Updated: Apr 17
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.
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 attachments. It will tell you exactly how many and where they wish to place them. They stay on for the entire treatment time unless they specify 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.
In order to compete and compensate for the lack of leverage, Invisalign has decided to add attachments to their trays. The attachments also help provide anchorage for the trays so they fit and stay on better as well. It gives it a tighter and closer fit for the trays.
If you look closely at the attachments, most patients refer to them as bumps, 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.
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 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.
Is it possible to remove them sooner?
We did say that the attachments have to stay on for the entire procedure but there are times where one arch of your teeth is done moving sooner than the other. What we mean as an example, is when the top teeth are finished moving well before the bottom are like below.
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 them 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.
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. A great option would be hydroxyapatite toothpaste or even a xylitol toothpaste if you prefer!