When I was younger, I remember actually wanting braces badly… mostly because all my friends had them at school. I had relatively straight teeth, with the exception of a few in my bottom row. A couple teeth had started to come in before the baby ones had been lost, which resulted in crowding and slight overlapping. However, they were barely visible so it just wasn’t worth the cost of traditional braces to get them fixed.
As I got older, I got a little more pressure from my dentist to correct the crowding. He said that it prevented me from flossing correctly, and it would be very difficult to fill a cavity if one cropped up in the area. But again, the cost was unfathomable to me, even if I was a little self conscious of my open smile.
Then, I discovered Smile Direct Club. Smile Direct Club, or SDC, is a service that creates custom clear aligners for you with the help of their orthodontist consultants, and treats you at home. No office visits needed, your entire treatment is delivered through the mail to your front door. They 3D-print their aligners, using cutting edge technology to cut costs for you making this the most convenient and affordable way to straighten your smile. It’s designed for mild to moderate imperfections, like gaps or slight crowding. It’s also a great choice if you’ve previously had braces, but never wore your retainers and experienced a shift backwards.
Smile Direct Club costs a flat fee of $1700 no matter what your treatment looks like. There is also a monthly payment option of $99 with a down payment of $250. The impression kit in the beginning is not included in this fee, and costs a separate $95– however, you can get $20 off the evaluation by using my link and entering the code AFF20. Also, if they deem you an unfit candidate for the service, they’ll refund you in full for the assessment. After your treatment, retainers will cost you another $99. Considering most Invisalign plans run an average of $5,000-$10,000, this service is a must-try for anyone wanting to perfect their smile.
It starts out with an evaluation, where SDC sends you an impression kit to take molds of your teeth. You mail it back using the prepaid packaging, and then they come up with your treatment plan. They determined my plan would last 6 months, starting in September 2016.
It took a few weeks to get my first set of aligners. In each package, you receive a month’s worth of treatment trays. One aligner for week one, one for week two, and one for weeks three and four. Then, you get your next set sent on schedule to arrive right before you need to switch. My shipments arrived like clockwork and kept me on track during my treatment.
The first time I put my aligners in, the pressure was real. It was bearable, but definitely uncomfortable. It took about a month to get used to it completely and even then, whenever I switched into my next tray, there would be some consistent discomfort for about a day. Also, my early aligners used to come with high edge that were sharp and tended to cut into my gums. I had to use a nail file to dull them down and make them fit. However, by month 3, it wasn’t a problem anymore… I don’t know if I just got used to them or if SDC altered the design.
While regular braces and Invisalign tend to do most of the moving at the beginning of the treatment and the rest of the process focusing on maintenance, SDC spreads out the work throughout the course of your treatment. This way, you’re not experiencing as much pain or pressure all at once. Either way, I was able to see a difference within two weeks. It was definitely working, so I stayed diligent.
The aligners are supposed to stay in for 22 hours a day, only being removed for coffee breaks, eating, and brushing your teeth. They’re pretty unnoticeable unless you’re looking up close, where there is a slight texture on the surface of the aligners. One of the biggest giveaways was the fact that they made me lisp, hardcore. I thought this was something that would go away, and it definitely settled down once I got more used to them but still never went away completely.
I was supposed to end my treatment in April, though once I was in my last set of aligners I noticed that my bottom teeth were still slightly overlapping. Luckily, Smile Direct Club offers free refinements– if your teeth aren’t exactly how you want them, or they look different than the treatment plan they delivered in the beginning, they’ll extend the treatment for free to perfect your smile. I was grateful for this, though it took quite a long time to get my set of refinements. They wanted to take another set of impressions to see what still needed to be done, which I had to mail back and let them evaluate. That, plus the time it took them to actually 3D print my refinements, left me on the same pair of aligners for much longer than they’re designed to be worn. My bottom ones ended up cracking and I went 3 weeks without bottom aligners before the refinements came. My teeth definitely had started to move back, so putting on the new pair hurt for a good 24 hours.
After a month of refinements, my teeth look totally different. There is no more overlapping and everything is in line. Now, I’m wearing the retainers SDC sells… though they are supposed to be replaced occasionally since they are also 3D printed. I’m tempted to spend the extra money and purchase metal retainers for night time from my dentist, which will last forever.
Overall, using Smile Direct Club was extremely convenient. Especially since I moved out of state in the middle of my treatment, it was one less headache I had to deal with– I just changed my address in the system and continued on. I spent no time worrying about making appointments, and it was easy for me to stay on track. I can’t argue the results, either. My teeth moved and I was never in excruciating pain, like some of my friends have described braces. It was easy, effective, and budget-friendly.
Feel free to leave any questions below on my experience with Smile Direct Club, or clear aligners in general!