For many, the cost of braces can feel like a major hurdle to enjoying straight teeth. This causes some to go in search of cheaper alternatives, and the SmileDirectClub often shows up in these searches.
The Smile Direct Club is a mail-order alignment system that sends clear aligners directly to patients. Patients straighten their teeth using this series of aligners, without in-person visits with an orthodontist. Progress checks occur online through selfie photos, and the entire process costs a little less than Invisalign and traditional braces.
But is it a safe option? Many orthodontic professionals are warning against this process as patients come in with poor results after spending months in the aligners.
So what are the risks of this mail-order orthodontic process? Here’s an in-depth look at what you need to know before signing up for the Smile Direct Club.
SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign – Pros and Cons
SmileDirectClub sets itself up as the cheaper alternative to Invisalign. Both teeth alignment systems use clear aligners to straighten the teeth virtually invisibly using clear aligners, but it costs much less because it does not require routine in-person checks with your orthodontist. Does the benefit of lower costs outweigh the risks of not seeing your orthodontist? Here is a closer look at the pros and cons of both alignment systems.
- Offers clear aligners for improved aesthetics
- Costs significantly less than Invisalign
Unfortunately, the cons outweigh the benefits for many patients. Some of these cons include:
- Patients never meet in person with an orthodontist
- Aligners are crafted based on 3D scans or at-home impressions, increasing the risk of error
- Has no attachment to the teeth, so aligners can move around in the mouth
- An orthodontist is not able to assess the health of the supporting gum tissue and bones before starting treatment.
- An orthodontist does not assess jaw movement
- Can lead to long-term problems with the jaw and bite, such as posterior open bite.
- Smile Direct Club bite issues often show up long after the treatment is complete
Conversely, Invisalign also has pros and cons that need to be considered. On the positive sign, with Invisalign, you will enjoy:
- Tooth attachments that your dentists place on your teeth that hold the aligners in place
- Oversight from a qualified orthodontist throughout the process
- Thorough examination prior to starting the alignment system from an orthodontist
- Ability to adjust treatment based on how your mouth and teeth are responding
- Improved overall results and bite
- Retainers are made based on impressions collected by a professional
The main con with Invisalign is the cost. Invisalign is more expensive than SmileDirectClub, but in exchange for a higher cost, you receive the right oversight to ensure your teeth and bite are lining up as they should.
So what’s the bottom line when comparing the Smile Direct Club vs. Invisalign? The SmileDirectClub is the cheaper of the two options, but the list of cons is quite long. For the best results, Invisalign and the oversight of an orthodontist are preferred.
How the SmileDirectClub Works
The heavily advertised SmileDirectClub allows patients to use a clear alignment system virtually on their own. The process starts with a visit to the SmileDirectClub SmileShop store, where staff captures 3D images of the patient’s teeth. Alternately, some patterns use at-home molds to capture impressions of their teeth.
A team of orthodontists analyzes these impressions or images and creates a series of aligners for the patient. The patient receives the aligners and instructions in the mail and wears them as instructed to straighten their teeth for four to 14 months.
Throughout the process, the patient will check in with the SmileDirectClub doctors virtually every 90 days, sending in photos of the progress of the teeth. Adjustments may be made if needed after these regular checks, but the patient never steps foot in the orthodontist’s office.
While this may seem like the perfect solution, there are some serious Smile Direct Club problems that you must know about before you choose this option. Here is a closer look at what you may be losing by choosing this “easier” route to straight teeth.
SmileDirectClub Vs. Braces
While the SmileDirectClub is most similar to Invisalign, it is also being advertised as an alternative to braces. Comparing SmileDirectClub vs. braces is important when deciding whether or not this treatment is the right one for your need.
Does the SmileDirectClub have benefits over braces? It is a cheaper option than traditional braces, and, similar to Invisalign, it is more aesthetically pleasing. But these pros must be weighed against the cons.
Cons of SmileDirectClub vs. Braces
These SmileDirectClub cons are what make it a less appealing option compared to braces. First, the SmileDirectClub provides no in-person doctor supervision. The only doctor oversight comes through selfie-style photos you take of your teeth and mouth for a team of doctors to analyze. This does not give the orthodontist the opportunity to inspect your bite and ensure everything is lining up properly.
Second, this lack of doctor oversight leads to potential Smile Direct Club problems. The goal of orthodontic work is to have a beautiful smile and a properly aligned bite. Without oversight, the smile may look good from the front, but the bite could have serious issues. Smile Direct Club bite problems can lead to jaw problems, uneven wear on the teeth, and even wear on the teeth enamel!
Not only that, but it also could end up costing you more than traditional braces. When you have bite problems, enamel problems, and jaw problems, you may need additional orthodontic work or dental work to correct these problems. This, then, increases your long-term costs significantly. This problem could be avoided altogether by opting for traditional braces.
Finally, it is only an option for mild alignment issues. If you have seriously crooked teeth or a severe bite problem, traditional braces are the only option to safely fix your issue. Those who try to fix their issues with an at-home alignment system can have lifelong repercussions.
Benefits of Traditional Braces over SmileDirectClub
So what sets braces apart from the SmileDirectClub? When you have traditional braces, you visit the orthodontist regularly to have the devices adjusted as your teeth move. At every visit, the orthodontist inspects how your teeth are moving, making adjustments as needed to ensure the final results are exactly what you need.
Additionally, when you invest in your health through traditional braces, you enjoy several benefits, including:
- Ability to address complex orthodontic issues
- A variety of options for aesthetics, including fashionable color braces style for girls, trendy colors for boys, and clear braces options
- Ability to make adjustments to the treatment plan as it progresses
- The better overall final result
- Less risk of the need for additional orthodontic work
The Bottom Line
So what’s the bottom line about SmileDirectClub vs. braces? Traditional braces may cost more than the SmileDirectClub, but they are an investment in your health for the future. If you want to be certain that your teeth, jaw, and bite are properly aligned, you need the oversight of an orthodontist, and sometimes traditional braces are the right solution.
Is the Smile Direct Club a Safe Option?
When it comes to orthodontics, the cost is always a consideration. When patients see a 70 percent savings on billboards and other ads, they often find themselves wondering why they shouldn’t try the cheaper option.
It may work for some people, especially those with minor corrections, but the fact remains that it is not a safe option. In fact, the company behind SmileDirectClub has faced several lawsuits and investigations, as orthodontic professionals have worked hard to protect patients from its dangers.
First, in 2015 a group brought a lawsuit against SmileCareClub, the predecessor of SmileDirectClub, claiming that the company’s process lacked important oversight and eliminated the critical role of the doctor in treatment. Though this case was eventually dropped, it was the first in a long list of lawsuits against the company.
By 2017, the American Association of Orthodontists had lodged complaints in 36 states, claiming the at-home alignment process was “illegal” and “created medical risks.” That year, California and West Virginia’s state dental boards opened investigations into the company.
Another lawsuit in January 2019 claimed Smile Direct Club used unlawful and dishonest practices when prescribing aligners. Then more recently in September of 2019, a group of orthodontists and a consumer filed class-action suits claiming damages to the orthodontists’ businesses as well as damages for fraudulent and deceptive sales and marketing practices against the consumer.
Clearly, orthodontists do not feel that the SmileDirectClub is a safe, valid option for patients. While it may help some, many are left with serious bite and alignment problems due to the lack of professional oversight during the alignment process.
In addition to these lawsuits, it has many complaints on the Better Business Bureau for poor customer service, including aligners that are lost in the mail, aligners that do not fit properly, and defective products that were not replaced as promised.
Clearly, it has risks, and patients must understand those risks before choosing this option to straighten their teeth.
Cost of SmileDirectClub Vs. Invisalign
The main reason people choose SmileDirectClub vs. Invisalign is cost. Here is a breakdown of the differences in cost between SmileDirectClub and Invisalign:
- Average Cost of Invisalign in Houston — $4,300 to $7,400
- Average Cost of SmileDirectClub — $1,850
Making this decision based on cost alone is never a wise choice. Your health, including your oral health, is an investment worth making. Trusting the SmileDirectClub with your teeth and their alignment could set you up for serious problems in the future.
Cost of SmileDirectClub Vs. Braces
If you are weighing the cost of traditional braces over the SmileDirectClub, cost is, once again, a factor you will look at. Many factors impact the cost of traditional braces. The severity of your orthodontic problems and the length of time you need braces will affect their cost, for example. For the most accurate cost prediction, reach out for a free, no-obligation orthodontics consultation.
Though each patient will have a different quote, the average cost of braces in Houston compared to the cost of the SmileDirectClub is as follows:
- Average Cost of Metal Braces in Houston — $2,500 to $5,000
- Average Cost of Ceramic (Clear) Braces in Houston — $3,000 to $5,500
- Average Cost of SmileDirectClub — $1,850 plus
In many cases, your insurance may cover these costs.
Again, as you consider this cost comparison, remember that you are investing in your health, both now and in the future, when you choose braces. Making a safer choice is the best investment. For the most accurate cost for your braces, reach out for a free, no-obligation orthodontics consultation.
Schedule an Orthodontic Consultation in Houston, Texas Today
Are you looking for the best place to get braces in Houston Texas? Zara Dental is ready to help. Our friendly team of orthodontics professionals will take the time to thoroughly research your orthodontic concerns, and direct you to the best products for your needs. We offer a variety of options, including clear braces, kids braces, and adult braces, to meet both your orthodontic goals and your aesthetic goals.
Have you been wondering where to get Invisalign in Houston Texas? We offer this service as well. If you need a virtually invisible orthodontic system and want to ensure that it is as safe and effective as possible, schedule a consultation to discuss Invisalign with the Zara Dental team.
At Zara Dental, your oral health is our top priority. We want you to have a dazzling, confident smile, along with an accurate bite and proper jaw alignment. Whether you choose Invisalign or braces, we offer affordable treatments with proper oversight every step of the way. We are open seven days a week, with evening appointments available. Our team gladly welcomes insurance, including Medicaid and Texas Chip. Contact our team today at 713-766-1122 to schedule your complimentary dental consultation, and see what makes Zara Dental the right choice for your orthodontic needs.