Smile Direct is Bankrupt, So Here Are Your Alternatives

Smile Direct is Bankrupt, So Here Are Your Alternatives

If you’ve been using Smile Direct Club clear aligners, you have likely heard about the Smile Direct bankruptcy. The company’s decision to shut down happened suddenly leaving thousands wondering what to do about their treatment.

With Smile Direct, all communication with the company was online or through a phone app. Patients never saw a dentist face-to-face. This do-it-yourself approach complicates matters. Now that all operations have been discontinued, there is no one to contact with your questions. 

The good news is that Smile Direct Club customers do not have to give up their goals for straighter teeth. There are options for continuing treatment and there is no reason to delay switching to something that will provide results that are just as good—and maybe even better.

What is the Status of Smile Direct Club

After only nine years in business, The Smile Direct Club business model was attractive to many people looking to improve their smiles with straighter teeth. Treatment involved a series of plastic aligners that gradually moved teeth into place. What really appealed to some users compared to products like Invisalign, was the fact that everything could be done from home. 

Patients were provided with an impression kit to take molds of their teeth. They could also visit a SmileShop to have impressions done with a 3D scanner if one was available nearby. A dental team would create a treatment plan based on the impressions and send aligners through the mail every few weeks. The patient was meant to check in with the Smile Direct team periodically.

Unfortunately, Smile Direct was never able to make a profit in its nine years as a publicly traded company. Nearly $900 million in debt forced it into filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 

So where does this leave its loyal patients? Smile Direct Club has addressed the bankruptcy on its website, with the answers to some frequently asked questions. Here are the facts at this point:

  • All current orders are canceled and new aligners will not be delivered, even if they’re already paid for.
  • The company will post information about refunds as details of the bankruptcy are settled.
  • Dental teams are no longer available to review progress photos or for routine check-ins. 
  • Customer service is no longer available.
  • Those enrolled in the SmilePay payment plan may still have financial obligations. They should contact HFD, the plan service provider directly with questions at
  • Smile Direct Club’s Lifetime Guarantee no longer exists. The guarantee provided retainers and promised free “touchup” retainers to refine patients’ post-treatment results. 
  • A limited supply of Smile Direct whiteners and other dental care products may be available on Amazon or at Walmart, but only until they run out. 

How patients should proceed in light of this information depends largely on where they are in their course of treatment. 

Those who have done their impressions and are waiting for their first set of aligners can start fresh with another product. People who are nearly done with their treatment may be able to transition to a retainer from a dentist or orthodontist. Patients in the middle of treatment are the most affected. They will need to find another option if they want to continue seeing progress.    

What Are My Clear Aligner Options?

For those who prefer the DIY approach to teeth straightening, byte is another provider of at-home clear aligners. Byte’s process is very similar to Smile Direct Club.

After the Smile Direct bankruptcy, it is understandable that some people might be wary of switching to another DIY provider. Invisalign is an option that also uses clear aligners but is administered and monitored by a dentist

Image by bulatovic by Getty Images Pro by

Involving Dental Professionals Is Always a Good Idea

The lack of dental supervision during treatment has always been a drawback for at-home teeth straightening for several reasons. Not only do dentists have more experience in getting precise impressions of the teeth, but they are also better equipped to assess whether or not clear aligners will give patients the results they are looking for. 

Clear aligners, including Invisalign, are best suited for mild to moderate tooth crowding, crookedness, and gaps. Serious overbites, underbites, and crossbites may need something with more force like traditional braces.

Choosing Invisalign typically requires periodic check-in appointments. These will allow the dentist to monitor progress and tweak the treatment as necessary. 

Another advantage of Invisalign from a dentist is their ability to provide additional services like sanding and shaving teeth or fastening Invisalign attachments to the teeth. These can make treatment faster and more effective. 

Even if a Smile Direct user decides to give byte or another at-home product a try, it is a good idea to make an appointment with a dentist. A dental professional can assess how well the clear aligners are working so far and if they are still the best option for the patient’s straightening needs. They will provide valuable advice on the best way to transition to a new type of aligner.

Should I Try Braces Instead of Clear Aligners?

Part of the appeal of clear aligners is that because they are transparent, they are a discreet way to straighten teeth, unlike traditional metal braces. And although they need to be worn 20 to 22 hours every day, patients can take them out to eat, or for the occasional special event. 

But, as we mentioned above, some dental problems are not easily fixed with clear aligners. If users of Smile Direct Club or other aligners are not getting the desired results, the dentist may refer them to an orthodontist for braces.

Today, braces do not have to be as noticeable as they once were. Ceramic or clear braces blend in with the natural tooth color. Another option is lingual braces, which attach to the back side of the teeth so they are almost completely hidden from view. 

Some braces wearers are embracing the treatment. Instead of trying to hide them, they may choose colors that give the illusion of whiter teeth or even opt for bright, fun colors that make a fashion statement! 

Advice for Smile Direct Club Customers

Smile Direct Club users should not delay in deciding on a new treatment, whether that means transitioning to a different clear aligner like Invisalign or switching to braces. If they stop treatment altogether, their teeth may move back into their original position, undoing all of the progress that was made. Gather all of your Smile Direct Club records and make an appointment with a dentist right away. If you don’t have a dentist already, you can use our online search tool to find one near you, including dental practices that provide Invisalign. We will be able to tell you whether clear aligners are still your best option to get the smile you want.