Braces Off Faster!

February 16, 2010 9:41:53 AM PST
Thousands of kids get them every year, and now one in five orthodontic patients is over the age of 18. Nobody likes the time spent waiting for braces to come off. Researchers are testing a new device that shakes teeth back into shape to get the metal mouth off faster than ever. From the day 14-year-old Alyssa Uecker got her braces, she's had one very important question.

"When were they coming off?"

Braces are designed to straighten Uecker's teeth in about two years. In a clinical trial, she's testing a new device that could move up the deadline. She bites down on the device for 20 minutes every day. It delivers low-frequency vibration to her teeth, which researchers believe stimulates bone remodeling and speeds up the straightening process.

"Vibrations, when they are applied to the bone, there is a solid body of evidence in clinical trials and from experiments in humans and animals that the bone metabolism accelerates," Dubravko Pavlin, D.M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Orthodontics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, said. " The bone remodels at a faster rate."

How much faster?

"If we are talking about the average orthodontic treatment being maybe 24 months, 24 to 26 months, that would mean that we can shorten that treatment to maybe between 12 and 16 months," Dr. Pavlin said.

After six months, Uecker's teeth are making progress.

"It's pretty exciting thinking that you might be able to get your braces off sooner just because of one little vibration movement every night," Uecker said.

Now, she looks forward to smiling and eating without all the metal in her mouth ? a young woman hoping for a shorter path to a prettier smile.

Tests have shown the battery operated Acceledent device is safe for children and adults, but it's still pending FDA approval. Researchers are testing the device to see exactly how much difference it can make for orthodontic patients.