Candid Vs Smile Direct Club and SmileLove

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Author: Alicia Butler

Clear aligners have completely disrupted the teeth straightening industry. Gone are the days of clunky braces and uncomfortable aligners. These days, you can get a sweet smile without all the suffering.

Three direct-to-consumer clear aligner companies dominate the market: Candid, Smile Direct Club, and SmileLove. But which clear aligners are best? Find out the companies offering the best products and prices. 

What Are Clear Aligners?

Clear aligners are an alternative to traditional teeth-straightening methods, such as braces. 

There are two types of clear aligners: all-day clear aligners and nighttime aligners.

Depending on your preference, you can either wear aligners all day long (usually about 12 hours a day) or for about 10 hours at night. 

Some people like to wear the aligners at night so they don’t need to worry about them during waking hours. Others find nighttime aligners uncomfortable and prefer to wear them during the day. Aligners must also be removed during meals. 

Your orthodontist may also recommend wearing either all-day or nighttime aligners, depending on your straightening goals. 

How to Wear All-Day Aligners

All-day aligners are very similar to braces in that they straighten teeth slowly over time, encouraging them to an aligned position.

Just as if you were going to an in-person orthodontist, you’d need to get a mold taken of your teeth to help determine a straightening plan. 

Simply get fitted for your aligners and wear them for the suggested amount of time per day. Wear your aligners for the number of months prescribed by your orthodontist, and your teeth should be straight in a few weeks to months. 

How to Wear Nighttime Aligners

Nighttime aligners are fitted the same way as daytime ones — with a mold of your teeth. Simply wear them for the prescribed amount of time at night, and your teeth will be straighter in a few weeks to months.


Clear Aligners Vs Braces

Clear aligners work similarly to braces in that they straighten teeth slowly over time. Yet, most patients opt for clear aligners over braces because they are more comfortable than traditional braces (and also less intrusive). 

You can take them out before eating meals and brushing your teeth, making eating and brushing much easier. Since you can remove clear aligners, you don’t need to avoid hard foods that could damage braces.

Braces are also often more cumbersome than clear aligners. Since most braces are made of metal, they’re more likely to irritate gums and other soft tissue in the mouth. 

Clear aligners can also be ordered by mail through some companies and are less expensive than traditional braces.

Clear Aligners Pros

  • Can be removed before meals
  • Only need to be worn for up to 12 hours a day
  • Get fitted for aligners right at home
  • Less expensive than most traditional braces
  • Choose daytime or nighttime aligners
  • Clear aligners are often more attractive than metal or plastic braces

Clear Aligners Cons

The one main downside to clear aligners is that some patients aren’t eligible for them. If your teeth are too crooked or need more severe straightening, you may need to get metal braces (for at least part of your treatment).

Braces Pros

The main benefit of braces is that nearly everyone is a candidate for this teeth-straightening technique. 

Braces Cons

  • Can’t be removed and must be worn for several months to several years
  • Are traditionally uncomfortable
  • Aren’t as ‘attractive’ as clear aligners
  • Often cut soft tissue in the mouth
  • More expensive than most clear aligners

Clear Aligners Vs Invisalign 

Invisalign was one of the first companies to design a clear aligner that could be removed for meals (and for up to several hours a day!). When Invisalign first hit the market in 1998, it was only available through orthodontists.

The biggest downside to Invisalign was that it was just as expensive as traditional braces, and you still needed to schlep to an orthodontist’s office to get fitted for these aligners.

So what’s the difference between clear aligners and Invisalign? Technically, not much. 

Invisalign is a form of clear aligners. They are traditionally more expensive than most clear aligners and you still need to head to an orthodontist for fittings.

Most clear aligners are available online through a virtual fitting and cost a fraction of what Invisalign costs. 

Invisalign’s three largest direct-to-consumer competitors are SmileLove, Candid, and Smile Direct Club.

All three companies offer less expensive clear aligners that are shipped directly to your home. You can head into a local clinic to get fitted or order a self-fitting kit (often for an additional cost). 

Top Clear Aligners

The top companies that currently offer direct-to-consumer clear aligners and nighttime aligners are Candid, Smile Direct Club, and SmileLove. The good news is that these three products are very similar, and the differences are quite nuanced. 

Candid

Founded in 2017, Candid is one of the top direct-to-consumer clear aligner companies. Currently, Candid’s aligners are the most expensive of any of the companies on this list (by only $5), but you can also get deals that help drive down the price of the services and aligners.

Head to one of Candid’s studios to get fitted for your aligners for free, or order the at-home mold (cost is currently $99, though we usually partner with the company to offer discounts). 

Payment plans start at $88 a month. The average treatment time is around 6 months for daytime aligners.

Why Go With Candid

If you’re opting for the at-home mold kit, you can book a virtual session with one of Candid’s doctors to ensure you understand the process. 

Candid will also send your milestone aligners to you all at the same time. (Milestone aligners are different sets of aligners to use as your teeth change and straighten.) This saves time and ensures there won’t be any delays down the line.

The company is also a supporter of Smile Train, a non-profit that helps children get free cleft palate treatments; $25 from each aligner kit gets donated to this non-profit with every purchase. 

Candid’s main benefits include:

  • Free in-clinic fitting
  • Get all aligners at one time
  • $25 is donated to Smile Train with every kit purchase
  • Free teeth whitening included

Smile Direct Club

Founded in 2014, another one of the OGs of the clear aligner world is Smile Direct Club. Head to one of Smile Direct’s studios to get fitted for your aligners for free, or order the at-home mold (cost is currently $49, though we usually partner with the company to offer discounts). 

Payment plans start at $85 a month. Post-aligner retainers cost $99. The average treatment time is around 6 months for daytime aligners and 10 months for nighttime aligners. 

Why Go With Smile Direct Club

Smile Direct Club is one of the few companies that offers the choice between daytime and nighttime aligners (though treatment times do vary between the two).

Many patients opt for the daytime aligners because the company offers one of the most transparent aligners on the market. You can also choose to get the teeth of just one jaw treated (instead of both).

You also get free LED teeth whitening with every purchase.

Smile Direct Club’s main benefits include:

  • Free in-clinic fitting
  • One of the most transparent aligners available
  • Get top and bottom jaw, or just one jaw treated
  • Free teeth whitening included

SmileLove

SmileLove was founded in 2017 in Salt Lake City, UT, where its one and only in-person fitting clinic is located.

One of the best parts of SmileLove is that this company provides a fitting kit and post-treatment retainers in the total price. 

You also get a free preview of the result of your teeth straightening to show you what your final smile should look like. Don’t like the results? Get a full refund!

Payment plans start at $66 a month. The average treatment time is around 6 months for daytime aligners.

Why Go With SmileLove

SmileLove is definitely the least expensive option on this list. We love the all-in-one treatment package included with every purchase that includes aligners, case, cleaning spray, chapstick, retainers, and teeth whitening. 

Smile Love’s main benefits include:

  • All-in-one treatment package 
  • Free fitting kit
  • No extra charge for retainers
  • Free teeth whitening included

Candid Vs Smile Direct Club and SmileLove

These three companies that specialize in invisible aligners offer similar products all at low price points. The difference in services is pretty nuanced, so which one is best? 

Let’s take a look at how these three companies stack up against each other.


Candid Vs Smile Direct Club

Both Candid and Smile Direct Club have been around for a few years, and we’re confident that they’ll be around for a while. Both companies offer low-cost aligners, fittings, and retainers.

Smile Direct is known for its ultra-invisible aligners, so we’d recommend this company if you’re concerned about noticeable aligners. Candid’s prices are also a little higher than Smile Direct’s (by about $5), so you may want to take cost into consideration.

Despite the higher cost, Candid does donate $25 of the fitting kit price to a good cause; while, Smile Direct often offers discounts on the price of fitting kits, bringing its cost down even lower.

Both studios hire orthodontists to review each fitting. 

Candid Pricing

Aligners: $1900 (discounts available)

Fitting: Free in-studio or $95 at-home kit

Retainer: $99

Smile Direct Club Pricing

Aligners: $1895 (discounts available)

Fitting: Free in-studio or $49 at-home kit (discounts available)

Retainer: $99

Smile Direct Club Vs SmileLove

When it comes to experience, both clear aligners direct-to-consumer companies offer similar products. Yet, Smile Direct Club has been around for a few more years than SmileLove.

Smile Direct is known for its ultra-clear aligners, so you may want to take that into consideration if you’re worried about noticeable aligners.

Yet the biggest benefit SmileLove has over Smile Direct is its pricing. While both companies charge the same amount for aligners, SmileLove offers a free retainer with each purchase and doesn’t charge for at-home fittings. 

This is super beneficial during COVID-19 if you don’t want to unnecessarily run into a clinic and get fitted for aligners.

Both studios hire orthodontists to review each fitting. 

SmileLove Pricing

Aligners: $1895 

Fitting: Free in-studio or at-home kit

Retainer: $0

Smile Direct Club Pricing

Aligners: $1895 (discounts available)

Fitting: Free in-studio or $49 at-home kit (discounts available)

Retainer: $99

SmileLove Vs Candid

Between SmileLove and Candid, there’s not too much of a difference in service offerings. Both provide free teeth whitening with each purchase of clear aligners, and both offer only daytime clear aligners.

The biggest difference between these two companies is the price each one charges for aligners.

Candid charges $5 more for the entire aligner program, but it also charges extra for post-treatment retainers and for the at-home fitting.

All in all, you could end up spending $150 extra for the fitting and aligners. The good thing about Candid is that it donated about half the cost of the fitting to a non-profit organization that helps kids get cleft palate surgery. 

Both studios hire orthodontists to review each fitting. 

SmileLove Pricing

Aligners: $1895 

Fitting: Free in-studio or at-home kit

Retainer: $0

Candid Pricing

Aligners: $1900(discounts available)

Fitting: Free in-studio or $95 at-home kit

Retainer: $99

Candid Vs Smile Direct Club and SmileLove: What We Think

We love it when every company on a comparison list offers a great product at a cost-effective price. The differences between these three companies are extremely nuanced, and all three companies offer very similar services.

When it comes to price, we can’t help but recommend SmileLove for offering free retainers and free fitting kits. 

Candid’s commitment to helping children around the world get free cleft palate surgery is definitely commendable, and we love how this company sends all milestone aligners at the same time.

Smile Direct has the clearest aligners on the market right now — which is why you’re interested in clear aligners in the first place. And while this company doesn’t boast the lowest prices on this list, it does offer plenty of discounts. 

Alicia Butler

Since 2011 Alicia has worked as a travel, health, and wellness writer & editor contributing to widely read digital publications such as The Spruce, The Balance and The Spruce Pets, VeryWell, and TripSavvy. Alicia is a marketing expert, entrepreneur, and avid traveler!