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Invisalign vs Smile Direct? Why Invisalign!

Posted on April 13th, 2021 by Dr. Peter Tomaselli

Invisalign vs Smile Direct, What is the best solution for patients?

We wanted to take a minute and discuss Invisalign vs Smile Direct, and what might be the best solution for you. We get this question a lot, which is better Invisalign or Smile Direct Club? Below we have identified why in our 30 yrs of experience Invisalign is the best option for most patients in need of alignment. (Video)
  • We love Invisalign! There’s no hiding it! 
    • Chicago Smile Design is a big believer in Invisalign and has been since the product hit the market. There is a reason we are Chicago’s premier provider; we have been solving adult alignment issues with Invisalign long before the company was sponsoring The Superbowl. We also are fans of the SmileDirectClub concept and believe in certain cases it can be an affordable alternative. However, we would only recommend SmileDirectClub to people who still see a dentist regularly.
 
  • Should you DIY your Smile instead of Invisalign?
    • Let’s say, for example, you haven’t been to the dentist in three years, but you want to have straight pearly white teeth. You sign up for SmileDirectClub and begin using Crest White Strips regularly, and soon you have your straight pearly white smile! Hate to say it, but there is much more to straight teeth than making a mold, popping in a few mouth guards, and wearing a retainer. You need to account for the accuracy of the mold and potential oral hygiene issues of the gums, jaw, and teeth. In the three-year absence you most likely will have developed a cavity or two, which if ignored could lead to more cavities, nerve pain, or an infection. We see it all too often! 
 
  • How much money would I save with SmileDirectClub vs Invisalign?
    • Smile Direct makes the case that one does not need regular dentist or orthodontist visits to have straight teeth. Assuming one fits the mold, SmileDirectClub promises similar results to Invisalign at a lower cost. SmileDirectClub advertises their costs at $1950 for the treatment. There is a separate $60 charge for the at-home mold kit and a $99 cost for a post-op retainer. One can opt out of the at home mold for a visit to a SmileDirectClub care center where they will take a digital scan of your mouth. There is no charge for this, but it defeats the purpose of not seeing a dentist and there may not be a convenient SmileDirectClub location near you. Invisalign charges $750 for their post-op retainer, but the Invisalign retainer will last five years! 
 
  • What type of case qualifies you for Invisalign vs Smile Direct Club? 
    • A simple Google search will show the average price for an Invisalign case could be anywhere between $3000 and $7000. This wide range in price is due to the extremes of the mouth. Is it fair to compare these prices to the $2100 price tag of SmileDirectClub? We think not! An Invisalign patient with a $7000 case would not be able to use SmileDirectClub. It would be like trying to fix an exploded car tire with duct tape and a bicycle pump. For a case to be successful with the SmileDirectClub treatment, the patient must not have too extreme of an alignment issue and should have zero oral health issues. This would be more comparable to a $3600 Invisalign case which includes the post-op retainer and the attentive care of your dentist. 
 
  • Why do these two products have such a wide range in cost?
    • First, is the type of plastic used to make these aligners. This is shown by the lifespan of the post-op retainer. Invisalign’s product is made to last five years versus the SmileDirectClub retainer that lasts only six months. This means that Invisalign’s product is ten times more durable than SmileDirectClub! Another reason is Invisalign aligners have the capability to grip to your teeth because of the attachments carefully placed by your dentist. This allows the Invisalign aligner to move your teeth more efficiently than SmileDirectClub. The biggest reason, however; is Smile Direct cases are overseen by only 250 dentists. Every three months, patients will meet via video chat and discuss photos taken on the patient’s mobile device. The company claims to have completed over 500,000 cases, which implies a not so friendly case to doctor ratio (2000:1). Not to mention, a lot can go wrong in three months! If the doctor is taking care of another 2000 patients, then it is likely something could be overlooked in your case and you may have issues getting in contact with someone.
 
  • Are there risks to At-Home Treatments?
    • Let’s call a spade a spade, SmileDirectClub is like any other DIY project: it looks easy enough in a short video, but if done incorrectly can cause extreme pain and bigger, more expensive issues. Sadly, this is the case more often than not, as major medical organizations like the ADA and the AAO have alleged that SmileDirectClub puts patients in danger and is practicing medicine illegally! The response from SmileDirectClub has been to blame users for “not following directions properly” and even force some to sign NDAs. According to Hindenburg research, dental boards in Alabama and Georgia have already created rules that prove some of SmileDirectClub’s actions are illegal. More states are expected to follow suit. The NBC News Investigates report from February 2020 confirms these stories and adds that California has added laws requiring x-rays six months prior to any orthodontic program.
 
  • How Much Money Will You Really Save?
    • You don’t want nice teeth for just a minute, right? We want a big healthy smile that will last a lifetime! Over the course of five years, a SmileDirectClub customer will spend an additional $1000 on post-op retainers, bringing the total cost close to $3000 (and counting). Without visiting the dentist or caring for your trays, cavities and gum issues will form and all the money saved will go towards fillings or root canals. SmileDirectClub users also miss out on the incredible care of a Dr. Tomaselli.
 

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