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 but can be completed within 6 months. Ultimately, treatment times vary depending on the severity and complexity of your case and must be determined by the dentist.
In addition, 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.” This implies that by comparing an Invisalign treatment that uses a weekly treatment versus the same Invisalign treatment, but with two-week aligner wear, the weekly treatment can be 50% faster.