Dental and orthodontic technology has advanced so much in the past few years. One good example of this are the alternative methods of straightening teeth. At one time, not too long ago, Austin, Texas dental patients who wanted straighter teeth had no other choice but to wear traditional metal braces for an extended period of time. And while there’s no doubt about the effectiveness of metal braces, many people didn’t want to sign up for that type of treatment for one reason or another. Fortunately, today those patients have another option: clear plastic aligners. One of the most popular brands of aligners is Invisalign®. This cutting-edge technology allows dental patients to get the straighter smile they’ve wanted without the embarrassment or discomfort of traditional braces. Invisalign® aligners are held in place by attachments, and the entire process is remarkably simple. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the entire Invisalign® process, as well as what Invisalign® attachments consist of.
The Invisalign® Process
The first step in the Invisalign® teeth-straightening method is a consultation visit with your dentist. As effective as clear plastic aligners are, they may not be the right choice for every patient. Generally speaking, you are probably a great candidate for Invisalign® if you have problems such as an overbite, an underbite, a crossbite, gapped teeth, or crowded teeth. But if you have extreme issues, clear plastic aligners may not work for you. That’s why the initial consultation with your dentist is so important – he or she can perform an oral exam and let you know whether or not Invisalign® is right for you.
The next step in the process is to make sure that any other dental problems you have are resolved – problems such as gum disease or tooth decay, for example. These kinds of issues will need to be fixed before you begin wearing your clear plastic aligners. Once that is done, your dentist or orthodontist will make a digital impression of your teeth and send that impression to the experts at the Invisalign® lab. Then, working with the specialists at Invisalign®, your dentist or orthodontist will create a customized plan just for you. You’ll be able to actually see a digital image of how your teeth are predicted to straighten over the course of your treatment. Using the digital impression provided by your dentist, your customized aligners will be created at the Invisalign® lab. Once that’s done, you’ll be ready to start your treatment.
You’ll wear your clear plastic aligner trays each and every day for at least 20 to 22 hours, but you’ll be able to remove them to eat your meals and brush and floss your teeth. Because the aligners are made of clear plastic, no one ever has to know that you’re wearing a teeth-straightening appliance. These trays are much more comfortable that metal braces. And because you can remove the aligner trays to eat, you can enjoy whatever foods you’d like without the restrictions that often come with traditional metal braces. Another benefit of Invisalign® is how long the entire process takes – typically between 6 and 18 months, as opposed to traditional metal braces which usually take between 12 and 24 months.
What You Should Know about Invisalign® Attachments
Although the Invisalign® treatment method is based on the technology of using clear plastic aligners to move teeth into straighter positions, the aligners don’t always work on their own: Invisalign® attachments can play a crucial role in ensuring that your teeth are repositioned over the course of your treatment.
Invisalign® attachments consist of small, tooth-colored dots made from a dental composite filling material. These attachments – also referred to as “buttons” – are bonded onto your teeth by your dentist or orthodontist immediately before you are fitted with your first set of aligner trays.
These attachments may be tiny, but they perform a vital job: they hold the aligner trays in place throughout the treatment, ensuring that the trays do the job they are intended to do – straighten your teeth.
Invisalign® Attachments Vary
Just as every dental patient’s needs are different, so too are the types of Invisalign® attachments that are bonded to the patient’s teeth. Attachments may be square, circular, rectangular or triangular – it all depends on what the goal is in straightening your teeth. Teeth may need to be moved outward from the mouth, inward toward the mouth, or slightly rotated, for example, and the exact type of attachment your dentist or orthodontist will use depends on how your teeth need to be repositioned.
Just as the type of attachment will vary depending on your dental needs, so will the number of attachments. This is one of the many nuances of the Invisalign® method that your dental provider will determine and include in your customized treatment plan. No matter what shape, size or number of attachments you need, your dentist or orthodontist will create them to perfectly match the shade of your natural teeth, so they (along with the clear plastic aligner trays) will be virtually invisible to other people. At the end of your Invisalign® treatment, your dentist or orthodontist will simply remove the attachments, and you’ll be left with a beautiful, straight smile!
Invisalign® Attachments Aren’t Always Needed
While it’s true that attachments play an absolutely crucial role for some patients to achieve success with the Invisalign® method, other patients don’t need attachments at all. If your issues are relatively minor, the aligner trays may be able to work quite well all on their own and you may be able to skip attachments altogether.
If you’ve ever wanted a straighter smile, but didn’t want to sign up to wear traditional metal braces for an extended period of time, call your Austin, Texas dentist today. He or she can tell you if you are a good candidate for Invisalign®, as well as explain what Invisalign® attachments consist of in your customized plan. Don’t hesitate to make that call! It could set you on the road to the straighter, more beautiful smile you’ve always wanted.