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Invisalign®/3M buttons vs. attachments: What’s the difference?

September 27, 2023

If you’re on the journey to a stunning smile with Invisalign or 3M aligners and the experienced Premiere Orthodontics team, you may have heard of “buttons” and “attachments”. Or maybe you haven’t heard of them yet!

Either way, we’ll dive into what these are, how they work, and how they differ.


The Basics

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty details, it’s important to understand that both Invisalign buttons and attachments serve the same fundamental purpose: they enhance the effectiveness of your clear aligner treatment. These small additions provide the aligners with leverage, allowing them to exert precise forces on your teeth, ultimately guiding them into their beautiful new positions.

Not everyone requires Invisalign or 3M attachments or buttons. You may go your entire treatment experience without using these, or you may get them right away! It all depends on your personalized treatment plan.


What are Invisalign or 3M attachments?

3M or Invisalign attachments are small, tooth-colored bumps attached directly to specific teeth. Attachments are made of a tooth-colored composite material that blends seamlessly with your natural teeth. Their purpose is to create anchor points for the aligners to promote more complex tooth movements.

How do they work?

Attachments reduce the amount of space between your teeth and the aligner, to create a more snug fit and increase pressure where the attachment is. In response to the pressure, your tooth will move away from the area of pressure in order to try to lessen the pressure. This gradually guides the tooth in a specific direction, based on the precise location of the attachment.

3M and Invisalign attachments come in various shapes and sizes; some are rectangular, while others are circular or triangular. The shape of the attachment is designed to correspond to the movement needed for each individual tooth, and if you need them, yours will be chosen based on your personalized treatment plan!

Now, what are Invisalign/3M buttons?


What are Invisalign/3M buttons?

Invisalign/3M buttons are essentially a type of Invisalign or 3M attachment. While attachments are bonded directly to the tooth, buttons are attached to the aligner. They function similarly to attachments by providing additional leverage to create precise tooth movements.

How do they work?

3M or Invisalign buttons, also called 3M or Invisalign hooks, are used as anchors to attach rubber bands that apply persistent pressure to the jaws to guide the upper and lower jaw into proper alignment. Rubber bands are often used with braces, but they work the same way with clear aligners!

For example, if you have an underbite (meaning the lower jaw juts out further than the upper jaw), you may wear rubber bands attached to a button on the top teeth, toward the back of your mouth, and a button on the bottom teeth, toward the canines. This would apply pressure that pulls the lower jaw backward and the upper jaw forward.

If you require orthodontic buttons, Dr. Battle will explain how they work and how to wear your rubber bands properly to ensure a successful transformation!


How are attachments and buttons removed?

Because these attachments are bonded to your teeth, removal of Invisalign or 3M attachments requires your orthodontist. Once your treatment is complete, or your attachments have successfully served their purpose, Dr. Battle will pop them off similar to the way braces brackets are popped off. This is a simple process that won’t cause you pain or discomfort!

Invisalign/3M buttons, on the other hand, are attached to your aligners, so once you switch your current aligners to your next set of aligners, you may not have the buttons anymore. It all depends on your personalized treatment plan.


The Bottom Line

Both 3M and Invisalign attachments and buttons make for a customized treatment experience, help reduce treatment time by increasing the effectiveness of your clear aligners, and promote very precise movement of individual teeth.

Whether you wear attachments or buttons depends on your personalized treatment plan, based on your condition, the severity of your condition and your unique orthodontic needs.

Ready to begin your clear aligner transformation? Request your complimentary consultation with us at our Orlando orthodontist office in Winter Springs or Waterford Lakes today!



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