Will you need attachments with invisible aligners?
You can’t argue the cosmetic benefits of invisible aligners
Invisible aligners simply look better (and more natural) than traditional orthodontic braces. However, they have a hidden secret that some patients aren’t aware of until they begin researching the product.
It may seem like invisible aligners just “sit” on your teeth, quietly bringing them to orthodontic perfection. Close, but no cigar! Invisible alignment systems rely on tooth-colored, barely visible attachments glued to your teeth that help the aligner do its job. Without them, the aligners would not be able to accomplish complex movements.
Left to themselves, teeth resist moving
That’s generally good because your teeth must be well anchored to withstand the pressure of chewing. Orthodontically, it means that we need to create consistent pressure on your teeth to coax them into the desired alignment. Ideally, we need to be able to push and pull your teeth during the treatment process.
Invisible Aligners need attachments
Plastic is strong enough to push your teeth around, but it can’t pull them like wires and brackets can. Under these circumstances, orthodontists use attachments to create enough surface variation to guide your teeth properly. Some teeth don’t require attachments because they naturally have enough variance in their shape to create the desired pressure. Most often, these are your molars. The teeth closer to the front of your mouth may be small or don’t have enough surface variation to work with the aligner as-is. These teeth may need to be turned, tipped or lengthened to achieve the desired alignment. Attachments give the aligner a way to brace itself against your teeth and create enough force to push and/or pull your teeth around.
If attachments come as a surprise to you, it’s probably because you’ve never seen them on other patients with invisible aligners. Attachments are tooth-colored and they’re generally not visible distances greater than 3 feet. They’re designed to be unobtrusive, so if you have never noticed them on others, they’re working!
Some patients want invisible aligners because they don’t want anything glued to their teeth. They (mistakenly) think that the invisible aligners work by themselves. Unfortunately, without the attachments, certain movements needed to create good alignment would be impossible. Simply making the aligners fit more snugly on a tooth isn’t the solution. Too much pressure can force a tooth to make “undesirable” movements to counteract the increased force. Super-tight aligners could actually leave your teeth in a worse position.
In addition to attachments, your orthodontist may use a “button” to facilitate the use of elastics during invisible aligner treatments. Buttons provide a place to attach elastics to your teeth. Elastics can provide the “pull” that plastic doesn’t.
Attachments allow orthodontists to make gradual, predictable and well-controlled movements over time with invisible aligners. That’s exactly the approach you want to take when correcting alignment issues.
How many attachments do I need?
The number of attachments you’ll have really depends upon your treatment plan. Some patients only have a few attachments, while others may have 1-2 dozen. You can even have multiple attachments on one tooth. Multiple attachments can apply opposing forces to achieve a normal alignment. The number of attachments may also change during your treatment phase.
If you want to make your aligner attachments as invisible as possible, keep them clean. Clean your aligner and your teeth as directed every single day. Take extra care to clean around your attachments. Lipstick (and certain liquids like coffee, tea, wine and cola) can leave stains, which will accentuate the attachments. If you’re a fan of these beverages, use a straw when possible or brush your teeth immediately after drinking to keep your attachments invisible.
Invisible Aligner Pro Tip
Hot drinks can stain and warp your aligners. If you’re going to drink a warm or hot beverage, remove your aligners beforehand.
Will clear aligners stain my teeth?
Stains on your teeth are a real possibility when using invisible aligners. Daily brushing along with regular trips to the dentist can help keep stains in check while you’re in treatment. Once you have completed your treatment and the attachments are removed, your dentist can whiten your teeth. (Don’t attempt to whiten your teeth while the attachments are still in place!)
If you’d like more information about invisible aligners, or you would like to know if they’re a good choice for you, please give us a call at Angle Orthodontics at (503) 252-5567 to set up a consultation.
ABOUT ANGLE ORTHODONTICS
Angle Orthodontics provides orthodontic services for patients of all ages. We offer traditional orthodontic treatments, clear braces and clear aligner treatments.
16330 SE Stark St.
Portland, OR 97233