Invisalign™ is a proprietary appliance that allows patients to have their teeth straightened and bad bites corrected using a series of removable, clear aligners. These clear (plastic) aligners are changed about every 2 weeks and gradually move teeth into a position that has been treatment planned by an Orthodontist trained in using Invisalign.
The advantages of using clear, removable aligners to move teeth versus the traditional way with braces and wires are many. The first most obvious advantage is the fact they are removable. You can eat what you want, brush and floss your teeth and then place the aligners back in your mouth. Traditional braces require some dietary restrictions and are notorious for trapping food and irritating gums and cheeks.
Another big advantage is a significant decrease in the level of discomfort. The aligners are made to move your teeth about .25mm every 2 weeks. This small amount of movement is significant in getting the teeth aligned and the bite corrected, but is small enough to cause minimal to zero discomfort.
The fact that the aligners are nearly invisible is another distinct advantage. Most of the time people will not even realize you have them on! However, there are some “bumps”, known as attachments, that are placed on the teeth and these are sometimes visible (if you are looking closely for them).
So why are attachments needed?
Over the past 13 years, Align Technology, the makers of Invisalign, have learned that some tooth movements would not occur with just the plastic aligner pushing on the teeth. Through research and development and their teams of engineers, they have designed “attachments” that are placed on the teeth in a strategic position and with a specific design to move that tooth in the direction that was treatment planned by the doctor.
These “attachments” are placed using a tooth colored composite resin, similar to what is used to place traditional braces on the teeth. These are removed at the end of the aligner therapy very easily with a polishing tool and no damage is done to the teeth.
Are they really necessary?
To obtain the desired results in the final positions of the teeth, strategically placed attachments are necessary. Without certain types of attachments, the results from the Invisalign aligners would not be ideal. Most patients want the best results from their orthodontic treatment and understand that attachments are much less invasive than traditional braces and wires.
Make sure to talk with your doctor during your Invisalign consultation about the attachments and where you can expect them on your teeth. An Invisalign provider that has the experience and background in treating a significant number of cases will be able to tell you the most likely teeth that will need these attachments.