A million dollar smile is great and all, but what about getting one as an adult?
No one past their teen years wants to deal with the “brace face” life (or relive it if the effects of their braces have worn off).
Thankfully, home teeth aligners make it possible to straighten your teeth from the convenience of your house. No braces, no wires, no office visits. These clear aligners have become a popular alternative to braces. Why? They’re much cheaper than braces and Invisalign. They’re also much more convenient.
There are a few popular home teeth aligner companies on the market today, including Smilelove and Byte. In this comparison review, we’ll help you decide which of these two services is the better option for your unique circumstances.
5 Things They Have in Common
For the bulk of this review, we’ll talk about the ways Smilelove and Byte are different. But they do have a fair bit in common. On the obvious side, both companies will help you perfect your grin without going to the dentist’s office. But the commonalities between Smilelove and Byte go much deeper than that:
1) Affordability: Money is always an issue, right? Thankfully, both Smilelove and Byte are relatively affordable. Sure, they have their own price points (more on this later), but they’re both thousands of dollars cheaper than braces or Invisalign. Those methods can cost about $5,000, while Smilelove and Byte are both close to $2,000.
2) Flexible Financing: Even though Smilelove and Byte are both affordable, it’s still a lot to pay up front. Thankfully, both companies offer financing—and neither requires a credit check. With just a $250 downpayment and then a monthly payment of roughly $85, you can kick off your treatment and pay as you go.
3) Discreet: Smilelove and Byte both use slightly different aligners, but you’d hardly know by looking at them. In fact, when most people wear either company’s clear aligners, they’re practically invisible.
4) Safe: We get it. Home dentistry (also called teledentistry) sounds a bit sketchy. But in reality, it isn’t. Both Smilelove and Byte use teams of qualified dental professionals to create a custom treatment plan just for you. They combine your dental impressions with advanced technology to craft your set of aligners. Basically, they’ve taken the technology Invisalign perfected and brought it to the comfort of your home.
5) Insurance Coverage: Smilelove and Byte both accept FSA and HSA accounts, and your insurance may cover part of your treatment, too. Smilelove says they’re accepted by most dental insurance companies, but you’ll need to inquire with your provider to determine whether your policy has orthodontic benefits. Byte, on the other hand, will do the legwork for you. All you have to do is provide your information, and they’ll find out if your provider will cover your treatment.
That mostly covers the similarities. For the remainder of this review, we’ll dig into the differences so you can pick the home aligner that’s best for you.
Company Track Records
Home teeth alignment is a fairly new industry. Even so, it’s important to consider each company’s respective track record. Here’s how the two compare:
|Year of creation: 2017||Year of creation: 2018|
|Customers served: No exact number, but at least 10,000 (Estimated by the number of reviews online)||Customers served: Thousands|
|Company focus: Providing the best value in the industry||Company focus: Correcting smiles in record time (half the industry average) thanks to their HyperByte system|
Smilelove and Byte are both quite new, but they’ve already made their mark in the home aligner industry. That’s because they saw the holes created by the industry giant, Smile Direct, and decided to fill them. Smilelove filled the value-to-cost gap, and Byte filled the treatment speed gap. As a result, these companies have seen some incredible growth over the past few years, and we expect them to keep on growing.
Home teeth aligner companies all use clear plastic aligners to help shift your teeth into the perfect position. But who creates those aligners is an important distinction. That includes the person designing your treatment plan and the manufacturer producing the aligners themselves.
Smilelove and Byte each have their own treatment methods:
|Treatment designers: A team comprised exclusively of orthodontists||Treatment designers: A team made up of only orthodontists|
|Aligner manufacturer: Essix plastics, a well-known plastic provider for the dental industry||Aligner manufacturer: Currently unknown|
The manufacturer of your aligners is one thing. After all, the manufacturer affects the quality and durability of each piece of plastic that enters your mouth. So, we’d really like to know who manufactures Byte’s aligners.
That said, who designs your treatment is even more important. Let’s be fair: dentists do have well-rounded professional training, which includes teeth movements. However, they don’t have the same expertise as orthodontists. Orthodontists have to complete several more years of postgraduate education learning the science of the perfect smile.
By guaranteeing that only an orthodontist will oversee your case, Smilelove and Byte ensure that your treatment is the same quality as a traditional treatment. Some competitors use a mix of dentists and orthodontists, which can potentially compromise the treatment quality.
No two smiles are exactly alike. So, regardless of what company you choose for treatment, your treatment could be longer or shorter than someone else’s. Your treatment speed largely depends on the severity of your crowding or spacing condition.
That said, each company’s product affects your treatment speed as well. Here are the average treatment times for Smilelove and Byte:
- Smilelove: 6 to 8 months
- Byte: 3 months for standard treatment, 6 months for nighttime-only
Smilelove only offers daytime treatment, and their 6-8 month treatment time is on par with the industry average. But they just can’t beat Byte’s speed (in fact, no one can). Even the nighttime option from Byte matches the norm (nighttime treatments often take twice as long). That raw speed is thanks to their proprietary HyperByte system.
During 5-10 minute daily sessions, the HyperByte device gently vibrates your teeth. These vibrations guide your teeth into place more quickly. And as an added benefit, it helps reduce discomfort, too.
Pricing & Features
Let’s talk about bang for your buck. In this section, we’ll dig into the pricing details for impression kits, treatment, and whitening from Smilelove and Byte.
Impression Kit Pricing
All home aligners have you kick off your treatment by taking impressions of your teeth. With most companies, this means using an at-home impression kit. A few companies maintain retail locations where you can get free teeth scans instead of ordering an impression kit, but unfortunately, Byte and Smilelove do not.
Here’s how the impression kit prices stack up:
- Smilelove, $79: This kit includes everything you’ll need to create your impressions, including practice putty, trays, a mouth spreader, instructions, impression putty, and, of course, a prepaid shipping label. If you buy the treatment bundle from Smilelove, your impression kit will be included for free. So we recommend that you only buy the impression kit separately if you’re not sure you’ll go ahead with the treatment. If you know you will later purchase aligners, then getting the bundle can save you $79.
- Byte, $95: Byte’s kit includes everything you need to take your impressions at home, including trays, putty, and, of course, a prepaid shipping label. If $95 gives you sticker shock, keep in mind that Byte sometimes runs sales on the kit.
Both Smilelove and Byte provide a guarantee on your impression kit. If you send in impressions and it turns out that you’re not a good candidate for treatment, they’ll refund the kit price. If you are a candidate, though, you’ll pay the kit price regardless of whether or not you decide to get treatment.
Once you complete your impressions, Smilelove or Byte will create your personalized treatment plan. This includes all of the aligners you’ll need to shift your smile from meh to wow. Regardless of how many aligners you need, your price is the same. Let’s start out by discussing the base prices for each service.
- Smilelove, $1,895: Technically speaking, this is the “price” for Smilelove’s aligners. However, Smilelove runs frequent sales and promotions. For example, around New Year’s, they run a promotion for $400 off! Thanks to these sales, Smilelove is often 20% cheaper than their competitors.
- Byte, $1,895: Byte creates a nice blend of value and affordability with their kit. You’ll get everything you need to straighten your teeth and keep them straight, including the HyperByte system and post-treatment retainers. Purchased separately, the HyperByte system costs a whopping $699, So you get a lot of value for your money.
Can’t pay all at once? Both services offer financing with a 100% acceptance rate, no credit check necessary:
- Smilelove, $2,145: With a downpayment of $250, you can pay as you go to perfect your smile. If you pay the base price, your monthly payment will be roughly $79 (Smilelove doesn’t charge APR). But sales could make your payment as low as $62 per month.
- Byte, $2,324: With Bytepay, you’re automatically approved for financing. When you select Bytepay at checkout, you’ll make a $249 downpayment. After that, you’ll make a monthly payment of $83 for 25 months.
Both Byte and Smilelove offer whitening treatments, and both include the first set for free. If you want to buy whitening à-la-carte, though, you’ll need to shell out a little extra cash:
- Smilelove, $199: The first kit is included in your treatment. The downside with Smilelove is that you have to wait until you finish your alignment treatment because the whitening gel could ruin your aligners! Remember: $199 is the base price, but we’ve seen sales as low as $79.
- Byte, $30: Like Smilelove, the first bottle is free. It’s also safe to use during your treatment, and Byte even recommends that you also use it as a breath freshener and cleanser for your aligners. Replacement bottles are $30, or you can buy a set of 6 at $20 per bottle.
All told, Smilelove has slightly better prices than Byte. You get a lot of value for your money with Byte, but Smilelove’s discounts are awesome. Many days, Smilelove is 20% cheaper than other home teeth aligners.
No one anticipates having issues with their aligners, but stuff happens. That’s life. When it does, you’ll need to talk with customer support. We’ve tested them ourselves, and here’s how the two compare:
|Contact methods: Phone, email, social media, chat, & video call (for impressions)||Contact methods: Phone, email, social media, & video call (for impressions)|
|Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. M-F, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays||Hours: 8 a.m to 6 p.m. PST|
|Speed: Hit-or-miss; phone usually gets same-day responses, but email is usually slower.||Speed: Phone usually gets a same-day response; social media and email queries can take 24 hours|
|Friendliness: cooperative, helpful, & enthusiastic||Friendliness: Receptive, knowledgeable, individualized, & professional|
|Takeaway: Smilelove’s customer support isn’t quite as good as their prices, but it gets the job done. They offer plenty of contact methods, and the video support for your impression kit is a nice touch. The biggest drawback is their delayed responses. We think these delays are largely related to their size. They’re such a small company that their customer support team just can’t keep up.||Takeaway: Byte puts their customers at the center of all they do. They’re prompt, responsive, and extremely helpful. And we especially love that Byte gives a personal Byte advisor to each customer. Anytime you contact them for support, you get to chat with someone who’s seen your case the whole way through. You won’t have to explain your situation every time, either.|
Smilelove demonstrates some room for improvement in their customer support department. To make up for that, they offer a wealth of online resources, from FAQs to how-to videos.
Byte, on the other hand, has an excellent customer support model. The fact that they assign a personal assistant to each customer makes a huge difference. Individualized attention goes a long way in making customers feel valued and supported.
Ease of Getting Started
Ease is the name of the game when it comes to at-home aligner treatment. But not all aligner companies use the same process. Some are a bit easier than others.
The same goes for Byte and Smilelove. Some of their competitors maintain physical locations that customers can visit to skip the hassle of an impression kit by scheduling an appointment, where a smile assistant will administer a teeth scan. These appointments are free and much simpler than impressions.
Unfortunately, Smilelove and Byte don’t offer this option. To make up for it, they offer video call support for impressions. You can have a customer service representative coach you through the process. They’ll help ensure that you get your impressions right.
What if I get it wrong?
Impression kits are a tad tricky, so don’t panic if you mess them up. If the impressions are iffy—they could work, but you’re not sure—send them in. The orthodontists will let you know if you need to try again.
If you’re sure you’ve botched the impressions, contact customer support at Smilelove or Byte and they’ll send another kit your way. In particular, Byte won’t charge you anything except the price of shipping. You also have two impressions worth of kit, so you can mess up once and still have another go at it.
For many shoppers, customer reviews can make or break purchasing decisions. If you’re one of those shoppers, we’ve got you covered. We’ve done the legwork for you to see what customers across the web are saying about Smilelove and Byte.
|Top loves: More affordable than other options; visible improvement in a short amount of time; website is easy to use||Top loves: excellent customer service (even mentioning representatives by name); visible results within a couple weeks; easy to use|
|Top complaints: Difficulty when requesting a refund or smile correction, including slow responses from customer service; checkout options are a tad redundant||Top complaints: no shipping to North Carolina; guarantee on impression kit does not apply to bite issues|
|Average score: 4.5/5||Average score: 4.7/5|
Smilelove and Byte are both pretty new to the industry, but they still have an impressive number of online reviews. Thousands of customers have taken the time to write about Smilelove and Byte. But what’s even better? An overwhelming majority (90% or more) of those reviews are positive.
Yes, there are negatives—no shipping to NC just seems odd—but the positives easily outshine them. Treatment corrections and refunds are the exceptions, not the norm.
Refund Policies & Satisfaction Guarantees
As with any purchase, there’s always the nagging question: what if it doesn’t work out? Smilelove and Byte both have very individualized approaches for refunds and satisfaction guarantees.
Smilelove’s Prorated Refund
Smilelove has the best refund policy in the entire industry, but it does have its catches. To be eligible for the refund, you must follow your prescribed treatment plan faithfully. If you reach the end of your treatment and your new smile doesn’t match the one you were promised, you can request a refund. Smilelove will compare your actual results to your initial projection and refund you according to the difference between the two. If you’d rather finish the job, then Smilelove offers refinements for $200.
The “Byte-for-Life Guarantee”
Strictly speaking, Byte only has one refund policy: their impression kit. If you’re not a candidate for treatment, you’ll be refunded for the impression kit. However, Byte stands by their product forever with their “Byte for Life” guarantee.
This guarantee is essentially a lifetime warranty. If your teeth ever shift after treatment, Byte will send you new aligners to correct it. Similarly, if you reach the end of your treatment and you’re not satisfied, you can request a re-evaluation. As long as you follow your prescribed treatment plan, Byte will help make it right.
Which is the Best Home Aligner for You?
When it all comes down to it, Smilelove and Byte are both good options. They’re honestly our top two favorite services. But at the end of the day, you can only pick one.
If you want our honest opinion, we prefer Byte…but just barely. They have a great lifetime guarantee, and they give a great mix of value and efficiency. You can take your pick between the two and still feel confident that you made a great purchase.
- Choose Smilelove if: saving your money is an absolute priority. Smilelove has the best prices in the entire industry.
- Choose Byte if: you’re in a rush to see the smile of your dreams as quickly as possible. Byte is twice as fast as their competitors; even their nighttime-only treatment matches the speed of competitors’ daytime options.
We Recommend Byte
We highly recommend Byte. Their “Byte for Life” guarantee promises you a lifetime warranty of their starter kit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does either home aligner kits offer discounts?
Technically, both services offer discounts. Smilelove’s discounts are much more frequent and substantial, though. We’ve seen Smilelove offer a discount as large as $400 several times. Byte gives small discounts to students, first responders, and military members, and they sometimes run promotions around holidays and other special occasions.
Are Smilelove and Byte legit?
Your mom warned you about things that sound too good to be true, right? Thankfully home aligner companies like Smilelove and Byte aren’t. These companies leverage a competitive product with competitive prices. But they don’t sacrifice quality to do it. How? They don’t have the overhead costs of a physical office like a traditional orthodontist’s office, so they can reinvest those savings in measures that ensure fast and convenient treatment.
Which home aligner is more customer-focused?
In this case, Byte is more customer-focused. Their model of assigning a personal assistant to each customer is hard to beat. Each time you contact customer support, you’ll speak with someone who knows the ins and outs of your case.
How exactly do at-home clear aligners work?
They’re nearly invisible, but they’re not magical. Technically speaking, at-home clear aligners use roughly the same technology that Invisalign uses. This starts with your impressions which a dental professional will use to design a series of clear trays that gently move your teeth to their final destination.
How do Smilelove and Byte compare to Invisalign?
They’re distant cousins, really. Invisalign pioneered the clear aligner alternative to traditional braces. However, Invisalign adds one different aspect: devices affixed to your teeth to secure the aligners, which must be attached in-office by a qualified orthodontist. Home aligners don’t use these devices, allowing you to complete your entire treatment at home.
How do these home aligners compare to Candid and Smile Direct?
Smilelove and Byte are pretty similar to both Candid and Smile Direct. Smile Direct is the industry’s powerhouse (they started business in 2013) with a ton of experience. Candid is a little newer, but they focus on high-quality treatment and social impact through their partnership with the Smile Train.
Is there an age requirement for using either Smilelove or Byte?
Smilelove and Byte both require you to have all permanent teeth before beginning treatment. (You don’t want to dump thousands into teeth that will just fall out, anyway). Smilelove doesn’t have an explicit age requirement and Byte’s patients must be at least 12 years old. With either service, minors must have parental consent before receiving treatment.
Does either service give free whitening treatment?
Smilelove includes one free box of their whitening treatment with your aligner kit. However, you cannot use it until after you’ve finished using your aligners. Byte offers whitening kits that you can use in conjunction with your aligners. The first bottle is free, but each additional one is $30.
Can I use Smilelove and Byte if I live outside the USA?
If you live in Canada, you could use Smilelove. Byte does not currently ship internationally.
Do Smilelove and Byte have aggressive upsells?
Thankfully, no. Both companies “bait you in” (mildly) by giving you one set of their whitening treatment for free. But since there’s no obligation to buy a replacement kit once yours run out, it’s not a true upsell.
How do I know If at-home aligners are right for me?
Many people are good candidates for at-home treatment. In general, the only people who should automatically steer clear of at-home aligners are people with significant bite issues. If underbite, overbite, crossbite, etc. is the cause of your misalignment, then clear aligners may not be able to permanently correct your issue.
Individuals with implants may still be able to get treatment. To know for sure, you’ll need to take an impression kit with either service. They’ll let you know for sure if you are a candidate or not. If you are not a candidate, you’ll get a refund for the price of the impression kit.
Will either of these home aligners make me talk less funny?
Once they’re in your mouth, Smilelove’s and Byte’s aligners are imperceptibly different. Most people take a few days to adjust to the feeling of aligners—after all, there’s a foreign object in your mouth—but very few experience long-lasting issues. The average observer can’t detect that you’re wearing aligners, even while talking.
If I lose my aligners during or after treatment, do I have to pay for new ones?
Smilelove won’t replace an aligner if you lose one. Byte, on the other hand, will send you a replacement aligner for $99. With either service, though, you should wear your previous aligner to keep your teeth from shifting too far back.
Can I drink coffee when using Smilelove or Byte?
You can, but you shouldn’t. Aligners from Smilelove and Byte are fairly stain-resistant, but you should generally avoid eating or drinking colored liquids and foods while wearing your aligners. Water is a safe bet, though.
Are there any hidden costs?
Byte and Smilelove don’t really have any hidden costs. What you see is what you get, especially since they both include the first set of post-treatment retainers for free. With either company, however, you’ll need to purchase new post-treatment retainers occasionally. They do wear out over time.
We Recommend Byte
We highly recommend Byte. Their “Byte for Life” guarantee promises you a lifetime warranty of their starter kit.