Invisalign vs. Smile Direct Club

It’s not uncommon to look in the mirror while you’re getting ready in the morning and find yourself being less than enthused about any crooked teeth you may see reflecting back at you. The desire to have straight teeth and a beautiful smile is shared by a large portion of the American public, as has been shown by a boom in the number of companies offering clear aligner products

The clear aligner industry is essentially dominated by two companies — Invisalign, which was founded in 1997, and Smile Direct Club, established in 2014. Clear aligners can create generally straighter teeth, but they also treat many different smile issues such as gapped teeth, crowding of teeth, open bites and cross bites, and even overbites or underbites. Before you make the decision to get clear aligners, it is important to find out which product is the better option. 

Invisalign Vs. Smile Direct Club

Which brand of aligner is best for you may depend on what problems you’re trying to fix, and how much risk you’re willing to take by handling your own aligners, versus having your treatment overseen by a dental professional. While both Smile Direct Club and Invisalign can handle simple cosmetic straightening cases, Invisalign also has aligner options that can treat more complex dental needs. 

Comparing the two in terms of treatment isn’t quite apples-to-apples as a result. Smile Direct Club promises a treatment time of six months at a typically lower cost than Invisalign, which can take up to 18 months to complete. But the shorter, cheaper option might not be the best one for your oral health and long-term smile improvement. 

Differences in Fitting

While the companies have similar products, the process of getting your fitted clear aligners is completely different between them. If a customer doesn’t live near one of Smile Direct Club’s SmileShops, he or she would have to order the product and have it sent to their home. Then, customers will have to make their own dental impression at home. Sometimes the customer doesn’t have complete success in that process, and the end result is a clear aligner that doesn’t properly fit.

Invisalign takes the at-home human error out of the equation. Your Monterey Peninsula Dental Group dentist will take complete 3D scans of your teeth right in the office. Those scans will result in a complete model of your teeth, which is then processed into a set of correctly-fitting, BPA-free clear aligners. To do this, Invisalign uses an advanced form of 3D printing that actually makes them the largest worldwide user of the technology. 

Invisalign aligners also have the option to use small attachments between your aligners and the teeth in need of straightening, which are placed by your dentist, and allow them to tweak and customize how the aligners are moving your teeth. Smile Direct Club aligners don’t have this feature, which can lead to aligners slipping and improper pressure on the teeth. If you have any existing dental issues, at-home aligners not only might not work to straighten your teeth, but they could do your bite and smile harm. A qualified dentist can use your dental history to individualize your clear aligners and get the most out of the treatment. That’s why we always recommend Invisalign to MPDG patients and carefully help them through the process in our office. 

As for the aligners themselves? Well, there’s not much difference; they are made from similar materials, and the process by which they straighten your teeth is essentially the same. But, there are some key differences in how supervised and personalized your treatment will be, and that can have real effects on the results you get from your aligners. 

Dentist Supervision

The fitting process isn’t the only place Smile Direct Club and Invisalign differ. With Smile Direct Club, you get your aligners mailed to your home and you switch them out as you progress through the treatment plan. Invisalign, however, has a more hands-on approach that involves your dentist helping create an individual care plan with personalized attention to ensure your teeth are properly moving in the right direction. 

The involvement of your dentist is really the largest difference between the two companies and their products. With Smile Direct Club, you have the opportunity to arrange for a phone consultation, but personal attention beyond that is minimal. That leaves the customer to determine if the clear aligner is pushing their teeth too far, or even causing damage in the mouth. 

Invisalign doesn’t leave customers with those kind of worries. The continual involvement of your dentist in your treatment plan means you’ll always have a professional available to regularly check on your progress and give you peace of mind. Get in touch with us to find out more — We work closely with Invisalign as a preferred provider, and recommend their products to our patients who are seeking a straighter, more beautiful smile. 

How Are Invisalign Aligners Made?

If you’re looking at Invisalign as an option for straightening your teeth, you may be wondering just what exactly it is you’d be wearing in your mouth for months to come. 

Invisalign aligners are made individually for each patient based on digital scans taken from their own teeth and bite. The teeth-straightening system works by gradually moving from one set of aligners to another over the course of the treatment, and reshaping your smile along with them. In the same way that traditional metal braces are tightened or adjusted to guide teeth into a new shape, Invisalign aligners will put gradual pressure on your teeth to move them into their new places. 

Sometimes, your dentist may apply small tooth-colored protrusions to your teeth before you begin using Invisalign aligners. These are called SmartForce attachments, and allow your dentist to straighten teeth that are difficult to move or need multiple directions of force to be moved. They attach to the aligners and allow them to exert force more precisely on teeth that might present a more complex problem. The attachments allow Invisalign aligners to do more and help address issues that otherwise might call for metal traditional braces. 

What They’re Made Of

The clear, removable aligners are made from a patented material from Invisalign called SmartTrack. It’s called this because it’s made with small blue indicators that can tell you or your parents whether you’ve been wearing the aligners long enough each day to accomplish your goals. (Invisalign patients usually need to wear the aligners for at least 20 to 22 hours a day to stay on track with their progress.) 

SmartTrack is an extremely durable, BPA-free hard plastic material that is clear, and fits closely to your teeth. These qualities make the aligners near-invisible, which looks more pleasing than metal braces typically do. The material is chosen for comfort while wearing, and to fit your teeth tightly. It is tough, but light and flexible, and capable of gently moving your teeth during treatment.

How Aligners Are Made

The process starts at your MPDG dentist’s office, as he or she will create a custom treatment plan for you. A detailed digital scan is taken of your teeth with a scanner designed specifically for that purpose. That’s used to create a 3D image of your bite and smile. The images allow your dentist to map out a thorough, exact treatment plan that will gradually move your teeth into the desired new shape. At this point, you’ll also know about how long Invisalign treatment will take for your needs — it can be different for each person.

Your aligners are made by Invisalign at a lab, using an advanced 3D printing process. (An interesting fact for you — Invisalign is actually the world’s largest user of this kind of cutting-edge 3D printing.) When they’re ready, they’ll be sent to your dentist, who will then check to make sure they fit correctly. The aligners are trimmed to fit your gumline comfortably, based on the scans of your teeth taken earlier. 

Over the course of your treatment plan, you’ll switch through several sets of aligners. Each set helps you progress toward your end goal of having straight teeth. You can usually expect to move on to the next set of aligners every few weeks, but the timing is an individual process that depends on the condition of your teeth and what problems your dentist is treating with Invisalign. 

Our Invisalign Experience

Monterey Peninsula Dental Group is proud to be an Invisalign Preferred Provider. This means we’ve gone through certification with Invisalign to prove we are well-versed in using the Invisalign system, and have continually and successfully treated many cases with it. In fact, we are a top Invisalign provider for the Monterey Peninsula. It also means our staff is familiar with helping our patients through the billing and insurance process with Invisalign and can answer all your Invisalign questions. Get in touch with us to find out more about whether Invisalign might be right for your dental goals.

Invisalign vs. Braces: Which Is Best For You?

If you have orthodontic issues like gapped teeth, an overbite or underbite, crooked teeth, an open bite and other irregularities in your smile, you may be considering braces or Invisalign to fix them. At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, we’re a preferred provider for Invisalign in the Monterey Peninsula, with lots of experience helping our patients with Invisalign.

One major difference is that Invisalign can be done through your general dentist’s office, eliminating the need for additional appointments with an orthodontist. Traditional braces need to be put on and maintained with the help of an orthodontist, while Invisalign is easily removable at home for eating and cleaning. This feature also makes Invisalign attractive to many people, because you can eliminate the tricky brushing and flossing needed to keep braces clean and teeth healthy. With Invisalign, you remove the aligner trays and brush and floss normally, then replace the trays.

Treatment times and costs can be quite similar between Invisalign and braces, but both depend on individual patient needs, and how long it will take to address the issues with each patient’s smile. No matter which you choose, it’s important to have well-aligned teeth and a solid bite, which help you eat and talk more effectively. Crooked or misaligned teeth are also at higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease, since they are harder to keep clean.

Why Invisalign?

For many patients, the biggest draw to Invisalign is the improved aesthetic appearance of your smile. It’s made with clear plastic forms called aligners, that fit tightly over your teeth and gradually guide them into the new, desired places. So, unlike braces, when you smile, all that can be seen is the clear aligners over your own teeth, not metal brackets and wires. Patients also typically report less mouth pain with Invisalign, which is a more gentle, and sometimes slower, approach to reshaping your smile. And, patients who play contact sports should be aware that Invisalign is a safer choice than braces, to lower the risk of orthodontic or soft tissue injuries to the mouth from such sports.

Invisalign is an effective orthodontic treatment and has been around for about 20 years now. They’re suitable for both teens and adults, and are customized to each patient. Your MPDG dentist will start by taking digital 3D images of your teeth, then have the aligners made to fit them precisely. Over the course of months, you’ll receive several sets of new aligners, each one getting your teeth a little closer to the final goal. Invisalign aligners are easy to clean and come with an Invisalign cleaning system to help you keep them clean.

Why Braces?

Even with all the benefits and good qualities of Invisalign, there are good reasons why you and your dentist might want to choose braces for you instead. There are some complex orthodontic problems that Invisalign can’t fully address. For instance, if you have persistent bite issues with your back teeth, or if teeth need to be moved vertically or rotated, braces are a more effective choice. Patients with existing bridgework should also not use Invisalign, because the pressure on the teeth can’t be customized to protect the bridgework the way an orthodontist can with braces.

Another consideration, especially for teenagers, is whether they will have the discipline to keep Invisalign aligners in for up to 22 hours a day. Braces can’t be taken out, so you can be sure they are working. However, Invisalign has come up with blue indicators on the aligners so that parents can check and see if their teens are wearing the aligners enough.

Every patient is different, so it’s important to talk with your dentist about which treatment option is the best for you. Whether it’s Invisalign or braces or another option, MPDG is here to help point you in the right direction to solve your dental problems and help you get the smile you want to see.

Veneers Vs. Crowns

Among the many restorative dentistry technologies available to improve your smile and correct dental problems, it’s easy to get lost in comparing treatments and trying to figure out what the right approach for you personally might be. Here, we’ll talk about two of the more versatile options to restore good dental health and appearance: veneers and crowns.

Repairing Damaged Teeth

Both crowns and veneers have the ability to fix several common dental problems. Gaps between teeth, misshapen or crooked teeth, stains and discolorations, and minor cracks and chips are some of the dental issues for which you might be considering a crown or veneer.

Sometimes, the location of the tooth will have an impact on which is a better choice. For instance, front teeth are the most visible, and concerns about appearance might make a veneer a more attractive option when we’re trying to fix damaged teeth in the front of the mouth. The severity and location of the damage is also a consideration. Veneers are placed on one side of the tooth, while crowns repair the tops of teeth. It’s also possible to combine both restorative options depending on how extensive the damage or discoloration is and how many teeth are affected.


Here’s a little on how veneers work, and what might make them the right restorative choice for your smile. The veneers we use are extremely thin, porcelain shells that we bond directly to the front surface of the teeth in question. This stabilizes small chips and cracks, but would not address deep cracking or damage to the tops and backs of teeth.

Appearance-wise, porcelain veneers create a very attractive, clean, white and natural-looking smile, so they’re the treatment of choice for cosmetic issues like staining, discoloration, and badly shaped teeth. Crooked and gapped teeth also are common reasons for choosing veneers. If you have issues with your tooth enamel, the porcelain can help protect your teeth in place of healthy enamel.

Veneers are made especially for each patient, to match each individual tooth. They also blend in well with your other teeth, able to take on your natural tooth color because of the thinness of the ceramic layer. Veneers typically last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, and would have to be replaced after that.


Crowns are also sometimes made partially of porcelain or ceramic, and traditional gold crowns are another option. Crowns, sometimes called caps, are also made to custom-fit each tooth on an individual basis. They can cover the top of the tooth and wrap around the upper part of the sides, fitting precisely as needed to cover damage, and support broken or cracked teeth. They also can smooth out jagged top edges of teeth, and preserve and strengthen damaged or worn-down teeth that otherwise might be at risk of needing a root canal or even extraction.

Crowns consist of a tooth-like covering that’s both protective and supportive, placed over the top of your natural tooth. They can be attached to other dental work, like bridges, and are a permanent restorative procedure. There are different types of crown materials and methods of fabrication, which your MPDG dentist can discuss with you and evaluate which is best in your case.

Both veneers and crowns are created in our office, customized for each individual patient using CEREC technology. This allows us to serve our patients quickly and effectively with the best dental technology available. If you’re wondering what your choices are for improving your smile, we’re happy to consult with you about how best to address your dental concerns — get in touch with us online anytime, or book an appointment with us to see a qualified and experienced MPDG dentist.

Your Options for Dental Veneers

When you’re considering dental veneers, whether that’s for restorative or cosmetic reasons, it’s important to know what your choices are. Veneers are often used to improve the appearance of your smile, and can be used on discolored teeth, broken or chipped teeth, misshapen teeth or teeth with large gaps between them. They can be made from a variety of materials that affect their lifespan and endurance. For more on how veneers work, see our blog on veneers here

Porcelain & Ceramic Veneers

The toughest, longest-lasting, but also most expensive type of veneer is porcelain or ceramic. Porcelain veneers were the first modern veneers developed in the 1980s, and have been used with great success ever since. Current dental technology has also made it possible for us to create veneers with new types of ceramic material, which may be appropriate depending on the individual patient.

Either ceramic or porcelain veneers are machined using CAD/CAM programs to perfectly match the needs of each tooth. We can even do this in a Same-Day Smile visit, where your veneers are prepared and placed in our office all in one appointment, instead of the usual three. Get in touch with our office to see if that’s a good choice for you.

Traditional porcelain veneers are preferred for cosmetic purposes, because their thin, pristine surface gives such a clean, white appearance. However, if a patient has other challenges of restorative dentistry, like damaged enamel or misshapen teeth, ceramics offer a sturdier, thicker surface that may be the better choice.

Your dentist will evaluate each individual case to determine which is the right material for your veneers. There is no distinguishable difference in the lifespan or function between porcelain and ceramic veneers, and they’re often referred to interchangeably by dentists. These veneers will typically last between 10 and 15 years, and possibly longer with good dental care.

Composite Veneers

Sometimes called no-prep veneers, these are created by your dentist from a material similar to what we use in dental bonding procedures. The composite material is a resin, and softer than ceramic veneers, with a shorter lifespan of five to seven years. However, this material is sometimes chosen because of its comparatively lower price to porcelain veneers. It’s also possible your dentist may combine composite and porcelain veneers depending on your individual dental needs and what may be the best option for each tooth needing a veneer.

Good Veneer Care

Caring for all types of veneers is similar to how you would care for your own natural teeth, with regular and thorough brushing and flossing, accompanied by regular dental cleanings. But there are things you can do to help extend their life, such as not chewing on hard objects like pens, ice or fingernails, not opening packaging or bottles with your teeth, and avoiding chewing hard foods with your front teeth.

It’s also important to wear a mouth guard during sports, or at night, if you tend to grind or clench your teeth while sleeping.

Get in touch with your MPDG dentist if you have questions about whether veneers are right for you, and to find out what he or she might recommend to treat your dental concerns. 

Are Veneers Permanent?

Considering veneers as a solution to fix unsightly, discolored, cracked or crooked teeth? A common concern is how long the veneers will last. Every patient is different, and some smiles may have more longevity than others, depending on the extent of the veneers needed, other dental problems, and how well you take care of your teeth.

How Long Veneers Last

As an average, the type of porcelain veneers we use here at Monterey Peninsula Dental Group last patients between 10 and 15 years before they need to be replaced. So, they are not permanent, but are a long-term fix for some dental problems. Confusion sometimes occurs with the permanency of veneers. It’s easy to think that at the end of those 10 or 15 years, the veneers will simply come off and your smile will return to the way it looked before. That’s not the case, however.

During the application of veneers to your teeth, the top layer of enamel is removed to make the bonding with the porcelain material secure and stable. This process is irreversible and without the veneers, your teeth would be unprotected. That means when the veneers reach the end of their life, you will need to replace them with new ones, since you will not have your natural tooth enamel anymore. In a sense, having veneers is permanent, but the veneers themselves are not, so you won’t keep the same set forever.

Veneer Basics

It often helps to understand exactly what veneers are. Porcelain veneers are very thin, ceramic shells that fit your front teeth precisely and are bonded directly to the surface of your teeth. They can fix problems including gaps between teeth, discoloring, graying and stains, badly shaped or crooked teeth, and minor cracks. They are used only in the front of the mouth, and are considered a cosmetic dentistry procedure, although there are restorative aspects to having veneers done. You can find out all the details of how veneers are applied here on our site.

While veneers are not permanent, they remain a popular option for restoring an attractive appearance to your smile, because they most closely imitate the strength and appearance of natural tooth enamel. The porcelain shells are so thin that light actually can shine through them. This allows them to reflect your natural tooth color and blend in perfectly with surrounding teeth. We make sure to use the highest quality of porcelain, to give our patients the longest-lasting veneers possible.

Keep Veneers Strong for Longer

There are lots of ways to maximize the longevity and appearance of your veneers. While the fine porcelain is resistant to staining from common sources like coffee and cigarettes, avoiding these and other discoloring substances like tea and red wine will help keep them looking clean and white for their entire life.

Keeping up a good at-home care routine is also really important for veneers. Brushing and flossing well  will keep them healthy and looking good — our only caveat is that it’s better to use a non-abrasive or sensitive toothpaste to minimize any wear on the porcelain. And, if you are someone who grinds or clenches their teeth at night, talk to us about a recommended soft mouth guard to protect your veneers while you’re sleeping.

Other habits to avoid with veneers include anything that tends to chip or crack teeth, like chewing on ice, biting fingernails, pens or other items, and eating very hard foods. It’s also important, if you play sports, to make sure you wear a well-rated and protective dental mouth guard. We also recommend avoiding actions like using your teeth to open packaging, bottles, and condiments.

No-Prep or Composite Resin Veneers

There’s also another type of veneer sometimes used, which lasts a shorter period of time and is the result of a very different procedure. They’re sometimes called no-prep veneers because they don’t require the extensive preparation and bonding time that porcelain veneers do. Or, you might see them called composite resin veneers, for the material they’re made from.

Composite veneers resemble dental bonding more than traditional veneers, and consist of a layer of resin applied over the front tooth. They can be customized to the exact shade of your teeth, and are less expensive than porcelain veneers. But, they only last a short period of time, from five to seven years on average, according to the Consumers Guide to Dentistry. This means they will need to be replaced sooner and may even cost more in the long run, depending on how many replacements a patient goes through.

Dental Implants – A Permanent Fix

If you have a badly damaged tooth or a tooth that otherwise isn’t well suited to a veneer, another option is a dental implant. This is permanent, and replaces your natural tooth with a custom-fabricated replacement tooth. The implant is anchored by a metal post placed in the bone below the tooth, and both looks and functions just like a regular tooth. Talk with your MPDG dentist about whether this long-term restorative option might work for you.

Whichever type of veneer or other restoration treatment is best for you, our cosmetic dentists at Monterey Peninsula Dental Group are experienced with all the options and will be happy to talk with you about the decision to get veneers. We welcome patients from all across the Monterey Peninsula. Get in touch to learn more about our cosmetic and restorative dental treatments by contacting us online anytime.