Human tooth movement in response to continuous stress of low magnitude

Laura R. Iwasaki, James E. Haack, Jeffrey C. Nickel, John Morton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Conventional orthodontic therapy often uses force magnitudes in excess of 100 g to retract canine teeth. Typically, this results in a lag phase of approximately 21 days before tooth movement occurs. The current project was undertaken to demonstrate that by using lower force magnitudes, tooth translation can start without a lag phase and can occur at velocities that are clinically significant. Seven subjects participated in the 84-day study. A continuous retraction force averaging 18 g was applied to 1 of the maxillary canines, whereas a continuous retraction force averaging 60 g was applied to the other. The magnitude was adjusted for each canine to produce equivalent compressive stresses between subjects. Estimated average compressive stress on the distal aspect of the canine teeth was 4 kPa or 13 kPa. The moment-to-force ratios were between 9 and 13 mm. Tooth movement in 3 linear and 3 rotational dimensions was measured with a 3-axis measuring microscope and a series of dental casts made at 1- to 14-day intervals. The results showed a statistical difference in the velocity of distal movement of the canines produced by the 2 stresses (P =.02). The lag phase was eliminated and average velocities were 0.87 and 1.27 mm/month for 18 and 60 g of average retraction force. Interindividual velocities varied as much as 3 to 1 for equivalent stress conditions. It was concluded that effective tooth movement can be produced with lower forces and that because loading conditions were controlled, cell biology must account for the variability in tooth velocities measured in these subjects.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthodontics


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