetic, they should have never “allowed” him to get them. So that was 1800 we will never see again. The company did nothing – not even an “oops, my bad”.

    • Sandy

      What was your dentists reason for saying a diabetic shouldn’t use them? My son is diabetic and I never would have thought twice about getting them for him.

  19. Lynn

    We have a dentist in the family who cringes at the mere mention of Smile Direct. I’ve been advised by him and another dentist to use Invisalign. Stay away from Smile Direct. Dentists around here are fixing the negative results.

    • Jen S

      Thanks for the feedback… we had just signed up for Invisalign so that makes me feel better!

  20. Carrie

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE think before you buy. I am in the middle of my 4th round of smile direct. Every time they tell me they are sending a new set of aligners to fix my problem only to discover at the end of the 3 months I still do not have straight teeth. I am a public accountant. All I run is numbers, numbers, numbers. After this experience I should have gone with invisalign. Smile direct is not what they say.

  21. Lisa

    This makes me nervous. I went through Invisalign, and my husband is almost finished with it. Neither of us did it for straighter teeth because we both had decent looking teeth from having braces as children . My husband has TMJ, and he’s had fewer headaches since he’s started in Invisalign. I had another unique situation. Both of us have been helped by professional Invisalign.

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