UF Researchers Test Drug That Could Cut Orthodontic Treatment Time In Half

In the first study of its kind, University of Florida researchers are testing the power of a natural human hormone to biochemically move teeth faster and less painfully during orthodontic treatment. "Most of orthodontics has traditionally dealt with physics, the biomechanics of applying a force against a tooth to move it," said study investigator Timothy Wheeler, D.M.D., Ph.D., a professor and chairman of orthodontics at UF's College of Dentistry. "Ours is the first study to use a naturally occurring hormone, recombinant human relaxin, to biochemically augment tooth movement and retention." Relaxin is best known as the hormone that helps women's pelvic ligaments stretch in preparation for giving birth. It does this by softening collagen and elastin in the tissues, loosening strong, cord-like fibers until they have the consistency of limp spaghetti noodles. That ability prompted researchers to consider relaxin a possible way to accelerate tooth movement and prevent relapse, a condition where the tooth migrates back to its original position after braces are removed.

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