Dentistry
Cosmetic
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Updated on July 20, 2022

Invisalign Attachments (Buttons)

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Key Takeaways

  • Invisalign attachments are tiny tooth-colored dots bonded onto the teeth with dental composites. They help aligners effectively realign teeth.
  • Invisalign attachments revolutionized orthodontic treatment for people with misaligned bites, including misaligned jaws and teeth. 
  • Before attachments, Invisalign aligners were only effective for people with less complicated bite issues. 
  • Invisalign attachments help Invisalign aligners move and realign teeth with the right force and direction.
  • Invisalign attachments can be used regardless of their shape, size, or angle. 
gloved hand putting clear aligners on patients teeth

What are Invisalign Attachments?

Decades ago, traditional braces were the best option for people who wanted to improve their overbite or underbite. Years later, Invisalign aligners became an appealing, teeth-straightening option because of their near invisibility. 

Align Technology was founded in 1997. It introduced Invisalign clear aligners as an alternative to standard brackets and wires.1 The Food and Drug Administration approved Invisalign in 1998, and sales of Invisalign began in 1999. Aligners fit over the teeth and guide them into the correct positions. 

Before Invisalign attachments, Invisalign invisible braces didn’t cater to everyone’s needs. They only worked for people with mild to moderate malocclusion

Invisalign attachments, or buttons, are small tooth-colored dots bonded onto the teeth. They use dental composites to help aligners work more effectively.

How They Work

Invisalign attachments act as anchors that give Invisalign a better grip on the teeth. They consist of composite resin or dental bonding that mold teeth in specific positions. 

These attachments work with Invisalign aligners. They aid aligners in moving teeth in the right direction and force. 

Typically, these aligners don't match the shape of your teeth. When worn, they push them into the correct position. 

However, teeth that are difficult to move because of their angle, size, or shape need attachments to reinforce the grip of aligners. 

How They’re Applied 

The process of applying Invisalign attachments to your teeth isn’t complex. 

Here’s what happens step-by-step: 

  1. Your dentist prepares the surface of your teeth for bonding. They treat your teeth with a special gel that sticks to the attachments. The gel stays on for a few minutes before being wiped off. 
  2. Your dentist applies a bonding agent to your teeth to secure the attachments in place.
  3. To place the attachments on the correct spot, your dentist uses a template aligner with gaps where the attachments should fit. These gaps outline the shapes and sizes of the attachments. 
  4. Then, your dentist fills these gaps with composite resin and places the template over your teeth. 
  5. Your dentist pushes the template gently against your teeth to secure the attachments.
  6. Next, they apply a special curing light to harden the resin onto your teeth. 
  7. After the resin hardens, your dentist removes the template from your teeth.
  8. They then will demonstrate how to wear and remove your aligners.

Fix your teeth from home for cheaper than Invisalign. Learn about the best Invisalign alternatives.

Who Needs Invisalign Attachments?

You may require attachments if: 

1. You have a severely misaligned bite 

Invisalign will typically not achieve the desired results for severe malocclusion. When you have severe malocclusion, your teeth don't align when you close your jaws. 

You may need several attachments to help the aligners push the teeth back to their proper positions.

2. You have a severely crooked tooth

Sometimes, you may have only one crooked tooth that Invisalign alone can't fix. If this happens, your dentist may use an attachment on that tooth to realign it.

Consult an orthodontic specialist to determine if an attachment is needed for a severely crooked tooth. They'll suggest the best treatment option for you.

Who Doesn’t Need Them? 

Just about every case has at least one attachment present. It’s a rarity that you will have a case that has zero attachments.

However, you may not need Invisalign attachments if:

1. You don't have severe malocclusion

Malocclusion is the imperfect alignment of your teeth when your jaws close. It causes you to have a poor bite. When you visit your dentist, they'll assess your teeth to determine whether or not you need Invisalign with attachments. 

2. Your aligners are working properly 

If you're already using aligners, your dentist will assess whether or not they are working as intended. Invisalign can have visible results in a matter of weeks.

It may take months to show notable results in some situations. If your dentist determines that the aligners are effective, you won't need attachments.

3. You're wearing the aligners correctly

How you wear your aligners determines the treatment’s effectiveness. Dentists recommend wearing your aligners for at least 20 hours a day.2 Keeping this routine reduces the need for attachments.

Interested in straightening your teeth at home? Here are the best clear aligner companies.

Benefits of Invisalign Attachments

Here are the main benefits of Invisalign attachments:

  • Gives Invisalign a better grip on the teeth
  • Makes Invisalign treatment an option for people with severe malocclusion
  • Offers a quick and painless procedure
  • Feels comfortable
  • Makes them barely noticeable because the attachments are tiny
  • Adheres to any side of a tooth
  • Stays put for an extended period since they are durable and strong

Do Invisalign Attachments Hurt? 

Installing Invisalign attachments shouldn't cause any pain because they bond to your teeth. However, Invisalign might feel more snug with attachments during the first few days. This can be uncomfortable. 

Your mouth may also take time to adjust to the attachments and the aligners’ force. As a result, you may have sore gums, cheeks, and lips. You can manage this with pain medication. If you develop tooth decay, you may notice discomfort or pain.

If an attachment irritates a spot inside your mouth, you can place a ball of orthodontic wax on the area to prevent irritation.

Generally, feeling uncomfortable after wearing aligners and attachments is a sign that the treatment is working. The pain will subside soon after your mouth gets used to the aligners and attachments. 

If the pain persists for many days, seek medical advice from your dental professional.

Are There Side Effects? 

Invisalign and attachments also have drawbacks. Aligners with attachments can:

  • Cause plaque build-up and stains since the aligners sit over your teeth
  • Be difficult to fit over veneers, crowns, or bridges
  • Be challenging to maintain good dental hygiene because they trap food particles
  • Cause discomfort and pain
  • Be more difficult to remove

Not everyone will experience these side effects.

Which is better for you, Byte or Invisalign? Find out now

How Long Do Invisalign Buttons Stay On?

The exact duration of the Invisalign attachments on your teeth depends on the treatment plan. You may need to wear your attachments for 12 to 18 months. But some plans recommend wearing them for a longer or shorter period.3

What Happens if an Attachment Falls Off?

Sometimes, the attachment may detach from a tooth during the straightening process. This can happen as a result of the aligners’ force and tooth movements. But it shouldn't worry you. Call your dentist and schedule another appointment to fix the attachment. 

How are Attachments Removed?

At the end of treatment, your dentist will remove the attachments by polishing them down to your teeth. Besides feeling a tingly vibration in your teeth, the process doesn't hurt or cause tooth damage. 

Don't remove the attachments without professional assistance. Doing so may damage tooth enamel. Although removing attachments is a relatively simple procedure, your dentist uses special equipment to protect your teeth.

11 Sources Cited
Last updated on July 20, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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