Choosing a teeth-straightening method can be challenging as there are many options. However, clear aligners have taken the market by storm because they provide a discreet way of realigning your teeth.
Before jumping on these aligners, you should know how to make an informed decision. Braces are an alternative if you have a severe misalignment. Although braces are visible, you can opt for lingual braces hidden behind the teeth.
There are two leading brands for clear aligners, Smile Direct and Invisalign. Below, I will discuss the differences between Smile Direct vs. Invisalign and how they could help you.
What are Smile Direct and Invisalign?
Modern dental technology has created custom-made, clear plastic trays to slowly shift your teeth into your desired position.
As these trays fit perfectly and are translucent, they are practically invisible. So which brand is better? Many factors come into play; for example, both treatments have pros and cons, and it is up to the individual to decide which option is right for them.
The Differences between Smile Direct vs. Invisalign
Both treatments straighten your teeth using clear, plastic aligner trays that blend into the background, allowing users to smile while straightening their teeth confidently. This makes both these options popular amongst adults.
The process of obtaining your aligners is practically identical and includes the following:
- An initial examination to see if you are suitable for the treatment.
- Your dentist will make a cast or take a digital scan of your teeth and send it to a lab for manufacturing.
- As your teeth start to move, you must visit your dentist to have new ones with a tighter fit placed.
- You will need to wear retainers for a particular time after the treatment.
However, two significant differences come into play: the cost and duration of each brand. First, there is a vast price difference between Invisalign vs. Smile Direct. One possible reason for the price difference could be that dentists have to work through Invisalign, and you have to see your dentist frequently for check-ups, generally once a month.
Smile Direct, however, is not as involved and can be done remotely. You will still have to see your dentist, but it will typically only be once every two months.
There are differences in choices regarding which dentists or orthodontists you may use. For example, you can choose your specialist with Invisalign, but with Smile Direct, a dentist will be assigned to you.
What is the Duration of the Treatments?
The process of these treatments varies depending on your unique requirements. For example, with Smile Direct aligners, you can choose to wear the traditional trays for 22 hours a day or go with the Nighttime Aligners that need to be worn for 10 hours while you sleep.
Smile Direct is the quicker of the two treatments and can take only four to six months to work. Invisalign generally takes between 12 and 18 months to straighten your teeth; however, some people achieve their desired results after only six months.
Your dentist will need to ensure you are a suitable candidate for Invisalign. Dentists look at an array of factors, which include:
- Your medical and dental history
- The state of your teeth (if you have severe misalignment, aligners won’t work for you)
- Your age
- If you are prepared to wear the trays for an extended period
- If you will be able to attend the follow-ups appointments
If you are approved for the treatment, you will have 3D scans taken or a mold made of your teeth. Once your trays have been made according to your scan or mold, your dentist will call you to have them placed.
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Advantages of Invisalign
There are many advantages to Invisalign aligners which are as follows:
- Invisalign Treats mild to intermediate teeth and jaw conditions like your bite, spaces between the teeth, and problems with crowding.
- Treatment can achieve the desired results faster than traditional braces. However, some cases can take the same time, if not longer, than regular braces.
- You can choose which practitioner you would like to use.
- Frequent appointments allow your dentist to pick up on any errors early so they can be rectified.
- Moves teeth slower but more securely when compared to at-home straightening kits due to their secured buttons.
Disadvantages of Invisalign
Although Invisalign has so many benefits, there are some disadvantages as well:
- It is an expensive treatment
- It can’t treat severe misalignment
- Compared to Smile Direct, Invisalign is not as discreet due to its buttons.
Smile Direct Procedure
Unlike Invisalign, Smile Direct does not allow you to choose your practitioner. Instead, a dentist will be assigned to you.
Your initial appointment will occur at a SmileShop location in your area, where the dentist will take a 3D scan of your teeth to create your trays.
After that, you have the choice to conduct all your consultations remotely, which means you will need to:
- Check your account often for reminders and receive updates from your dentist on your progress.
- Schedule virtual follow-up appointments and have live chats with your dentist.
- Contact your dentist at your discretion if you have any questions or concerns.
This makes planning much easier and more convenient, making this treatment appealing.
The Advantages of Smile Direct
- More affordable compared to braces or Invisalign
- You won’t need to go out of your way to attend an appointment due to the ability of virtual appointments.
- All the information you will need at your fingertips, like articles and a guidebook.
- The duration of the treatment is shorter than other straightening treatments.
- The kit contains all the different-sized trays for the entire treatment, which is convenient.
- Aligners are much clearer when compared to Invisalign, as they don’t have buttons.
Disadvantages of Smile Direct
- Can’t correct severe misalignment
- It can only treat minor problems with spacing and misalignment
- Often harder to diagnose complications as all the follow-up appointments are remote.
- As most of the process is technically DIY, technical errors and imperfections are more common.
- Not as accurate as Invisalign, as there are no buttons to hold them securely in place.
How much do Invisalign and Smile Direct Cost?
Invisalign is much more expensive than Smile Direct and can set you back $3,000 – $9,000. The price varies depending on your location and the length of your treatment.
Smile Direct is much more cost-effective when compared to Invisalign. Another benefit is that you can pay the entire amount of $1,950 or choose a payment plan where you pay a deposit of $250 and a monthly installment of $88 per month for two years.
Smile Direct vs. Invisalign, Which is Better?
Everyone has their personal preference and must choose their brand according to their needs.
For intermediate misalignment, you will probably need to go with Invisalign or, in severe cases, braces; however, if you are on a budget and have mild misalignment, at-home straightening kits like Smile Direct work well.
Even though these aligners are clear, some professionals still do not want to wear them in public, so Smile Direct has an option of Nighttime Aligners, which you can wear in your sleep and remove before going out.
However, if you opt for the Nighttime Aligners, you need to know that they take, on average, four months longer than the traditional ones.
Additional Facts about Invisalign and Smile Direct
- Smile Direct and their Nighttime brand include complimentary teeth whitening solutions in their at-home kits, and you can also purchase these solutions separately.
- Invisalign does not include complimentary whitening; however, they do have a whitening product you can purchase.
- Both treatments accept HSA and FSA, which could be covered by dental insurance, so always check with your plan.
- Although Smile Direct is branded as an at-home kit, you can go for physical appointments at your local SmileShop, where a trained professional will see you.
When it comes to Smile Direct vs. Invisalign, they both have incredible benefits, and both provide you with clear trays for discretion. Invisalign takes longer and is more expensive but produces more accurate results and can treat intermediate misalignment. Smile Direct is cost-effective, allowing you to pay the total amount or monthly installments, which is a big plus.
However, due to them not having buttons to secure them into place, they tend to have more complications when compared to Invisalign.
Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference and budget. However, whatever treatment you choose, you will see some fantastic results.