In recent years, more and more patients have been choosing Invisalign aligner treatment over traditional braces because the former is aesthetically pleasing and more comfortable to wear when straightening your teeth.
However, using aligners alone has its limitations, since they can only push teeth into pre-determined spaces, and cannot apply forces in a way that moves teeth towards their optimal positions.
To address these limitations and meet the growing demand from patients, manufacturers have been introducing additional components to aligner treatment. These include composite attachments, bite ramps, precise cuts, and power ridges. By incorporating these auxiliaries, aligner treatment can be expanded to treat a wider range of malocclusions (misalignments of the teeth and jaws).
So, what role do the attachments (buttons) in moving your teeth with Invisalign?
What do invisalign buttons do?
Composite attachments (buttons) play a significant role in improving the control and guidance of tooth movement during aligner treatment. They are bonded to specific teeth and allow for better manipulation of tooth position.
These attachments increase the contact area between the aligner and the tooth, and they are strategically placed closer to the center of resistance of the tooth. This enables more effective and comprehensive tooth movement.
However, achieving the planned tooth movement with attachments can still be challenging in clinical practice. That’s optimal placement, number, and shape of composite attachments in Invisalign therapy is vital.
How do Invisalign buttons work?
The primary function of Invisalign buttons is to provide additional leverage and control for the aligners, allowing for more precise tooth movements. These attachments are strategically placed on specific teeth based on the treatment plan and the desired tooth movements, to achieve better alignment and bite correction while maintaining the aesthetic benefits of the nearly invisible Invisalign aligners.
The process of placing Invisalign buttons involves several steps:
Step 1: Evaluation
The orthodontist carefully evaluates the patient’s teeth and bite to determine the optimal placement and number of attachments required. This evaluation is based on the specific treatment goals and the nature of the tooth movements needed.
Step 2: Bonding
Once the treatment plan is established, the attachments are bonded to the teeth. The teeth are cleaned and etched with a mild acidic solution to create a rough surface that helps the composite material adhere securely. Then, a tooth-colored composite material is applied to the teeth in the desired shape and size of the attachment. The composite material is then hardened using a special curing light, ensuring it becomes firm and durable.
Step 3: Aligner engagement
After the attachments are placed, the patient continues wearing their Invisalign aligners as directed. The aligners are designed to fit precisely over the teeth and attach to the buttons, creating a more secure and controlled fit. The aligners exert pressure on the attachments, which in turn apply the necessary forces to move the teeth in the desired direction.
Power ridges: an alternative to buttons
Power ridges are an alternative to Invisalign attachments in orthodontic treatment. Power ridges are small raised areas on the surface of the aligners that provide additional force and leverage to facilitate tooth movement. They are designed to enhance the aligner’s grip on the teeth, improving control and predictability of tooth movement.
Bonded to Aligners
Unlike attachments, which are bonded to specific teeth, power ridges are incorporated directly into the aligner material itself. They are strategically placed in areas where extra force or torque is required to achieve the desired tooth movement.
The purpose of power ridges is to enhance the aligner’s effectiveness in challenging tooth movements. They can help address issues such as rotations, extrusions, or intrusions that may require additional force or control. By providing targeted pressure on specific teeth, power ridges can improve the aligner’s ability to apply the necessary forces to achieve the desired tooth positions.
One advantage of power ridges over attachments is their discreet appearance. Power ridges are typically designed to blend in with the rest of the aligner, making them less noticeable compared to visible attachments. This can be especially appealing to patients who prioritize aesthetics during their orthodontic treatment.
Can be used alongside Attachments
That said, power ridges may not be suitable or effective for all types of tooth movements or complex malocclusions. In some cases, attachments may still be necessary to achieve optimal results. Orthodontists carefully evaluate each patient’s specific needs and treatment goals to determine whether power ridges, attachments, or a combination of both would be most appropriate.
The size, shape, and location of Invisalign buttons are carefully planned to achieve specific tooth movements. They can provide extra grip, torque, or rotational control, depending on the treatment needs. By creating small protrusions on the teeth’s surfaces, the attachments help the aligners apply targeted forces to guide the teeth into their desired positions.
Keep in mind that Invisalign attachments are generally temporary and are removed at the end of the treatment. The removal process is typically quick and straightforward, with the attachments being gently polished off the teeth.