Welcome to Milwaukee Orthodontist

If you are looking for an orthodontist in Milwaukee, this site is for you.

This site is dedicated to helping you find a qualified orthodontist in the greater Milwaukee area. It also provides some information you might find helpful. Start by reading the articles below for good general information. Then start reading the blog posts to learn more. New posts will be made periodically. Some featured articles/guest bloggers are not from Milwaukee--but hey, if the information is good, that's all that matters, right?

Soon, this site will provide listings of qualified Milwaukee orthodontists by ZIP code so you can find a practice near you.


About Orthodontics

Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment of malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.

Orthodontics is formally defined by the American Association of Orthodontics as, "The area of dentistry concerned with the supervision, guidance and correction of the growing and mature dentofacial structures, including those conditions that require movement of teeth or correction of malrelationships between and among teeth and facial bones by the application of forces and/or the stimulation and redirection of the jaws within the craniofacial complex."

Orthodontic treatment can be carried out for purely aesthetic reasons with regards to improving the general appearance of patients' teeth. However, there are orthodontists who work on reconstructing the entire face rather than focusing exclusively on teeth. Treatment is most often prescribed for practical reasons such as providing the patient with a functionally improved bite (occlusion).


Orthodontic Treatment Methods

If the main goal of the treatment is the dental displacement, most commonly a fixed multibracket therapy is used. In this case orthodontic wires are inserted into dental braces, which can be made from stainless steel or a more aesthetic ceramic material.

Also removable appliances, or "plates", headgear, expansion appliances, and many other devices can be used to move teeth.

After a course of active orthodontic treatment, patients will often wear retainters, which will maintain the teeth in their improved position while the surrounding bone reforms around them. The retainers are generally worn full-time for a short period, perhaps 6 months to a year, and then worn periodically (typically nightly during sleep) for as long as the orthodontist recommends.

Appropriately trained doctors align the teeth with respect to the surrounding soft tissues, with or without movement of the underlying bones, which can be moved either through growth modification in children or jaw surgery in adults.


Getting Dental Braces

Orthodontic services may be provided by any licensed dentist trained in orthodontics. In North America most orthodontic treatment is done by orthodontists, dentists in diagnosis and treatment of malocclusions—malalignments of the teeth, jaws, or both. A dentist must complete 2–3 years of additional post-doctoral training to earn a specialty certificate in orthodontics. There are many general practitioners who also provide orthodontic services.

The first step is to determine if braces are suitable for the patient. The doctor consults with the patient and inspects the teeth visually. If braces are appropriate, a records appointment is set up where X-rays, molds, and impressions are made. These records are analyzed to determine the problems and proper course of action. Typical treatment times vary from six months to two and a half years depending on the complexity and types of problems. Orthognathic surgery may be required in extreme cases.

Teeth to be braced will have an applied to help the cement bond to the surface of the tooth. In most cases the teeth will be banded and then brackets will be added. A bracket will be applied with dental cement, and then cured with light until hardened. This process usually takes a few seconds per tooth. If required, orthodontic spacers may be inserted between the molars to make room for molar bands to be placed at a later date. Molar bands are required to ensure brackets will stick. Bands are also utilized when dental fillings or other dental work make securing a bracket to a tooth infeasible.

An archwire will be threaded between the brackets and affixed with elastic or metal ligatures. Elastics are available in a wide variety of colors. Archwires are bent, shaped, and tightened frequently to achieve the desired results. Brackets with hooks can be placed, or hooks can be created and affixed to the archwire to affix the elastic to. The placement and configuration of the elastics will depend on the course of treatment and the individual patient. Elastics are made in different diameters, colors, sizes, and strengths.

Modern orthodontics makes frequent use of nickel-titanium archwires and temperature-sensitive materials. When cold, the archwire is limp and flexible, easily threaded between brackets of any configuration. Once heated to body temperature, the archwire will stiffen and seek to retain its shape, creating constant light force on the teeth.

Each month or two, the braces must be adjusted. This helps shift the teeth into the correct position. When they get adjusted the orthodontist takes off the colored rubber bands keeping the wire in place. The wire is then taken out, and may be replaced or modified. When the wire has been placed back into the mouth, the patient may choose a color for the new rubber bands, which are then fixed to the metal brackets. The adjusting process may cause some discomfort, which is normal. A licensed orthodontist can help you decide which braces options are best for you.

Types of dental braces

Modern orthodontists can offer many types and varieties of braces:

Traditional braces are stainless steel, sometimes in combination with nickel titanium, and are the most widely used.

"Clear" braces serve as a cosmetic alternative to traditional metal braces by blending in more with the natural color of the teeth. Typically, these brackets are made of ceramic or plastic materials and function in a similar manner to traditional metal brackets. Clear elastic ties and white metal ties are available to be used with these clear braces to help keep the appliances less conspicuous. Clear braces have a higher component of friction and tend to be more brittle than metal braces. This can make removing the appliances at the end of treatment more difficult and time consuming.

Gold-plated stainless steel braces are often employed for patients allergic to nickel (a component of stainless steel), but may also be chosen because some people simply prefer the look of gold over the traditional silver-colored braces.

Lingual braces are fitted behind the teeth, and are not visible with casual interaction. Lingual braces can be more difficult to adjust to, since they can hinder tongue movement.

Progressive, clear removable aligners (one example of which is Invisalign) may be used to gradually move teeth into their final positions. Aligners are generally not used for complex orthodontic cases, such as when extractions, jaw surgery, or palate expansion are necessary.

A new concept under development is the "smart bracket." The smart bracket contains a microchip capable of measuring the forces applied to the bracket/tooth interface. The goal of this concept is to significantly reduce the duration of orthodontic therapy and to set the applied forces in non-harmful, optimal ranges.

Pre-Finishers

If a person's teeth are not ready for a proper retainer, the orthodontist may prescribe the use of a pre-finisher. This rubber appliance similar to a mouthguard fixes gaps between the teeth, small spaces between the upper and lower jaw, and other minor problems that could worsen. These problems are small matters that dental braces cannot fix.

The pre-finisher is molded to the patient's teeth by use of severe pressure to the appliance by the person's jaw. The pre-finisher is then worn for the prescribed time, with the user applying force to the pre-finisher in their mouth for ten to fifteen seconds at a time. The goal is increasing the "exercise" time, time spent applying force to the appliance. Like the retainer, the pre-finisher is not a permanent addition to one's mouth, and can be moved in and out of the mouth.

Orthodontic Retainers

Orthodontic retainers are custom-made devices, made usually of wires or clear plastic, that hold teeth in position after surgery or any method of realigning teeth. They are most often used before or after dental braces to hold teeth in position while assisting the adjustment of the surrounding gums to changes in the bone. Most patients are required to wear their retainer(s) every night at first, with many also being directed to wear them during the day - at least initially. They should not be worn while eating food or drinking staining or acidic beverages (e.g., Cola products and coffee). There are three types of retainers typically prescribed by orthodontists and dentists: Hawley, Essix, and Bonded (Fixed) retainers.

The best-known type is the Hawley retainer, which is made of a metal wire that surrounds the teeth and keeps them in place. The Hawley retainer is designed for treatment after use of products that close diastemas (gaps). The advantage of this type of retainer is that the metal wires can be adjusted to finish treatment and continue moving teeth as needed.

Another common type is the vacuum formed retainer (VFR). This is a polypropylene or polyvinylchloride (PVC) material, typically .020" or .030" thick. Essix is a brand name many dental offices are familiar with. This clear or transparent retainer fits over the entire arch of teeth and is produced from a mold. It is similar in appearance to Invisalign trays, though the latter are not considered "retainers". VFRs, if worn 24 hours per day, do not allow the upper and lower teeth to touch because plastic covers the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Some orthodontists feel that it is important for the top and bottom chewing surfaces to meet to allow for "favorable settling" to occur. VFRs are less expensive, less conspicuous, and easier to wear than Hawley retainers. However, for patients with disorders such as Bruxism, VFRs are prone to rapid breakage and deterioration, especially if the material is PVC, a short chain molecule. This breaks down swiftly as compared to polypropylene, a long chain molecule.

Most removable retainers are supplied with a retainer case for protection. During the first few days of retainer use, many people experience extra saliva in their mouth. This is natural and is due to the presence of a new object inside the mouth and consequent stimulation of the salivary glands. It may be difficult to speak for a while after getting a retainer, but this speech difficulty should go away over time as one gets used to wearing it.

An entirely different category of orthodontic retainers are fixed retainers. A fixed retainer typically consists of a passive wire bonded to the tongue-side of the (usually, depending on the patient's bite, only lower) incisors. Unlike the previously-mentioned retainer types, fixed retainers can not be removed by the patient. Some doctors prescribe fixed retainers regularly, especially where active orthodontic treatments have effected great changes in the bite and there is a high risk for reversal of these changes. Fixed retainers may lead to tartar build-up or gingivitis due to the difficulty of flossing while wearing these retainers.



Three Tips for Orthodontic Patients

Three Tips for Orthodontic Patients

Getting orthodontic treatment can be a big deal. Since there is significant cost and time involved, it's a good idea to educate yourself about how to manage the experience as well as possible. By taking some good advice from others who have undergone orthodontic treatment you may be able to significantly reduce any discomfort, inconvenience, or unnecessary cost.

Here are three helpful tips and ideas from patients and orthodontists:

1. Carry a retainer case for your retainer.
Countless people remove their retainers when going out to eat, to the gym, or to participate in sports. The problem is that without a case, the tendency is to simply wrap the retainer in a napkin or paper towel and set it down somewhere. Very often people forget they have done this. The retainer can get left behind, thrown in the garbage (it's in a napkin, remember?) or even broken or bent. Carrying a sturdy case helps minimize the chance that any of these expensive mistakes will happen.

2. If you have braces and your orthodontist wants you to wear rubber bands...wear them consistently. Yes, they can be annoying. Yes, you might feel that you don't look your best with rubber bands stretching between your teeth. But if you don't wear your rubber bands consistently, you could end up wearing braces for a lot longer than you planned. One patient was told she'd only have to wear braces for a year. However, she did not wear the prescribed rubber bands consistently. As a result, her teeth moved much more slowly. She ended up in braces for 18 months rather than 12.

3. Getting food caught in braces is always annoying, but it's particularly annoying when you are eating at school or a restaurant. Instead of using your fingers or something like a pencil (don't even think about it!), ask your orthodontist for a proxy brush. These are small brushes that can more easily fit behind and around the wires of your braces. You can carry one of these in a pocket or purse (you might want to keep it wrapped or put it in a small toothbrush case). When you're done eating and feel like you need to clean your braces, simply go to the restroom and quickly use the brush. Then give a good rinse and you'll have relatively clear braces...and feel much better about smiling.