March 30, 2021 Ann Le Is your smile one of the key things you wish you could change about your appearance? At Bunker Hill Dentistry, we understand. That’s why we’re committed to helping our patients evaluate their current dental health and decide on the best possible treatment option. One of the more common questions we are asked lately has to do with the difference between Invisalign in our office and at-home options, such as Smile Direct Club. To keep you informed on the differences between the two, we’ve put together this guide containing the most important information for making the right decision. As a dental practice whose core responsibilities include promoting oral health and preventing disease, we conclude that Invisalign offers the best orthodontic outcomes. Keep reading to learn five reasons Invisalign is better than Smile Direct Club. Quick Recap: What’s the Difference between Invisalign and Smile Direct Club? Both are orthodontic treatments to straighten teeth using clear aligners. In fact, there is little difference in the technology behind the aligners. The big difference is in how the treatments are delivered. Invisalign is a more typical treatment method involving in-office dental consultations where suitability for Invisalign is assessed and a whole treatment plan is drawn up. The dentist takes digital scans, orders the aligners and meets with the patient for regular checks to monitor progress. Smile Direct Club is an at-home solution. While patients are required to give informed consent that they have had a recent dental checkup, patients can either visit a SmileShop for a digital scan or use an at-home kit to take impressions. A remote dentist approves the treatment, sets up a treatment plan and schedules regular remote checkups to monitor progress. The absence of seeing a dentist in-person gives Invisalign several advantages over Smile Direct Club. 1. Overall Cost Perhaps one of the most common reasons why someone might consider Smile Direct Club is the overall cost. From details on their website, their systems start at around $2,000 total. But we need to unpack this for a minute. First, that’s just the starting point. This means you have to have perfect wear and not have any special complications come up that could delay your progress. If you need additional trays or other intervention, there is an added cost. In comparison, Invisalign costs start at right around $5,000. However, this generally includes the dental visit and all associated monitoring throughout the process. That means there’s no hidden surprises and your treatment plan follows the recommended course. For most people, this is the preferred method. While the initial cost – a large part of its appeal – may be in favor of Smile Direct Club, the guaranteed results of Invisalign and visiting a dentist in-person provides better overall value for the money spent. 2. Treatment Times and Convenience Treatment times are, of course, dependent on each individual case and the patient’s adherence to the treatment plan. Invisalign can treat more complex cases and, as a result, will, on average, have longer treatment times. There is one obvious advantage to Smile Direct Club. By cutting out in-person checkups with a dentist, patients will save time over the course of treatment. However, depending on your routine, you may schedule a dental appointment when you’re already out and about so the amount of time saved may be negligible. Remember also that Smile Direct Club involves remote checkups. You may not need to leave your home, but it still takes time out of your day. Lastly, regular in-office checkups are undoubtedly more thorough and can spot complications and make adjustments quickly and accurately. In the long run, this can actually mean shorter treatment times overall. 3. Dentist Supervision Smile Direct Club does not offer in-office dental supervision during the course of treatment. Instead, they rely on the patient to send in photos and updates combined with remote checkups. This is a huge disadvantage to you as a patient. While going through the orthodontic treatment, you want to make sure everything is going as smoothly as possible. If there are problems or adjustments that need to be made along the way, you have to be the one to alert Smile Direct Club’s remote dentists. On the other hand, in-office Invisalign treatment can mean that the process continues without any interruption or delay. If your dentist notices that there are any changes or unwanted developments during a normal check up, they can make it happen immediately. Essentially, this means your path to a beautiful smile is quicker, safer, and more streamlined overall. With dental supervision, you can also catch other possible issues like tooth decay or gum disease early. 4. Dental Organization Approval While Invisalign is recommended by all of the major professional dental organizations, Smile Direct Club is not. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has issued a consumer warning about all direct-to-consumer orthodontic companies. And the American Dental Association (ADA), the most trusted dental organization in the United States, strongly discourages all do-it-yourself orthodontics and has filed a complaint specifically against Smile Direct Club. The point? If the big organizations who set the guidelines for dental laws and best practices in the United States have problems with treatments like Smile Direct Club, this should at least give you a bit of pause. On the other hand, Invisalign is considered a safe and effective clear aligner treatment. The difference? It’s that dentist intervention we’ve previously discussed in this guide. Both organizations feel dental care should be supervised by a trained professional, which Smile Direct Club, and other DIY options, are lacking. 5. Complex Orthodontic Cases Finally, the biggest contrast between Invisalign and Smile Direct Club is really the overall ability to treat difficult misalignment cases. In simple terms, unless your teeth are just a little bit misaligned, you’ll probably need to visit a dentist anyway. Smile Direct Club specifically tells customers that those with extensive dental needs or a history of poor oral health should not use their aligners. Without dental supervision, these trays basically become useless in situations where additional care is necessary. With Invisalign, this is different. They’ve been around a lot longer and have products that can easily treat some of the worst misalignment cases. Furthermore, by having a trusted partner at Bunker Hill Dentistry to help select the right type of aligner for your needs, you’ll ensure that you’re getting a system that truly meets your needs. To take this a step further, if you’re spending that much money on aligners, wouldn’t you want to ensure that they work well for you? By using Invisalign over Smile Direct Club, you can rest assured that you’re getting the right fit and style for your needs. Wrap Up: Invisalign vs. Smile Direct Club While it might be somewhat tempting to go for the lower cost and added convenience of Smile Direct Club, this decision comes with a major warning. Not only is it possible that you are not a suitable candidate, but you might end up spending more time and money in the long run than if you went for Invisalign. Further, the lack of dental supervision provided by Smile Direct Club is a safety concern, so much so that it has raised alarms with two of the largest dental associations in the country. Instead, let our team at Bunker Hill Dentistry help you. We offer a whole range of Invisalign products to give you the beautiful smile you’ve always dreamed of. Please contact us today for details or to schedule an appointment. Ann LeAnn Le has been successfully managing dental practices since 1990. She is currently Practice Manager at Bunker Hill Dentistry in Houston, TX which she runs with her husband Dr. Tri M Le.