What is the difference between Smile Direct Club and Invisalign?

Tags:woman age 25-34 dental aligners

Am I missing something or are these the same thing? Is there a difference between the two clear dental aligners? If so, what are they?


F, 36, New York

As someone’s who used Invisalign successfully, I was 8ntrigued by Smile Club but there is another serious issues not brought up here.  Within the fixed fee, my dentist rescanned my teeth three times through the treatment before ordering new aligners. That’s because the way a computer assumes your teeth will respond to the aligners is not always exactly how they do. So while SD and Invisalign aligners May be identical for the first 4-6, the longer you go from your impression or scan, the more you’re SD aligners may not be accurate for your where your teeth are at that point. Yes, Invisalign is more expensive for sure. But moving teeth is not only a cosmetic issue. 

I am more of an introvert and homebody, and so I opted to go with the clear aligners through the Smile Direct Club. They send you an at home impression kit that you do on your own and send back to get your treatment plan. Aside from cost and convenience, there really is not much difference of the align technology between the ones I went with and those that Invisalign has to offer.

With the Smile Direct Club, everything is pretty much hands-off and all of your consultations are remote. You can follow your progress online. Of course, if you like more one-on-one attention and routine visits with a dentist that is familiar to you, then Invisalign may be the way to go. However, there are smileshops around big cities that allow you to stop in and talk with a general dentist if needed. But from what I gathered Invisalign is administered in a dental office where they look at your dental history and have the aligners made. I am more of an independent type though, and so the Smile Direct Club was the perfect fit for me.

When I was deciding whether or not to go with Smile Direct Club or Invisalign I did tons of research to make sure I was getting the best product for the best price. I was shocked to learn that Smile Direct Club and Invisalign aligners are actually made by the same manufacturer. The biggest difference between Smile Direct Club and Invisalign is that Smile Direct Club is sold directly to you from the manufacturer so that you are able to get a better price. Invisalign is sold by a dentist and then they take a cut of the profits so you are ultimately charged more for the brand name product. If you need serious treatment, Smile Direct Club may not be for you as it was not designed for extreme cases. Invisalign is better suited for such cases. Smile Direct Club is more often a cheaper option than Invisalign but the actual products are actually very similar.

 I use Smile Direct Club, and I did some research before deciding to use Smile Direct instead of Invisalign. I'll share what I learned with you:

Smile Direct Club is registered as a re-packager with the FDA, which means that they can use aligners that are sold under other brand names at a significantly discounted price. Plus, the cost of the Smile Direct Club transformation is less expensive than Invisalign because it eliminates the need to see an orthodontist regularly. But, the straightening results of Invisalign and Smile Direct Club are basically identical.

Invisalign aligners are scalloped and require attachment points to be glued to the teeth, but the Smile Direct Club aligners sit two to three mm above the gum line, which causes them to be less noticeable and slightly more secure. Plus, the SDC aligners provide a more natural appearance because your lip completely hides the edge of the plastic aligner. 

I appreciate the refund policy offered by the club. If it were determined that I was not a good candidate after an orthodontist reviewed my impression kit, I would have received a complete refund for my impression kit fee. I’m glad that I am getting better aligners and the results of Invisalign without the expense and monthly visits to an orthodontist.

I researched this topic extensively before deciding to go with SmileDirectClub. SmileDirectClub and Invisalign are made by the same manufacturer, Align Technologies. They are both made of similar plastic materials and are both used to inconspicuously fix tooth alignment issues. The differences between these two aligners are:

1) Invisalign is sold by a middleman, usually an orthodontist or dentist, while SmileDirectClub is sold directly to the consumer by the manufacturer.

2) Invisalign can fix more complicated tooth alignment issues using anchors that are placed on your teeth (like traditional metal braces). The anchors allow your teeth to be moved more than would happen with aligners alone. SmileDirectClub does not utilize anchors. (i.e. no dentist to put them on your teeth). SmileDirectClub is not for extreme alignment issues and they will tell you if you're not a good candidate. 

3) SmileDirectClub is almost always cheaper than Invisalign. SmileDirectClub costs around $1500-1850, while Invisalign can cost $5000-10,000. 

4) Some dental professionals will argue that the molds for SmileDirectClub are not as good as the molds for Invisalign. This is not true! The materials and methods used to get the molds might be slightly different, but the outcome will be the same. Some dentists claim that their digital molds (if the dentist has the machine to do this) are better. They also claim that SmileDirectClub doesn't register your bite (how your top and bottom teeth interact). SmileDirectClub also offers digital molds, but you have to go to one of their Smile Shops. They will also measure your bite at their Smile Shop. Dentists will argue that SmileDirect's molds miss your rear molars (e.g. wisdom teeth). This may be partially true, but SmileDirectClub will have a dental professional analyze your molds to find out if the impression was taken correctly. 

5) Both SmileDirectClub and Invisalign (through your dental professional) will over free refinements if your treatment doesn't 100% fix your issue. 

Remember, dentistry is a business. Your orthodontist or dentist needs to make money for the treatment to be worthwhile to them. They have staff, rent, etc. that they need to pay for. In public, many dentists will bash SmileDirectClub, but in private, they knew it was only a matter of time before dental aligners were sold direct to consumers. On the other side, aligners are big business and it's in the best interest of the manufacturers to not go through dentists. Dentists get a cut of their profits and the manufacturers have realized they don't need them as a distribution network. 

Smile Direct Club is a cheaper option, at least according to me. Creating impressions and shipping them cost me $1850 and their aligners do not need frequent visits to the dentist. This is as low as $80 a month for about 24 months. A friend of mine, whose teeth only took eleven months to align paid significantly less at Smile Direct Club. After the treatment, aligners will be sent to you at only $99, which is way less than what other clinics are charging out there. The thing I liked more were the payments options. By paying cash on the first day, you get a discount of up to 60 percent. Which is so cool, if you have all the money at hand.

Wow these responses couldn't be more pro Smile Direct Club if they were written by SDC themselves... 

When I was considering options for straightening my teeth, I wondered what the difference was between Smile Direct Club and Invisalign. While the two are similar, there are some differences that made Smile Direct Club the more attractive option for me. With Invisalign, I would be required to visit the orthodontist's office on a monthly basis, which I just didn't have time for. Invisalign was significantly more expensive as well. I realized that I would get the same results with Smile Direct Club for significantly less money and hassle. I am really happy with my decision.