If you’ve been considering at-home clear aligner treatment for a while, you’ve probably encountered the name Smilelove. In the past, Smilelove was well-known for being one of the more affordable at-home teeth straightening brands. But this Spring, in the wake of COVID-19, Smilelove suddenly ceased operations.
Life at Smilelove has been a bit complicated recently. Although they’ve halted manufacturing, they’re still accepting new orders, and it’s resulted in a ton of negative feedback — both from existing customers and the Better Business Bureau. So in this updated Smilelove review, we’ll discuss everything we think our readers should keep in mind about Smilelove, including their new operating procedures, price point, and more.
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What Happened To Smilelove?
The short answer: COVID-19 hit Smilelove hard, and they had to cease operations.
Under the surface, though, Smilelove’s circumstances are a bit more complicated. Even before COVID, Smilelove was struggling. They’d experienced rapid growth and then suddenly stagnated. In January, they had to downsize their staff by about 50%, which damaged their customer service, which in turn damaged their customer retention rates. It was, in short, a brutal cycle.
Then the Coronavirus pandemic hammered the proverbial nail in the coffin: in March they ceased all operations without warning, leaving their current customers hanging.
Smilelove is trying to stay afloat, but like so many other businesses right now, their future is uncertain. In the mess, Smilelove lost several key investors (an absolute essential for small, growing businesses), but a PPP loan has helped them keep some employees on their payroll. So to survive the challenges and restart operations, Smilelove is instituting new policies, like a price increase, new refund policies, different customer service models, and a few other changes. In the rest of this review, we’ll dig into those updated policies.
How Does Smilelove Work?
Smilelove’s procedures are relatively simple: once you submit your order, they ship you an impression kit. You take an impression of your teeth, send it back, and Smilelove’s orthodontists will create your treatment. For most people, treatment lasts an average of 6 to 8 months (the difference depends on your condition’s severity).
Step 1: Order an impression kit from Smilelove and create a 3D impression of your teeth. If you need help, you can arrange a video call with Smilelove to ensure you nail your impressions. Once your impressions are complete, you’ll send them back. Shipping is easy thanks to a prepaid shipping label.
Step 2: Smilelove’s orthodontists analyze the molds you’ve created to develop a treatment plan that’s unique to you. You have a chance to review the treatment plan; if you don’t love it, Smilelove will refund your impression kit.
Step 3: If you approve your treatment, Smilelove will send you all your aligners at once. You will wear each for two weeks and gradually make your way to a straighter smile.
Step 4: Pay for your treatment all in one go, or sign up for Smilelove’s payment plan and pay as you go. Financing plans require a $250 down payment, but everyone is approved, regardless of credit score.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Smilelove
Smilelove and other home teeth aligner systems are all pretty convenient, but there are other perks and drawbacks for each one. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of using Smilelove to straighten your teeth:
✔ Smilelove has been improving their treatment regimen slowly and surely. Their dental network is comprised solely of orthodontists, and they’ve partnered with Essix, a trusted manufacturer, to create their aligners.
✔ Smilelove is buyer-friendly, guaranteeing approval for their financing. Regardless of your credit score, you can get started with a quick downpayment and monthly payments starting at $79/month. This price point is pretty similar to most of their competitors (unless your case is extensive, requiring more than 40 aligners).
✔ Smilelove’s aligners follow the gum line, which makes them a touch less visible than some competitors’ aligners. It’s a marginal difference but worth noting.
✖ Smilelove is best suited for cosmetic dental cases. They can handle some complicated cases, like bite issues and severe crowding or spacing. But if you need extensive corrections, you might be better off visiting your orthodontist or going with an in-office treatment.
✖ Smilelove used to offer the best refund policy in the industry, but they are not currently offering refunds. There’s a chance those refunds will come back, but we don’t know enough at this point.
✖ Spring 2020 has hit Smilelove hard when it comes to customer reviews. A lot of customers got “caught in the crossfire” and never received their aligners or refunds. Needless to say, they were disgruntled…and it shows in their reviews. Prior to this, however, Smilelove had pretty good reviews.
✖ If your correction requires more than 40 aligners, Smilelove will now implement a $300 upcharge, taking the total price tag up to $2,195. That makes their price more expensive than every other home aligner company except Candid.
Smilelove: Treatment Efficiency
Everyone will have a slightly different experience with Smilelove. That’s because everyone’s smile is different. The total timing of your treatment depends on a couple of factors:
- The severity of your condition
- How long you wear your aligners each day
Smilelove is faster than traditional braces and Invisalign, but compared to other home aligner systems, they’re pretty average. For most people, treatment lasts 6 to 8 months. To put it in perspective, Byte averages 3 months per treatment. But other systems hang out around 6 months, so Smilelove’s treatment speed is par for the course.
6 months may seem like a long time, but traditional braces require 24 months on average. With any system, you should resist the urge to speed up your treatment by wearing aligners for less than the prescribed time. This can be harmful to your oral health and more painful than necessary.
Smilelove Customer Reviews
Buying anything on the internet is convenient, but sometimes it’s hard to trust. In the “old days,” you could just ask your family and neighbors for their recommendations. Now, that old word of mouth often gets replaced by customer reviews. What are other customers saying about Smilelove?
In the past, Smilelove got pretty good ratings from customers. Top loves included the fact that Smilelove ran frequent discounts, the treatment kit was easy to use, and customers could review treatment before committing.
Today’s reviews tell a totally different story, unfortunately. Now, customers are understandably upset that they shelled out $1,895 and never received their aligners. And a lot of them were left hanging with very little communication from Smilelove. Customer support essentially vanished.
If Smilelove went back to its pre-COVID state tomorrow, then their complaints would be pretty minimal: sluggish response times, confusion about customer support tickets, and the occasional missing shipment. But as it stands presently, Smilelove’s online reviews don’t instill a lot of confidence.
Smilelove Prices and Features
Smilelove used to be the most affordable option on the market thanks to their constant sales. They listed their sticker price at $1,895, but they ran sales so frequently that it was uncommon to spend more than $1,495. With Smilelove’s recent changes, however, it looks like that price is going to stay closer to $1,895, and a bit more if your case is particularly challenging.
Here’s a run-down of what costs to expect with Smilelove:
- Impression kit, $79: The impression kit gets the ball rolling. Technically, though, the impression kit is included in your treatment bundle, so you won’t want to order one à-la-carte.
- Fewer than 40 aligners, $1,895: Smilelove’s typical alignment bundle includes everything you’ll need to straighten your teeth without stepping foot in the orthodontist’s office. You’ll get the impression kit, a preview of your treatment plan, and of course, your aligners. Smilelove also offers you your first set of post-treatment retainers at no additional cost. Last but not least, you’ll get one box of their Premium Whitening treatment.
- 40+ aligners, $2,195: Smilelove now charges a $300 upcharge for cases that require more than 40 aligners. The kit includes all the same features; the extra cost simply covers the added expense of additional trays.
If you’d rather not pay for your entire treatment at once, Smilelove offers financing with 100% approval rates. Here’s how it works: you make a $250 down payment. Then, you’ll pay $79 per month until your treatment is paid off.
Smilelove Customer Support
Even before their economic fallout, Smilelove struggled a bit on the customer support front. Their support was adequate, but their response times were slow.
Now, we don’t quite know how to judge Smilelove’s current customer support team. Smilelove has cut their staff by nearly 50%, so their already-stretched teams are even further behind. We’re taking a “wait-and-see” approach to determining the strengths and weaknesses of their current customer support. But frankly, we’re not too optimistic. They struggled on the customer support front before all of this. The current challenges won’t help make that problem any better.
Going forward, though, Smilelove intends to assign a dedicated customer support representative to each customer. That may help them manage more customers with fewer people, but time will tell.
Best Smilelove Alternatives
Given the whirlwind of events that have taken place at Smilelove recently, we’re encouraging our readers to consider working with a more reliable provider at this time. Here are four Smilelove alternatives we think are worth considering:
Byte is the absolute fastest treatment system on the market. Thanks to their HyperByte system, Byte promises to correct most smiles within three months of treatment. They offer both nighttime and full-day wear schedules, too.
Candid is a well-established name in the industry, so if you favor size and experience, they’re worth considering. Candid also maintains physical locations, so there’s less wait for shipping.
With SmileDirectClub, you can take advantage of a nighttime treatment option to avoid wearing your aligners all day. They also have more than 200 office locations across the country, so it’s convenient to get started.
Final Verdict: Should You Use Smilelove?
Right now, we don’t recommend going with Smilelove. There are too many unknowns for us to give them our thumbs-up. After all, some of the customers who ordered aligner kits in March are still waiting for their aligners or refunds. We’d hate for you to be left hanging like that, and there’s a fair chance that Smilelove’s updated policies won’t keep them afloat. (We’re not wishing them out of business, but your well-being is our priority here, so we want to keep things realistic).
That said, we’re not going to write them off completely. In these unprecedented times, innovators will come out stronger, and Smilelove is fighting to stay alive. Time will tell if their fight will pay off—and we’ll keep you updated the whole way.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Smilelove ever offer discounts?
They used to offer frequent $100-400 discounts. But right now, Smilelove is sticking with their base price. They experienced financial difficulties, so they need the extra revenue to stay afloat. If they survive, they may go back to their frequent discounts. But for now, that’s not the case.
What if I’m not happy with the outcome?
Right now, we’re not quite sure. In the past, Smilelove had a fantastic prorated refund policy. That’s currently on hold. You can request a correction to your treatment, though. For a $200 charge, Smilelove will send you new aligners so you can finish perfecting your smile (although we don’t know how long it will take to receive them).
Does Smilelove offer nighttime-only treatment?
Smilelove does not currently offer a nighttime-only treatment. In fact, they recommend that you wear your aligners for a minimum of 22 hours a day. Basically, when you’re not eating or drinking, you should be wearing your Smilelove aligners, day or night. If you don’t wear them long enough, you run the risk of needing new aligners (and paying for them, too).
Do I need an X-ray before Smilelove treatment?
No X-ray necessary! The impression kit is all you need to get started; it measures the spaces and orientation of your teeth, not your bone structure. That’s assuming you have a relatively normal bone structure, though.
If you suspect that your jaw is a slightly different shape or that you have a bad overbite or underbite, then you may want to get an X-ray to be sure. Bite issues can hinder effective treatment, but only a traditional orthodontist can treat those deeper issues.
How does Smilelove compare to Candid, Byte, Snapcorrect and SmileDirectClub?
Right now, nothing stands out about Smilelove (aside from the obvious rough patch they find themselves in). By comparison, Byte is a faster option, SnapCorrect is more affordable, SmileDirectClub is more convenient, and Candid offers better one-on-one care.
Is Smilelove better than braces and Invisalign?
It depends on what you mean by “better.” Braces, Invisalign, and Smilelove will all get the job done and leave you with an impressive grin. The real questions are: how quickly will it transform your smile? And how much are you willing to spend? Of all these options, Smilelove is the cheapest and quickest way to get treatment. On the other hand, braces and Invisalign can treat a much wider range of conditions.
Is Smilelove cheaper than braces or Invisalign?
Yes! Smilelove is cheaper than both traditional braces and Invisalign. Before insurance, Smilelove costs $1,895 or $2,145 if you use their pay-as-you-go plan (for aligner kits with fewer than 40 aligners). In contrast, Invisalign can cost several thousand dollars before insurance, and the same goes for braces. Ultimately, Smilelove can cost thousands less.
Does Smilelove treatment last forever?
Occasionally, teeth will shift post treatment. As you age (or for women, during pregnancy), your teeth can shift. However, you can prevent this shift by wearing your post-treatment retainers.
The first set is delivered to you free of charge. Smilelove recommends that you wear these retainers for 22 hours per day for the first two weeks after treatment. After that, you can wear them just 2 hours a day to keep your smile looking perfect.
Does Smilelove offer teeth whitening services?
Yes! Smilelove includes a free set of their Premium Whitening kit with each alignment kit. It even includes an LED light tool to speed up the whitening process. If you run out, you can purchase a replacement whitening kit for $199. (That’s the full price; you’ll sometimes find sales that make it as low as $79.99).
I’m in a rush – is Smilelove the fastest at-home treatment option available?
Smilelove is pretty average in their treatment speed. Most users will need about 6 months to complete their treatment. If speed is the only factor that matters—say there’s a big wedding day, graduation day, or portrait session on the horizon—then you’re better off going with Byte. Thanks to their HyperByte system, Byte boasts an average treatment time of just three months.
Does Smilelove have a refund policy?
At present, Smilelove is not honoring their previous refund policy, and they will not be offering it going forward. The only exception is the impression kit guarantee: if you buy a kit and it turns out that you’re not a candidate, you’ll get a refund on the kit cost. That’s the only refund Smilelove currently offers.
What happens if I mess up my impressions?
Smilelove makes it easy to get your impressions right the first time. In the odd chance that you do mess them up, you’ll have to complete another one. But here’s why that’s unlikely: Smilelove offers tons of guidance to complete your impressions. They have a guide here. You can also schedule a video call with a representative to guide you through the process.
Smilelove also includes practice putty in each impression kit. You can practice your impressions as many times as you need to get them perfect.
Does Smilelove have upsells?
Smilelove doesn’t have any hard upsells during their order process. They do have a soft one by including their whitening treatment, but that’s it. And since there’s no commitment to buy another set of the whitening treatment after you run out, it’s not really a true upsell.
Is there an age requirement for using Smilelove?
Smilelove doesn’t explicitly say what ages can get treatment. However, there are a couple things to note: anyone younger than 18 must get parental consent before treatment. Additionally, you should think about your wisdom teeth before getting alignment treatment. If they’re not in yet, or you need to get them removed, you may need to take care of that first. If not, your teeth may shift and ruin your Smilelove alignment.
Will Smilelove make me talk funny?
Using clear aligners is essentially wearing a foreign object in your mouth. So, your mouth might feel a bit funny, and you could have the slightest hint of a lisp. For most people, though, the aligners are minimally invasive and practically imperceptible to others.
How many hours a day should I wear my Smilelove aligners?
With Smilelove, you need to wear your aligners for 22 hours a day. If you don’t wear the aligners long enough each day, your chances of discomfort during treatment increase.
Can I drink coffee while using Smilelove?
With any aligners, you should not eat or drink anything (except water) with your aligners in. That said, you can remove them during meals and snacks, drink, replace them, and repeat as needed.
What happens if I lose my aligners (or retainers)?
Accidents happen. It’s possible that you’ll misplace an aligner. If you do, it’s honestly not a big deal. In the case of a lost aligner, Smilelove recommends that you can just start wearing the next one. Wear it for whatever time remained on the lost one. You’ll have a touch more discomfort this way, but you won’t mess up your treatment.
Is Smilelove covered by insurance?
Smilelove accepts HSA and FSA payments, and they’ll work with you to see if your insurance will cover your treatment. You can also check yourself by asking your carrier if you have orthodontic benefits. If they do, you should ensure that all your bills are coded D8040. That’ll help you avoid playing phone tag with your insurance provider.
How can I contact Smilelove’s customer support?
You can contact Smilelove through their social media channels, but for more traditional support, it’s best to contact them via phone at 1.844.311.8990. If you’d rather email, you can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Last but not least, you can chat with them directly on their website.
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