Wanna skip ahead?
What’s the first thing you notice in someone? Their eyes, clothes, smile?
Let’s put it to the test. What do you notice first in each of these photos?
Most people see the food on these guys’ teeth. Here’s what most people DON’T notice:
The guy on the left only has one ear, and there’s an inexplicable hover hand on the right guy’s shoulder.
You get my point. So why not show off those pearly whites and work on your smile? Smiling is proven to make you happier, studies show. Well for a lot of people out there, the biggest obstacle is a not-so-straight set of chompers. 🙂
What are invisible teeth aligners?
Invisible aligners, also called clear aligners, are a fairly modern type of orthodontic treatment that corrects misaligned or crooked teeth. They are effective in correcting simpler or tipping movements of teeth in two dimensions.
Clear aligners are essentially invisible and removable braces designed for convenience and flexibility (as you can take them off when needed).
Remember Invisalign? Believe it or not, this is actually the generic name for invisible teeth aligners: like Kleenex is to tissues. Invisalign also isn’t a direct-to-consumer company, so you have to go through an orthodontist to get fitted for and treated with Invisalign.
Who are invisible teeth aligners a good fit for?
If you are someone who could benefit from correcting mild to moderately crowded or imperfectly spaced teeth, teeth aligners could be for you! And if you’d prefer not to have a big hunk of metal in your mouth, why not go with invisible teeth aligners?
Heck – maybe you’re one of the many people who wore braces for years, but didn’t wear your retainer for the orthodontist-recommended period of time? Too cool to wear it, or maybe you lost it, like me? Hey, no judgment, but it may be worth giving some invisible teeth aligners some consideration.
Can’t I just go to my orthodontist for invisible teeth aligners?
Sure you can… but you’ll end up spending a lot more. If you visit your orthodontist and ask for invisible teeth aligners, they’ll go through all the same motions as the newer guys, like Byte and AlignerCo. They’ll take an impression of your teeth, scan it, and create a customized set of invisible aligners to straighten your teeth. They may show you a 3D scan of the “end result,” but even AlignerCo does that. Plus, these online companies set you up with retainers at a fraction of the cost.
Besides the fact that many of us are still in lockdown and it’s difficult/risky to visit an in-person orthodontist, the convenience of being able to take care of everything from your own home is pretty game changing.
How does buying invisible teeth aligners online work?
It’s about as simple as it gets, to be honest. If you’ve ordered literally any product to your home before, you can handle this. And when it comes down to sending your impression kit back to either Byte or AlignerCo, they make it even easier than returning that swimsuit that you bought last summer.
Step 1: Use the impression kit and send it back.
Order an impression kit from either Byte or AlignerCo. They’ll deliver the full setup to your door, along with super simple instructions for how to take an impression of your teeth. When you’re all done, just slap the included return label back onto the box, and either leave it in your mailbox or take it to a postal office. By the way, if you have any trouble with your impression kit (unlikely), they’ll send you a replacement to try again.
Step 2: Sit back while the pros get to work.
Byte’s and AlignerCo’s teams of orthodontists will create a set of invisible aligners that are customized to straighten that smile of yours, along with a detailed treatment plan.
Step 3 - You’re on your way to straighter teeth!
Wear your invisible teeth aligners for the recommended amount of time, and that’s it!
With Byte, you’ll wear these for an average of just 3-4 months.
With AlignerCo, you’ll wear them for 6-12 months. More on “why” in a sec.
Who is Byte?
Byte is a powerhouse in the D2C at-home invisible teeth aligner space. Founded just a few years ago in 2017, founders Scott Cohen and Blake Johnson saw an opportunity to take on Invisalign and SmileDirectClub. How?
By focusing on their mission to help people all over the world regain confident smiles, improving accessibility to care, and ALWAYS putting the customer first. Today, Byte boasts some of the highest consumer trust scores in the industry.
Their mission-first, customer-centric approach means they can bring real good to the world, as evident by their ByteCares program offering philanthropic aid to thousands of people in need of teledentinstry services. Oh and fun fact: even though Byte is valued at over $2B today, they some-freaking-how never had to raise venture capital funds.
Your smile AND your wallet are both in good hands with Byte.
How much does Byte cost?
Generally, Byte’s introductory prices are higher than similar AlignerCo plans, but keep in mind that their Hyperbyte technology allows them to cut average treatment lifetime in HALF. This sets them apart big time and, for many, makes the higher price easier to chew.
Byte’s Protection Plan also acts as an insurance policy for your aligners and retainers, if that’s of interest to you.
Take a look at the specific dental services that Byte offers, and start thinking about which you’re interested in. From there, you’ll start to get a sense of who’s better for you: Byte vs AlignerCo.
All-Day teeth aligners
Byte’s All-Day Aligners start at $1,895, plus another $95 for the impression kit you’ll need to get started. (Edit: currently just $30 with promo code BYTEME21)
You’ll be wearing these puppies for around 22 hours a day (so day and night, minus some breaks).
The good news is, when you use Byte’s aligners in combination with their Hyperbyte device (just five minutes a day), you’re looking at a treatment duration of 3-4 months (half of any of their competitors like AlignerCo, SmileDirect, etc.). More on their HyperByte technology in just a sec.
Everyone’s financial situation is different, but for me personally, I consider this ~$2,000 price point to be the happy middle ground for the invisible teeth aligners market. You can pay more for extra perks (like the At-Night option), or less for competitors, but this plan offers the happiest medium among price, treatment lifespan, and customer service — among all competitors.
At-Night teeth aligners
As convenient as invisible aligners are, some folks would prefer to just wear them at home. If you’re one of them, Byte’s At-Night aligners may be a good choice for you. They start at $2,295, plus another $95 for that impression kit.
You’ll be wearing the At-Night aligners for 10 hours a night, plus 10 minutes of the HyperByte treatment.
Byte also offers the Byte Protection Plan (BPP), which is basically a premium insurance plan for your hardware. For 5 years, you’ll be covered for any lost or stolen aligners, as well as get a new retainer every six months. Invisible aligners are a pretty weird thing to steal, but nice to know you’re covered.
The Byte Protection Plan costs $649 if you roll with the All-Day Aligners, or $779 for the At-Night option.
What is HyperByte?
The HyperByte is a High Frequency Vibrations (HFV) device that orthodontists have used for years. The gentle vibration can reduce discomfort, help seat your aligners around your teeth better, and only needs to be used for 5-10 minutes a day. This is what allows Byte to cut the overall time of your treatment in half. And it comes included with your Byte plan.
Does Byte take Insurance?
Good news: Byte DOES accept HSA, FSA, CareCredit, and Splitit. Even better, your insurance may even reimburse you for your aligners. They even have a tool on their site that shows if you’re eligible for free coverage.
For people who are eligible for insurance reimbursements and have some FSA dollars to spare, you may only be spending a few hundred bucks TOTAL, for arguably the best aligner company out there.
Depends. Byte is the more expensive option, but you do get what you pay for. From professional teeth whitening to huge time savings, there’s a reason their prices are on the higher end of the spectrum.
Advantages of Byte
- It’s insanely fast. Byte’s treatment plans take around half the time as their competitors, thanks to their HyperByte technology.
- Their plans include free teeth whitening, in the form of their BrightByte foam.
- Next-level customer service.
- Accepts FSA / HSA and they’re often eligible for insurance reimbursement.
- They offer tons of tutorial videos and support from orthodontists online, if you ever need help.
- Refer friends and earn $200 cash.
Disadvantages of Byte
- Byte is pricier than competitors.
- The Byte Protection Plan adds another ~$1,000 to each plan, which makes for a difficult buying decision.
Byte Reviews: What are others on the internet saying?
A pretty amazing score for Byte. And if we total up their rating on Trustpilot, Google Reviews, and Consumer Affairs, they net a 4.74 star rating out of a whopping 5,685 reviews.
Reading through dozens of reviews, I genuinely struggled to find bad ones. But that’s not a huge surprise.
Click these images to enlarge:
Who is AlignerCo?
AlignerCo is another brand that anyone interested in invisible aligners should be looking at. While they don’t offer all the same bells and whistles as Byte, (like HyperByte or BrightByte), they’re one of the (if not THE) most affordable options on the market.
How much does AlignerCo cost?
All-day teeth aligners (AKA SmileAdvantage)
These start at just $1,145 – over $700 less than Byte’s introductory plan. But while Byte’s treatment plan is around 3-6 months, you should expect to be wearing your AlignerCo aligners for at least 6-12 months.
To save $700, you’re sacrificing a few things:
- Speed. And alot of it. Expect to be wearing AlignerCo twice as long as you would with Byte.
- Professional teeth whitening (BrightByte)
- Byte’s online portal where you can communicate with licensed orthodontists anytime
NightOnly teeth aligners (AKA NightAdvantage)
Nighttime aligners start at $1,345 – about $900 less than Byte’s nighttime aligners. Same scenario though; expect to wear AlignerCo aligners for at least 8-12 months.
Here’s where the price difference between Byte vs AlignerCo really starts to become clear. As Byte’s nighttime aligners cross the two thousand dollar territory, AlignerCo is still only going to set you back around $1,300. Again, think about those sacrifices you’re making that I explained above and decide for yourself if they’re worth paying for.
Does AlignerCo take insurance?
Just as with Byte, AlignerCo is covered by most HSA and FSA accounts.
Is AlignerCo worth it?
Yup. You’d be hard-pressed to find another legitimate competitor out there who offers more competitive prices than AlignerCo.
Advantages of AlignerCo
- Arguably the most affordable option on the market, starting at just around $1,200 (not including any active promos).
- Accepts FSA / HSA and they’re often eligible for insurance reimbursement.
- Affordable monthly financing, starting at $86/mo.
- Refer friends and earn $100 cash.
Disadvantages of AlignerCo
- Longer treatment duration. AlignerCo’s treatment plans range from 6-12 months, vs just 3-4 with Byte.
- No option for teeth whitening.
AlignerCo Reviews: What are others on the internet saying?
Not too shabby, AlignerCo! Reading through pages of these, customers seem to love their price and ease.
Unfortunately, not all reviewers loved their experience with AlignerCo. One woman claims she got some dodgy advice from their team. So she visited an orthodontist in person for a second opinion, who confirmed her suspicions. Fast forward to today, it sounds like AlignerCo’s support team may be giving her the run-around:
As far as bad reviews go, this is pretty bad. But as always, it’s best to take every customer review with a grain of salt.
Let's get this straight: which is better? Byte vs AlignerCo?
Ask yourself this:
Are you willing to pay ~$1,000 more in exchange for the convenience of your treatment taking only half as long as with other companies? How about if it were to include teeth whitening and an online portal where you can get in touch with a team of licensed orthodontists, anytime?
If so, Byte is the overall best choice out there. Ask yourself: are you the way to go for speed and customer service. With board-certified, licensed orthodontists, and dentists checking in on your progress monthly, the customer experience is unbeatable. With the advantage of having your own Byte account, this is an option to ensure you’re on the right step of the progress.
If price is your #1 factor in deciding which aligner company to go with, though, and you want to go as inexpensive as possible, go with AlignerCo. Maybe the thought of “paying yourself” $1,000 to suck it up for an extra 3-6 months intrigues you.
Think of AlignerCo as the “barebones” option – you can always upgrade to the NightOnly plan if you’d like to, or purchase additional retainers if you ever lose yours, but you don’t have to. While you won’t get teeth whitening included, that may not be important to you. If you’re willing and ready for treatment to take 6-12 months, in exchange for saving ~$1,000, AlignerCo is your better bet.
Overall, don’t be too worried about getting a bad experience from either Byte or AlignerCo.
Both companies bring an amazing service and customer experience to the market, and with their own risk-free trial periods, you may as well choose one, complete the impression kit, and listen to what their orthodontists advise you to do. Congratulations on investing in a better smile for your future self!