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Best Invisible Braces - To Straighten Your Teeth at Home

Nicky Lowney

If you think that having a straight, beautiful smile requires a year or two of braces, think again. In the past, your only choice for straighter teeth was to spend a year or two in expensive, inconvenient, and sometimes painful braces. You’d have to contend with a mouth full of metal, avoid certain foods, and visit the orthodontist every month or two to get your wires tightened.

These days, there are easier ways to achieve that perfect smile. Teeth straightening kits are a high-tech and effective alternative to braces that are delivered directly to your door. These “invisible braces”—also known as teeth aligners—move your teeth into their optimal position, often in less than half the time of traditional braces. You can remove them to eat and brush your teeth, and most brands replace orthodontist office visits with virtual telehealth appointments.

If you are a candidate for treatment with teeth aligners, going through a direct-to-consumer company can also save you money compared to visiting the orthodontist. Braces and aligners sold through an orthodontist’s office are marked up to the consumer, while companies that sell direct to the consumer skip the middleman and the markup.

When it comes to choosing a brand of invisible aligners, you have choices in how to get started, methods of checking in with doctors, and what kind of extras are included in your kit. In this article, we highlight the top brands of invisible braces. We also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about aligners, and how to determine if they are a good choice for you.

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Best Invisible Braces

  • 1
    SmileDirectClub

    SmileDirectClub

    exceptional
    9.9
    • Starting price$2,050 ($89/month financing)
    • Treatment duration4-6 months on average
    • Accepts insuranceYes

    SmileDirectClub aligners are created using a 3D scan taken at one of their SmileShops or an impression you take at home. Their doctors will review your information, create a personalized plan, and meet with you several times during your treatment. They are accessible via chat, video, email, and phone.

    The company creates a set of soft, medium and firm teeth aligners to gradually move your teeth into their optimal places. You choose from two schedules: 22 hours/day or 10 hours/night. The 22-hour plan takes 4-6 months on average, and the 10-hour plan takes about 10 months to complete. Many dental insurance plans cover part of this treatment, and SmileDirectClub offers a choice between monthly installments or a one-time payment.

    Pros
    • In-person 3D scans are quick and easy
    • Whitening gel included with purchase
    • Thousands of partner dentist offices available
    Cons
    • Not appropriate for severe orthodontic issues
    • Must pay for retainers every 6 months for aligner touch-ups
  • 2
    byte
    excellent
    9.1
    • Starting price$1,895 ($82/month financing)
    • Treatment duration3-4 months on average
    • Accepts insuranceYes

    Like many other invisible aligner options on the market, Byte aligners are made of soft, BPA-free plastic. You can wear them either all day or just at night, depending on how fast you want results. But what's unique about Byte is the HyperByte, an FDA-cleared medical device that sends high frequency vibrations through your teeth to the roots and surrounding bone.

    The HyperByte is included in your treatment plan, and the company recommends using it for five minutes per day during the course of treatment. The device helps position your teeth aligners and may speed up your overall treatment timeline to as little as two months.

    Pros
    • HyperByte vibration device included
    • Results in as little as two months
    • 200+ licensed dental professionals in network
    Cons
    • Retainers costs over $100/year
    • Not available for severe bite issues
  • 3
    Candid
    very good
    8.5
    • Starting price$3000-$5000 (varies by office)
    • Treatment duration6 months on average
    • Accepts insuranceYes (varies by office)

    Candid was originally launched as an at-home aligner system, like Byte and SmileDirectClub. However, they have switched to an office-based system, where you begin with a local office and check in with them virtually. Each office sets their own price and insurance coverage terms.

    On the Candid website, you can take a quiz to see if you may be a candidate for their aligners and find a local office. The office will coordinate your scans and design your treatment. You’ll receive your aligners in the mail, along with a scanning tool to share your progress with your doctor virtually. Treatment times average six months, and you’ll need to wear a retainer to maintain your results.

    Pros
    • Orthodontist-managed treatment
    • Virtual treatment updates available
    • Aligners delivered to you after initial in-office visit
    Cons
    • Must work with a local office
    • More expensive than other aligner options
  • 4
    AlignerCO
    good
    8.4
    • Starting price$895 ($81/month)
    • Treatment duration4-6 months on average
    • Accepts insuranceNo

    AlignerCo aligners are made from ultra-clear BPA-free biodegradable plastic. Their treatment system is the lowest-priced option on the market, starting at $895 if paid upfront. Their business model is a completely remote one, so you’ll take an impression at home and mail it to them.

    Their orthodontists will review your impression and—if they determine that their product will work for you—they will design a set of teeth aligners to be delivered to you. You can choose a 20-22 hour wearing schedule (with results in 4-6 months), or nighttime aligners for 8-10 hours per night (with results in 6-8 months).

    Pros
    • Lowest price on the market
    • Fully remote treatment
    • Prompt customer support via chat
    Cons
    • Does not accept insurance
    • Impression kit not free if you aren’t a match
  • 5
    NewSmile

    NewSmile

    very good
    8.6
    • Starting price$1,395 ($83/month)
    • Treatment duration4-6 months on average
    • Accepts insuranceNo (may be able to apply for reimbursement)

    NewSmile offers a competitive option for at-home invisible aligners. Their aligners are cut below the gums, so you don’t feel any discomfort from the plastic touching your gums. To get started, you’ll need to order their package, which includes their at-home impressions kit, your treatment preview, a set of teeth aligners, retainers, and tooth whitening gel. As with other companies, you can choose an all-day or a longer nighttime-only wearing plan. 

    NewSmile does not accept insurance as a form of payment, but you may be able to apply to your dental insurance company for reimbursement, depending on your plan. You can also pay using FSA/HSA accounts.

    Pros
    • Competitive pricing
    • Fully remote treatment
    • Whitening and initial set of retainers included
    Cons
    • No option for in-person 3D scans
    • Only available in the US and Canada
  • 6
    Strayt
    very good
    8.8
    • Starting price$1,400 ($69/month)
    • Treatment duration4-8 month (6 months on average)
    • Accepts insuranceNo (may be able to apply for reimbursement)

    Strayt offers many of the same features as other at-home aligner options: BPA-free plastic teeth aligners, tooth whitening, orthodontist-directed care, and full-day or nighttime-only schedules. However, with a price that matches other companies, Strayt includes StraytVIBES, a light and vibration device. A five minute high-frequency vibration stimulates tooth movement while a red light eases tenderness.

    Afterwards, a ten minute blue light cycle works to boost whitening effects. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of an at-home impression, you can get a 3D scan in one of their offices for the same price. You cannot use dental insurance to pay for your Strayt system, but you may be able to apply for reimbursement, depending on your plan benefits.

    Pros
    • Includes light and vibration device
    • Night aligners same price as daytime plan
    • In-person scan for same price as at-home impression kit
    Cons
    • Does not accept dental insurance
    • Only available in contiguous US states
Breaking Down our Top10 Choices: Which is Best For Your Needs:
text
SmileDirectClub-Best for in-person consultations
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byte-Best for science-based tech
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Candid-Best for invisible aligners
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AlignerCO-Best for smaller budgets
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NewSmile-Ultra clear comfortable aligners
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Strayt-Price-match guarantees
Compare the Best Clear Braces
1
SmileDirectClub
2
byte
3
Candid
4
AlignerCO
5
NewSmile
6
Strayt
Reviews43 reviews76 reviews93 reviewsWrite Review44 reviewsWrite Review
Starting price
$2,050 ($89/month financing)
$1,895 ($82/month financing)
$3000-$5000 (varies by office)
$895 ($81/month)
$1,395 ($83/month)
$1,400 ($69/month)
Treatment duration
4-6 months on average
3-4 months on average
6 months on average
4-6 months on average
4-6 months on average
4-8 month (6 months on average)
At-home fitting
Optional
Accepts insurance
Yes (varies by office)
No (may be able to apply for reimbursement)
No (may be able to apply for reimbursement)
Money-back guarantee
Lifetime
Lifetime
Frequently Asked Questions
Do clear aligners cost more than traditional metal braces?
-
+
No, clear teeth aligners cost less, on average, than traditional metal braces. Metal braces can range from $5-6,000, while most brands of clear aligners cost less than $2,000.
Do invisible braces actually work?
-
+
Yes, invisible braces do work. Because they are based on computer-aided design, they can move teeth more efficiently than traditional bracket-and-wire braces systems. They are useful for most common types of dental corrections but are not effective for severe orthodontic conditions.
Are invisible braces painful?
-
+
In many ways, teeth aligners are more comfortable than metal braces. However, you may experience some mild pain and discomfort with aligners, particularly within the first week as your teeth are getting used to them.

Methodology - How We Rate Invisible Braces

Our brand partners are scored on a scale of up to 9.9, which is based on an algorithm that takes into consideration four parameters - Consumer Engagement, Customer Feedback, Brand Reputation, as well as Features and Benefits.

When reviewing brands of invisible aligners, we research the features and benefits of each brand, the value you get for the price of each teeth straightening kit, and the availability of reliable customer service.

What are Invisible Braces? (Teeth Aligners)

There are three main categories of braces:

Metal braces

Traditional metal braces are a system of brackets attached to each tooth. The brackets connect to each other with wire, which, when tightened, causes the teeth to move in the correct direction. Metal braces must be installed and maintained at an orthodontist’s office. Usually, patients visit the office once every four to eight weeks to have their wires tightened.

Clear braces

These work in the same way as traditional braces but are made out of a clear ceramic to match the color of your teeth. Like metal braces, treatment with clear braces require regular visits to an orthodontist’s office.

Teeth aligners

Clear aligners, also known as invisible braces, are a series of clear plastic trays that resemble mouth guards. They are worn on the top and bottom teeth to gradually move them into the correct position. Though they are not truly invisible, it is often difficult to tell when someone is wearing them. 

Teeth Aligners vs. Metal Braces

There are several things to keep in mind when deciding whether to opt for traditional braces (made of clear or metallic materials) or aligners:

  • Cosmetic appeal. Since aligners are difficult to see, they are an attractive option for those who are looking to subtly correct their teeth.
  • Cost. The cost of traditional braces vary by region and by the severity of need for correction, but often fall in the $5-6,000 range. Treatment with teeth aligners can be as low as $895 with a fully-remote option like AlignerCo, or up to $5,000 in certain regions for an office-based option like Candid. 
  • Severity. Invisible aligners are ideal for many types of mild to moderate corrections, but if you have severe orthodontic issues, you’ll need to see an orthodontist for traditional metal or clear braces.
  • Convenience. Many people find that aligners offer increased convenience, with the ability to remove them to eat and to clean the teeth. Traditional braces require regular office visits to tighten and maintain the braces, usually every 4-8 weeks. Most aligner brands do not require office visits: check-ins can be done remotely.
  • Adherence. The convenience of removable teeth aligners can also backfire. The ability to remove the aligners means that they might not get worn for the required number of hours per day or night, which delays the ability to move to the next set of aligners and extends treatment times. Adherence issues can affect both teen and adult users.

How Do Teeth Aligners Work?

The process of teeth straightening with clear teeth aligners is relatively quick - on average about four to six months. To begin, you'll need to decide whether you want to opt for a fully remote service, or a company that uses some combination of virtual and office-based care. There are a variety of companies that use a 100% remote version, and several that require visits to a local office. Most websites offer a screening process to see if you might be a candidate for their product before you decide to buy an entire service or an impression kit.

Teeth Aligners - DIY Home Kits

Most of the companies we have reviewed offer an at-home impression kit to get you started with treatment. Some companies—Like AlignerCo—only offer this option. Impression kits are included with the price of treatment or sold separately if you don’t want to commit to the whole teeth straightening kit from the start. 

The impression kit includes a tray and a putty-like substance to fill it with. You will gently bite down on the tray. The putty hardens after removal from your mouth. You’ll then send the mold to the aligner company so they can make your aligners. Most companies offer clear directions, online videos, and customer support to walk you through the impression process.

Clear Braces - In-Person Scans and Treatments 

Several companies also offer the option to visit an office to get a 3D scan of your teeth, instead of a putty impression. SmileDirectClub and Strayt offer both options, while Candid only offers the in-person option. With a 3D scan, the orthodontist takes a picture using a special software system that maps the position of your teeth.

Whether you opt for at-home impressions or office scans, you'll need to wait for several weeks to receive your custom made series of teeth aligners. You’ll wear each pair of aligners for a specific amount of time, usually two or so. 

With most companies, you have the option of choosing a wearing schedule: 20-22 hours per day for a quicker treatment time, or 8-10 hours per night with a longer treatment time. As you progress through your series of aligners, your teeth will move closer to their ideal positions.

After your treatment is finished and you're pleased with your results, you'll need to wear a retainer at night afterward, so your teeth don't move back to their original positions. Several companies include a first set of retainers in their treatment package. You’ll need to keep up with your retainers, and replace them every six months or so, to keep your teeth in line and maintain any money-back guarantees from the company.

Invisible Braces Cost and Treatment Times

Invisible Braces
Price
Average Treatment Time

SmileDirectClub

$1950

4-6 months

Byte

$1895

3-4 months

Candid

$3-5000

6 months

AlignerCo

$895

4-6 months

NewSmile

$1395

4-6 months

Strayt

$1495

4-8 months

Are Invisible Braces Right for You?

Aligners are used in a number of situations, and a professional orthodontist will be equipped to assess your situation to determine if you are a good candidate for this type of procedure. Some of the more commonly experienced dental problems that teeth aligners are used to correct include:

  • Overly crowded teeth
  • Widely spaced teeth
  • Overbites
  • Crossbites
  • Mild relapse after previous orthodontic treatment
  • Simple bite irregularities

For more complex cases and severe dental irregularities, you’ll need to opt for traditional braces.

Most of the companies we’ve reviewed offer quizzes online to see if you are a good fit for their product. You can also contact the company through their website or call them to discuss your needs and concerns.

In some cases, the aligner company’s in-house doctors will review your impressions or 3D scan and discover that you are not a good candidate for correction with their product. In most of these cases, you’ll be able to receive a refund for anything you’ve paid so far.

Do Invisible Braces Work Faster?

The duration of treatment with any orthodontic solution varies greatly according to the needs of each patient. In general, you can get faster results with aligners than with traditional braces:

  • Metal or clear braces: treatment times average 1-2 years
  • Teeth aligners: treatment times average 4-8 months

With invisible aligners, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. Not wearing them as directed means longer treatment times.

Maintenance and Cleaning of Invisible Braces

It’s important to maintain your aligners properly so they don’t degrade or cause bad breath or other problems. Each company provides instructions on how to maintain their aligners. Usually this involves soaking briefly in a cleaning substance--like vinegar, soap, or baking soda--and rinsing completely. Several companies sell special devices to clean and disinfect your aligners.

Natural Intelligence does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.

Nicky Lowney
Nicky Lowney has been writing about health and medicine for more than 15 years. With a master’s degree in health communication, she specializes in translating complex medical information into readable, engaging content. Nicky has written for top10.com, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Decision Resources Group, and EBSCO Information Services, among other clients. In her free time, Nicky enjoys cycling, hiking, and performing with her local community theater.