December 27, 2018 Tri Le Invisalign remains one of the most popular ways to get a straighter smile, but many misconceptions continue to circulate about this particular orthodontics treatment. While it’s true that the system primarily relies on custom fitted mouth pieces to gently push the teeth into place, there are some other components required that are similar to the material used for traditional braces. Understanding the role played by attachment points and buttons will help you decide if Invisalign is right for you. What Are Invisalign Attachments? Most of the adjustments made to your teeth are accomplished by the custom retainers alone. However, these retainers can’t accomplish some of the more complex rearrangements without a little help. Attachments are small dots attached to your teeth with a bonding process. Once bonded, they’re very hard to see due to being the same color as the tooth. The Invisalign aligners can better grip specific teeth thanks to these attachments and accomplish the movement necessary to get the straightest possible smile. Attachments are only visible when used on the front teeth, and even then they’re very hard to spot. What Are the Attachments Made From? Attachments are made of dental composite – the same combination of acrylic resin and glass used for creating permanent fixtures like bridges, veneers, and fillings is used to craft the Invisalign attachments. Yet unlike these other permanent dental treatments, the attachments are removed at the end of your orthodontics treatment with a little light polishing and buffing. There are no marks left on the teeth, and no one will know you’ve undergone any dental treatment unless you tell them. There’s also little risk of the attachments coming loose during treatment since the material is chosen specifically for its ability to bond tightly to teeth. How Is the Dental Composite Attachment Placed on the Teeth? It’s a very simple process to bond the attachments to the teeth. First, the orthodontist slightly roughens the surface of each tooth planned for bonding. Then they fit in an aligner that has spaces cut into it to mark where the attachment points should go. The composite material is applied as a gel. The composite gel hardens in just a few minutes with exposure to a special light. Finally, the orthodontist removes the template and removes any overflow to make neat and barely visible attachment points. This process is usually only needed once during the Invisalign treatment because the same attachment points are used throughout treatment as the aligners are updated. In very rare cases with complex realignment, a dentist may need to add or remove some attachment points during treatment for maximum tooth straightening in the end. What Are Buttons and What Are They Made of? You may hear some Invisalign users referring to their attachments as buttons. However, buttons are a different type of accessory also used with Invisalign aligners. Confusing the two can make it harder to discuss your treatment with your dentist, so using the different terms properly is important for clear communication. Instead of serving as anchors for the aligner trays, buttons are design to connect to elastic bands instead. Many orthodontic patients assume that “rubber bands” are never used with Invisalign, but they are recommended in some cases for greater alignment changes. Elastics help change the shape of the jaw to create more space for crowded teeth, a task the Invisalign aligners can’t accomplish alone. Rather than being made from composite resin, buttons are made from metal or plastic. The dentist mounts them on the teeth just above the gum line with a special adhesive. Matching pairs are located at various spots along the top and bottom jaws so that the forces exerted by the elastics will slowly adjust both parts. It’s basically the same practice that dentists use for traditional braces, but you can still use your Invisalign aligners at the same time. Clear elastics are available to minimize the visibility of the treatment, and many patients have these buttons removed long before the rest of the treatment wraps up. You may not need buttons, even if you do need attachment points, if your dentist doesn’t recommend any changes to the bite pattern or the shape and fit of your jaw. Attachments and buttons aren’t required for every Invisalign treatment, but they do play an important role in some cases. If your dentist recommends using either or both of these accessories, you should strongly consider taking their advice. Choosing to skip these additional processes will greatly limit the amount of improvement you’ll see from using the aligners. The buttons and attachments used with Invisalign treatments are still practically invisible and much less noticeable than traditional metal braces. Don’t let your concerns over the visibility of your dental treatment prevent you from getting the straight smile of your dreams. Tri LeA practicing dentist since 1987, Dr. Le has been running successful dental practices in Texas with his wife Ann since 1990. A member of the ADA, AACD and AADSM, Dr. Le has also contributed to several leading dental journals.