Smile Direct Club Vs Invisalign with a Dentist

Let me guess…you want straight teeth, right? But you also want treatment to be quick and cheap. I don’t blame you for shopping around trying to find the best deal, because straightening teeth with a dentist can be quite expensive. But you know what’s even more expensive? Trying to straighten your teeth at-home with Smile Direct Club first, and then realizing that they messed it up, which forces you to go back to a dentist or orthodontist. Unfortunately, this results in you paying twice for something that could have been done properly and safely by a dentist the first time around. Thus, today we will discuss the differences between the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) clear aligners with Smile Direct Club vs getting Invisalign with a dentist.

DIY clear aligners are often found at shopping malls or online. Smile Direct Club is one of the more popular DIY clear aligner companies. They commonly market their aligners to be “cheaper” and “faster” than the aligners used by dentists. This all sounds too good to be true! But you may be wondering if Smile Direct Club is a safe and trusted option? Well, the simple answer is NO. But let’s dig a little deeper, and compare getting clear aligners with Smile Direct Club vs Invisalign with an orthodontist.

1. Orthodontists Have Years of Extra Training

orthodontists check xrays and treatment plan according

Dentists and orthodontists have gained years of extra training to become experts in their fields. More specifically, to become an orthodontist, it can generally take an additional 10 YEARS of tertiary education, comprising of an undergraduate degree, dental degree, and residency specialising in orthodontics. It’s a specialisation which takes a decade to master because everyone’s teeth and jaws are so unique, thus, many factors need to be taken into account for treatment to be successful. Unfortunately, with Smile Direct Club, a lot of patients are promised that they will have direct contact with their treating doctor, but when the time comes, these mysterious “treating doctors” are nowhere to be found. Click here to watch a video of multiple Smile Direct Club patients attempting to connect to their “treating doctor”, but have zero success. This is a major concern from a patient’s perspective.

2. What Can go Wrong with Smile Direct Club Aligners?

Straightening smiles deals with more than just the cosmetic look of the teeth – it deals with the jaw, the bones and the gums. Therefore, if treatment is performed without in-person supervision, it can cause irreversible damage. Such damage may include bone loss, gum recession, malocclusions, jaw joint dysfunction, and so much more.

However, when it comes to Smile Direct Club vs Invisalign with a dentist, the biggest disadvantage of Smile Direct Club is that they ONLY straighten your TEETH, not your BITE! These two things need to be corrected individually so the patient can have a straight smile but ALSO have the ability to chew properly. In this NBC News article, patients have claimed that clear aligners from Smile Direct Club have caused crossbites, jaw muscle pain, and severe migraines. I have personally met patients who CANNOT touch their top and bottom teeth together after getting DIY clear aligners from online companies. After completing treatment with Smile Direct Club, some patients notice that their teeth were straight, but unfortunately, the top and bottom teeth were no longer touching. This is what we call an open bite (shown in the photo below).

Smile Direct Club aligners cause an anterior open bite
Smile Direct Club aligners may cause an anterior open bite.

3. Dentists and Orthodontists Take a Holistic Approach, Whereas Smile Direct Club Only Focuses on Your Teeth

As previously discussed, dentists and orthodontists treat patients holistically, which means they take the patient’s jaws, bone levels, gums, lips, face & medical history all into account before starting treatment. Whereas Smile Direct Club just focuses on your teeth, simply because they don’t have the tools to help you improve anything but your teeth. But, the truth is, the teeth, the jaws, the bone, and the gums all need to be treated TOGETHER for the safest results. You cannot just focus on your teeth, and risk compromising the health of the other parts of your mouth & face. Therefore, frequent in-person monitoring by a dentist or orthodontist is important to ensure a safe and beautiful result.

Orthodontists treatment plan after examining your teeth, your xrays, your jaws, your lips, your face and your medical history.

Important Take-Home Messages

  1. Yes, Smile Direct Club and other online DIY clear aligners are cheaper and promise to give you straight teeth faster. But remember, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
  2. Straightening teeth with clear aligners has RISKS involved. Fortunately, the risks are better understood and managed by orthodontists rather than mysterious “treating doctors” that Smile Direct Club has hired, who cannot be contacted over the phone.
  3. Remember, you only get 1 set of adult teeth, so please don’t take the risk of losing them just to save a few dollars. Replacing them or fixing them will cost you a lot more in the long run.
  4. Moreover, if you’re interested in learning why braces and clear aligners (Invisalign) take longer with a dentist or orthodontist, click here.

Written by: Dr. Sanya Arora (Dentist) & Dr. Stephanie Colaiacovo (Orthodontist)

After gaining more information, who would you trust with your health? A Mysterious “Treating Doctor” with Smile Direct Club or Invisalign with a trained Orthodontist who will monitor your case thoroughly with in-person examinations?


[1] Alani, A., & Kelleher, M. (2016). Restorative complications of orthodontic treatment. British dental journal221(7), 389.

[2] Chambers, D. W., & Zitterkopf, J. G. (2019). How people make decisions about whether or not to seek orthodontic care: Upstream in the treatment chain. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics155(6), 826-831.

[3] Gebistorf, M., Mijuskovic, M., Pandis, N., Fudalej, P. S., & Katsaros, C. (2018). Gingival recession in orthodontic patients 10 to 15 years posttreatment: A retrospective cohort study. American journal of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics153(5), 645-655.

[4] Morris, J. W., Campbell, P. M., Tadlock, L. P., Boley, J., & Buschang, P. H. (2017). Prevalence of gingival recession after orthodontic tooth movements. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics151(5), 851-859.

[5] New York Post. 2019. At-Home Invisible Teeth Aligners Could Come Back To Bite You. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 06 June 2020].

[6] Weir, T. (2017). Clear aligners in orthodontic treatment. Australian dental journal62, 58-62.

Sanya Arora

Hi, I'm Sanya, a cosmetic dentist. I am passionate about chocolate and red wine, but I'm also passionate about maintaining a nice, healthy smile! This is a common dilemma I saw amongst my patients, which led to the creation of The Dental Pen blog. Hopefully, my articles will help you maintain your pearly white teeth while you enjoy all the sweet treats life has to offer. Some of my other hobbies include volunteering, singing and dancing.

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Smile Direct Club Vs Invisalign with a Dentist
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