Invisalign vs Smile Direct

Q. Invisalign vs Smile Direct – How are they different?

Q. Why does one cost more?

Q. Which one is right for me?

Invisalign vs Smile Direct – What’s the difference?

White House Dental Studio Your local Invisalign Platinum Elite Provider for Milton Keynes, Aylesbury, Buckingham and Bucks.


  • Invisalign Platinum Elite Provider
  • Google ‘5 Star Excellent’ Rating
  • Special 0% Payment Plans
  • On-site 3D Scanner
  • Quality Patient Care
  • FREE parking

Invisalign vs Smile Direct

Invisalign vs Smile Direct – Background & History – In the late 90’s a US based company called ‘Align Technology’ changed the world of orthodontics with a modern and convenient alternative to traditional metal braces. Their new product ‘Invisalign’, could straighten your teeth using a new clear plastic alignment tray system, that was also easily removable.

Over the past 20+ years other companies have introduced similar transparent alignment tray systems. More recently, ‘Smile Direct’ offer an ‘online / App based solution’ for DIY teeth straightening at home. Of course, in today’s online culture it’s easy to understand the appeal of Smile Direct’s online DIY solution, as online purchases are convenient for many people.

However, the following article takes a closer look at the pro’s and con’s of both ‘Invisalign’ and ‘Smile Direct’ treatments, to see if there are any obvious disadvantages for using a direct-to-consumer DIY teeth straightening solution. We will also explore if there are any additional potential risks using a DIY solution? – I.e., What happens if there is a problem mid-treatment? Who will be there to help you and fix any problems, and how does this DIY solution work with no direct one-to-one dentist or orthodontist?

The clear alignment tray concept

Invisalign vs Smile Direct 

Like traditional metal brace systems, modern day clear alignment trays also use gentle force to correct teeth alignment over time. However, instead of being attached to your teeth for the duration of the treatment (like traditional metal braces), alignment trays are easily removable. Individual upper and lower alignment trays are made from a flexible clear plastic that fits snugly over your teeth. Patients generally need to wear alignment trays for 20-22 hours each day, only removing them to eat, drink, and brush (or perhaps for short term contact sports).

Invisalign – The basic process explained

Invisalign – Initial Patient Consultation

Your Invisalign specialist will explain the full treatment process in detail and answer any questions you might have. They will also explain the payment plan options to see if there’s a plan that works for you. If time allows, you may also be offered a 3D scan of your teeth there and then. This enables a simulation of what your new smile should look like after the treatment is complete, i.e. a ‘before and after visual’. If you are happy with the visualisation and decide you would like to proceed, the practice’s ‘Invisalign Coordinator’ will get you booked in for the first stage of your smile transformation treatment (Patient Assessment and X-Rays).


Invisalign – Patient Assessment & X-Rays

Your dentist / orthodontist will carry out a visual examination of your general aural health checking for any decay, gum disease, tartar build up or anything else that could affect your realignment treatment. Bite alignment is also taken into consideration as part of your treatment plan (see the below video to find out why this is so important). Additionally, because Invisalign is a direct to patient care solution, most dentists / orthodontists also do ‘X-rays’ to take a closer look at your underlying teeth / root / gum structures. This is also important as some patients can have underlying issues (abscess’s, hairline fractures, tooth root decay etc) that they may not even be aware of.

Additionally, X-rays enable your dentist to also check that there are no likely bone obstructions during the realignment process. Being able to spot these types of issue at the outset enables your dentist / orthodontist to create the most suitable treatment plan, avoiding potential problems later down the line with your treatment. Accordingly, your initial patient assessment forms a really important first stage to set your treatment plan on the right path from the outset.

Key Difference: “Smile Direct’s treatment plans do not include the above one-to-one patient assessment or X-rays, which may be a concern for some customers”.


Invisalign – Obtaining upper and lower impressions

3D Scan Digital Teeth Impressions – White House Dental Studio use their in-house iTero 3D Scanner to obtain a highly accurate 3D digital model of your teeth and gums. This is a quick and painless procedure usually taking 5-10 minutes. The 3D digital scan of your teeth is then sent to the Invisalign labs for clear aligner tray manufacturing.

Invisalign Lab Manufacture – At the Invisalign labs, dental technicians use your impressions (3D digital scan) to manufacture a series of clear alignment trays for your complete realignment treatment. Each tray is slightly different to the previous, slowly moving and repositioning your teeth into their new realigned positions.

Your newly manufactured alignment trays are then sent to your dentist / orthodontist (Invisalign provider), who will contact you to arrange an appointment for their collection and first fitting. This appointment also enables your dentist to check that the fitment is correct, as well as explaining the fitting, wearing, and cleaning procedures.

You then simply visit your dentist / orthodontist (Invisalign provider) every six to eight weeks so that your realignment can be checked (and any slight adjustments be made if required). Finally, once the realignment process is complete (typically 6-12 months) you will be offered the Invisalign teeth whitening treatment as the last stage of your new smile transformation.

The main benefits of clear alignment trays

Invisalign vs Smile Direct 

The main benefit and key reason patients typically choose clear alignment trays over traditional braces is because clear alignment trays are far more discreet. The fact that they’re also easily removable makes them far more convenient to wear than traditional braces. Patients are also able to see their realignment progress over the coming months. Being able to remove the trays for eating and drinking, and certain sporting activities also provides additional advantages. 

Smile Direct Club – The basic process explained

One-to-one Patient Initial Assessment

With Smile Direct Club there’s no direct interaction with a dentist or orthodontist (removing the middleman as their marketing describes it). Hence, their process is very online and ‘App’ driven, which might suit some people (typically a younger tech-savvy generation). Their process is as follows.


Obtaining upper and lower impressions

Smile Direct Club offer two options for obtaining teeth impressions. One of these is a DIY home solution (a DIY Kit sent to the customers address). The other is a 3D scan at one of their geographic ‘Smile Shops’.

Smile Shop 3D Scan – Smile Direct Club have UK retail outlets called ‘Smile Shops’ where a technician takes a digital impression of your teeth using a 3D scanning system. The number of UK ‘Smile Shop’s’ is apparently growing with current UK site locations of 13 x outlets in England, 3 x outlets in Scotland, and 1 x outlet in Wales (Nov 2022) – precise geographic locations available on their website.

Home DIY Impression Kit SmileDirectClub customers who don’t have a ‘Smile Shop’ nearby can choose to have a DIY impression kit sent to them. A typical kit includes user instructions, upper and lower trays, impression putty (a catalyst putty and base putty), one pair of nitrile gloves (precise details on their website).

Using The DIY Home KIT The two putty types need to be thoroughly and quickly mixed (30-45 seconds) in order to trigger the setting process. They must then be quickly rolled into a sausage shape and placed into each impression tray, one at a time. You then quickly place the tray in your mouth and press on it from front to back to capture your teeth and gum impressions. Once pressed in place the tray needs to be steadily held in position for 5 minutes allowing the putty to set. It’s a good idea to have some tissues ready as this process may cause you dribble and drawl a little. After the putty is set, you carefully pull out the tray and place it to one side leaving it to fully set for a further 10 minutes.

Q. How difficult is it to perform an effective dental tray impression? The general consensus among dental professionals suggests that this is somewhat of a skill developed and perfected over time with practice. Hence, some individuals may find it harder than others to obtain a suitable DIY impression.

SmileDirectClub typically ask for two upper and lower impressions (4 in total). You will also be required to take photos of the impressions you have made as well as photos of your teeth from the front and both sides. These then need to be uploaded via the SDC website / App, so they can be checked by an SDC technician. If all is well, you should then receive a notification requesting you to post the impressions back to SDC for the manufacturing stage.

Lab Manufacture – An SDC dental technician is then assigned to your case, who will create your treatment plan. Your alignment trays are then manufactured from the impressions you have made and supplied. Finally, the trays are posted to you with instructions on how to use them. Then every 90 days, your assigned dental technician will contact you via your online SDC account / App to monitor progress.

Disclaimer: The above article was written by an independent researcher acting on behalf of WHDS. It seeks to help potential patients make a more informed decision about what treatment might best suit their individual needs. However, this article is for general information purposes only, and therefore does not form any medical advice to an individual.

Invisalign vs Smile Direct Club – Independent Patient Reviews – Here’s a great actual experience review from ‘Heather Bray’ (a leading Beauty & Home blogger based in the USA). Heather has unusually used both treatments and talks about the Pro’s and Con’s of both. We also like how open and honest she is in sharing her likes and dislikes of both treatments. Hence, we feel Heather’s experience provides an actual true-life experience for the reader.

Why patients choose us for Invisalign in Milton Keynes

  • Invisalign Platinum Elite Provider Status
  • Our Google 5-Star Excellent Rating
  • Flexible and Affordable Invisalign Payment Plans
  • Special 0% Finance Plans
  • Our many 5-Star Google reviews from delighted patients
  • Easy to find with FREE Parking directly behind the practice
  • All dentists registered with the GDC (General Dental Council)
  • We are regulated by the CQC (Care Quality Commission)
  • Teeth whitening included as part of your Invisalign teeth straightening treatment

See inside your local Milton Keynes Invisalign provider

Invisalign vs SmileDirectClub - Aylesbury, Bucks

Visiting your local Invisalign Milton Keynes provider is really easy. The White House Dental Studio is located in the charming market town of Winslow on the outskirts of Milton Keynes. Located on the main High Street with two FREE public car parks located directly behind our practice provides patients with easy and convenient access. Our newly refurbished air conditioned facilities provide patients with a comfortable and relaxed environment. Our friendly and highly professional team will look after you when you arrive. See inside our newly refurbish practice with our ‘360 Virtual Reality Tour’.

Invisalign vs Smile Direct Club - Milton Keynes - Buckinghamshire

Book your FREE Invisalign initial consultation today!

Here at the White House Dental Studio, we understand how life changing a new smile can be for a patient. It provides a key ‘Life-Tool’ that can help reaffirm self-confidence. Our friendly and highly professional team look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions you may have.

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34A High Street, Winslow, MK18 3HB