Orthodontist used 3D to take time,pain off braces - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Orthodontist used 3D to take time,pain off braces

by Cami Mountain

WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) -- Technology advances constantly push medical sciences to new levels.  But the way braces are put on and taken off hasn't really changed much.  At least, not until a few years ago.

Dr. Michael O'Leary has been in the teeth business for more than three decades and a lot has changed, since he first started filling mouths with metal.

"When I started in orthodontics, here in Wisconsin Rapids 32 years ago, we were still using the banded braces that went around each tooth like a little ring."  O'Leary says, "Shortly after, that was changed to direct bonding, which is a little bracket that is adhesively placed on the teeth. But, we mostly used straight wire through the braces and we bent them manually using pliers."

Not anymore.  Dr. O'Leary now uses 3D technology and a system called SureSmile. 

Instead of taking a regular X-Ray of the mouth and the wire bent manually, SureSmile takes a 3D scan.  The orthodontist takes that computer model and with the click of a mouse moves teeth into place.  Then, a prescription arch wire is ordered; specifically customized by robot.

"The little pincher hand on the robot can actually make a precise bend on the braces, exactly where the braces, exactly to the alignment and movement I did on the computer."  O'Leary adds, "That arch wire is fabricated with bends as small as 1/10th of a millimeter or 1 degree. It's very precise."

That precision lowers the number of office visits needed in between adjustments, thus lowering pain.  It also cuts time in braces significantly.  Typical time with a tin grin is 20 to 24 months. This new technology lowers that by 35 to 40%.

Benn Fox is in the beginning stages of braces.  His teeth already look different.

He says, "They were all over the place and all messed up."

Benn's mom Holly see's a big change. "He had shark teeth, basically, double rows of teeth and they were crowded."  Holly Boehn says," We had one dentist turn us away.  They were that bad.  Every day I look at him, I can see movement.  It's incredible."

If all goes as planned, the soon to be Freshman will be out of braces before starting his sophomore year.  It's a feat, even Dr. O'Leary is shocked by.

"I never could have imagined the use of robotics in orthodontics or even 3D cat scans or 3D imaging in a computer.  I mean, when I was in school, that wasn't even considered.  It was a big deal to have a computer at the front desk to do appointments."

Orthodontists who use 3D technology undergo a lot of training.  In the three years he's used it, Doctor O'Leary says he's been to training at least once a year.

He isn't the only orthodontist in North central Wisconsin using SureSmile technology.  To find a full list, click the link associated with this page.

Online Reporter: Cami Mountain

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