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Orthodontic Treatment? Relax...

Natural hormone relaxin may loosen teeth up for less painful care

THURSDAY, July 14, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A naturally occurring hormone called recombinant human relaxin may be able to cut orthodontic treatment time in half by biochemically moving teeth faster and with less pain, researchers report.

Relaxin is already used to help women's pelvic ligaments stretch in preparation for birth. The hormone softens collagen and elastin in the tissues, relaxing strong cord-like fibers.

Researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville are studying the use of relaxin to accelerate tooth movement and to prevent the migration of teeth back to their original positions after braces have been removed.

"You can imagine normal collagen and elastin fibers to be like rubber bands that attach to the tooth and hold it in place," study investigator Timothy Wheeler, professor and chairman of orthodontics at UF's College of Dentistry, explained in a prepared statement.

"Those tissue fibers resist the force of the orthodontic treatment applied to move the tooth, and, when that force is removed, say when the braces are taken off, the elasticity of the tissues springs the tooth back into position," Wheeler said.

He and his colleagues will study whether injecting relaxin into the gums will loosen collagen and elastin fibers and improve the movement of teeth during orthodontic treatment. They'll administer another injection of relaxin after the teeth have been moved to determine if the hormone will help prevent teeth from going back to their original position.

This is the first study to test relaxin as an orthodontic therapy, the researchers said.

More information

The American Dental Association has more about orthodontics.

SOURCE: University of Florida, news release, July, 2005
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