Clear aligners are the new range in orthodontics today. Many new patients come to our practice every day asking how to straighten their teeth with Invisalign because they don’t want anything glued to their teeth.
Invisalign doesn’t use brackets and wires, it’s a plastic aligner with a series of clear plastic shells that are shaped so that they sequentially guide the teeth into their desired positions. There are still “attachments” that must be glued to the teeth to achieve a successful outcome.
For a tooth to move in any desired direction, there must be a surface against which the aligner can push. Sometimes called buttons; Invisalign attachments are small, tooth-colored dots that are bonded to certain teeth to improve the movement of the Invisalign trays. For all movements except intrusion (pushing the teeth towards the gums), attachments are necessary to create the required pushing surfaces and undercuts. These movements include tipping, rotating, and lengthening the teeth.
The size, shape, number, and location of these attachments are determined by the anatomy of the teeth and the desired movements. Although visible up close, most attachments are invisible to the naked eye at normal conversational distances.
Orthodontic attachments provide the function for clear aligners as brackets do with conventional braces. They are just handled on the attachments and don’t feel like much of anything other than small bumps on your teeth. It’s how the buttons make aligners fit your teeth that will alter the feel of your Invisalign treatment. The attachments allow aligners to fit more snugly, and this can make it more difficult to remove the aligners for meals and brushing.
The good news is that your reluctance to remove the aligners often will make your treatment that much more effective. Just don’t be tempted to eat or drink anything other than water while wearing Invisalign or the aligners could become discoloured. To apply the attachments, your orthodontist will use a template aligner that has gaps in it where the attachments will be on your teeth.
First, the surface of your tooth will need to be roughened up a bit to create a surface to which the attachment will adhere. Then, the template aligner will be put in, and the material that will harden to become the attachment will be inserted in those gaps. A light will harden it. Once hardened, the template aligner will be removed and the orthodontist will remove any excess of the material that has found its way onto the teeth.
While it’s essential to brush and floss your teeth normally every day and clean your Invisalign aligners as indicated to keep them clear and odor-free, attachments also require care. Food and bacteria can accumulate around the attachments, so cleaning carefully in these areas is necessary to ensure that the nearly invisible attachments stay white.
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