The first time I got braces, I was 7 years old. I was still missing most of my adult teeth, so they were only on my top and bottom front teeth — and let's just say, that's when I perfected my closed-mouth grin. It won't surprise anyone that an 8-year-old wasn't good at following retainer instructions from her orthodontist, so the second time I got braces was in seventh grade. I remember feeling very upset that I had to start high school as a "metal mouth," but I was also in the marching band and went to band camp, so the braces should have been the least of my worries. All this to say: I put a lot of time and effort into perfecting my smile over the years and thought I was done with braces and retainers after high school. So imagine my dismay when I started noticing my teeth shift in my early 20s. It got worse when I was pregnant with my son a few years ago, but it wasn't until my sister commented on my one darker and twisted bottom tooth that I decided to do something about it.
Invisible aligners had been on my radar for a while, but it wasn't something I looked into. Between the cost and the time commitment, I knew I wasn't ready to go down that road for one crooked tooth. But I was already halfway through the lockdown when I heard about Byte and realized that now might be the perfect time to make fixing my teeth a priority. Byte specializes in at-home teeth straightening with invisible custom-fit aligners. They work best on mild to moderate cases, and its direct-to-consumer virtual business model means you can do everything from the comfort of your couch (no doctor visits!). Not only that, but instead of having to wear braces all day, every day for months, or even years, I could achieve the same results by wearing my aligners 10 hours a day (usually while sleeping) for 13 weeks. So yes, I could have braces and most of the people in my life would never find out.
Here's how my experience went.
How Does Byte Work?
Once I knew Byte would be a good fit for me, the process was simple. First, I signed up to get my at-home impression kit ($95). If you can recall from your past traumatic dentist appointments, getting impressions made is kind of the worst, but Byte included very detailed instructions and guides to make it as painless as possible. For the sake of transparency, my first round of impressions weren't readable, so I had to do them again. But better done right than realize later my braces wouldn't fit. Once you send in your impressions, an orthodontist will review your case to determine if you're a good candidate for at-home aligners.
Then, according to Sarah McDonald, head of brand at Byte, the real magic happens. Byte uses a proprietary technology coined "Smile Science," which takes into consideration the proportions and overall symmetry of your face to design a smile that fits you perfectly. How does that work, exactly? I'll let her explain: "We accomplish this by positioning the teeth horizontally in each dental arch, so they're parallel to your eyes and proportioned to your cheeks. Your lips play a big part, too, since they're a natural frame for your smile. By minimizing the negative space between your molars and the corners of your mouth — called buccal corridors — we reveal more teeth when you smile."
You'll then receive a 3D rendering of your teeth so you can see week by week how your smile will progress. Within five to seven weeks, you'll receive your set of aligners in the mail. Like I mentioned, I opted for the 10-hour-a-day aligners, so I received all 13 sets of aligners up front. If you're wondering how it's possible for Byte to cut down on the treatment time so drastically, it's because of its proprietary HyperByte tool. McDonald calls it the brand's "secret sauce." HyperByte uses high-frequency vibrations (HFV), which are basically gentle micropulses that transmit through the roots of the teeth to the surrounding bone, helping your treatment work faster and your aligners fit better. I simply put in my aligners and bit down on the tool, pressing the button. The vibrations lasted for a few minutes and helped with any type of discomfort I was experiencing, especially on those first few days of a new aligner set.
Byte also provides BrightByte with your aligners. It's a teeth-whitening treatment, meant to be used along with the aligners, to brighten your smile as you straighten your teeth. Since my biggest pet peeve about my crooked tooth was how it was discolored from my other teeth, this was a nice perk.
OK, So How Much Is It?
I know this is the burning question, and as someone who was very turned off by the price of other invisible aligners, I get it. If you pay upfront, Byte's All-Day Aligners cost $1,895 (that includes all those fun extras I mentioned above). It also has a payment plan called BytePay that allows you to pay on a month-by-month basis. It will also help you get reimbursed through your insurance, taking care of the majority of the paperwork for you.
Is Byte Worth It?
Simply put, yes. I started noticing a dramatic difference a few weeks into my treatment plan and got such a thrill watching the progression. So the fact that it actually worked, coupled with the free extras (like HyperByte and BrightByte), as well as the ability to choose a more flexible 10-hour-a-day plan vs. the standard 22-hour-a-day plan, really makes it the superior choice in at-home aligners. Plus, Byte provides you with your first set of post-treatment retainers for free and has a lifetime guarantee. So if your smile ever moves out of place, they will send you a new impression kit and treatment plan for no extra cost.
Overall, I would 10/10 recommend for anyone who has been "just dealing with" their smile. The whole process from start to finish was downright enjoyable, and I never thought I would say that about braces.