If you skirted adolescence without getting metal braces, there is a chance you are a teensy bit upset you didn’t just get it over with in high school. Sure, you skipped the social awkwardness of getting cafeteria pizza lodged in your brackets, but the lack of teeth-baring photos you take now doesn’t really outweigh that brief period of discomfort.

As an adult, investing in your smile is less of a chore and more of a priority. Although, wiring your teeth with metal brackets in adulthood is somehow even less appealing than the idea of facing it as a teen. To get a straighter smile, you want the least invasive and most cosmetically appealing option you can get. The answer? Clear aligners.

If you’ve heard of clear braces chances are you are familiar with Invisalign. And while they are undoubtedly a well known brand that does garner results, the truth is Invisalign can get super costly. In fact, doctors can quote Invisaligner patients anywhere up to $8,000 -- especially for complex cases. Luckily there are other affordable options out there so you can get your smile right for less. 

What Are Some Cheaper Alternatives To Invisalign?

Some cheaper alternatives to Invisalign include clear aligner like Smile Direct Club, Candid, and Dandy. While all three brands specialize in clear braces, they each have their own way of approaching it -- which not-so-consequently relates to price.

Smile Direct Club Online

Smile Direct Club operates as a direct to consumer brand that cuts out the “middleman” of the orthodontist. To get started you have two options: you can either go to a SmileShop for a scan of your smile or receive an at-home 3D impression kit. Smile Direct club uses either of these to create a 3D model of your teeth which a licensed dentist or orthodontist reviews to build a treatment plan. Next patients receive a preview of their treatment plan. Patients need to then purchase their treatment plan prior to the clear aligners being made. Then all of the aligners are sent directly to the patient, where treatment plans on average last at least 6 months. After completing treatment, patients can purchase an additional $99 retainers to wear at night to keep teeth in place. 

Candid 

Candid aligners is also a direct to consumer provider that can be insurance eligible and is overseen by an orthodontist, but requires no actual in-office visits. That means when working with Candid, you will be sent a 3D impression kit to your home that has “everything you need” to take photos and impressions the Candid orthodontist will use to design a treatment plan. You also have the option of going to a candid studio to get a 3D scan. Once a plan is devised, you will be sent an “interactive preview” of your teeth moving into the desired place step by step and “care specialists” will walk you through your plan. After that, all of your clear aligners are made and then shipped to your home all at once. Candid claims that most patients complete their treatment in 6 months or under.

Woman inserting alternative to Invisalign clear aligners


Dandy Clear Aligners

Dandy clear aligner treatment plans operate a little more closely to Invisalign’s process. Dandy is not a direct to consumer provider, but rather works with dentists, orthodontists, and patients simultaneously to make sure the best care is given and received.

“You should never move teeth without ensuring the tissue, bone and teeth themselves are healthy,” warns Dr. Bruce Freeman of Freeman Caro & Lands Orthodontics, an orthodontist who works with Dandy providers. “X-rays, a clinical exam and monitoring, in addition to ensuring there is no dental decay is critical! You would never build a house on land you did not ensure was sound. As well, straightening teeth is one thing, creating a healthy bite takes the care of a dental professional.”

First, you schedule a Snapshot appointment through Dandy from the comfort of your home (or while in line at the grocery store), and then are directed to a local dentist. At your Snapshot appointment, Dandy partners with your local dentist to take 3D scans, panoramic X-rays, and images so you can be treated safely and effectively. An orthodontist then reviews the scans and develops a treatment plan specifically designed to your needs. After you approve your treatment plan, you are charged and Dandy starts manufacturing your clear aligners. All of your clear aligners are then sent directly to you, cutting down on in-office time (and overall cost).

In some cases, you may have to return to the doctor’s to undergo IPR, which stands for interproximal reduction. In cases where teeth are overcrowded, doctors may have to remove enamel between teeth to make more room. Luckily it is just slightly uncomfortable and can be done in about 15 minutes.

Man smiling against brick wall after straightening teeth with Invisalign clear aligner alternatives

Overall, Dandy cuts down on cost (and time) by limiting these meetings with healthcare providers. To make sure things are going as planned, all you have to do is snap a few quick progress pics and send those along to Dandy’s orthodontists through the Dandy mobile app. 

Simple treatment cost starts around $1,900 (or $88 per month) while more complex treatment comes out to around $2,600 (or $122 a month). Going with Dandy gives you an opportunity to work with these simple payment plans as well as go use your dental insurance to  potentially lower the immediate at-cost price to you, while still getting the high quality care you deserve.

Which Invisalign Competitor Is The Best? 

When it comes to choosing an Invisalign competitor, the most important thing to keep in mind is your needs. Sure, it is tempting to just go with the one that puts the absolute smallest dent in our pockets, but if you aren’t getting the full care you need, it honestly ends up costing you in the long run. 

Options like Smile Direct Club and Candid can really only effectively treat a very small portion of the population. They only serve to correct the front “social six” teeth -- meaning your six upper front teeth and six front lower bottoms -- the ones most visible when you smile. They can be effective for mild cases, but not focusing on creating healthy smiles with functional bites can result in complications or poor results.

If you want the blended convenience of not having to make a million trips to the doctor but also don’t feel comfortable with a hands-off approach (they went to medical school for a reason people!) an option like Dandy might be the best bet. With affordable payment plans, insurance eligibility, and the careful consideration of medical professionals, you can rest assured that your teeth are in good hands.