Teeth straightening treatments are notoriously slow—and not cheap. A typical treatment like braces or Invisalign usually costs $4,000-$7,000.
Candid aims to deliver a less daunting and much more affordable alternative for people with mild to moderate teeth positioning problems, such as crowding, spacing, or protrusion. The company offers the same custom-made aligners you would use if you went to a traditional dentist—along with regular remote monitoring of your treatment.
Is Candid a reputable and effective service? How does it compare to similar companies in terms of value and expertise? We thoroughly tested Candid’s teeth straightening service and offer you the pros and cons here to help you decide whether it’s a good choice for you.
- More affordable than in-person orthodontic treatments (traditional braces and Invisalign)
- All treatments are designed and supervised by experienced orthodontists
- If you live in a Candid office location, you can choose to do in-person diagnostic scans
- Includes a digital scanner to facilitate more advanced treatment monitoring
- Offers touch-up treatment if results don’t match the original plan
- Flexible payment options
- Only 30 studios in a handful of metro areas for those who want in-person scans to initiate treatment
- Using the at-home dental impression kit isn’t foolproof and may require a redo
- Slightly pricier than other companies like Smile Direct Club or Byte
Candid makes straightening your teeth from home easy and affordable with clear, customized aligners.
Candid helps you make your own dental impressions and then delivers a customized treatment plan with clear aligners to straighten your teeth. Delivery straight to your front door means you can skip the dental waiting room altogether.
We organized our evaluation of Candid around five fundamental criteria:
- Professional expertise
- Consultation experience
- Treatment quality
- Commitment to results
- Cost and payment options
Because Candid only uses orthodontists for its diagnostic services and treatment design, it stands out from other online orthodontics companies whose plans are often overseen by dentists without orthodontic training. Given their additional 2-3 years of orthodontics residency, orthodontists are the most qualified to treat bite and alignment issues. Candid orthodontists have an average of 20 years of experience in the orthodontics field.
While Candid offers 3D scans in its studio locations, most studios are condensed in metro areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago. If you can’t visit one of the studios, you can use an at-home putty impression kit. Although the company’s website claims a 3D scan isn’t better than impressions, 3D scans are considered the more accurate standard practice for most orthodontist offices. Some Candid customers are asked to redo their at-home impressions for accuracy.
Candid doesn’t promise the fastest treatment results, and it doesn’t offer other abbreviated services like nighttime-only aligners. Still, the average treatment time is six months, and the longest is only ten months—far less than most braces or Invisalign cases. We see these policies as indicative of Candid’s medically sound principles and expertise. Faster treatments and nighttime-only treatments can put patients at greater risk for complications, including root resorption and tooth loss.
Unlike other major teeth-straightening companies, Candid also sends a ScanBox device that you hook up to your smartphone for a full scan of your teeth for regular treatment monitoring. Your scans will be reviewed by the orthodontist that designed your Candid treatment plan. You’ll receive a notification through your Candid app when it’s time for a new scan or an aligner switch. Candid check-ins are every 10-14 days, which is more frequent than other at-home aligner companies or traditional orthodontist schedules.
Commitment to results
Candid’s more frequent check-ins and use of ScanBox technology mean there’s more opportunity to pick up on problems throughout the treatment process than with some other at-home aligner companies. Still, like many companies in the at-home orthodontics area, Candid doesn’t provide a money-back guarantee on its product.
If, however, the results of your treatment don’t measure up to what’s shown in your 3D treatment plan, Candid will consider a “refinements process,” additional aligners to make final corrections for no extra cost. To be eligible for consideration, you must request refinements within 30 days of finishing your treatment. Additionally, you must have followed the full Candid treatment protocol assigned by your orthodontist, including wearing aligners for 22 hours/day, completing and sending all scans on schedule, and transitioning to next-step aligners only when directed by your orthodontist.
If you’ve fulfilled these requirements, Candid will ask you to do another set of at-home impressions with a free second Starter Kit or to visit a Candid Studio for updated scans. From there, Candid will decide if you’re eligible for refinements and, if so, will create a new treatment plan with an additional set of refinement aligners.
All Candid customers are directed to wear retainers post-treatment to maintain their new smiles, with the final aligner in their treatment set being the first retainer.
Cost and payment options
Candid charges a flat fee of $2,400 for treatment. You’ll pay more with Candid than other popular at-home aligner companies, but your treatment will also be designed and supervised by better-trained professionals. We consider it worth the peace of mind.
Candid’s insurance eligibility and financing options are on par with other well-established at-home aligner companies.
At Innerbody Research, we do the legwork so you don’t have to. All told, our team has spent over 196 hours thoroughly researching and evaluating Candid and their competitors and trying their services to provide an accurate, unbiased analysis of how they stack up, free of marketing jargon and gimmicks.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions to live healthier lifestyles. We evaluate the service based on adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?
Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
Candid was founded by a team of tech entrepreneurs and orthodontists who wanted to create a “different type” of teeth alignment treatment. The goal was to provide the same orthodontic results with a simpler and more affordable process but without sacrificing medical standards.
Who is an ideal customer for Candid?
Candid may be an ideal choice for people who are looking to correct mild to moderate alignment issues and who otherwise have good oral health. Commitment to wearing aligners 22 hours/day and following through on the check-ins and aligner transitions are critical to successful results.
Candid treatment is designed for adults, but the company also offers a separate teen version of its alignment treatment with additional steps and restrictions.
Who is NOT an ideal customer for Candid?
Just like other at-home aligners, Candid aligners can only correct mild to moderate problems. You’ll probably need treatment beyond aligners alone if you have a more severe issue like an underbite, overbite, crossbite, or teeth crowding problem. Likewise, if your gums and teeth aren’t in healthy condition, you may also be ineligible or be asked to seek dental care for existing problems that would make teeth movement unsafe.
This is why Candid begins the process by reviewing photographs, in-office scans, and/or at-home impressions of your teeth. Upon review, Candid can determine whether you’re a suitable candidate for its treatment and whether you need to take care of oral health issues before treatment approval. If it doesn’t accept you as a candidate for treatment, Candid will issue a full refund.
An initial studio visit for scans is free. However, if you don’t live near a Candid Studio, you’ll need to purchase an at-home Starter Kit either with a full treatment or by itself for $95. The company offers discounts on this kit periodically. Candid’s Starter Kit comes with the following:
- Instruction for photos and impressions
- Cheek stretcher for your intraoral photos
- Putty sets for each of your impressions
- Trays (3 top, 2 bottom) for your impressions
- Prepaid return box for completed impressions
Candid’s Starter Kit comes included when you buy the aligner treatment, but the company also sells this kit separately for $95 for those who prefer to spend less upfront. After you take your dental impressions and pictures, just send them back to Candid, and one of its orthodontists will design your treatment plan. At this point, you are under no obligation; you can either buy the full treatment plan or not.
Candid’s main product is its Clear Aligner Treatment, which costs $2,400 and can fix mild to moderate teeth malocclusion (problems with the position or alignment of your teeth). Treatment can address issues like gaps between the teeth, crowded sections (which may push teeth too tightly against one another), or protruding teeth (when one tooth is being pushed behind or in front of the surrounding teeth).
The full treatment includes:
- The starter kit, which you can also buy separately
- A pack of whitening foam
- A set of aligners that will take you through each step of your treatment
- A treatment plan designed by a certified orthodontist
- A ScanBox device that you hook up to your smartphone to create a full scan of your teeth for regular treatment monitoring
Remote monitoring of your progress through regular at-home teeth scans is included in the treatment cost.
For the most part, Candid clear aligners work just like traditional aligners or “invisible braces,” such as Invisalign. These aligners are made from clear, BPA-free thermoplastic. A full treatment includes on average 12 trays that you must wear in a specific order. Generally, you’ll wear each one for 10 to 14 days before moving onto the next one. Your orthodontist will tell you when to switch aligners.
While the final aligner in your treatment kit will be your first retainer to maintain your new teeth alignment, Candid recommends replacing retainers every six months. Each retainer order includes:
- Custom retainer
- Carrying case
- A pack of whitening foam
From the website layout to the treatment instructions, we found Candid excels in creating a simple and positive customer experience. Next steps were always clear, and customer specialist communication was timely and helpful when we had questions.
When you visit the Candid site, click “Am I a Candidate?” for an optional 30-second survey that gives you a general (but not final) assessment of whether Candid is a good fit for you. The survey asks about:
- The status of your teeth (Are they crowded, spaced, discolored, or protruding?)
- Your experience with braces
- Your dental insurance information
- An ideal treatment timeline
- Personal details like age, zip code, and email
If the quiz concludes you are an ideal candidate, you have three options:
Buy a treatment plan right away, directly from their website
Buy the Starter Kit alone, and decide if you want the complete treatment later
Book an appointment at one of their studios
If you choose either of the first two options, you can expect to receive your Starter Kit in 3-6 days. The box includes the materials that you need, all neatly labeled. All you need to provide is a timer and a phone camera.
Note: if you purchase the alignment treatment initially, you’ll receive the Starter Kit first before anything else. If Candid decides you’re not a candidate for their treatment, you’ll be refunded.
Taking teeth impressions
Before you get started with the impressions, you should watch Candid’s video with detailed instructions and also read the helpful manual included with the kit. You may also want to recruit a friend to help you, as the process is a bit complex.
The hardening putty comes in an inactive form, divided into a deep blue and a grey putty.
- Step one: Set a timer for one minute and blend the putties thoroughly to activate them.
- Step two: Within one minute, shape the putty into the right size (the manual comes with a box to serve as a guide) and place it neatly inside the tray. Poke two holes in the putty to show where your front teeth should go.
- Step three: Place the tray inside your mouth, line up your front teeth with the holes, and make sure your teeth are all touching the tray (even the back ones).
- Step four: Keep the tray in your mouth for 3.5 minutes before removing it.
You’ll repeat these steps for your upper and lower teeth. Both the video and the manual describe the common mistakes people sometimes make at this stage. Candid also provides an extra tray for your upper teeth, which is meant to be a trial run. You will only need to send two impressions of each row of teeth.
Taking teeth pictures
In addition to teeth impressions, you also need to include images of your teeth. You can use your phone camera and Candid’s cheek stretcher to get accurate pictures.
Make sure you’re positioned with a blank wall behind you.
Remove glasses, hats, or any other accessories that could be distracting.
Pose in a well-lit room.
Brush and floss your teeth ahead of time.
All in all, you’ll take 8 pictures, the first three pics using your camera in selfie mode. Take a picture of:
Your face while not smiling
Your face while smiling
A right-side profile of your face
The other 5 pictures require your phone’s main camera for clarity. You should enlist the help of either a mirror or a friend to take these pics. You also use the cheek stretcher for these pictures. Insert it into your mouth and then take a picture of:
Back teeth biting down on the right side
Back teeth biting down on the left side
Front teeth biting down
Bottom teeth with mouth open
Top teeth with mouth open
Visiting a Candid studio
If this is all too much for you, you can visit a Candid Studio instead. Candid has participating studios all over the country.
By visiting one of these clean, comfortable, and sleekly decorated studios, you won’t have to do any impressions or pictures on your own. Instead, a dental technician takes the images for you and creates a 3D version of your teeth using a wand scanner. This process is pain-free and largely non-invasive, so you won’t need to take any anesthetics or medications. The only prerequisite is a professional cleaning within the last 6 months.
Staff members are friendly, and the studio environment feels more relaxing than clinical. You’ll generally be in and out within half an hour.
Candid aligner treatment
After you send in your impressions and pictures, Candid will match you with a registered orthodontist in your state. Within 14 days, you’ll receive a treatment plan. Log in to the Members Portal to see a 3D image of your expected results.
Approve the plan, and Candid manufactures and sends your aligners. You’ll receive the treatment box within 20 days of plan approval. Your 8-12 custom-made aligners are numbered according to the order you’ll wear them. Generally, you can expect to wear each aligner for about 2-3 weeks, at least 22 hours a day.
You also receive a ScanBox that connects to your phone for at-home scans every 7-10 days. Submit scans through the Candid app. Your orthodontist will review your scans and prompt you via app messaging when it’s time to change aligners.
Tooth realignment is a lengthy process because it requires shifting the bone and ligaments around your teeth and pushing your teeth into their new position, just like braces. If you have any problems, such as a new cavity or side effects like pain or inflammation, you can always contact Candid directly.
Maintenance using retainers
Your last aligner doubles as your first set of retainers. Approximately 2 weeks after you start wearing them, your Candid orthodontist will give you the OK to consider your treatment complete. You continue wearing retainers only while you sleep.
Each set of retainers is meant to last for six months. You can order more sets from Candid for just $99. Each set comes with:
- The retainers
- A carrying case
- Whitening foam
Like with any other teeth alignment treatment, you should be sure to continue wearing retainers while you sleep for as long as you want to maintain the positive effects of the Candid treatment.
Like most well-established at-home aligner companies, Candid is in-network for several large insurance providers: Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, Empire BlueCross, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, and Aetna Dental (currently only PPO and EPP plans). If Candid is in-network for your insurance company, you may save up to $1,300, depending on your particular plan.
Once you purchase the aligner treatment and plug your insurance information into the Candid portal, Candid will file a claim on your behalf. The company doesn’t guarantee reimbursement, so it’s on you to check with your insurance company. Ask your insurance provider if it covers remote orthodontic treatment under code D8090.
You can also use HSA/FSA funds toward Candid and apply for monthly financing. The company offers financing as low as $79/month with $299 down for 36 months or a more selective financing option through Affirm at $0 down with $0 APR. Candid customers can also pay directly by credit card.
While the at-home teeth-straightening business is quickly expanding, Candid’s main competitors are Smile Direct Club and Byte. Both offer invisible aligners to correct mild to moderate teeth malocclusion. Both are slightly cheaper than Candid, and each promises a shorter treatment time. But how else do they stack up against Candid’s services?
Smile Direct Club
Smile Direct Club offers invisible aligners and two versions of treatment: standard (wearing aligners 22+ hours a day) and nighttime (wearing aligners only at night or 10 hours/day). The company has many more in-person studios for initial teeth scans than Candid does currently.
Compared with Candid’s $2,400 regular cost, Smile Direct is more affordable at $1,950, with $59 for a starter kit rather than $95 with Candid. That lower price point comes with a downgrade in professional expertise, however, given that Smile Direct’s treatments are designed and monitored by both dentists and orthodontists rather than only orthodontists as Candid offers.
Smile Direct Club also promises a more liberal Lifetime Smile Guarantee, which allows for a review of your treatment plan if issues arise during treatment. It also promotes a 30-day money-back guarantee for a full refund (excluding return shipping), as well as a prorated refund after 30 days, provided you’ve followed the treatment plan and are up-to-date on check-ins.
There may be a condition for that refund, however. Some Smile Direct Club customers have reported to media outlets that they’re issued refunds only after signing a contract stipulating they won’t share their negative experience on social media or in any other public forum.
Like Smile Direct, Byte works with both dentists and orthodontists. The company doesn’t have physical locations for initial visits, but it does offer a lower price-point than Candid: $1,895 for a standard (all-day) treatment plan and $2,295 for its at-night-only system.
Byte’s major selling point, however, is speed. Whereas most companies have a 6-month average treatment time, Byte claims a 3-month average (with 5-6 months for its nighttime-only protocol).
The company uses a teeth movement acceleration device it calls Hyperbyte, but this is actually an FDA-approved device that’s been used by in-office orthodontists for years. The high-frequency vibration helps fit your aligners more closely, reduces discomfort, and boosts cellular activity at the bone and roots of your teeth, which is what speeds treatment time.
While the technology does have research-backed validity, not everyone is looking for the fastest solution or rock bottom price. Customers who prefer the assurance of a full orthodontist staff and a more conservative treatment time may find more peace of mind with Candid.