Smile Direct Club vs. Braces: Teeth Straightening Options Compared

You finally decided to take care of your smile – congratulations! A few months from now, you could have the smile you deserve!

Smile Direct Club and orthodontic braces are two of the most popular options for straightening your teeth. What’s the difference between the two, and which one is the right choice to straighten your smile?

If you have no idea of the right orthodontic solution to straighten your teeth, this post is for you. In this review of Smile Direct Club vs Braces, we’ll unpack the difference between these two systems.

Our Recommendation

Smile Direct Club’s aligner system provides an optimal opportunity to straighten teeth using an at-home teeth straightening system.

Difference between Smile Direct Club or Braces

The primary difference between Smile Direct Club and braces is the price of the treatment and the treatment process itself. With Smile Direct Club, you’ll pay around 60% less than braces.

Smile Direct Club also has a shorter treatment time, and you never have to enter an orthodontist’s office. However, you don’t get the same level of aftercare with Smile Direct Club as you get from an orthodontist managing your braces treatment.

Braces are also better suited to severe dental issues, while Smile Direct Club is more for minor issues involving gapping and overcrowding of your teeth.

Smile Direct Club vs Braces: Getting Started

How Does Smile Direct Club Work?

If you’re ready to sign up with Smile Direct Club, you order your impression kit online. When it arrives in the mail, you’ll follow the included instructions to taking a mold of your teeth. After completing the impressions, you’ll mail them back to SmileDirectClub in the return box provided with your kit.

If you live near one of the 300 Smile Shop locations, you can avoid the impression kit’s cost and pop in for a free scan instead. The attendants at the Smile Shop use a device to scan your teeth. They’ll send the data through to the SmileDirectClub team for approval.

After the SmileDirectClub dental team approves your treatment, they’ll instruct you to make your payment and start building your aligners. You’ll have them at your front door within six weeks, ready to start your treatment.

SmileDirectClub issue you with a written treatment plan you need to follow. You’ll swap out each aligner every two weeks or so for the next one in the series. At the end of wearing your last aligner, you have a beautiful smile. The average treatment time is around six months to a year.


If you want braces, you’ll need to visit your orthodontist’s office for assessment. Your doctor will take X-rays of your mouth and review them to check what work they need to do to correct your smile.

You’ll need to return for fitment, and that could take a few hours in the doctor’s chair. After the braces’ initial fitment, you’ll visit the orthodontist for adjustments every 60 to 90-days. The average treatment time is around 18-months to two years, depending on the extent of your dental issue.

Smile Direct Club vs Braces Cost Comparison

Smile Direct Club Cost

If you’re thinking about investing in clear aligners from SDC, you have the option of paying upfront or taking your treatment on credit. If you’re paying cash, you can get your SDC treatment for $1,950. The nighttime system adds a few more aligners to your treatment, and it’s going to cost you up to $200 more on top of the standard pricing.

If you want to finance your treatment, you have the option of using the in-house financing offered by “Smile Pay.” With Smile Pay, you’ll make a downpayment of $250, along with 24 monthly payments of $89. If you can’t get to a Smile Shop for a free scan, you’ll need to purchase the impression kit for $59.


With Braces, you’ll have to visit your orthodontist’s office for fitment. Your doctor takes X-rays of your mouth and impressions to check on the structural integrity of your jaw and your teeth. If you require braces to resolve your dental problems, you’ll approve the treatment with your orthodontist.

Typically, your orthodontist will charge you at each stage of the process. You’ll have to pay for the braces, and you’ll also need to pay for your doctor’s consultation. It’s the consultation fees that skyrocket the costs of your braces treatment.

You’ll be going in and out of your doctor’s office for up to two years. Every time they adjust your braces or see you for a checkup – they charge you. As a result, the total costs of your braces could end up being close to $6,500 or more.

Smile Direct Club vs Braces: Pros and Cons

Smile Direct Club Pros

  • Save up to 70% on treatment costs compared to braces.
  • At-home treatment with no trips to the orthodontist.
  • Remotely managed aftercare.
  • In-house financing of your treatment with no credit check.
  • Free teeth whitening included.

Smile Direct Club Cons

  • Not registered with the ADA (American Dental Association) or the FDA.
  • No managed aftercare with an orthodontist.

Braces Pros

  • Traditional orthodontics with a proven track record.
  • All follow-up through a qualified orthodontist.

Braces Cons

  • More expensive than Smile Direct Club
  • Requires frequent checkups at your orthodontist’s office.
  • Permanent fixture to your teeth.
  • Looks unattractive.
  • It can irritate the lip line and cheeks.

Smile Direct Club vs Braces: Recommendation

Smile Direct Club and braces both offer you a straight smile. However, choosing the right system boils down to what you’re prepared to pay for your treatment and whether you want to involve an orthodontist.

If you’re uncomfortable with the thought of remotely managed care for your treatment, braces are the better option. With braces, you get frequent checkups from your orthodontist. They’ll check on your gums and teeth to ensure everything remains free of infection.

However, the high cost of orthodontic braces makes them unaffordable for many people. If that’s the case with you, and you don’t mind remote aftercare, Smile Direct Club is the better choice. Smile Direct Club is a third of the cost of braces, and you get the same results.

Overall, it’s a personal decision, and you’re going to have to decide between the two based on your needs.

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