Clear aligners were first launched in 2000 by Align Technology when the company offered an alternative to traditional braces with their Invisalign product. The aim was to straighten teeth without the need for brackets and wires, but instead by using clear plastic trays otherwise known as aligners. The company has since seen huge success with its innovative solution and millions of patients have been treated with the Invisalign product.
Due to its success, it came as no surprise that alternatives appeared on the market. The biggest amongst them being Smile Direct Club, who in 2014 launched its clear aligner product. The idea was to take teeth straightening to the next level, offering patients an at-home solution. And the company even partnered with the same, Align Technology, albeit briefly, to produce some of its aligners.
As both Invisalign and Smile Direct Club aim to do the same thing, treat misaligned teeth with transparent aligners, it would be easy to assume they are very similar. However, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation, which makes it difficult for patients to make an informed choice. In fact, while on the surface, the aligners are comparable, both companies can straighten teeth discreetly. The difference comes primarily in the way that the treatment is administered.
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How do Aligners Work?
Traditional braces use brackets which are cemented onto the teeth and attached by wires to apply a gentle yet constant force on teeth. Aligners, in a similar way, use consistent pressure to move teeth. However, instead of brackets, they use a series of trays which are custom-made for each patient based on impressions. Aligners are removable in order for teeth to be cleaned and are almost invisible, offering a discreet treatment option.
Invisalign treatment steps:
- 1Visit dentist for a suitability assessment
- 2Dentist takes digital scans, custom treatment plan is created
- 3Custom aligners are made and sent to the dentist
- 4Regular in-person checks with dentist to monitor progress
Smile Direct Club treatment steps:
- 1Visit a SmileShop for an in-person scan, or
- 2Use dentist approved at-home kit to create a mould of teeth
- 3Remote suitability assessment by dentist & custom treatment approved
- 4Regular remote checks with dentist to monitor progress
Aligners offer a more comfortable and discreet alternative to conventional braces. In this respect, both Invisalign and Smile Direct Club are the same, involving a series of clear plastic trays to gently force tooth movements. However, there are some distinct differences between the two brands.
What Are The Main Differences Between
Invisalign and Smile Direct Club?
While both Invisalign and Smile Direct Club use transparent aligners trays to straighten teeth, they are not administered in the same way. There are three significant differences:
Invisalign is supervised by Australian licensed dentists and orthodontists through regular visits to the dentist. Smile Direct Club, while still using Australian registered dentists and orthodontists to supervise the treatment, the patient is never required to attend an in-person consultation. Subsequently, the progress of the treatment is supervised by a dentist remotely which suits those not wanting to visit their dentist in person.
On the Smile Direct Club website, their aligner is marketed to straighten teeth, and that is what they do. They openly inform customers that their clear aligner system is designed for minor to moderate teeth misalignment and some bite correction. While this is suitable for some cases, it doesn’t account for complex issues or severe misalignments that need resolving. Invisalign, on the other hand, works to straighten mild, moderate, and severe teeth misalignments, while also correcting issues with the bite.
The total cost of Smile Direct Club is lower than Invisalign. This can be tempting, however, further consideration is needed. With Smile Direct Club, you complete your treatment without regular in-person supervision from a dentist or orthodontist. All supervision is done remotely, which is convenient if you are happy not seeing a dentist throughout the entire treatment. But if you are apprehensive about getting your teeth straightened without any in-person supervision from a dentist, you might be more comfortable with Invisalign.
What Should You
Consider When Choosing
a Clear Aligner?
While the key differences between Invisalign and Smile Direct Club are how the treatment plan is delivered and the cost, there are other factors that should be taken into account when choosing a clear aligner:
1. Will the aligners work for your individual circumstances?
When it comes to choosing an aligner, you will need to consider your individual circumstances and the issue that needs to be solved. If your bite is incorrect or your teeth are severely misaligned, you need to be sure that your treatment, whether with Smile Direct Club or Invisalign, can treat these issues.
Smile Direct Club focuses on addressing minor to moderate teeth misalignment and some bite correction. But they do not market themselves as treating severe misalignments. A Smile Direct Club dentist will use the telehealth platform to assess your suitability for treatment and let you know whether a remote platform can treat your issues. Invisalign, on the other hand, can treat mild, moderate, and severely misaligned teeth. It can also fix overcrowding, can counter overbite, underbite, crossbite, and open bite.
There is also the issue of what happens once your teeth move. Will your bite change and, if it does, could it wear down your tooth enamel and create cavities? Ultimately, aiming to straighten your teeth, without addressing your bite, both before and after, could impact your oral health moving forward. It is therefore important to consider when choosing a clear aligner, what impact it has on both your misalignment and any bite issues. This is why an initial consultation for either treatment option is needed, so that your circumstances are accurately evaluated, and ultimately, you establish whether your teeth misalignment or bite issues can be addressed.
2. Are you comfortable having remote treatment?
While orthodontic treatment is safe, there is always the possibility that your teeth won’t move the way they should. Not only will your smile not be perfect, but this could cause problems with your jaw, gums, and teeth. That’s why treatment with both Smile Direct Club and Invisalign involves regular supervision by your treating dentist.
You should consider which type of treatment supervision works best for you. You might like the convenience of having your clear aligner treatment from the comfort of your own home with Smile Direct Club, while being able to request a check-in at any time during treatment. Alternatively, you might prefer the idea of being able to see your aligner dentist face-to-face in a dental practice and comforted in knowing that you can physically visit your dentist, at any time. Whether you choose Smile Direct Club or Invisalign, you choose a team of teeth straightening experts that will work on your smile.
3. What are the aligners made from?
The materials used for clear aligners are vital to their success. That said, there is no evidence that indicates either Smile Direct Club or Invisalign aligner material is more beneficial than the other. Therefore, we can not make any comparison between the two aligner materials. However, both brands have recently introduced new aligner technology. Below we highlight how both brand’s new aligner innovations differ from their previous aligners.
The Smile Direct Club aligners are made of BPA-free plastic that won’t irritate your cheeks and gums like traditional metal braces often do. In January 2021, Smile Direct Club introduced Comfort Sense. Comfort Sense features laser technology that precision-cuts their aligners for a smoother fit. By gradually increasing the thickness of the aligner, patients can start their treatment with lighter movements. This means, compared to their previous plastic aligners, patients now experience a more comfortable fit and their new plastic aligner is easier to follow the ‘wear-requirements’ of the treatment plan.
Invisalign recently replaced their previous single-layered EX30 plastic aligners with an innovative SmartTrack material. This came after eight years of experience and testing 260 different materials. Invisalign’s previous plastic aligner would relax and lose energy after a few short days. This ultimately made the aligner slightly less effective as it didn’t retain the constant force required to achieve the necessary tooth movements. The new SmartTrack material is a multi-layered and highly elastic material, that was specifically engineered to produce a gentle yet constant force. Compared to their previous EX30 plastic aligner, the SmartTrack material improves control of tooth movements, whilst at the same time offering a more comfortable aligner. Compared to its previous generation aligner, Invisalign’s new SmartTrack aligner fits more snugly around the teeth and is easier to put on and take off.
4. Will the aligners be painful?
The other consideration regarding material, as well as its ability to do the job, is comfort. With both Invisalign and Smile Direct Club making recent changes to their aligner technology, both aligners now claim to be more comfortable than their respective earlier generation of aligners. Again, while we have no evidence to support either aligner being more comfortable than the other, below we explain how the comfortability of both brand’s aligners is achieved.
Invisalign’s new SmartTrack aligner is more comfortable than its previous EX30 plastic aligner. That’s because, with Invisalign’s previous aligner material, it would lose some of the energy to exert the necessary forces and could start slipping. To compensate for this, the aligners could sometimes be fitted more tightly, making it slightly more painful each time a new aligner was used. And, if they become loose, they could then rub against the cheeks and gums and cause sores or further discomfort. Compared to their previous plastic aligner, Invisalign’s new SmartTrack aligners are highly elastic, conforming more accurately to tooth morphology for increased control and comfort. Each aligner is trimmed to the gum line for optimal comfort, precisely matching the shape of the teeth to minimize gum irritation.
With Smile Direct Club, due to its Comfort Sense laser technology, aligners are cut to give a smoother fit. The aligners are not trimmed around the gum line. But instead, shaped in a straight fashion across the top of the aligner in order to deliver a greater turning force. The aligner also utilises variable thickness to help gradually ease patients into treatment. As a result, compared to the Smile Direct Club’s previous plastic aligner, their new aligners allows patients to experience a more comfortable fit.
5. How fast is the treatment?
The treatment times for both Smile Direct Club and Invisalign are faster than conventional metal braces. Clear aligner treatment times are influenced by a number of factors, including your ability to adhere to the treatment guidelines, as well as the severity of your misalignment.
The average treatment times advertised by Smile Direct Club are shorter than Invisalign (between 4-6 months). Invisalign treatments are longer and can complete mild to moderate malocclusion in as little as 6 months. Ultimately, treatment times vary depending on the severity and complexity of your case and must be determined by the dentist.
In addition, in respect of how treatment times with Invisalign’s new SmartTrack technology (with weekly aligner changes) compare to treatment times using Invisalign’s earlier technology (which involved two-week wear), it is claimed on the Invisalign website “Treatment times are up to 50% faster with technological advances to the Invisalign system, including SmartTrack material. With weekly aligner changes, compared with two-week aligner wear.”
*Despite this statement on Invisalign’s website, Bexley Dental can not support the claim until further clarification is provided.
Invisalign vs Smile Direct Club
Is There a Clear Winner?
While you can certainly straighten a mild to moderate case with Smile Direct Club and some bite issues, they do not claim to correct more severe cases. Invisalign can be a great solution for both adults and teens to fix nearly all common teeth-straightening and bite issues, from simple to complex. Both Invisalign and Smile Direct Club are successful treatment methods. However, how suitable each treatment method is will depend on your individual case and your personal preferences. Only you can make the decision, but don’t go it alone. By consulting with a certified clear aligner provider, you will know exactly what you need and which treatment will be best for your long-term oral health.
Whether choosing Invisalign or Smile Direct Club, you are entrusting your oral health to a professional. The difference being, Invisalign offers in-person treatment, while Smile Direct Club offers remote treatment. Both treatments correct the cosmetics of your smile, and with Smile Direct Club, they can correct some bite issues too. With Invisalign, you can treat most bite cases as well as any severely misaligned teeth.
Ready to find out if Invisalign is right for you?
Schedule your FREE 30-minute Assessment with
During your 30-minute Assessment, Dr. Theo, Dr. Breeze or Dr. Kazzi will examine your teeth as well as take an OPG panoramic scan – (valued at $140) – we include this as part of your FREE Assessment, so he can determine if Invisalign is right for you.
Every Assessment includes:
- 30 minutes with Dr. Theo Spyrakis, Dr. John Breeze or Dr. Joseph Kazzi
- A FREE 3D Panoramic scan of your teeth and jaw - A $140 value
- And a Recommended Orthodontics Plan to get your smile back on track.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the Invisalign treatment right for?
Invisalign treatment can be the ideal solution for both adults and teens looking for a virtually invisible way to improve their smile. Due to the technological advancements of Invisalign, it’s possible to fix nearly all common teeth-straightening and bite issues, from simple to complex cases.
What is the Invisalign treatment process?
Invisalign treatment starts with an initial assessment with your dentist. The dentist will evaluate your smile and map out a precise, customised treatment plan that showcases the step-by-step transformation of your smile. You will get the chance to review the treatment plan and once you approve your plan, your unique aligners will be created. You wear each set of aligners for 22 hours a day, changing to a new set of aligners every 1 to 2 weeks, as directed by your dentist. Each aligner will gradually shift your teeth into place, according to your treatment plan, until your new smile is created.
How much does Invisalign treatment cost?
In most cases, the cost of Invisalign treatment is similar to the cost of braces. Your doctor will determine the cost of your treatment based on how complex your case is and how many aligners you need. There are several options to make Invisalign treatment more affordable for you, from using health insurance to a monthly payment plan.
Can I claim my treatment with health insurance?
Yes. Most health fund members with major dental cover may be eligible to claim a rebate for your Invisalign treatment. The type and level of cover of your individual insurance plan can affect the amount claimable, your insurance may pay for a certain percentage of your Invisalign treatment, or it may pay for a certain dollar amount.
What payment options are available for Invisalign treatment?
We offer two flexible and affordable monthly payment plans through Mifund, which allows you to make small payments through the course of your Invisalign treatment. The first option is a six-month interest-free payment plan. If the balance Isn’t paid within the six month period, interest is added to the payment plan at 13.5%. The second option is a payment plan with a 9.49% interest rate. This must be paid within 36 months. We also offer a 2-year interest-free option with Denticare. This option requires a 20% deposit and a $39 set up fee.
How long will treatment take?
Your treatment duration will depend on how much work is needed to straighten your teeth. The treatment for an adult is typically between 6 to 15 months, but this really depends on your individual case.
How often do I need to see my dentist during Invisalign treatment?
You will visit your dentist for a check-up approximately every 6-8 weeks for a check-up on how your treatment is progressing. During your check-ups, your aligners will be checked to make sure they fit correctly.
Do I get all my aligners at once?
No. You’ll be provided with enough aligners to last between visits to your dentist. Your progress will be reviewed every 6-8 weeks and new aligners are given to you at these appointments.
How long before I can start seeing results?
You will start to see results with the first few months of starting treatment.
Do I need to wear aligners all day?
For optimum results, you should wear the aligners for 22 hours a day during your treatment.
Can I smoke while wearing the aligners?
You shouldn’t smoke while wearing aligners because it’s possible they will become stained.
Will the Invisalign aligners affect my speech?
Similar to other orthodontic treatments, the Invisalign aligners may temporarily affect the speech of some people. However, any minor speech impediment caused by the aligners should disappear after a day or two.
is Invisalign treatment painful?
While Invisalign treatment may move your teeth without the same level of pain of other straightening methods, some people experience minor discomfort for a few days at the beginning of each new stage of treatment. This is normal and is typically described as sensitivity or a feeling of pressure. It’s a sign that your teeth are moving towards their final positions. This discomfort will subside after a couple of days.
To schedule your Assessment,
simply pick up the phone and call us at
(02) 9567 4151 today
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We will examine your mouth, eliminate all risk factors and assess the correct course of treatment.
Hygienist & Oral Health Therapist
Laura comes to us with a list of achievements that show just how dedicated she is to her craft.
During her training at the University of Sydney her research earned the Oral Health Faculty Research Award and the Dental Hygienists Association Award for highest achievement in clinical and academic performance.
Our promise to you:
Proudly part of Bupa, Bexley Dental is committed to providing you with the very best care in Sydney. To do this, we…
- Work with some of the best ceramists and labs in the world (which we’re lucky to have right here in town)
- Aggressively pursue our continuing education
- Invest in our patient’s comfort, from Happy Gas to Sleep Dentistry
- Continually commit to using the more advanced technology available, from 3D imaging and Panoramic
X-rays to advanced procedures like the All-on-4, that allow us to provide the very best in care to our patients
Come meet the team!