Byte vs SmileDirectClub
“Mail-order aligners” or “braces by mail” are becoming an increasingly in-demand product for consumers to correct their smiles in a more do-it-yourself fashion. The in-office alternative allows orthodontic patients to skip out on in-office visits and do their entire treatment in a remote fashion. In a world where instant gratification is almost essential and convenience often trumps tradition, it’s not hard to see why the business model is thriving in today’s market.
Byte vs SmileDirectClub: Which is Better?
It’s smart to take the time to research the available options and read as many reviews as you can about mail-in aligners. Look up professional opinions and compare notes before making your purchase. The most renowned brands you’ll find in your internet travels will pop up on your search engine right away, and among the top contenders are Byte and SmileDirectClub.
The two have many similarities, but also a few major differences that could make or break your decision. As far as orthodontic efficacy and safety go, Byte seems to be the better option. The brand is doctor-directed and FDA approved. While SmileDirectClub is FDA registered, simply meaning the FDA is aware of the manufacturer and their devices.
What is Byte?
Byte is a “teledentistry company” that manufactures and sells clear aligners for at-home treatment. The company came on the scene in 2017, and has a network of over 200 professional orthodontists and dentists.
The brand says their practitioners have an average of 12 years of experience in the industry, specifically with clear aligner devices. The company clearly states they only accept candidates who are right for their product, and don’t recommend their devices for patients with more extensive orthodontic issues like severe overbite, open bites, overjet, or severe malocclusion.
From an orthodontist’s perspective, this gives the company a bit more reputability. They only want those with minor problems to utilize the at-home product, meaning shorter treatment times and remote monitoring make a lot more sense.
How much do Byte aligners cost?
Standard Byte aligners are a one-time investment of $1,895, but payment plans are also available. The company has a model that allows customers to put $249 down and then pay $82 per month for 32 months. This requires the purchase of the Byte Protection Plan. If consumers go for the payment plan, they’ll end up paying $2,869 in total, with 9.99% APR.
The at-home aligners do have two options: All-Day Aligners or At-Night Aligners. The All-Day Aligners require patients to wear the device for a minimum of 22 hours a day, but the treatment time is estimated at four months.
The At-Night Aligners cost a bit more than the standard model, likely because of the convenience in wear. The total for a night-only device is $2,295 with payment plans of $299 down and then $99 per month for 32 months. This option also requires the Byte Protection Plan and those using a payment agreement will end up paying $3,467 with 9.99% APR.
The At-Night Aligners are worn while the patient is sleeping for a recommended 10 hours, with the treatment time extending a few more months than the standard aligners. Your dental insurance plan could cover Byte aligners if it covers orthodontic treatment.
What do Byte aligners look like?
Byte aligners are transparent trays molded to the consumer’s teeth and are barely visible to the naked eye. Byte aligners don’t look particularly different than any other clear aligner. According to the company website, “[the] invisible aligners are made of a BPA-free highly transparent, medical grade, polymer film.”
How long does it take to get Byte aligners?
After receiving your modeling kit in the mail, the company says it takes about four to six weeks to get your aligners delivered. Byte’s team says sending back impressions quickly, filling out all required information, and uploading the necessary photographs helps the process move along faster.
Who owns Byte aligners?
Dentsply Sirona, a manufacturer of dental supplies and technologies, acquired Byte in January of 2021. The CEO of Byte, Neeraj Gunsagar, and the previous management team still operate the business.
What is SmileDirectClub?
SmileDirectClub is a teledentistry company founded in 2014 that sells at-home aligners directly to consumers. The model isn’t entirely different from Byte’s, but the company is lower rated.
SmileDirectClub has consumers order an impression kit and send their molds back to the company. After that, customers are expected to upload photos of their teeth every three months, so the SmileDirectClub team can review progress and potential problems.
SmileDirectClub has the option for consumers to visit their SmileShop, with locations across the U.S., to forgo impressions and get an in-person scan. However, the technicians doing the scans aren’t dental or orthodontic professionals, so the visit doesn’t necessarily trump making your own impression at home.
How much is SmileDirectClub?
SmileDirectClub is $2,050 in total, but the company offers payment plans for more affordable options. The plan requires a $250 deposit, and then is $89 per month for 26 months, totalling $2564.
The company also offers at-night aligners for the same price and same payment plan, and claims it extends treatment from four to six months to a 10-month period on average.
How much is SmileDirectClub with insurance?
SmileDirectClub does partner with some insurance companies, and their site lists a few as partners: United Healthcare, Aetna, MetLife, Anthem, Blue California, Empire, Dominion National, and Capital. The website has a two-part form that allows consumers to plug in their insurance provider and their email to see if they qualify. Most sources report that if your insurance does approve the at-home aligners, it could cover up to 50% of the cost.
How does SmileDirectClub work?
SmileDirectClub aligners work similarly to other at-home models; consumers can order an impression kit or visit a SmileShop in person to have a scan done of their teeth.
Once they finish the molds or complete the scan, it is sent off to be evaluated. When the impressions and scans are received, customized transparent trays are made for the consumer and delivered to their home.
The clear aligners come with prescribed use and a treatment plan for patients to follow. Along the way, photographs will need to be sent to monitor progress and assess any possible obstacles that arise.
How long does SmileDirectClub take?
SmileDirectClub says their typical treatment times range anywhere from four to six months, but if a consumer goes for a night-only option, the time can extend up to 10 months in total. These estimates can change depending on if the patient wears their aligners as directed and if any unforeseen issues arise during treatment.
Who owns SmileDirectClub aligners?
SmileDirectClub is a publicly-traded company, and its top three owners are The Vanguard Group, Inc., Prentice Capital Management LP, and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC. At one time, Align Technology (Invisalign) held a stake in the company, but they ended their partnership in 2019.
Should you choose SmileDirectClub or Byte?
Byte seems to be the better option for at-home aligners. There are pros and cons of each option, but overall Byte looks to have a better reputation and more positive customer reviews.
The two companies have similar business models, but Byte has also developed new technologies in recent years that SmileDirectClub hasn’t; the HyperByte helps patients with discomfort and gives aligners a tighter fit.
The pros and cons of SmileDirectClub
- Affordable alternative to traditional braces
- Payment plans available
- Convenient at-home, remote monitoring
- SmileShop to forgo impression kit
The pros and cons of Byte
- Emerging technologies like the HyperByte
- Lower cost than some clear aligner competitors
- Licensed dental and orthodontic professionals on their team
- A younger company compared to others on the market
- Not as effective or safe as in-office monitored aligners
- Room for risk with at-home impressions and photographs
Is SmileDirectClub or Byte better?
We can’t make the choice for you, and the Smile Store will always advocate for in-office visits, but our team is leaning towards Byte to take the win. The price points, business models, and monitoring protocols are all similar, but the reviews and press for SmileDirectClub don’t do the company any favors.
As a whole, the at-home aligners don’t look extremely different, but doing your research and keeping up with recent reviews will be your best bet in making a final decision.