So you’re ready to straighten your teeth but traditional wire braces would be a strain on your lifestyle (and wallet)? Luckily there are loads of at-home aligner companies to choose from that allow you to achieve a winning smile without the hassle of uncomfortable wires and in-office orthodontist visits. After much research into this ever-expanding industry, I have decided to go with Byte.
Founded in 2018, Byte is a relative industry newcomer but is already making waves for its convenience, price, efficacy, rapid treatment timeline (up to half the industry standard!), and technological advancements that only they offer. And the reason Byte can boast the fastest treatment times is because of its signature technological advancement: HyperByte. Worn in tandem with aligners, HyperByte uses HFV (High Frequency Vibrations), a vibration-based therapy of soft micropulses that transmit through the roots of the teeth to the surrounding bone, resulting in better aligner traction, less discomfort, more accurate teeth movement, and, of course, faster treatment times. With that bit of knowledge, I am sold, and I’m ready to dive into how to get started with Byte!
Let’s Get This Party Started
Of course, the path to a perfect smile begins with a visit to (where else?) the Byte website: welcome to byteme.com! If there is an award for “Cutest Domain Name,” Byte would definitely win it. (In general, I just want to note how much I love Byte’s tongue-in-cheekiness in every facet of their marketing. I see you, Byte, and I appreciate you!)
The website is super thorough and easy to navigate, with ample FAQs and user-friendly info about everything from wear time to pricing to customer testimonials.
But here’s the part I really care about:
The number one thing I was looking for in my hunt for at-home aligners was a nighttime option. Not only is Byte one of the few companies to even offer a nighttime option, but, based on reviews and my own personal needs, they have arguably the best nighttime option.
Byte’s standard daytime option is already lauded for its quick treatment timeline (3-4 months at 22 hours/day), but Byte At-Night is not far behind (5-6 months at 10 hours/day), and that’s all thanks to that nifty HyperByte I mentioned before, which is exclusive to Byte. Many of Byte’s competitors are clocking in at 6-10 months minimum, and that’s with 22 hours/day. So Byte At-Night is still faster than any of the competition, even with less wear-time.
For me personally, it’s all about the convenience Byte At-Night offers. Tacking on an additional couple of months of treatment is well worth it if it means I won’t be beholden to aligners all day long–taking them out every time I want to eat or drink anything besides water, lisping through phone calls and Zoom meetings–I’ll pass. Sleeping the treatment away is much more my speed.
And the price differentiation between Byte All-Day and Byte At-Night is nominal for everything I would gain in convenience:
Byte All-Day: $1,895 ($83 for 29 months with $349 down payment – $2,763 total, 7.76% APR)
Byte At-Night: $2,295 ($99 for 29 months with $449 down payment – $3,336 total, 7.76% APR)
Are Byte and I a Match?
To find out, you have to take a 30-second assessment that will decide if you are even a good candidate for Byte or not. Byte is admittedly best for people with mild to moderate dental issues, so extreme crowding, overbite/underbite/crossbite, or jaw problems are probably better left to traditional braces or Invisalign.
The eligibility quiz really did take about 30 seconds, so they’re not lying!
My biggest concern when taking this eligibility quiz revolved around the teeth I won’t be needing straightened. Let me explain: I am looking into at-home aligners to fix the crowding of my bottom teeth. I wore traditional braces as a teenager and still have a permanent retainer on my top teeth, so those are in good shape. But my bottom permanent retainer was removed ages ago and, unfortunately, I was not a diligent retainer-wearer (that’s the proper term for that, right?) Over time, those bottom teeth have shifted, as was to be expected thanks to my negligence, and I don’t want my valuable high school years in cumbersome braces (and my mom’s hard-earned dollars) to have been spent in vain.
Before I looked into Byte, I had actually already been rejected by one of their competitors right off the bat for having the permanent retainer, as they said it would interfere with treatment. I was prepared for Byte to do the same but was surprised that they did not even address the notion of existing hardware. To be on the safe side and not go through the trouble of starting this process only to be rejected down the line, I decided to reach out to Byte via their convenient text option to see if the permanent retainer would, in fact, end up being a problem once it was time to take impressions. The agent replied the following day and assured me that my permanent retainer should not interfere with treatment. So either Byte’s competitor is super strict or Byte doesn’t know what they’re doing…only time will tell!
Ordering Your Impression Kit
Once you’re approved as a candidate, it’s time to order your DIY impression kit. While Byte’s impression kits are normally $95, they are offering a sweet deal for just $29.95. Now that is a discount! And take note of that Impression Kit Guarantee at the bottom of the page–if, after Byte receives your impressions and deems you aren’t a good candidate, Byte will give a 100% refund. No hurt feelings, no commitment, amicable breakup.
Not pictured: the many texts I received from Byte over several weeks encouraging me to take advantage of their $200 off aligners + free LED Whitening Kit ($200 value) with special code.
Now just choose which aligner plan you prefer (as previously stated, I am going with Byte At-Night) and click “Add to Cart” and you’re ready to start entering your payment information:
I chose PayPal because it’s easy and secure, but you will see that there are several credit card options to choose from, if that is your preference.
It’s that easy! It took less than a week for my impression kit to arrive at my doorstep and then it was off to the races!
Making a Good First Impression
The time has come to get into the nitty gritty of the DIY impression kit. We’re about to get really personal, folks. I am aware these photos will live on the internet forever but it’s worth the sacrifice to do my due diligence in the quest for the perfect at-home aligner.
Included in the kit are:
- 4 plastic mouth trays (2 for the top teeth, 2 for the bottom teeth)
- 8 containers of putty (4 light, 4 dark)
- 1 pair of latex gloves
- 1 smile stretcher
- 1 Folder with an Impression Quick Start Guide on how to administer your molds
- 1 prepaid USPS bubble mailer to send back your impressions
Just want to take a moment to note:
The gloves included in this kit will be your best friends. There was a surprising amount of drool involved in this process. Like, newborn baby levels of drool. Be warned!
If the instructional insert doesn’t do it for you, or you prefer to learn through movement, there is also a helpful step-by-step video on Byte’s website: (byteme.com/instructions).
If you still find yourself in a pickle, Byte has an Impression Help Line dedicated to this, so you can call or text if you need anything.
I admit, I could (and should) have read the directions more thoroughly. And I did not even learn about the video until after I had already started writing this piece. Having suffered through impressions before when I had braces in my youth (and then again as an adult for some other dental work), I thought I pretty much knew what to expect, and so I dove right in. As someone who always tries to learn from her mistakes, I would like to now outline exactly what to do (and not do) and what to expect on your own Byte at-home impression journey.
Step 1: Before you begin
Make sure impression trays fit comfortably in your mouth.
Put an empty tray into your mouth to make sure it fits correctly. This is very important to making a good first impression.
I also prepped ahead of time by brushing and flossing my teeth. This seems obvious, but any little bits of food stuck in your teeth can affect your impressions.
I was already feeling anxious about the molds because I have historically had problems with this since my mouth is incredibly small. I have had impressions done at least 4 times in my life and every time it has been a struggle, a chaotic mess of gagging…and this time was really no different, though being in control of the situation helped a bit. I could go at my own pace instead of having an orthodontist doing it. It would be great if Byte made a smaller tray option because it was really uncomfortable for me.
Step 2: Mixing putty
Now the fun begins! Slap those aforementioned gloves on and start playing with that putty like you’re a preschooler again!
Only mix putty for one tray at a time, and be sure to grab a timer.
Take one “dark” putty container and one “light” putty container and quickly mix putty together to form one solid color.
FYI: the “dark” putty is a bright red/coral color, while the “light” putty is an off-white color.
The putty hardens quickly, so mix within 30 seconds. (Take it from me, this timeline is no joke!) And word to the wise: the final mixed product (pictured at right) looks almost identical to the original “dark” red color, so be mindful that you are mixing thoroughly since there is not much of an indicator.
Step 3: Prep your tray
Prep only one tray at a time.
- Roll putty into a 4-inch long cylinder inside the tray.
- Make sure putty fills the entire tray, so that all of your teeth can be captured.
I decided to start with one of the upper trays, since I won’t technically be using Byte to align my top teeth anyway (on account of my permanent retainer leftover from my years wearing braces), so it was less risky to experiment with this one.
Almost immediately, I could tell there was trouble in paradise as I attempted to put the mixed putty into the first tray. I thought I was following directions, but I must have gone over the advised 30-second mixing time and the putty was already starting to harden, so much so that it couldn’t even spread to the edges of the tray.
Bad news bears already evident for Tray #1, but still going to push through to try to get an impression.
Step 4: Impression time
Most bad impressions are caused by not biting hard and deep enough into the putty.
- Using your fingers, center the prepared tray over your teeth and bite all the way into the putty–almost all the way through.
- Using continuous pressure, press and hold 3 ½ minutes.
The panicked face of a woman who knows she has screwed up Tray #1, that no matter how hard she bites down at this point, these chompers are not going through that putty. Again I should have watched this helpful video beforehand, but, to be fair, I assumed that because I have a Master’s Degree and basic cognitive abilities, I would be fine. Let me be your cautionary tale!
Step 5: Removing impressions
Remove tray once impression putty is firm. Putty takes 3 ½ minutes to harden.
Using your fingers, carefully remove tray from your mouth by pulling down (for upper tray) or pulling up (for lower tray) until free from your teeth and set aside.
**Important: DO NOT touch impression material when removing or afterward, as it can alter your impression.
One tray down, three more to go…
Step 6: Ready. Set. Repeat.
My chance for redemption! Time to repeat steps 2-5 for each of the remaining trays. I refuse to mess these up!
Biting through properly mixed, pliable putty made a world of difference for my remaining impressions, as did setting a timer. My impressions were deeper and more precise than that ill-fated first round.
The underside of one of my (usable) trays: proof the putty was the right consistency and that I bit deep down deep enough (perhaps a little too deep based on how much putty was oozing out the holes?)
The finished product(s)! You can see the progression (left to right) from worst to best as I became more “experienced” with taking my impressions. I let my trays rest for a few minutes until the putty hardened a bit, then put them back in the box from which they came to get them ready to ship back to Byte HQ.
Sending back my impressions may have been the easiest part of this whole ordeal. Byte gives you a flat rate USPS envelope and a self-addressed packing slip, plus they will arrange a pick-up from your house so you don’t have to bother going to the post office. My preferred method of communication with Byte throughout all of this was via text, so an agent kindly texted me to ask when would be a convenient date/time for USPS to pick up my package and he arranged the whole thing.
Sidenote: there were no instructions about the smile stretcher listed anywhere in my kit, so I just took a selfie at the end for fun, though it seems like it could be an important part of the process based on other Byte reviews I have seen. Very odd indeed…
The Results Are In
After you send off your impressions, it’s really just a waiting game. What happens next is Byte’s team of state-licensed orthodontists and dentists will analyze your impressions and decide if you are a viable candidate for treatment or not.
It actually took almost 3 weeks to hear back from Byte, and that was only after I reached out to them to check in. Within 24 hours, I was emailed information about how to set up my Byte account and access my proposed treatment plan. It definitely felt like a “Oh, right! Yes, we didn’t forget about you!” kind of thing. And it was decided that I was, indeed, eligible to have my teeth straightened by Byte. Hooray!
As I mentioned previously in this post, before I started looking into Byte, I had been burned by one of their competitors, who told me that I could not receive their treatment because of my permanent retainer on my (very straight) top teeth. WIth this in mind, once Byte confirmed I was an eligible candidate, I looked over their proposed treatment plan and noticed it was for both my top and bottom teeth.
The 3-D renderings of my teeth showed shifts in my top teeth which, simply, would not be possible because of my permanent retainer. So I decided to reach out to Byte about this, just to really make sure this small-but-crucial bit of information wouldn’t BYTE me in the end (no, I will not excuse that pun). My concerns were founded, because the Byte agent said that having a permanent retainer was not ideal and that Byte would recommend having my permanent retainer removed if I wanted to move forward with treatment (no thank you, I will die with this thing attached to my teeth if it means never having to worry about straightening them again).
I explained (again, since I had already done this pre-impression kit order) that I only need my bottom teeth straightened and asked if that would be possible to just isolate treatment for the bottom teeth. The kind agent asked me to wait until the following day after he consulted with his team of experts. As promised, about a day later, I received an email stating that it should not be a problem to treat the crowding of only my bottom teeth and that they would need an additional 24-48 hours to formulate a new treatment plan for only my bottom teeth.
Here is a preview of Byte’s (revised) treatment plan for my bottom teeth only, using their fancy 3-D visualization technology. Being able to see how my smile will transform every step of the way and from all different angles really helps when trying to decide to go forward with treatment or not.
The crowding on my bottom teeth is minimal, so I knew that would be a fairly easy fix. My concern has always been that my bite might become askew if we’re not treating all the teeth simultaneously. However, Byte assured me that receiving treatment for only my bottom teeth would not have an overall negative on my smile or bite.
In the end, I found Byte’s start-up process to be mostly easy and user-friendly, with ample support on-hand in case I needed anything. (It also helps if you thoroughly read and follow directions). Overall, I would say the experience wasn’t too bad and that Byte really impressed me with their great value and how communicative and professional they were!