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Building new history in orthodontics.

Published: June 24th, 2008

Category: Spotlights

Timothy Wheeler

Timothy Wheeler

Professor of Orthodontics
UF College of Dentistry

Moving teeth into alignment to improve smiles is an ancient idea. Hippocrates, considered to be the father of medical science, wrote in 400 B.C. of metal bands wound around teeth in effort to straighten them, and mummified remains have been discovered with metal bands still attached to individual teeth, possibly torqued into place using catgut.

Orthodontics has come a long way since ancient times, but the research of Timothy T. Wheeler, professor and chair of orthodontics at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, is opening a whole new chapter in the history of modern orthodontics with his study examining the biologic control of tooth movement.

Orthodontics has traditionally applied the principles of physics to exert mechanical force against a tooth to move it. In the first study of its kind, Wheeler recently began testing the power of a natural human hormone to biochemically move teeth faster and less painfully during orthodontic treatment. The hormone, human recombinant relaxin, could cut orthodontic treatment time in half and eliminate the need for retainers.

“Relaxin is the first step orthodontics has taken to deal with the biologic control of tooth movement, and what the final product will be is hard to tell at this point. Obviously, we want to make it easily available, easily delivered and as pain-free as possible,” Wheeler said.

No one can predict the outcome yet, but Wheeler’s study of relaxin as a biochemical orthodontic treatment could revolutionize a dental specialty that has not changed in principle for thousands of years.

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