Best Invisible Braces in 2021
Invisible braces are orthodontic devices that are a transparent, plastic form of dental braces used to adjust and straighten teeth. Compare these invisible braces companies in pricing, reviews, and treatment process so you can choose the best teeth straightening for you.
The Best Invisible Braces on the Market Today
- Editor’s pick: Byte
- Best for expert care: Candid
- Best name recognition: SmileDirectClub
- Best for in-person treatment: Invisalign
- Best value: AlignerCo
Your pearly whites are the first thing people notice when you smile. But if you’re feeling less than confident about the appearance of your teeth, you might be wondering if invisible braces, also called clear aligners, are suitable for you.
Invisible braces straighten misaligned teeth with custom-made aligners that you wear for a specified period. Depending on the brand and your treatment plan, you can expect to wear teeth aligners anywhere from 3 to 18 months. This is generally a shorter treatment period than with traditional braces, which is a significant advantage, according to a systematic review published in BMC Oral Health in 2019.
Straighter teeth and a better, more comfortable smile are a top priority for many people. But finding the right product to fit your budget, needs, and lifestyle can feel overwhelming. That’s why we did the tedious work for you by reviewing brands and comparing costs, treatment processes, convenience, and treatment times. Perhaps most importantly, though, we spent hours consulting with experts in the field to truly understand what the companies offer and what outcome you can expect with clear aligner treatment.
We also considered customer support, money-back and lifetime guarantees, added perks like teeth whitening kits, and online reviews. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know before buying clear aligners, plus our top picks for invisible braces.
Why You Can Trust Our Expert Review
|Hours of research||Experts consulted||Brands considered||Brands selected|
Our experts independently research and recommend products we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We’ve spent collectively more than 3,200 hours conducting in-depth research on invisible braces. Throughout this process, we did the following:
- Engaged in ongoing independent research
- Consulted with dentists and orthodontists
- Mystery shopped the brands
- Surveyed invisible-braces users
- Became customers of invisible-braces companies
- Interviewed experts in the field
- Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports
What You Should Consider When Buying Invisible Braces
Invisible braces are a major purchase. Before deciding on which teeth aligner brand will work for you, talk to your dentist or orthodontist about recommendations to make sure you’re doing everything possible to care for your teeth.
Kalasho, along with many other dentists and orthodontists we consulted, says she does not recommend teeth straightening without the direct supervision and clinical guidance of a board-certified dentist or orthodontist.
“With braces, you are moving your teeth in bone and tissue, and for some patients, some teeth are unable to be moved, which can only be determined after taking an X-ray,” explains Kalasho. “Others may have large cavities or advanced gum disease that cannot be seen without a dental exam. When clear aligners are moving the teeth, problems can occur, such as decaying or broken teeth, irritated gums, and an open bite.”
Here are a few boxes to check to make sure you have the best invisible braces for you:
- Dentist- or orthodontist-led evaluation and treatment
- Access to support during the initial consultation, at-home impression process, and treatment
- Positive customer reviews from multiple online sources
- First-rate customer service
- Cost that is comparable to competitor prices
- Product or money-back guarantee
- Simple process to follow
Editor’s Pick: Byte
Price: $1,895 to $2,295
When it comes to winning in all categories, Byte takes the prize — and for good reasons. Not only does it provide excellent customer care, access to experts, and a lifetime guarantee, but it also offers the quickest path to straighter teeth.
An at-home teeth straightening kit, Byte promises results in three months using HyperByte, a vibration-based therapy. When used five minutes a day, HyperByte can reduce discomfort and cut treatment time in half compared to other teeth aligners.
Byte offers an all-day or all-night plan. The Byte All-Day Aligners with HyperByte is the quickest and most popular choice, but it requires 22 hours of continuous daytime and nighttime wear. If you’re hesitant about daytime use, consider the premium aligner system you use while sleeping.
The Byte At-Night Aligners are designed for 10-plus hours of continuous nighttime wear. You can put them in while winding down for bed and leave them in until the morning. It takes about five to six months to see results from nighttime aligners.
The company also features a method called Smile Science, which uses computer technology to design a smile that fits the proportions of your face.
You’ll need to purchase and complete an at-home impression kit and then return it to Byte for expert analysis. Within four to six weeks of starting this process, you should receive your clear aligners and custom treatment plan. Once you complete the treatment, you will only need to wear a retainer to keep your teeth in place. Byte works best for minor to moderate alignment.
Out of 960 reviews on Trustpilot, a customer reviews website, Byte received a 4.8 out of 5 star rating. BestCompany, another online consumer review site, also lists Byte with an overall score of 4.8 out of 5 stars based on close to 4,000 reviews.
- It delivers the quickest results of all clear aligners.
- You aren’t required to have dentist or orthodontist office visits.
- The clear aligners are made of BPA-free, medical-grade polymer film.
- It comes with a 3-D visualization of your current smile and what it will look like after Byte.
- Discounts are available for college students, military, and first responders.
- You have orthodontist-directed treatment.
- You can use a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to help cover the cost.
- Byte offers a daytime and nighttime-only plan.
- The first retainer is free.
- Byte comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- You have access to the Byte expert dental network seven days a week.
- Byte requires an upfront $95 fee for the impression kit. But if the company’s representatives determine you’re not a good fit for Byte, they will refund your money.
- Byte teeth aligners are intended only for mild or moderate alignment issues.
- The monthly payment plan has high financing fees that significantly increase the overall price.
Best for Expert Care: Candid
Candid is the best for expert care for a few key reasons. Most importantly, Candid is the only teeth aligner company to guarantee orthodontist-only expert care. Other companies rely on dentists, a combination of dentists and orthodontists, or a group of dental professionals whose expertise and qualifications are unclear.
Candid, however, offers each customer ongoing consultation with an orthodontist throughout the entire course of treatment. You can even get answers to your questions from an orthodontist over a live chat that’s available seven days a week. Furthermore, the company’s technology equips doctors to diagnose more than 150 dental problems, addressing all aspects of your oral health, not just your front teeth.
After hundreds of hours of research and consultation with experts in the field, we feel confident that Candid offers the best expert care in at-home aligners. Most invisible braces companies can achieve adjustments to your front six teeth. With the expertise of orthodontists, Candid can manage more complex cases with great success. Candid guarantees its experts will keep going with your treatment until you get the ideal outcome, and that’s the kind of commitment you need when undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Here’s how it works: Candid is an at-home plan with remote monitoring, and the process begins with a starter kit. You’ll take photos and impressions of your teeth, then send them back to the company.
An orthodontist will evaluate the kit, determine if you’re a good candidate, develop a treatment plan, and send you a 3-D preview. You can also complete the initial steps in-person at one of the Candid studios.
You can plan on wearing Candid clear aligners for six months, on average, and change aligners about every two weeks. You’ll take scans of your teeth every 10 to 14 days using the Candid smartphone app, through which the orthodontist is able to review them. (This means your orthodontist is monitoring your progress at least twice a month, which is closer management than you’d get with an in-person orthodontic provider,)
It takes about six months to see the full results from Candid invisible braces, followed by regular use of a Candid retainer. You’ll also receive free hydrogen peroxide–based teeth whitening foam to use alone or with the clear aligners.
Candid averages 4.3 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, based on 18 reviews. BestCompany ranks Candid at 4.8 out of 5 stars based on 878 user reviews.
- Support is available seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- You have a money-back guarantee on the starter kit if a representative determines you’re not a good candidate.
- The company offers remote monitoring by an orthodontist.
- You receive a 3-D preview of your treatment plan.
- The product contains a teeth whitening kit.
- There are Candid studios in select cities.
- You have access to in-network benefits with some insurance companies.
- A teen-specific treatment program is available.
- Clear aligners are made from a premium thermoplastic and are BPA and phthalate free.
- You can use an FSA or HSA to help cover the cost.
- Expect to pay extra for a retainer.
- Treatment does not address severe issues.
- The payment plan option requires a credit check.
- Candid is more expensive than some other brands.
Best Name Recognition: SmileDirectClub
With SmileDirectClub, you have the option of visiting a SmileShop for a free 3-D image, visiting a dentist that’s part of the SmileDirectClub partner network, or you can pay $59 for the remote impression kit. All methods rely on a licensed dental professional to determine if you’re a good candidate and design and monitor your custom treatment plan.
SmileDirectClub offers a daytime and nighttime clear aligner plan. Both programs are appropriate for mild to moderate crowding. The typical treatment duration is four to six months, and the SmileDirectClub cost is comparable to other moderately priced invisible braces.
Support from a dental team is available via text, video chat, e-mail, or phone 24/7, 365 days a year. You’ll do face-to-face virtual Smile Check-ins with the dental professional assigned to your plan.
SmileDirectClub reviews are mixed. Trustpilot reviewers place SmileDirectClub in the excellent category with 4.8 out of 5 stars. But the Better Business Bureau reports 2,700 complaints have been filed against the company. With such a wide range of SmileDirectClub reviews, it’s worth your time to research both the pros and cons.
- The company offers both a daytime- and nighttime-only plan.
- Service is available at home, at a SmileShop, or with a partner network dentist.
- A free 3-D scan is available at a SmileShop location.
- You get a free teeth whitening kit with your purchase.
- The Lifetime Smile Guarantee includes one aligner touch-up per year.
- A full refund is available within 30 days of receiving your aligners (based on eligibility).
- The company offers financing options.
- Insurance may cover part of the costs of clear aligners. SmileDirectClub helps coordinate payment directly with the insurance company.
- You can use an FSA, HSA, or CareCredit to help cover costs.
- It only works with mild to moderate orthodontic issues.
- The retainers cost extra.
- SmileDirectClub reviews are mixed with some specific safety concerns.
- Patients frequently report on customer review forums that customer service is difficult to reach.
Best for In-Person Treatment: Invisalign
If a do-it-yourself treatment plan lacks the complexity needed for your orthodontic issues, Invisalign might be the best option for you. With Invisalign, you’ll receive treatment through a dentist or orthodontist’s office, and in-person checkups are required throughout the program. While that may sound less convenient than an at-home teeth straightening kit, the extra treatment might be necessary if you need major corrections or have complex dental problems.
Office visits will be necessary every four to six weeks, which means you’ll pay more for this service. In fact, the Invisalign cost is often double to triple that of its competitors. And with a 12 to 18 month average treatment time, it does take longer to see results. That said, receiving in-person feedback and treatment from a dentist or orthodontist can improve your experience.
Plus, the addition of SmartForce attachments — the small buttons placed on your teeth with dental bonding glue — makes complex tooth movements possible, resulting in better outcomes when treating severe misalignment and complicated orthodontic issues.
Invisalign clear aligners must be worn 20 to 22 hours a day, and new aligners are swapped out for the old ones every one to two weeks. Once your treatment is complete, you may need to wear a retainer.
Invisalign does not have as many online reviews as the other invisible braces included in this roundup. The brand earned 4.4 out of 5 stars from Best Company based on 117 user reviews.
- In-person visits allow you to ask questions or share concerns.
- You get custom treatment based on a 3-D digital scan of your teeth.
- Clear aligners are FDA approved and contain no BPA, BPS, latex, or gluten.
- You can use an FSA or HSA to help cover the cost. Insurance may cover some of the costs.
- Some dental and orthodontic offices offer financing through LendingPoint, a third-party financing program.
- The company offers an Invisalign First program for growing children.
- You have the option to add mandibular advancement, which can fix class II malocclusions (overbites) in adolescents and teens.
- It’s not as convenient as other at-home options.
- You have a higher cost for treatment.
- Treatment time is often longer than with other brands.
- You need to stick to an appointment schedule to see adequate progress.
Best Value: AlignerCo
Budget-friendly options are always worth considering when making a significant purchase. AlignerCo, an at-home invisible braces system, offers teeth aligners at a fraction of the cost of competition.
After completing the initial impression-taking process, you’ll receive a custom treatment plan designed by a dentist or orthodontist. Your order will also include the clear aligners that you must wear 20 to 22 hours a day. Treatment with AlignerCo invisible braces takes about 6 to 11 months. However, it’s most commonly used for mild to moderate spacing, misalignment, or teeth crowding.
If you’d prefer not to wear aligners during the day, the NightOnly Clear Aligner plan requires that you wear the aligners for 8 to 10 hours straight, ideally as you sleep. The night option is slightly more expensive and takes longer to yield results compared to the original plan, however.
If you live in New York, consider visiting SmileStudio for an in-person appointment. A Smile Crew Member can help guide you through the impression-taking process and answer questions about treatment.
AlignerCo averages 4.7 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot. This excellent rating is based on 486 reviews.
- Cost is low without compromising quality.
- The treatment plan is based on SmileProjecton, a 3-D image of your teeth before and after your proposed treatment.
- Frequent discounts and promotions are available.
- The company has high online customer satisfaction and ratings.
- AlignerCo offers NightOnly Clear Aligners.
- Several financing plans are available.
- The cost of the impression kit is refundable if the company’s customer representatives determine you’re not a suitable candidate for the aligners.
- Treatment time is several months longer than with other brands.
- You don’t get a return or refund on your impression kit.
- It doesn’t treat complex cases or orthodontic issues.
- It’s a relatively new company, so customer reviews are not as extensive as competitors.
- AlignerCo only has a brick-and-mortar store in Hempstead, New York.
Criteria for Choosing the Best Invisible Braces Brands
- Dentist or orthodontist-led treatment
- Screening process for determining eligibility
- Treatment process
- Ease and consistency of follow-up during treatment
- Willingness to assess and provide revisions during or after treatment if needed
- Customer service
- Customer satisfaction
- Product guarantee
- Financing, warranties, and product guarantees
Metal Braces vs Invisible Braces
The clearest difference between metal braces and invisible braces is their appearance. Metal wires are noticeable on anyone, and many people choose clear braces for their discreetness. Because invisible braces use molded trays rather than metal wires, they are also more comfortable because they put less pressure on your teeth. Those with mild to moderate teeth straightening needs may therefore be more suited for invisible braces, since they’re not as intense and take up to a year. Metal braces, on the other hand, typically take one to three years, according to the American Dental Association.
Metal braces are more suited for individuals that have complex teeth-straightening needs and require an orthodontist’s supervision. If the cost of treatment is also a concern to you, invisible braces are usually more affordable, ranging between $1,800 to $8,000. Some invisible braces companies are more expensive. The price of Invisalign, for example, ranges from $3,500 to $8,000, depending on the number of trays required for your case. Invisible braces trays can be removed throughout treatment, which increases the likelihood of technical error if users don’t wear the trays as long as they should or simply forget about them. If you are someone who wants precise results and you know that you need supervision to maintain your results, then you might be a better candidate for traditional braces.
The decision between invisible braces and traditional braces comes down to personal choice and need. To make the decision that is best for your needs, weigh the factors that are most important to you, such as convenience, effectiveness, cost, and follow-up care. It is crucial that you meet with your local orthodontist to determine whether you are a good candidate for invisible braces or if you would be better suited for traditional braces.