On average, you smile around twenty times per day. Smiling has the power to reduce our stress level, boost our immune system, and it’s even been theorized that smiling makes someone more likely to be considered for a promotion at work. Smiles make a person seem more attractive, sociable and confident. If stretching our lips from ear to ear has the potential to bring us so many benefits, then why is it that roughly a quarter of Americans reportedly hate doing it? The fact of the matter is, we actually don’t hate smiling. We just fear what smiling reveals — our teeth.
A survey from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry has revealed that for 71 percent of women and 58 percent of men, teeth are one of the first features noticed when meeting someone. I’m stating the absolute obvious when I say that our teeth are an extremely important part of our bodies — but that importance reaches beyond their basic, intended function. It’s clear they play a significant role in how we feel, how we perceive ourselves, and how we perceive others. So, if like me, you break into a cold sweat every time someone approaches with a camera, you’re probably looking to do something about it.
Enter Smile Direct Club, a Nashville-based startup that delivers invisible aligners directly to your doorstep. Advertised as costing 60 percent less than traditional braces, SDC cuts out the inconvenience of frequent visits to the orthodontist, opting instead for a teledentistry approach. With payment plans and free aligner replacement, why wouldn’t you opt in to become a part of the club?
After weeks of research, I did choose to make the investment. Nearly a full month into treatment, I’m still happy I made the decision. However, I can honestly say that after watching numerous YouTube reviews, reading countless online reviews, and even speaking with a dental professional about the teeth moving process, I don’t think SDC is truly an option for everyone, or at least not the right one. So, here's some things to know before you decide to take the plunge:
SDC offers two options for payment: in full for $1800, or a plan of a $250 down payment and $80 per month for a total of twenty-four months, the latter totaling out to $2170. While neither option would be considered cheap, both are a much more affordable option than traditional braces or aligners. Additionally, your insurance may cover a portion of your treatment, and a quick Google search can easily land you a promo code for an additional $100 to $200 off. While some people may have to pay an additional $75 or an impressions kit, Nashvillians should take advantage of SDC’s local SmileShop to have a 3D digital model of their teeth developed for free.
SDC is notorious for having horrible customer service. An overwhelming amount of people complain about delayed shipping, missing or incorrect aligners, and even agents outright ignoring customers when they reach out about an issue. Personally, I haven’t had any issues. My aligners arrived in half the time I was initially told, every week was included and appeared to be correct, and when I reached out about an insurance question, my agent was knowledgeable and helpful. Yet I still frequently see a plethora of complaints in my SDC Facebook group about how many customers have not been as fortunate. It just seems to be a mixed bag and depends on one’s own luck when it comes to whether or not you’ll be dealing with these problems. If you decide on SDC, be prepared to be persistent if you have a problem.
Many people report losing weight on SDC, mainly because snacking is virtually out of the picture. You cannot consume any food or beverage with your aligners in - with the exception of water. Your aligners must stay in at least twenty-two hours every single day, and you must take care to brush your teeth and clean your aligners before putting them back on if you want them to stay invisible or at the very least to avoid cavities. Even if you’re always on top of safe aligner storage and cleaning, you’re going to have to absolutely inhale anything extra to stay under two hours aligner free. Still, I don’t find the process to be too terribly tedious, and the worst part for me is finding a spot to use a wisp if I’m dining out.
Additionally, aligners do hurt. You’d think this would be obvious, yet many people seem to find this surprising. The pain isn’t excruciating by any means. It usually fades after two or so days into a new set, and you will get used to it after going through a few trays, but it still isn’t fun. Ibuprofen will become a frequent for you.
Here’s the real kicker: even if you approve your plan, buy it, and flawlessly follow every treatment rule, you still may not get the teeth you wanted. Based off of the reviews of those who have completed treatment, here’s the gist. If, like me, your teeth are only going to need minor or slightly moderate shifting, then you will more than likely end up with fairly straight teeth. However, if your teeth are especially crooked, you’re probably going to end up with improved but not completely straightened teeth. For some who cannot get anywhere near affording traditional orthodontic work, that may still be fine with you. Understand, though, that just because SDC approves you for treatment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their service is going to completely fix your smile. It’s important to have realistic expectations going into this process, especially considering the time and money you’re investing.
Like I said before, I'm happy that I chose to go with SDC, and many will attest to the fact that it improved their teeth faster and at a reduced cost compared to braces or other invisible aligners. I’m nearly a fifth of the way through my treatment, I’ve adapted fairly easily to my new lifestyle, and I’m already starting to see subtle differences in my smile. If after reading this you think SDC is right for you, go for it. At the very least, it’ll put a smile on your face.