Updated on February 22, 2024
5 min read

Invisalign Attachments (Buttons)

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What are Invisalign Attachments?

Clear aligners like Invisalign are designed to gradually shift your teeth into new positions. However, unlike braces, they’re not made of separate parts. This can make it harder for them to apply the right pressure to all of your teeth.

Invisalign’s SmartForce attachments act as anchors or handles, giving Invisalign a better grip on specific teeth. They’re made of tooth-colored composite resin and are attached directly to your teeth under the aligners.

Sometimes certain teeth are difficult to move because of their angle, size, or shape. Attachments reinforce the grip of the aligners, allowing these teeth to be shifted into the right position.

For example, front teeth often need to be moved back in a way that brings their roots forward. Attachments can be highly effective for creating this seesaw-like movement.1

Who Needs Invisalign Attachments?

Not everyone wearing Invisalign will require attachments. Your orthodontist will determine whether you’ll need attachments before you begin treatment.

Invisalign buttons are helpful for certain kinds of tooth movement.1, 2, 3, 4 These include:

  • Applying torque to front teeth — An attachment can act like the fulcrum of a lever, allowing your front teeth to come back while their roots move forward.
  • Correcting rotated teeth — Sometimes, misaligned teeth are rotated. These teeth, especially your canines (or cuspids), can be difficult to de-rotate without attachments.
  • Moving molars back — Moving your back teeth backward can create more space for your other teeth. Attachments make it easier for your aligners to accomplish this.

If you have severely misaligned teeth, attachments may be necessary to correct them fully. But even with milder alignment issues, you may need attachments for one or more teeth.

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Benefits of Invisalign Attachments

Invisalign attachments provide the following benefits:

  • More accurate tooth movement — Invisalign buttons help accomplish specific movements that are difficult for aligners on their own.
  • Faster treatment time — By applying extra pressure, attachments may speed up the treatment process.
  • More personalized treatment — Attachments allow for your treatment plan to be more customized
  • Discreet appearance — Like clear aligners in general, attachments blend in with your teeth and allow you to keep a low profile.

With the help of attachments, Invisalign can accomplish more complex types of tooth movement. This allows Invisalign to be an even better competitor to traditional braces.

How are Invisalign Attachments Applied? 

Invisalign attachments require just a short procedure.

Here’s what your dentist or orthodontist will do, step-by-step: 

  1. First, they’ll prepare the surface of your teeth for bonding. They’ll apply a special gel, followed by a bonding agent.
  2. To place the attachments on the correct spot, your dentist will use a template aligner with gaps where the attachments should fit. These gaps outline the shapes and sizes of the attachments.
  3. After filling the gaps in the template with composite resin, they’ll press it to your teeth.
  4. Next, they’ll use a curing light to harden the resin onto your teeth and remove the template.
  5. Your dentist or orthodontist will demonstrate how to wear and remove your aligners.

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How Long Do Invisalign Buttons Stay On?

The exact time you’ll need attachments will depend on your treatment plan. You may need to wear them for 12 to 18 months. But some plans recommend wearing them for a longer or shorter period.

What Happens if an Attachment Falls Off?

While they’re meant to be bonded snugly to your teeth, attachments can sometimes become loose or fall off a tooth. 

There’s no need to worry if an attachment falls off. You can call your dentist or orthodontist to make an appointment to reattach it.

How are Attachments Removed?

At the end of treatment, your dentist will remove the attachments by polishing them off your teeth. Besides feeling a tingle or vibration in your teeth, the process doesn’t hurt, and it won’t harm your teeth. 

Don’t try to remove your attachments without professional assistance. Doing so may damage tooth enamel. Although removing attachments is a relatively simple procedure, it requires special equipment to avoid hurting your teeth.

Do Invisalign Attachments Hurt? 

Having your Invisalign attachments installed shouldn’t cause any pain. However, your aligners might feel snugger with attachments during the first few days. This can be uncomfortable.

If an attachment irritates a spot inside your mouth, you can place a ball of orthodontic wax on the area to prevent irritation. Your dentist or orthodontist should be able to provide orthodontic wax.

Generally, some initial discomfort is normal and a sign that your aligners and attachments are working. It will subside as your mouth gets used to the pressure. 

If you have significant pain or pain that persists for several days, contact your dentist or orthodontist.

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Oral Hygiene with Invisalign Attachments

Invisalign attachments provide yet another reason to maintain good oral hygiene. They’re easy places for plaque to build up, which could lead to tooth decay.

Do the following to keep your teeth and aligners clean:

  • Brush and floss regularly — Failure to keep plaque and food debris off your teeth isn’t just bad for your oral health; it may also affect the results of your orthodontic treatment.
  • Stick to water while your aligners are in — Eating or drinking while wearing them can cause staining and bacteria buildup.
  • Maintain good aligner care — Your dentist or orthodontist will provide care and cleaning instructions for your aligners.

Summary

Invisalign’s SmartForce attachments provide additional force to shift your teeth. They’re added to Invisalign clear aligners when certain teeth need extra pressure or need to be moved in more precise ways.

Attachments help make your treatment more personalized, efficient, and accurate. They apply exact pressure in specific places, giving you straighter teeth in less time.

Not all Invisalign treatment plans require attachments. Your dentist or orthodontist will determine whether you need them. They’ll also provide any instructions or advice you may need during treatment.

What’s Next?

Discover the best fit for your smile.

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Last updated on February 22, 2024
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
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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