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Study targets hormone to facilitate orthodontic treatment

Investigators from the University of Florida College of Dentistry will evaluate the use of a hormone associated with childbirth to soften the fibers that hold teeth in place, facilitating faster orthodontic treatment and lower incidence of relapse.

Recombinant human relaxin, the hormone that helps women's pelvic ligaments to stretch in preparation for childbirth, is known for its ability to soften collagen and elastin in tissues, according to the UF researchers. This property prompted them to consider using the hormone to accelerate tooth movement during orthodontic treatment by relaxing the fibers that hold teeth in place.

"Most of orthodontics has traditionally dealt with physics, the biomechanics of applying a force against a tooth to move it," said study investigator Dr. Timothy Wheeler, professor and chairman of orthodontics at the UF College of Dentistry. "Ours is the first study to use a naturally occurring hormone, recombinant human relaxin, to biochemically augment tooth movement and retention."

Subjects will receive either relaxin or a placebo; those receiving relaxin will be given an additional injection after the eight week trial to determine if it can prevent the repositioned teeth from shifting back to their original positions by temporarily softening gum tissue fibers.

"If the results of this study demonstrate enhancement of the rate of orthodontic tooth movement and better stability after treatment, it could be an exciting new method of increasing treatment acceptability while decreasing the need for compliance," said Dr. Robert Boyd, professor and chairman of orthodontics at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. "Finishing orthodontic treatment without the usual regimen of lifetime use of retainers would greatly enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of current orthodontic treatment."

BAS Medical, San Mateo, Calif., owns the rights to develop and commercialize relaxin and is sponsoring the UF study.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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