• Dr. Tanner

Invisalign Attachments: What is their purpose?

Attachments are a critical part of the Invisalign system - they allow orthodontists to successfully treat simple to complex malocclusions with a high degree of success.

  • Think of attachments as “grips” for teeth - mini anchors which allow the aligners to either securely latch onto teeth or apply specific pressure to a tooth.

This is important because teeth are very smooth (and very slippery when you add saliva). Teeth don’t provide natural ledges or undercuts to hold the aligners in place. Imagine trying to hold onto a pumpkin or watermelon seed!


Attachments are not random bumps that are placed on the teeth. They come in different sizes and shapes depending upon their purpose. In addition, their position on the teeth is critical to the outcome and success of treatment.

  • Who chooses the design and placement of the attachments? It is a combination of the algorithms of the software from Invisalign in conjunction with the clinical knowledge and experience of the orthodontist.

Too many attachments weaken the aligner and make them difficult to remove. Not enough attachments result in a less-than-ideal outcome. Many times, the orthodontist will override the design and placement of the software generated attachments based upon his or her experience with Invisalign and tooth movement. This is where the magic happens!



Once an Invisalign case is approved, a template with empty attachment wells is shipped with the aligners. A staff member tries in the attachment template to ensure a good fit. The template is then removed, the wells filled with tooth-colored resin, the teeth conditioned, and the template reinserted. A curing light is used to set the resin – it only takes a few seconds per tooth then the template is removed. Excess resin is cleaned off with either a handpiece or hand instrument. The first aligner is then placed to ensure a custom fit and the patient is encouraged to monitor the attachments throughout the duration of treatment. If additional aligners are required toward the end of treatment, some or all the existing attachments may be removed and new attachments placed.



Attachments can take a bit to get used to. They are not invisible but fortunately their tooth-colored appearance do not draw attention in the same manner that a full set of braces with archwires.You will not feel them with the aligners in place, but when you remove your aligners, they may slightly rub the inside of your cheek and lips. As time goes on, any irritation from the attachments will diminish and you will feel comfortable with the aligners either in or out.

  • Attachments will not stain or discolor.

As an aside, you cannot bleach your teeth while undergoing Invisalign treatment. The attachments will not allow the bleach to flow under them.


This brings us to the issue of do-it-yourself orthodontic treatment like Smile Direct Club and Byte. Not only is there no orthodontic supervision with your care, but these companies are also limited in which cases they can successfully treat.

There is no way to place attachments on your teeth with direct-to-consumer companies which compromises the ability to address deep bites, open bites, moderate to severe rotations, extrusion/intrusion of specific teeth and A/P issues (i.e. overbite, underbite).

This is a serious handicap since many malocclusions fall into one or more of these categories. Unless you have a simple crowding or spacing issue (and your bite is good), please avoid these companies for your orthodontic treatment. You will be either greatly disappointed with the outcome, have created an even move unfavorable situation or require retreatment by an orthodontist.


If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics to schedule a visit with Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. Dr. Tanner will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget.


A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!