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Candid Review: Is Candid teeth straightening legit?

Find out the pros, cons and all details about Candid aligners, retainers and Candid’s treatment process

Last Updated: Mar 16, 2022
Candid review

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 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 offered by traditional services, accompanied by regular remote monitoring of your treatment.

What’s the difference, then, between Candid and the aligners you get from the dentist? We thoroughly tested Candid’s teeth straightening service and offer you the pros and cons to help you decide whether it’s a good choice for you.

Editor's Summary

Overall Rating 8.6 / 10

Candid’s high-quality aligners let you monitor your teeth from home, but you’ll need to see an orthodontist in person to get started. Their shift to in-office work might bolster your trust, but it doubled the average treatment price and removed much of the convenience.

Pros

  • All treatments are designed and supervised by experienced orthodontists
  • Includes a digital scanner to facilitate more advanced treatment monitoring
  • Offers touch-up treatment if results don’t match the original plan
  • Flexible payment plans
  • Kind, responsive customer service

Cons

  • No longer offers the option to get started on your own at home
  • Pricier than other at-home teeth straightening options
  • Only provides one 6-month retainer with purchase
Our Top Picks

Candid

Candid makes straightening your teeth easy with clear, customized aligners made with dentist directed care.

Candid straightens and brightens your smile with clear aligners and accessories. Start your journey today by searching a nationwide network of Candid dentists and book your treatment.

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Retainers
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$99
Zoom Whitening
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$349

How we evaluated Candid

To give you the most thorough and accurate information about Candid, we focused on five fundamental criteria: how professional they are, both in your consultation and throughout the treatment process; the quality of treatment and results; and your total cost.

Professional expertise

9.5 / 10

Candid stands out from other online orthodontic companies because they only use orthodontists for diagnostic services and treatment design, compared to other online orthodontic companies whose plans are often overseen by dentists with no orthodontic experience. It takes 2-3 years to fully train as an orthodontist, so they are the most qualified to treat bite and alignment issues.

Candid orthodontists have an average of 20 years of experience in the field. Plus, as of 2022, you’ll need to go into a Candid-approved orthodontist’s office to get started, so you’ll have professional support at every step.

Consultation experience

8.0 / 10

Previously, Candid offered 3D scans in their Candid Studio locations as an alternative way to get a consult for those living in major cities. One of Candid’s advantages was that you could use an at-home putty impression kit no matter where you were. Although the company’s website claims a 3D scan isn’t better than impressions, 3D scans are considered the gold standard for most orthodontist offices. Some Candid customers are asked to redo their at-home impressions for better accuracy. As of late January 2022, however, these at-home starter kits are no longer available, and every customer must see an orthodontist in-person for their consultation.

One downfall of their shift from mail-order starter kits to in-office consultations is that if you don’t live near an office, rather than missing out on a potential perk, you won’t be able to get started with Candid at all. However, with over 180 partnered Candid Studios nationwide and a rapidly growing network, if you can’t find a Candid Studio now, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find a nearby location soon. Many of their studios are in both big and small cities, from New York to Birmingham to Tampa.

Treatment quality

8.8 / 10

Candid doesn’t promise the fastest treatment results and doesn’t offer other abbreviated services like nighttime-only aligners. Still, the average treatment time ranges from 6-10 months – far less than most braces or Invisalign treatments. We see these policies as indicative of Candid’s medically sound principles and expertise. Fastest doesn’t always mean best, particularly when faster and nighttime-only treatments can put patients at greater risk for complications.

Candid also provides a ScanBox device that you hook up to your smartphone to take a full scan of your teeth for regular treatment monitoring. Your scans are reviewed by the orthodontist that designed your Candid treatment plan. When it’s time for a new scan or aligner switch, you receive a notification through your Candid app – and these check-ins are every 14 days, which is more frequent than other at-home aligner companies or traditional orthodontist schedules.

Commitment to results

8.8 / 10

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.

Should your results not measure up to what’s shown in your 3D treatment plan, Candid will consider a “refinements process,” which is 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 and have followed correct procedures while undergoing treatment.

If you’ve fulfilled these requirements, Candid asks you to do another set of updated scans. From there, Candid decides if you’re eligible for refinements and, if so, creates a new treatment plan with an additional set of refinement aligners.

Cost and payment options

7.4 / 10

Before the company’s big switch, an at-home treatment cost $1,895 with an additional $19.99 for the starter kit. This is a competitive price with other at-home aligner treatments – and well-priced for the quality of care you’d receive. Now, the price is dictated by the orthodontist, not Candid.

While they report that customers spend an average of about $3,500 on their treatment, there’s no way to predict what it’ll cost you. That new average is almost double what it used to be and is only a few hundred dollars less expensive than traditional methods like Invisalign. The highest quoted price our testers could find was $7,000, again placing Candid in the price range of more traditional tooth aligners.

Candid’s insurance eligibility and financing options are on par with other well-established at-home aligner companies and in-network with a few major insurance providers. Their teen treatment isn’t currently in-network with any insurance companies, but they can file a partial reimbursement on your behalf.

Why you should trust us

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?

Our testing 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.

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.

What is Candid?

Candid was founded in 2017 by a team of tech entrepreneurs and orthodontists who wanted to create a new way to provide teeth alignment treatment. They aimed to give the same orthodontic results with a simpler, more affordable process without sacrificing medical standards or quality.

In January 2022, Candid launched a total renovation of their services. They had been known for their high-quality, at-home aligners at a relatively low cost but have discontinued their at-home starter kit and in-office studio scans. This means that you can no longer pursue Candid’s treatment fully from home.

Instead, Candid now works more like a traditional Invisalign treatment: go into a Candid-partnered orthodontist’s office to get a consultation and scans, then Candid ships your aligners and ScanBox to the orthodontist instead of your home. With this new method, you can get even better clinical oversight, limiting the chances of revisions or concerns even more than before, but it comes at the expense of convenience and an increased price.

Who is Candid for?

Candid might be an ideal choice for people who have good oral health but are looking to correct mild to moderate alignment issues. It’s critical to commit to the full 22 hours a day you’ll need to wear your aligners, as well as following through on the check-ins and aligner transitions orchestrated by your orthodontist.

Candid’s standard treatment is designed for adults, but the company also offers a separate teen version of its alignment treatment with additional steps and restrictions.

Who isn’t an ideal customer for Candid?

Like other at-home aligners, Candid aligners can only correct mild to moderate problems. You’ll probably need intervention beyond what aligners can give you if you have a more severe issue like:

  • An underbite
  • An overbite
  • A crossbite
  • A teeth crowding problem

Likewise, if your teeth and gums aren’t in great health, you might be ineligible or be asked to seek dental care for existing issues that could make moving your teeth unsafe.

In order to ensure your oral health and safety, Candid starts the process with scans from a licensed orthodontist in person. Upon review, Candid can determine whether you’re a suitable candidate for treatment and whether you’ll need to take care of any oral health issues before treatment. If you aren’t accepted as a candidate for treatment, Candid offers a full refund.

Candid’s treatment options

The focal point of Candid is their invisible aligner. This aligner can fix mild to moderate concerns about the position or alignment of your teeth, including:

  • Gaps
  • Crowded sections
  • Protruding teeth

Typically, treatment lasts no longer than 10 months, but expect to spend about six months adjusting your smile.

Candid aligner

For the most part, Candid’s clear aligners work just like traditional aligners like Invisalign. Candid’s aligners are made from clear, BPA-free thermoplastic.

A complete treatment kit includes:

  • 8-12 aligners, numbered in the order you should use them
  • A pack of whitening foam
  • A ScanBox device that you hook up to your smartphone to create a full scan of your teeth for regular monitoring
  • A treatment plan designed for you with a local orthodontist

Remote monitoring of your progress through regular at-home teeth scans with the ScanBox is included in the treatment cost. Your orthodontist will tell you when it’s time to move from one aligner to the next based on information from these scans. Each aligner is worn for 2-3 weeks before moving on.

The total cost of Candid’s aligner treatment varies depending on your orthodontist. Our research found it ranges from $3,500 to $7,000, putting it in the same ballpark as more traditional aligner methods like Invisalign. The purely at-home Candid option previously cost $1,895, a significant difference.

Custom retainers ($99)

While the final aligner in your treatment kit doubles as your first retainer, Candid recommends replacing these retainers every six months due to wear and tear. They only provide one retainer at the outset; any other retainers past that 6-month mark need to be purchased separately.

Each retainer order includes:

  • Custom retainer
  • Carrying case
  • A pack of whitening foam

Philips Zoom Whitening Kit ($349)

Interested in brightening your smile but not eligible for (or keen on) realigning your teeth? Candid stocks and supplies the well-known Philips whitening kit to help you get professional-grade whitening treatment from the comfort of your home. You don’t need to use Candid’s aligners to purchase a whitening kit.

This kit includes:

  • Custom-fit trays
  • Philips DayWhite formula (6% hydrogen peroxide)
  • Three syringes with three servings of whitening gel (nine sessions total)
  • Carrying case

Much like Candid’s aligners, however, Candid will not ship you an impression pack to do yourself. Instead, you need to reach out to a CandidPro orthodontist and set up an appointment. They take an impression of your teeth and send it to Candid, who creates a custom tray to fit your teeth for total coverage. Your whitening kit still arrives at your doorstep within a few weeks.

Philips’ DayWhite gel can brighten your smile by up to six shades in mere days, but such stark results don’t mean that you’ll have to sacrifice your health. The formula was created with dental health in mind, whitening your teeth and improving their luster without making them more sensitive.

How does the Candid treatment process work?

Right now, Candid’s website obscures a lot of the information that used to be public. We anticipate most of this becoming available again, as there are always growing pains with significant shifts in services like this.

Previously, we’d found Candid provides an excellent customer experience, from website design to treatment instructions. Their customer service agents are top-notch, providing thorough information for any question we asked in a timely, kind, and ultimately helpful manner.

Getting started

First, you’ll need to take a quiz on Candid’s website to see if you’re eligible at the outset for treatment. The quiz asks for:

  • A description of your teeth (crowded, discolored, spaced, protruding)
  • If you’ve ever worn braces
  • If you have a permanent retainer
  • Your zip code
  • Your age
  • How soon you want to get started
  • How you heard about Candid
  • If there’s anything else you’d like to know

Once you’ve completed the 30-second survey, enter your first name and email address so they can send you information. Candid routes you to the nearest CandidPro orthodontist who can get you started if you’re deemed eligible.

Consultation appointments

Some CandidPro orthodontists let you book online through Candid’s website, but most require you to call the orthodontist directly to ask for a Candid consultation. The time between your appointment and consultation varies depending on the office. Of course, a consultation isn’t a commitment – it’s just an appointment to get you set up.

When you head into the orthodontist’s office, they take all the necessary records for evaluation. This includes using a wand scanner to create a 3D version of your teeth, a pain-free and largely non-invasive process.

Candid aligner treatment

Within 14 days of your initial CandidPro orthodontist visit, you receive a treatment plan. Log in to the Members Portal to see a 3D image of your expected results. If Candid decides you aren’t a good fit for their treatment based on your 3D image, you receive a full refund.

From here, look at your teeth, approve the plan, and Candid manufactures your aligners. They might send them to your orthodontist, or they might send them directly to your door; this depends on the orthodontist you work with. Either way, you’ll receive the treatment box within 20 days of plan approval.

You receive 8-12 custom-made aligners, which are numbered according to the order you’ll wear them. Generally, you can expect to wear each aligner for about 2-3 weeks but will need to wear them consistently (for at least 22 hours) every day.

You also receive a ScanBox that connects to your phone for at-home scans every 1-2 weeks. 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. It requires shifting the bone and ligaments around your teeth and pushing them 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. About two weeks after you start wearing them, your Candid orthodontist gives you the okay to consider your treatment complete. From there, keep wearing the retainers while you sleep but don’t wear them during the day.

Each set of retainers is meant to last for six months. You can order more retainers from Candid for just $99, meaning you’ll spend $198 per year on retainers. 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.

If you want to whiten your teeth, you can use the whitening foam in the retainer like a whitening kit for 30-90 minutes a day. However, don’t use the Philips Zoom Whitening in your retainer, as it can damage your gums when combined with the pressure from Candid’s retainers.

Insurance

Like most well-established at-home aligner companies, Candid is in-network with several large dental insurance providers:

  • Anthem Blue Cross
  • Anthem BlueCross BlueShield
  • Empire BlueCross
  • Empire BlueCross BlueShield
  • Aetna Dental (PPO and EPP plans only)

While we can’t quote exactly how much you’d save, having insurance coverage with Candid can help to save a significant chunk, depending on your particular plan. Your treatment is unlikely to be covered by a DMO plan.

Once you’ve purchased the aligner treatment and plugged your insurance information into the Candid portal, Candid can also file a claim on your behalf. If you’re not in-network, they can still file for partial reimbursement. The company doesn’t guarantee reimbursement, so it’s your responsibility to check with your insurance company. Ask your insurance provider if it covers remote orthodontic treatment under code D8090.

You can also use HSA or FSA funds to cover the full cost of Candid or apply for a monthly financing plan. The company offers two different types of financing:

  • $79/month with $299 down for 36 months
  • Flexible payments through Affirm with $0 down and 0% APR

Payment plans with Affirm require a credit check for approval, and your payment plan length, interest, and monthly payments will vary.

Alternatives to Candid

Smile Direct Club

Smile Direct Club offers invisible aligners and two types of treatment:

  • Standard (wearing aligners 22+ hours a day)
  • Nighttime (wearing aligners only at night, or 10 hours/day)

The company is in partnership with many more in-person SmileShops than Candid, even with Candid’s recent expansion, and is available in more states than not. They also still provide an at-home starter kit if you cannot make it in for a 3D scan. Price-wise, Smile Direct was comparable with Candid’s original price at $1,950 with $59 for a starter kit. That lower price point comes with a downgrade in professional expertise, given that Smile Direct’s treatments are designed and monitored by both dentists and orthodontists rather than only orthodontists like Candid.

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. If you aren’t happy with things in the first 30 days, you can take advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee for a full refund (excluding return shipping). They also offer 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.

Byte

Like Smile Direct, Byte works with both dentists and orthodontists. The company doesn’t have physical locations for initial visits, but they do offer an affordable price: $1,895 for a standard (all-day) treatment plan and $2,295 for the at-night-only system.

Byte’s central 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 called 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.