Candid Aligners Hands
Candid, the company that’s making waves in the aligner industry with at-home starter kits, teams of orthodontists, and 3D-printed clear aligners shipped straight to your door is looking to shake things up again. This time, they’re using AI to speed up your treatment by as much as 30%.
What Is It?
Candid’s mission is to give everyone the smile that they want, but with less of the cost and hassle that comes with traditional dental office-driven treatment plans.
Unlike other e-commerce driven aligner companies like SmileDirect, Candid has the distinction of using treatment plans developed solely by orthodontists. If you live near a Candid studio, you can walk in, have them analyze your bite, take the needed impressions of your teeth, and get the process started. But, you don’t have to live near a studio.
Orthodontia, But (Kind of) Less Awkward
Candid Starter Box
Purchase a $95 starter kit (which is frequently on sale for less – it’s currently just $33.25) and Candid will ship a diagnosis kit to your door. Mine showed up in a couple of days with a few welcome goodies.
Everything was labeled clearly and the directions were easy to use. First off was downloading the Candid app. The app walks you through the entire process (and will help you keep track of your treatment if you move forward).
First off was taking pictures of my teeth. With the included cheek stretcher in my mouth, I followed the instructions and snapped pics of my snaggly teeth. It’s the same kind of thing that would be done in a dentist’s office, but with someone else poking their fingers in your mouth. The only one I have to worry about seeing my drooly selfies are my cat.
Candid App and Modeling Kit components
Once the pics are sent in via the app, you mix dental putty and take impressions of your teeth with the included bite molds. Once those are ready, you send them in and wait. A few days later, after an orthodontist has reviewed your starter pack, they let you know if you’re a candidate and then start working on developing the aligners for your plan. They’ll also give you a 3D model of your teeth and how they’ll shift over time.
If you’re not a Candid candidate, they’ll refund the price of your starter kit and all you’re out is a little bit of time, with a few blackmail-worthy selfies on your phone.
I’ll save you from pictures of my actual teeth. The 3D model they provide is a fun way to see how … [+]
Candid uses the molds you took of your teeth to develop a model and then custom-print and ship a full set of aligners to your door. You follow the weekly plan, and get tips, reminders, and check-ins with the Candid app.
All Your Treatment, All At Once
Candid Treatment Box
When I get the box, it’s all fairly straightforward. I pull out the aligner pack that I need for the step that I’m on, squirt in a bit of whitener (which both cleans the aligners and whitens your teeth as an added bonus), and pop them in. It takes a few days, but I get used to the feeling of them in my mouth. There’s some pain at first, but the Candid app is very good at level-setting expectations when it comes to pain and discomfort (as well as excellent ideas on how to deal with them).
My initial treatment plan will take me about 32 weeks (or 8 months) with 14 days in-between each aligner switch. With the standard plan, I’ll have occasional check-ins with my assigned orthodontist who will take a look at my teeth and see if they match the progress he’s expecting. And adjust how I proceed accordingly.
So that’s 8 months of wearing aligners for 22 hours a day, which gives me just two hours a day to do all of my eating and coffee-drinking. That last one is going to hurt. So, while I appreciate the relative ease of the process, I do wish it was a little faster so that I can get back to drinking coffee like a fiend for most of the day.
That’s where Candid’s newest partner, Dental Monitoring comes in.
But What If It Was Faster?
I hopped on the phone with Candid’s CIO, Lila Cosgrove to talk a bit about their new AI-powered treatment plan. Dental Monitoring provides proprietary AI-based remote monitoring capabilities to help bridge the gap between Candid’s orthodontists and remote patients.
The issue is that not everyone wears their aligners like they should. It slows down treatment and, in some cases, can even have negative effects when treatment recommendations are ignored. Lila told me that the goal of the new Dental Monitoring package is to “drive excellent clinical outcomes” by ensuring patients are following their prescribed program.
Dental Monitoring Kit
Part of that is checking in every 7-10 days. You fire up the Dental Monitoring app, slide your phone into the slot on the back of the ScanBox, put a special cheek stretcher in your mouth, and attach the ScanBox with your phone to the stretcher magnetically. Then you follow the instructions to take pics of your teeth with and without your current aligners.
The AI analyzes those images based on your plan and how it expects things to have moved since your last aligner change. Then it sends that information to an orthodontist for further analysis. They determine if you’re ready to move on to your next step or if there are orthodontia or oral pathology issues that need to be addressed (like plaque buildup).
So, instead of the standard 14 days a normal Candid patient will wait between aligner changes, someone enrolled in Candid with Dental Monitoring only has to wait 10 days or less. It’s a reduction in treatment time that equates to 20-30% less than normal. In my case, that means that instead of 8 months, I could be done with my treatment in as few as 5!
How Much Is Your Time Worth?
For a standard Candid treatment, it’s a relatively inexpensive $1,900 (compared to traditional Invisalign). For that you get your box of aligners, and all the access you need to Candid’s in-house specialists. You also get a single tiny bottle of cleaner/whitener. I do wish they included a larger bottle. Especially if you’re taking care of your teeth and aligners the way you should after each meal, that teeny bottle runs out fast.
To add Dental Monitoring to your plan, it’s an extra $500. For that you get the reduction in treatment time, real-time AI analysis of your progress, and regular professional evaluation…all without having to step into a dentist’s office. It’s an added piece of mind that I welcome (even if it means having to spend some time every other week with a scanner attached to my mouth).
Two Necessary Products for Living with Aligners
One thing I’ve had to get used to while wearing aligners is bringing tooth care items with me whenever I go out. Essential to that has been my Quip toothbrush. The portable electric toothbrush has its own included travel case and mirror mount (which I really appreciate when I’m stuck in some place like Epcot at Disney World…there’s no way I’m putting anything on those bathroom counters). Quip also has a subscription-based travel floss that’s stylish and incredibly simple to use. Yes, you need to get used to flossing often. There’s nothing worse than food stuck in your teeth when you pop your aligners back on.
Bite Toothpaste Tabs and Bamboo Toothbrush
Another product that caught my eye was Bite. This Australian-based oral care company has made viral waves lately with their all-natural toothpaste bits. Having used the ones at Lush, I was a bit wary (I find Lush’s product a bit grainy), but I didn’t need to worry. Bite’s tablets are as simple to use as their name. Put one in your mouth, bite down, and then brush with a wet toothbrush (an electric like Quip is most effective). You get the same kind of foaminess you expect from regular toothpaste, and don’t have to carry around a tube. It’s a brilliant travel toothcare hack. I know I’ll be keeping these little glass bottles of toothpaste bits around well after I’m done with my aligners.
How Do I Get Started?
Starting is the easiest part. Head to Candid right now, answer a few questions to see if you’re a good candidate, and then pick up a discounted starter pack! Especially if you’ve considered clear aligners in the past, but were scared away by the time and cost involved, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how simple it is to start the journey to healthier teeth and a straighter smile.
Thanks to Canid, Quip, and Bite for sample products and services for consideration in this article. Opinions are my own.