When our patients are treated with Invisalign, Dr. Luis always reviews the need for using attachments. Attachments are small tooth-colored bumps of dental bonding material that are bonded to surfaces of selected teeth. The idea is that the placement of the attachments provides an anchor point on teeth around which an aligner can firmly grasp. This allows the aligner to direct its forces to the tooth more effectively than it would otherwise be able to do. Imagine trying to pull a door open without a handle or a door knob.
Does this mean that all your teeth will have attachments? No. An attachment might be needed in those instances where a particularly difficult type of tooth movement is required (such as tooth rotation or pulling a tooth up/down). An attachment might also be needed in other situations but Dr. Luis will best determine this on a case by case basis.
Placing of attachments is similar and as easy as bonding brackets (braces). This procedure is painless and does not require any needles. We receive a plastic template from Invisalign that essentially looks like any other Invisalign tray but has small bulges on it that we can fill with bonding material. The template is then seated over the teeth and after the bonding material is set, the tray is removed leaving behind the attachments on specific locations of selected teeth.
Attachments, in most cases, are not visible to others. However, their visibility will depend on where they are placed, if you consume large amounts of food or drink that have staining properties (e.g. wine, coffee, tea) and how well the color of the bonding material actually matches the color of your teeth. Even in cases that require attachments on patient’s front teeth, these are not as noticeable when wearing trays which patients are encouraged to wear 20-22 hours per day. In instances where attachments do become heavily stained, you can always request to have them replaced.
Removal of attachments occurs at the end of your Invisalign treatment and it is easily removed with a dental drill that only removes bonding material (i.e. does not scar enamel) and the surface of the teeth is then polished so that the glue on the teeth is completely buffed off.
So don’t panic when it comes time to get your attachments on or off. It is a simple and painless procedure that is a beneficial part of your treatment and makes your final orthodontic outcome that much better!