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- I tried straightening my teeth with Candid, an online company that sends you a personalized treatment plan and sets of plastic aligners for a flat price of $1,900.
- The process consists of a few main steps and mostly ran smoothly for me. And even when it wasn’t, Candid’s helpful support team got me back on track.
- You either order its $95 starter kit (now $47.50 through a site promotion) or visit a Candid Studio to create a teeth scan, then you receive an individualized plan from an orthodontist in Candid’s network, wear the aligners for the recommended period of time, and then finish the treatment off with a set of free retainers.
- You’ll like Candid’s services if you want to straighten your teeth with subtle, non-obtrusive aligners and without spending an exorbitant amount of money or time.
Traditional braces are too expensive. You wore braces as a kid but can’t find your retainers anymore so your teeth have shifted again. Taking the time to find and regularly visit an orthodontist just doesn’t fit into your already packed schedule.
Many people want to improve their smiles, but thanks to reasons like those above, they haven’t been able to.
Founded in 2017, Candid is an online company that’s offering a convenient, affordable, and effective solution, making teeth-straightening aligners at a fraction of the cost of traditional braces and aligners.
Candid and similar companies like earlier entrant to the scene SmileDirectClub are challenging the notion that you have to step into an orthodontist’s office in order to get straighter teeth. With photos and impressions of your teeth on hand, Candid creates orthodontist-approved, 3D-printed, and BPA-free plastic aligners to correct mild to moderate imperfections in your bite.
Most remarkable of all, the whole treatment costs less than $2,000 and it’s a surprisingly easy process. Though Candid does give the option to visit one of its nationwide physical locations, you can also get started right at home by requesting its starter kit. I tried out the Candid aligner treatment last year to straighten my teeth, and it was truly a unique experience.
Read on to learn about how Candid is different from competitors such as SmileDirectClub, what to expect from the treatment from beginning to end, the cost of Candid’s aligners, and more.
How Candid is different
A few key features sets Candid apart from other online "teledentistry" services:
- It only works with orthodontists — doctors who specialize in straightening teeth — not just general dentists. The orthodontists in its network have an average of 20 years of experience.
- It sends you all the aligners in your treatment plan at once, instead of only once you need a new set.
- It gives back. For every aligner kit sold, Candid donates $25 to Smile Train, a charity that provides safe and free cleft palate treatments to children around the world.
Who should get aligners through Candid?
Before doing anything, you should see if you’re an eligible candidate for the Candid process. You can take its short survey, which asks about concerns you want to correct (e.g. gaps, crowding), any previous history with braces and retainers, and more.
The company is upfront about whether Candid is the best treatment for you.
There are three main reasons why you may not be eligible for Candid: your case falls outside of mild to moderate imperfections and would be better served by in-office orthodontic treatment; you have not been to the dentist recently to treat your teeth and gums for cavities and decay; or you currently use a permanent retainer. This last point differs from SmileDirectClub, as their 3D imaging technology lets them to create aligners based on what your teeth would look like without retainers. That means you can get your aligners before getting your permanent retainer removed.
How Candid works: modeling, treatment, and post-treatment
If you’re a fit, congrats — you’re ready to get started through one of two options. You will take photos and impressions of your teeth either at home, or at a physical Candid Studio location near you. The at-home option is a $95 starter kit (now $47.50 through a site promotion), while the free Candid Studio experience has a specialist that will scan your teeth for you.
Either way, the process should take 30 minutes and will yield the info needed to create your treatment plan. If the orthodontist ultimately determines Candid isn’t right for you after receiving the results of your starter kit, you’ll receive a full refund.
I used the starter kit to send in photos and impressions at the beginning of my treatment and visited a Candid Studio in New York to get a final teeth scan at the end, so I can speak to both experiences. The at-home kit has you mix putty, stick it in five trays, and take your own impressions of your teeth. If you have a sensitive gag reflex, this part can be tricky to manage on your own, and it might be useful to have a friend nearby to assist.
You’ll also take photos (you’ll definitely need a friend for this one) of various angles of your bite, with the help of a cheek stretcher to get a clear shot.
While I didn’t have difficulty making impressions, I did have to go back and forth with the Candid support team for good photos. It was a little frustrating that I couldn’t get the photos right the first time, but the support team was very patient and helpful in moving the process forward, and even hopped on a call with me to clarify confusion about what they were looking for in the photos.
Overall, the at-home option is best for those who want to take photos and impressions on their own time and in the comfort of their own home, who can’t make it to a Candid Studio during regular business hours, or don’t live near a Candid Studio.
Meanwhile, if you make an appointment at or walk in to a Candid Studio, you’ll enter a nicely designed facility that feels more spa-like than dentist-like and work with an experienced specialist. They use an optical laser scan to sweep over all areas inside your mouth and create a digital model of your teeth. Since you’re in the hands of an expert here, the studio option could be faster and less frustrating, but only if you do happen to live near a Candid Studio.
The results are sent to an orthodontist in Candid’s network, who then creates an individualized treatment plan for you. It typically takes three to four weeks to receive your treatment plan, which includes an interactive 3D preview of the step-by-step results you can expect.
All treatments cost $1,900, which you can pay upfront or through a monthly payment plan. That’s significantly cheaper than traditional braces, which on average cost $3,000 to $6,000, and Invisalign, which on average costs $3,000 to $7,000. SmileDirectClub is a tiny bit cheaper than Candid: its treatment costs $1,895.
Candid accepts FSA and HSA, but doesn’t work in-network with any insurers. Still, you can submit your insurance information to the company, which will file a claim on your behalf. If you are eligible for orthodontic benefits, your insurance company will reimburse you directly.
The treatment plan consists of a series of aligners that gradually move your teeth. The length of the plan depends on your specific needs, and Candid says most of its customers complete treatment in an average of six months.
Before Candid, I wore braces about 10 years ago, for one year. They fixed the small gaps in my teeth and my slight overbite, and I moved onto a retainer thereafter. Like many irresponsible teens, I stopped wearing my retainer (I couldn’t even tell you where it is right now) and my teeth have shifted again as a result. I remember my brace face days well — getting food stuck in my braces, going in to the orthodontist for painful tightenings — and hated them, so I was excited to try Candid’s affordable and convenient approach.
My personal plan lasted four months, and consisted of seven sets of aligners. I wore each set of aligners for two weeks before moving onto the next. Candid sends you all the aligners at once, organized by step, along with a carrying case and a whitening foam that both keeps your aligners clean and brightens your teeth.
The aligners look like plastic molds of your teeth and fit tightly over them. Each new aligner hurts initially, but they become more comfortable to wear over time, and for the most part, wearing the aligners didn’t affect my day-to-day life significantly. I had a slight lisp with them on, which never completely disappeared throughout my treatment, but no one ever pointed it out, and I was probably more self-conscious than necessary about it. I only took them off to eat and brush my teeth, and otherwise wore them all day and night long.
Candid sent me text and email reminders whenever it was time to move on to my next aligner, so I never had to keep track of the timing myself, and before long, my four months of treatment had flown by.
Here was the final result following completion of the Candid treatment. I have small teeth and my teeth were mostly straight pre-treatment, so it might be difficult to see a distinct difference with photos of my face. The digital model scans below make the transformation more evident.
After you complete the aligners portion of the treatment, Candid sends you a free retainer and case. For the first two weeks, you need to wear the retainer 22 hours a day, after which you only need to wear it at night. The retainers look and feel very similar to the aligners, but they’re just a little thicker. Candid recommends changing retainers every six months, and each new set costs $99 each.
Other than the initial hiccup with the starter kit photos, my experience with Candid aligners was smooth and surprisingly easy to manage.
Every person I encountered, from the support team to the Candid Studio specialist, was friendly and professional, making me feel like I was in good hands during what can be a nerve-wracking process (these are your one and only set of teeth, after all).
Since Candid only works with orthodontists, not just dentists like some other aligner companies do, I could trust the recommendations and treatment design fully. The results clearly reflected their expertise and the quality of Candid’s aligner fabrication — the treatment actually worked and my teeth were re-straightened after my reckless abandonment of my old retainers.
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