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Invisalign Attachments and Elastics: What are They and Why Would I Need Them?

Invisalign attachements for mom and her daughter

Invisalign Attachments and Elastics

As a Kelowna Invisalign dentist, Dr. James Scramstad, a general dentist practicing orthodontics only, knows that patients love the fact that clear aligners are removable, virtually invisible and don’t involve brackets being glued to their teeth. That’s why it can come as a surprise that we bond tooth-colored buttons, known as Invisalign attachments, to the teeth of many of our clear aligner patients and, sometimes, we pair aligners with rubber bands. Before you panic, Invisalign attachments are small and blend in with your smile and the elastics are far enough back that they’re not usually visible when you smile, so most people won’t notice you have them. You’ll still be able to take your aligners in and out and enjoy the convenience and aesthetics that made clear aligners your preferred orthodontic treatment option

In this post, we’ll cover:

What are Invisalign Attachments?

As we said, Invisalign attachments are small buttons that are bonded to your teeth. They stay in place for as long as we need them to, meaning, unlike your aligners, they’re not removable. The Invisalign buttons are made from a white composite material, the same stuff your general dentist would use to fix a crack or chip in your teeth. The size, shape and number of attachments depends on your needs. While if someone were staring at your mouth up close, they might notice the bumps, from a regular distance, they’re not really visible. 

Why are these composite Invisalign buttons necessary? On their own, clear aligners can only push against the teeth, moving them in one direction. Aligners are akin to the braces wires, which act as a track to guide the teeth. Invisalign attachments are like the braces brackets. They provide leverage and grip to help your aligners track (fit against the teeth), while also serving as a surface the plastic can push against to achieve more complex movements, such as rotating, lengthening or tipping teeth in a desired direction. 

Does Invisalign work without attachments? It depends on the orthodontic issue. For a minor case where just one or two teeth need to be shifted back slightly, Invisalign may work without attachments. However, in the majority of cases, Invisalign attachments are necessary for optimal Invisalign results.  

How do Rubber Bands Work With Invisalign?

For some patients, Invisalign attachments are all we need to help the clear aligners achieve the necessary pushing force. Other times, in addition to the attachments, we’ll also use Invisalign elastics, or rubber bands. Invisalign rubber bands are small, clear elastics that connect the upper and lower arches. They’re discreet and typically far enough back that they’re not visible when you smile. 

How do rubber bands work with Invisalign? Well, the rubber bands either connect to hooks on the aligners themselves or to your Invisalign attachments. They’re job is to fix problems with bite alignment. The aligners straighten the teeth in the upper and lower arch independently of one another. However, if we’re correcting a discrepancy in the bite (how the upper and lower teeth meet), we often need connective forces. Invisalign elastics give us this connective force to shift the jaw into place and also help with achieving certain tooth movements. 

What Cases are Invisalign Attachments and Rubber Bands Needed For?

As noted, Invisalign attachments are necessary for the majority of patients. This is why, one huge drawback of the many, at-home aligners that you can order online, is that since you’re doing the treatment on your own, Invisalign buttons and rubber bands aren’t used. Without them, the results you can achieve are very limited. 

Here are some common instances, from Invisalign for overjet teeth correction to Invisalign for an open bite, where attachments and/or Invisalign elastics would be necessary:

Invisalign for Overjet Teeth Correction

Patients occasionally confuse overjet teeth (flared teeth) with an overbite. Overjet teeth are teeth that point forward or flare out over the bottom teeth. Sometimes called protruding teeth or “buck teeth,” overjet teeth may need to move back and be tipped down to create an ideal bite. When we use Invisalign for overjet teeth correction, we’ll often pair the aligners with Invisalign attachments. The attachments provide the necessary leverage to help Invisalign fix overjet teeth. 

Invisalign for Overbite Correction

For a mild overbite that’s related to tooth position, Invisalign attachments along with your clear aligners could correct the issue. However, when we use Invisalign for an overbite that’s related to the position of the jaw, attachments and elastics could be needed. The aligners and attachments will perform the necessary tooth movements, while the Invisalign elastics will close the overbite and create harmony between the upper and lower arches.

Invisalign for Underbite Correction

When we treat an underbite with Invisalign, similar to what we do for an overbite, we’ll use both the Invisalign composite buttons and elastics in conjunction with the aligners. This will shift the teeth into place, while simultaneously correcting the bite. 

Invisalign for a Crossbite

Invisalign can treat certain types of crossbites. If you’ve ever seen crossbite before and after photos, you’ll notice that treatment often involves some complex tooth movements. For a single tooth crossbite that just requires a tooth being shifted into place, Invisalign attachments can do the trick. For a crossbite that’s a bit more complicated, we’ll use attachments and the Invisalign rubber bands. This way, we can leverage the connective force from the elastics to help bring the bite together properly. 

Invisalign for an Open Bite

With an open bite, the upper and lower teeth don’t meet at all. Patients are often curious as to whether or not we can fix an open bite without braces and the answer is, absolutely. Invisalign is an excellent option for open bite correction. Most cases of an open bite require Invisalign attachments, and for more complex instances, we’ll use Invisalign elastics to help the upper and lower jaw fit together.

Invisalign for Spacing

Again, it will depend on the case, but when we use Invisalign for gaps between the teeth, we will often bond some attachments to the teeth to not only close the gaps, but to also fix any rotations or other issues that require a little more force. 

Invisalign for Crowded Teeth 

Invisalign is a good option for crowded teeth. Many times, when teeth are crowded, they twist, overlap or shift forward or back in an effort to fit in the minimal space in the jaw. As mentioned previously, Invisalign buttons are needed to achieve more complex tooth movements, such as rotating teeth, which is why they’d likely be indicated for fixing crowding.

How do You Care for Invisalign Attachments and Rubber Bands?

Caring for your Invisalign attachments and rubber bands is simple. You’ll replace the rubber bands one or twice a day, depending on your needs, so you don’t need to do anything special for them. If they break or pop off, you can simply take new ones out of your pack and put them back on. That said, to make things easier, we’ll cover a few common topics related to their care:

How to put rubber bands on Invisalign

Once you get the hang of how to put rubber bands on Invisalign, it will be quick and become like second nature, though it can take some getting used to at first. To put your rubber bands on your Invisalign, put your aligners in your mouth. Then, hook the rubber band to the hook or attachment on either the top or bottom teeth. Grip the rubber band while stretching it out with two fingers. Hook it on the attachment or hook above or below it. 

How long to wear Invisalign elastics

When you start your Invisalign treatment, Dr. Scramstad will let you know how long to wear your Invisalign rubber bands and how often to change them. Most patients need to have them in for as long as their aligners are in, about 20 to 22 hours per day, and will change them once or twice daily to maintain their elasticity. We’ll also fill you in on whether or not you should take your rubber bands out to eat, which will depend on where they attach. 

How to keep Invisalign attachments white

While the composite material tends to be pretty good at repelling stains, only having acidic beverages or staining foods and drinks, such as coffee, in moderation can help keep your Invisalign attachments white. Additionally, be sure to brush around the attachments after eating. You might also want to break out your proxy brush, if necessary, to remove any plaque or food debris in the tight spaces. Since sticky foods can more easily accumulate around the attachments, avoid them if you have trouble getting them off. 

How to remove Invisalign attachments 

While we’ve seen plenty of YouTube videos for how to remove Invisalign attachments yourself, we don’t recommend it. Prying them off can damage the enamel. Your dentist will use special tools to gently remove them without harming your teeth. They’ll also polish the teeth after so there’s no leftover residue. 

Schedule Your Consultation at Align Ortho Today! 

Invisalign attachments and elastics have really revolutionized clear aligner treatment, allowing Dr. Scramstad to treat cases with Invisalign that, in the past, would have required braces. If you’re interested in finding out if you’re a candidate for Kelowna Invisalign treatment, schedule a consultation at Align Ortho.

 

Dr. James Scramstad

Author Dr. James Scramstad

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