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When Do Invisalign Attachments Come Off?

Updated: May 19, 2023

Attachments, are they really necessary? Do I need to have them and how long do they have to stay on? In fact, when is the earliest time that I can have them off?

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When do the attachments come off?

The attachments for Invisalign typically have to stay on for the entire treatment. In fact, you will be notified well ahead of time for how many attachments you need and for how long they will stay on once you get the Invisalign treatment plan back after the consultation.

Invisalign plan with attachments
Invisalign plan with attachments

The consultation appointment consists of:

  • Taking orthodontic records, which are photos.

  • Taking molds or impressions of the upper and lower teeth.

We send all of the information over to Invisalign and they return a digital plan back to us like the one from above. The red buttons denote the Invisalign attachments or also commonly known as Invisalign buttons. It will tell you exactly how many buttons and where they wish to place them. The attachments stay on for the entire treatment time unless algorithm specifies that they want them removed at a certain tray number.

Why do I need Invisalign attachments?

We understand that most patients choose Invisalign over traditional braces with the wire and brackets because they want a more cosmetic option. The clear aligners are more pleasant and less unsightly than the metal hardware but the braces have one major advantage over the clear aligners. The metal braces have better leverage and torque to move the teeth because they have brackets attached to them.

In order to compete and compensate for the lack of leverage, Invisalign has decided to add attachments or buttons to their trays. Here are the benefits of Invisalign buttons:

  • Provide anchorage for the trays.

  • Gives the trays a better fit so they stay on better.

  • Provides better tooth movements by grabbing onto the teeth and pulling them.

Various Invisalign button shapes
Various Invisalign button shapes

If you look closely at the attachments, most patients refer to them as bumps or buttons, you will notice that they are all different shapes and are placed at different spots on the tooth. Their placement and shape is to help them maximize the leverage to move the teeth in a particular direction. If you want an analogy, a perfect example would be rock climbing.

The cliffs long island city
The Cliffs long island city

Each shape serves a very specific purpose! They look similar don't they?

Please do not worry because the attachments are not red even though they are represented as such. They will be clear colored bonding material, which is the same exact material as a dental composite resin. The only difference between the bumps and a tooth filling is just the shade or color of the material. For Invisalign, we use the shade Translucent so that it is more see through and can blend in with your natural tooth color.

  • Most of your friends won't even notice them unless they've done Invisalign before.

Basically, the attachments help move the teeth, in fact you will feel your teeth get a little looser but that is the same as with braces.

Do the number of attachments affect the cost of Invisalign?

You may be concerned that the more Invisalign attachments you have, the more it could cost you since it does create more work for your dentist. Well, you don't have to worry because the cost of Invisalign braces is not affected by the number of buttons but rather by how complex the case is overall.

Therefore, if you were trying to convince your dentist to put on less of them to save money, you may be out of luck. You'd only be hampering your treatment by slowing it down and making your case take longer.

Is it possible to remove Invisalign attachments sooner?

We did say that the attachments have to stay on for the entire procedure but there are times where the invisalign attachments can be removed sooner. There are situations where one arch of your teeth is done straightening before the other arch. What we mean as an example, is when the top teeth are finished moving well before the bottom are like the case below.

Invisalign plan where one arch finishes first
Invisalign plan where one arch finishes first

The bars on the bottom of the screen denote how long the plan will take and each one represents a set of trays. It appears that the top bar or trays will finish after tray 6 while the bottom will take until 10 trays.

  • In this case, we can remove the attachments on the top teeth after finishing tray number 6.

  • This means that you can potentially remove the buttons sooner!

  • The bottom will have to stay on until the very end of the treatment plan though.

  • The opposite could be true where the bottom finish moving before the upper.

How to remove Invisalign buttons

If one arch is finished straightening, your dentist can remove the buttons by drilling them off and then polishing your teeth afterwards. The process is painless and does not require you to be numb so novocaine is unnecessary.

The process to remove invisalign attachments is also very fast. In fact, it takes less time to remove them compared to when you had to put them on. When you're getting the buttons put on, it may take up to an hour but removing them will take less than 15 minutes. The removal only requires a drill that sprays water and a polishing bur or stone.

To remove one attachment or multiple attachments, are all the same process. There is no difference in technique from getting rid of one vs many. The only difference is the amount of time it would take to take them all off. Of course the more you have, the more time it would take.

Sometimes the attachments can be accidentally removed as well. What we mean is that once in a while, they may fall off while you're eating if you're not careful. The most common reason is if you bite directly into an uncut fruit like an apple. In order to minimize the chances of it happening, you should slice up the fruits.

What if I don't want any attachments at all?

If you don't want any at all, we can send a request to Invisalign to have them all removed but please be aware that you will be losing out on a big benefit. The attachments are what makes Invisalign comparable with the metal braces. Without the attachments, the efficacy of the clear aligners would be closer to but still not worse than the DIY aligners (Do it yourself).

What our dentists in long island city have noticed at our office is that without them, the treatment progress usually doesn't follow as closely and it will increase treatment time by about 1.5-2 times. This means that with the bumps on it may take 1 year but without, maybe expect 1.5-2 years since the trays don't have as much leverage in moving the teeth without them. The plan will take longer if you don't want any attachments.

With that being said, we highly recommend Invisalign over traditional braces because they are so much more hygienic. The dental cleaning appointments are a breeze in comparison! You also don't have to do anything special to take care of your teeth, just brush and floss with your favorite products.



David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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