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Guest post by Alice Jorgensen
Straighter teeth from home? If you're a millennial and you use social media, you've probably seen an ad for direct-to-consumer invisible aligners. These products have exploded over the last few years, disrupting the orthodontic space with a more convenient and affordable option than braces. But if you're thinking about signing up for a straighter smile, the big question is “which company is the right choice?” We're comparing Smile Direct Club and byte head-to-head so you can determine which option is the best fit for you.
It helps to understand a bit of the history behind these two companies. SmileDirectClub was first to the marketplace; founded in 2014; and paved the way for affordable, at-home teeth straightening. The company has serviced hundreds of thousands of patients to date.
More recently, byte has joined the market with added features for faster treatment and is rising quickly as a leading player. Founded in 2017 by a world-renowned cosmetic dentist, byte already has thousands of successful patients.
What do you get and what does it cost?
At first glance, SmileDirectClub has a slightly lower cost of $1,895 compared to byte's $1,900 price point. However, when you look at what's included and available financing options, that $5 price difference is negligible. SmileDirectClub requires $250 down (plus $80 per month) for financing. Your purchase includes aligners, lip balm, a case, and a whitening pen. Retainers are an extra $99. So to get your new smile and keep it with SmileDirectClub, you're really paying $1,994 in total.
With byte, no money down with financing is available for as little as $62 per month. Your purchase includes the aligners; BrightByte 3-in-1 teeth whitening, cleaner, and breath refresher; the company’s exclusive HyperByte treatment accelerator device (more on this later—but it's a $699 value); and your first set of retainers (a $99 value). All of this is included for $1,900.
What are the average treatment times?
SmileDirectClub's technology is true to the average treatment time across the invisible aligner industry, averaging six months. byte clocks in at a three-month average treatment time, making it the fastest aligner technology currently available in the direct-to-consumer market.
With byte, patients also get the HyperByte, a proprietary, high frequency vibration (HFV) device that properly seats the byte aligners to make tooth movement more accurate and effective, reducing discomfort and cutting treatment time in half. HyperByte is exclusive to the byte aligner system.
Is that new smile for life?
When you're investing in your body and health, it’s important to read the fine print. While $1,900 may be less than the cost of in-office braces, you want results that will last. So what's the guarantee?
With SmileDirectClub, the company states you have to notify it within 30 days of completing your treatment to preserve your warranty. This means if you don't contact the company within that window, your warranty is void. From there, SmileDirectClub will review and determine if you're eligible for additional aligners.
With byte, your new smile is guaranteed forever. As long as you're using your retainers, if your smile moves out of alignment, the company will help you get it back in place at no extra cost as part of the lifetime guarantee.
What's the science behind moving your teeth at home?
You might be wondering, aren't SmileDirectClub and byte basically the same when it comes to treatment planning and moving your teeth? Our findings reveal that while similar, there are some additions included in byte’s overall plan.
While both byte and SmileDirectClub use similar orthodontic treatment planning software to move your teeth into alignment within a 3D viewer for patient review, byte goes a step further by offering Smile Science—a special technique invented by the company’s Chief Cosmetic Dentist, Dr. Jon Marashi D.D.S., who is based out of Los Angeles, California.
Rather than focusing solely on shifting your teeth, byte's Smile Science takes into account each patient's unique facial symmetry for a personalized look that considers overall features, not just your mouth. In addition to the 3D viewer, Smile Science utilizes computer simulation technology to display what a new smile will look like on the patient's face.
How about patient support?
If you're straightening your teeth from home, customer service is likely a priority on your list. Both SmileDirectClub and byte have a dedicated center for patient support and offer reliable service. However, with byte, all customer support staff is on-shore in the United States, but according to SmileDirectClub's website, much of its customer support team is located overseas in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Which company is right for you?
While SmileDirectClub and byte may be the most well-known or most highly rated at-home invisible aligners on our site (respectively), there are a number of options available. Check out our rankings for Best Invisible Braces to help you choose the company that’s right for you.